Blockbuster Brands: Five Characteristics

Brand blockbusters, John Quench concludes, are good things.

Blockbusters has sizzle, speed, size, scarcity and sustainability

Writing in the Harvard Business Discussion Leader’s blog, Marketing Knowhow, Quelch has also identified five attributes of a blockbuster brand.

You can read his full blog at the Harvard Business Publishing website by clicking How to Create a Blockbuster. I’ve “lifted” his five attributes in the next several paragraphs and added my own comments on each.

In a few words they are:

Sheer size: Obviously that is measured mostly by sales. But what it means in terms of fueling a company’s further growth through R&D, geographic expansion and a more adept work force is the real benefit of size, I believe.

Speed: It’s the “wave” of publicity, accelerated awareness leading to preference (I buy the latest, most advanced fill-in-the-blank). It’s the thing every marketer seems to be obsessed with today: viral buzz. And if you’re already big, you can generate even more of it.

Scarcity: When that buzz is especially effective (iPhone, Wii) people scurry to own the brand. And, once they have succeeded, they have accomplished SOMETHING they can brag to their peers about. That spreads more buzz.

Sustainability: The measure of a true blockbuster brand is longevity and “parenthood”. Whether it spurs a 20-some-year franchise like Star Wars or a lineage of multiple-blade razors from Gillette, the blockbuster is no flash-in-the-pan.

Sizzle: There’s a panache surrounding a blockbuster. It is never ordinary, either in substance or in presentation. A blockbuster brand is differentiated in meaningful as well as unique ways. It might be business model (FedEx), performance (Nordstrom), design (iPod), heritage (Jim Beam). A blockbuster raises it’s antenna above the static.

Now there are various sizes of blockbusters. The criteria above were applied to global brands. But everything is relative. In your own small pond, you can apply those same attributes to make a relatively large splash.

Martin Jelsema

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