Brand Strategy = Exploration & Commitment

In Building a Brand by Distility1693 Comments

In our last post, we introduced Distility’s big brand strategy secret: At the heart of our approach lies a deep cultivation of the way a team explores and commits to their brand.

Based on the quality of the team’s exploration and commitment, they can arrive at four distinct brand strategies:
  • Fragmented
  • Diffuse
  • Conformist
  • Authentic

Brand Strategy Matrix

To make better sense of these strategies, let’s put business aside for a moment, and see how this works with people.


Take a teenager for example. It is natural, at some point, for teenagers to explore their “brand”. Rocker. Punk. Tough. Sweet. Shy. Risk taking. The list goes on. This is considered healthy human identity development… so long as at some point the exploration slows and the person commits to a defining personality. The identity theorists call this “Achieved Identity”. We call the business equivalent, done right, an “Authentic Brand.”


If the person, or brand, never stops exploring – never commits – then they are “Fragmented”. At the extreme, in a person, this would be psychiatrically diagnosed as Dissociative identity disorder, where one body shares multiple personalities. As far as branding is concerned, this is at best, the team that is full of ideas but can never agree on the best one. At the worst, it is the sickness of a firm that is making contrary promises every which way to Sunday.


Of course, there are a great many people who are not allowed this healthy kind of exploration. The culprit is usually cultural, making it against the rules to explore and enforcing commitment. The teenager must conform to a way of dressing, behaving, even thinking. In people, this results in what the Identity Theorists call the “Conformist Personality.” Obviously, the same inability to explore and enforcement to commit result in “Conformist Brands”.


Finally, there are brands and individuals that never explore, nor commit. It is not in their DNA, not in their culture. There is no drive for identity. The outcome is a “Diffuse” personality or brand. From a business perspective, this translates to the inability to get even the most reptilian form of strategy in play.

Don’t be Diffused, Fragmented, or Conformist

Far too many brand strategy failures can be traced back to pathologies in the decision making process. A failure in exploring ideas and/or a failure to commit to the best brand idea can result in a diffuse brand, conformist brand, or fragmented brand. The authentic brand is the end goal of  branding and the key to presenting a clear, consistent, and compelling image to your customers.