Type to search

Trash the flaky brand onion, here’s how to steer your brand with a modern masterbrand


Trash the flaky brand onion, here’s how to steer your brand with a modern masterbrand


A modern masterbrand, writes Moensie Rossier, draws in and connects every single facet of your business, communication, service and customer experience, and drives culture.


Now that earned media is a much bigger part of marketing, the question is, do you want to take control of your brand impression and steer it, or, are you happy to hand it over to others?

At a time when a multitude of stakeholders have a brand voice and there’s greater risk of fragmentation, a modern masterbrand acts as a rudder, steering the business. It defines what the brand excels in, where it truly goes above and beyond the pack and how its values connect to those of its customers. This is what creates meaningful difference and makes the brand worthy of conversation.

Far from being a flaky brand onion, a modern masterbrand defines five key elements, which then act as a framework for evaluation, creating focus and guiding behaviour:

  1. The Business: the emotional high ground user benefit rather than the functional category benefit.
  2. The Brand Purpose: why the brand exists, the rallying call to arms.
  3. The Insights: a brand truth, a human truth and a cultural or category truth.
  4. The Organising Idea: the media neutral idea, which connects inside the business and out.
  5. The Archetype: a universal pattern or image, which encapsulates the brand values and personality and guides tone.
  6. The Four Rs: centre and socialise the idea in the organisation through the four R’s: Rituals, Repetition, Rigour and Responsiveness.


Defining the masterbrand is just the beginning. The masterbrand’s central organising Idea should sit at the centre of gravity, drawing and connecting every single facet of your business, communication, service and customer experience. Baked into the organisation, a modern masterbrand drives culture. The ‘Four Rs’ are about creating rituals, symbols and behaviours for all staff to live by and embedding these brand impressions into customers’ experiences and memories.

Zappos, for example, makes customer service the entire company, not just a department. It focuses on company culture as the number one priority. The company even offers to pay new employees $2000 to quit a week into their induction to see how much they really want to work there. It’s just another way to galvanise everyone behind Zappos’ single-minded purpose of delivering happiness.

Through the organising idea ‘It’s possible to love a bank’, Bank of Queensland (disclosure: a client of BWM), is building a culture where employees are empowered to make all aspects of banking better. The internal launch was strongly supported, now customers are being invited to experience and decide for themselves whether it’s possible to love a bank.

You can create a positive customer experience without a masterbrand. But a modern masterbrand has the power to elevate the experience.

You can create experiences that make people feel happy. But when Coke creates an activation, such as ‘Where will happiness strike next?’ that feeling is magnified with all the memories and associations and firing neurons that the Coke brand releases, like serotonin right into the nervous system.

Thanks to the masterbrand, the experience is instantly amplified and made more memorable.



Moensie Rossier

Moensie Rossier, planning director at BWM, is a well-travelled planning director and digital trends writer, with advertising and media experience in the UK, Belgium and Australia. She’s worked on major FMCG brands from P&G, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Campbell Arnott’s and Sanitarium, as well as technology, telco, tourism and government accounts.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment