Episode 63

The 3 key principles of marketing using a house analogy

What does it mean to be a brand?

One of the most critical barriers to success is understanding what a brand is and what a brand is NOT.  I get this question all the time. Let me tell you what a brand is NOT: A brand is NOT a name, logo, tag-line, package design or the product itself. I call these elements: Window-dressing your brand. A brand is simply an EMOTIONAL IDENTITY that differentiates products, services and people.

As a former marketing executive at global multi-billion dollar consumer products companies like Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Godiva, I successfully crafted emotional identities for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Over the course of 25 years, a frequent challenge I faced was communicating the role a brand played in consumer’s lives…in other words its Core Value. To solve this problem, I developed a process to label that brand’s Core Value using just ‘One Word’.  This helps consumers understand what they are actually buying. 

During this series, I will select a brand I worked on or studied and share it’s ‘One Word’ Core Value, as well as share valuable topics in the branding arena that will help you Stand-Out Conquer Obstacles and Reach Excellence…in other words, SCORE.


Show Notes (click to expand)

So many of my listeners know that my core value in ‘One Word’ is CATALYST:

  • I disrupt “NORMAL” in the branding world to get people to see things differently and stimulate progress by making the complex simple…

And today’s episode is about helping entrepreneurs simplify the process of crafting a long term winning brand.


If you understand these 3 key principles of marketing, then I promise you’ll begin to think differently about how to brand yourself and your business venture going forward. 


I’ll let you in on a little secret: They’re one and the same. 


I always say, “the difference between a business and a brand is YOU.” And therefore you must bring yourself to your business venture so you can break through the clutter for the long-term win! 


After all, Branding is a marathon and products are merely sprints.


So how do you do this?


I want you to think of marketing in the context of a house




You start with Principle #1: Building the brand foundation


This the step that many entrepreneurs miss.


Like any house, the brand has to be built from the ground up – brick by brick – meaning, it can’t be erected unless you first construct the foundation. 


I want you to imagine you’re on a movie set and the production crew is erecting a house to shoot a scene. You go inside the home and lean on one of the walls by accident, only to discover that it can’t hold your weight because it was designed for appearance only…NOT functionality!

A house of walls without a foundation is NOT a house….it merely looks like a house. And the first storm that comes through will blow down the walls, leaving you with a heap of rubble. You must have a solid foundation first; the rest of the house then becomes more stable and more likely to endure.


Similarly, think of a storm as your competition. The weaker your brand foundation is, the easier it is for your competitors to rush in and blow your house down. Like the fable, The Three Little Pigs…the storm is the wolf that says, ”Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.” 


Leveraging my 25+ years of branding experience, I developed 5 simple steps for entrepreneurs to craft a winning brand foundation:


Step 1. PURPOSE:  Your WHY!

Step 2. ENEMY: What’s in the way of delivering your WHY!

Step 3. PROBLEM: What you need to do to destroy the enemy!

Step 4. PROMISE: What solution you offer that solves the problem!


Step 5. CORE VALUE: What you’re selling – in ‘One Word’ – that delivers your promise!

With a strong brand foundation, you can then move to Principle #2: Decorating your home


The majority of the entrepreneurs I work with are eager to launch their ideas.


The first thing I do when I meet these talented businesspeople is to ask to see their brand foundation. Typically, I’m shown a name, logo, tagline, package design or the product itself. When I tell them that this isn’t a brand foundation, they look astonished.

Can you construct a house with only paint, molding, and tile? Of course not. You need a strong foundation to build an effective home. Otherwise, whatever you build will collapse as I shared in Principle #1.


These five elements – the name, logo, tagline, package design and product are a critical part of the branding process, but they’re merely decorations – or as I like to say “window-dressing the brand”, not the brand foundation itself.


While these decorations do convey you, and therefore your brand, they cannot stand alone without a solid foundation. What’s missing is the internal guts upon which the external appearance lies.


Now, with a strong brand foundation and a beautifully decorated home, you can then move to Principle #3: Inviting people to your house for dinner


This principle is all about communication with your target audience. Ask yourself, “What media will I use to speak to my target market and invite them into my secure and beautifully decorated home?” Examples include TV, print, or digital advertising, PR, and direct mail to name a few!


It’s at this stage where your marketing communication will help move products and services from company to end users and build and maintain strong relationships with your customers! 


The last thing that you want to do is invite people to dinner in a home that is poorly built with a weak foundation or decorated in a sloppy or confusing manner that is not reflective of who you are.



So there you have it, the 3 key principles of marketing brought to you using a house analogy:

  • Principle#1: Build the brand foundation first. 
  • Principle #2: Then decorate your home.


  • Principle #3: Invite everyone over for dinner.


If you take anything away from the episode, please remember this:


Before putting your product or service into the world, take the time to invest in crafting a solid brand foundation – Principle #1. It’s the best long-term home you’ll give yourself…


AND it starts with ‘One Word’ so you can Stand-out, Conquer Obstacles, Reach Excellence and SCORE.


Reach out to me at info@therichkeller.com if you want to learn more!


I’m Rich Keller, The CATALYST and see you next time on The CATALYST Effect.

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