The one-sentence summary

Build your brand, redefine the market and defy convention by generating a brand molecule instead of an old-fashioned unique selling point.


  • The days of big image branding are over, and that includes the USP, brand essence and cultural trends research, none of which do the job any more.
  • Brands should be seen as clusters of cultural ideas, many of which can be contributed by consumers and other brands as well as the brand owners.
  • The main concept in the book is the ‘brand molecule’, a modular structure to which new ideas can be added regularly.
  • He offers 32 types of brand idea that can be stolen or cross-pollinated to reinvigorate tired brands.


  • The idea of establishing a Cultural Logic as the basis of a strategy is an interesting one – brand activities can be broad-ranging so long as they have a well-considered central theme
  • Those stuck in a strategic rut could do worse than try drawing up their own brand molecule, using any number of his 32 brand elements:
  • New Traditions: habit, spectacular, leadership, organisation
  • Belief Systems: cognitive, appreciation, faith, atlas
  • Time: regressive, now, nostalgia, calendar
  • Herd instincts: initiation, crowd, clan, craze
  • Connecting: co-authored, socialising, cooperative, localised
  • Luxury: concierge, plenty, exclusive, exotic
  • Provocative: erotic, cathartic, scandal, radical
  • Control: personalised, in-control, competition, grading
  • It is also helpful to bear in mind that few strategies are truly original – there is no sin in looking at other markets for inspiration and trying to apply the same thinking to yours.


  • The Brand Molecule idea could run out of shape if not carefully handled – a random set of thoughts drawn as though they are connected, when in truth they are not, will not help.
  • Some of the praise trumpeting the originality of the book is a bit misleading – in truth it synthesises, rather than originates, many ideas.