For CMOs Who Need to Sell Brand Value

Media & Marketing might be more science than you think. Small improvements, over time, add up to big improvements and that’s what marketing science does.

Keeping that in mind, print and laminate the below from our colleague Chuck Young. You may need it to validate your awesome brand work.

### Kernels: The Core Identity of a Brand

**What is a Kernel?**

In mathematics, a kernel is like a special filter that isolates the essence of a set of inputs. In linear algebra, the kernel of a transformation is the set of all inputs that map to zero.

**Analogy in Marketing**

In marketing, the kernel represents the core identity of a brand—the fundamental values and attributes that define it. This core identity remains constant and forms the foundation of how consumers perceive the brand.


Consider Apple. The core identity of Apple includes innovation, simplicity, and premium quality. These attributes form the kernel of Apple’s brand, guiding all its marketing and product development efforts. No matter how the market changes, Apple’s core values remain a constant touchstone.

### Fixed Points: Stable Brand Elements

**What is a Fixed Point?**

A fixed point in mathematics is a value that doesn’t change under a given transformation. It’s like a stable spot in a dynamic environment.

**Analogy in Marketing**

In marketing, fixed points are the stable elements of a brand that remain consistent over time. These include the brand’s logo, tagline, and flagship products. They provide continuity and help consumers easily recognize and remember the brand.


Coca-Cola’s logo and classic red color scheme are fixed points in its branding. These elements have remained consistent for decades, providing a stable anchor for the brand in the minds of consumers.

### Nash Equilibria: Balancing Brand Strategies

**What is a Nash Equilibrium?**

In game theory, a Nash equilibrium is a state where no player can benefit from changing their strategy if others keep theirs unchanged. It’s a balance where everyone’s strategy is optimized given the strategies of others.

**Analogy in Marketing**

In marketing, achieving a balance between brand identity and market demands is akin to finding a Nash equilibrium. Brands must balance their core identity with the need to adapt to consumer preferences and competitive pressures. This balance ensures that the brand remains relevant and appealing without losing its essence.


Nike balances its core identity of athletic excellence and inspiration with market trends by continually innovating in both product design and marketing campaigns. This balance allows Nike to maintain its brand strength while adapting to changes in consumer preferences and competitive landscapes.

### Strange Attractors: Complex Brand Growth

**What is a Strange Attractor?**

In chaos theory, a strange attractor is a pattern that emerges in a chaotic system, showing stability within apparent randomness. It represents a complex, evolving structure.

**Analogy in Marketing**

In marketing, a brand’s growth can be seen as a strange attractor. Despite the chaos and variability of the market, successful brands develop complex yet stable patterns of growth and adaptation. These patterns help brands navigate market fluctuations while maintaining a coherent identity.

**Example** Amazon’s growth strategy is an example of a strange attractor. The company has expanded into numerous markets, from e-commerce to cloud computing and entertainment, while maintaining a coherent brand identity focused on customer obsession, innovation, and convenience. This complex, adaptive growth pattern has allowed Amazon to thrive amid market chaos.

### Integrating the Concepts: Achieving Brand Flow

**Balancing Identity and Growth**

To achieve sustainable growth, brands must balance their core identity (kernels) with stable brand elements (fixed points), while continuously adapting and evolving (strange attractors) in a way that balances market demands and brand integrity (Nash equilibria). This balance ensures that the brand remains relevant and resonates deeply with consumers.