One Word Brand Equity: What’s Yours?


By Jas Singh

One of the most inspirational people I have ever known is Lord Maurice Saatchi, founder of the world famous advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi.

One of the pioneers in advertising, his thought leadership and revolutionary thinking has transformed marketing across virtually every industry – from politics, business and even healthcare.

Recently, Lord Saatchi has been a big believer in a big phenomena that is taking place in marketing and business overall.

One word brand equity.

One word equity is simply being able to be associated with and “own” a single word.

According to Lord Saatchi (and other leading business experts) the increase in data, mobile devices and speed of communication means that the attention of customers is falling.

Digital overload has resulted in our brains becoming re-wired. We respond faster. We sift out more. We recall less. (Around a third of what the average person was able to remember in the 1960’s).

Thus as advertisers hit us more and harder, only brutally simple ideas get through. As Lord Saatchi mentions himself, simplicity travels lighter, travels faster and is easier for us to recall – the true test of all advertising.

Long and complex sentences have no chance. Even a few words strung together can be lost. The most effective and powerful approach of all is to use only one word.

Just one word. Believe it or not, that’s very difficult to do. With around 750,000 words in the English language how do you chose the right one to back?

Yet one word brand equity is the ultimate goal of marketing and perhaps business in general. And the business world knows it. There is a scramble to get “ownership” of words first – because once someone else beats you to a word first, it can be extremely difficult to displace it.

Don’t believe me? Just try it with your favourite brands.

What company would you associate with the word “search”? Most likely Google.

The word “cola”? Probably Coca-Cola.

Tissues? Kleenex.

Vacuum? Hoover.

Companies now spend countless millions of hours and dollars to figure out which word to own. And even more to then try and own it.

go to site So What?

So how does this effect us personally? Well actually quite a lot.

This overload of digital data and lack of attention is not exclusive to the advertising world. It’s relevant to our careers, social lives and even relationships.

Take hiring for example. Hiring managers now receive hundreds of resumes a month and interview several candidates a week. Choice has never been greater.

Candidates are asked several questions over several meetings. Several strengths are recorded. Multiple opinions are formed. Hiring managers attempt to collate, contrast and value the importance of these different factors across multiple candidates. Even the thought of this can sound overwhelming. It’s hard to figure out exactly what a candidate can bring. Doubts arise. Ambiguity forms. We become indecisive.

As in advertising, our attention is limited. Candidates need to stand out clearly. Our falling attention needs help.

Candidates with “one word equity” have more chance of standing out.

Someone consistently emphasising “salesman” has much more chance of landing the sales job. Another person with the word “leader” the role of CEO. The word “potential” for a graduate scheme.

As competition and digital information in the business world continues to grow, colleagues, management and customers will be bombarded with more information than ever before. Only the most simplest and unique of one word value propositions will get through. Whether the word be a feature, product or feeling.

The list is endless, yet you only get one shot.

One word.




History has taught us that the greatest ideas, organisations and people are built on simplicity.

Yet simplicity is often incredibly difficult to achieve.

Hiring managers and candidates need to realise that to stand out their identity needs to be clear to cut through all the noise. Ideally one word.

Who are you in one word?

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