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In the two decades that Y&R’s BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV®) - the world’s largest database of brand perceptions - has studied the brandscape, brands have become 200% less distinct from one another. Marketers must work harder than ever in order to make their brands stand out. But how? By studying thousands of brands - from the most iconic to the most commoditized - we found that breakaway brands have an inherent tension that makes them irresistible. We call this BRAND TENSITY®
BAVLAB is a global brand consultancy with local expertise. Our approach to strategy is grounded in
brand analytics. Leveraging the brand data and philosophy of Y&R’s BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV®),
the world’s largest database of brand perceptions, we help our clients make more informed
BAV monitors the brand data points that matter, evaluating how brands create momentum and drive
consumer passion. By understanding and exploring a brand’s strengths and challenges against the
fundamental dynamics of its category, BAV provides unique insights into a brand’s larger role in the
evolving cultural marketplace.
FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES, WE’VE GATHERED CONSUMER
PERCEPTIONS OF MORE THAN 50,000 BRANDS.
BAV measures brands
on a set of 48 image anD
BAV is A developmental MODEL THAT identifies clear patterns and trends reflective of brand growth, decay and recovery.
BAV is the world’s largest database and model on brands
LEARNING & TRENDING
arrogant authentic best brand carefree caRes customers charming daring
different distinctive down to earth dynamic energetic friendly fun gaining in
popularity glamorous good value healthy helpful high performance high
quality independent innovative intelligent kind leader obliging original
prestigious progressive reliable restrained rugged sensuous simple social
socially responsible straightforward stylish traditional trendy trustworthy
unapproachable unique up to date upper class visionary worth more
of brand equity
How well the brand
Relates to consumer
experience with the
How highly the
brand is regarded
quality and respect
the brand is
Relates to market
THE UNIQUE MEANING, ENERGY
AND DYNAMISM OF THE BRAND
Relates to margins,
we call this
In the two decades that BAV has studied the brandscape, brands have become 200% less
distinct from one another.
Marketers must work harder than ever in order to make their brands stand out. but how?
BY Studying thousands of brands - from the most iconic to the most commoditized - we
found that breakaway brands have an inherent tension That makes them irresistible.
TENSITYThe convergence of two or more contradictory
forces, resulting in excitement, anticipation,
and A palpable energy.
Tensity in Culture
TENSITY can be found across culture: compelling art, music,
food, architecture and people are not one-dimensional and
flat, but rather, have contradictory layers and depth.
Marilyn Monroe’s tensity of
Seductive-Innocence has made
her irresistible, and she
remains a cultural icon more
than 50 years after her death.
She continues to be the
spokesperson for brands
across sectors. She has been
the face of brands including
Coca-Cola, Bed Bath and beyond,
Mercedes-Benz, MAC, and
Macy’s. in January 2015, she
became the new face of Max
Once a bar bouncer, now the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope
Francis is changing the global perception of what it means to be
the Pope. He declines to wear ornate clothing and jewelry,
encourages interfaith dialogue and refused the Papal
apartment. He is seen as progressive, in touch with
contemporary culture, and relatable while holding a
traditional role. According to Pew Global, as of December 2014,
Pope Francis had a 60% favorability rating around the world1
and was the most talked about topic on Facebook in 2014.
Our attraction to the
convergence of contradictory
elements is apparent
throughout time, around the
world. The most compelling
stories have twists and turns,
heroes and foes, joy and
In 2009, Disney invested four billion
dollars in Marvel, a company that
consistently produces record
breaking box-office hits. Tensity can
be found throughout Marvel’s
portfolio: Iron Man balances his
reckless billionaire playboy persona
with a Genius wisdom; The Hulk is an
introverted academic with
uncontrollable rage; and The
Avengers are a group of individuals
who are at their greatest when
“Unlike other superhero films and action spectacles, Marvel movies manage to combine the everyday
and the extraordinary to create their epic narratives. ” - Gary SusmaN, moviefone.com2
TENSITY IN ENTERTAINMENT
2DC vs Marvel: Who’s Winning the Comics War on TV, moviefone.com
IRONMAN the hulk THE AVENGERS
Tensity in Music
Iconic collaborations - from RUN DMC’s 1986 cover of Aerosmith’s hit “Walk This Way,” to pop star Lady
Gaga and jazz legend Tony Bennett’s number one selling album CHEEK TO CHEEK - embody the opposing
forces of contradictory genres that make the music unexpected and compelling.
The Beatles balanced the Tensity of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s opposing music styles. Bob Spitz,
author of The Beatles said, “In the almost eight years of the partnership, it had seemed fruitless to try to
reconcile their different styles in the larger picture, they merged seamlessly into the universally
recognized Beatles sound.”3
At the same time, the antithesis of the clean-cut Beatles arose: The Rolling Stones. The introduction of
The Rolling Stones as the anti-Beatles created a Tensity within the music landscape of the British
Invasion. The polarity of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles was best described by Rolling Stones Keith
Richards: “The Beatles got the white hat, what was left - the black hat."
EVEN Bob Dylan, described at the Rock and Roll Hall of fame as the “uncontested poet laureate of the
rock and roll era and the preeminent singer/songwriter of modern times,” embodies Tensity by delivering
his poetic lyrics in a unique and gritty style- a voice that David Bowie Described as “sand and glue.”4
3Excerpt From: Spitz, Bob. “The Beatles.” Little, Brown and Company, 2007-10-15. iBooks.
4Bowie, David. Song for Bob Dylan. David Bowie. Ken Scott, 1971.
For insight into how brands break away from their categories, we studied the
imagery patterns of brands that disrupted commoditized sectors.
deliver on the perceptual expectations of their
categories, while also leaning toward imagery that opposes these category
requirements, creating Tensity in their brand identities.
TENSITY MAKES BRANDS BREAK AWAY
Base: BAV USA; UK (Virgin Atlantic) All Adults
All Scores Vs Category Average
Tensity in RETAIL BRANDS
We see Tensity in retail brands that are able to break away
Paris, one of the major department stores in Chile, worked
with BAVLAB to Identify the brand’s Tensity: Exclusive-
Inclusive. The Paris brand is always on trend, offering the
most exclusive products and services. At the same time, the
brand is also seen as a place where customers feel welcome.
Utilizing BAV data, we uncovered the innate truth within the
brand that could provide the foundation to its Tensity. Paris
is an inclusive store, conscious of the environment, connected
with the joy of living and concerned about its customers,
while also being an authority on fashion in Chile.
“Once upon a time, access to retail
brands was enough to generate sales.
Open a chain store in a mall in
Anywhere USA and the locals would
flock to it. But in an over-retailed age
where purchases are a click away,
mere access is insufficient. You need to
offer more. And that’s where Retail
Tensity for brands is important. You
need to stand for something. Stand out.
And stand apart, with qualities that
make your brand interesting.
Otherwise, you will be consigned to
being a commodity brand, sent to the
brand bargain basement and quickly
Jon Bird, Global Managing Director,
Walmart is synonymous with “value” in the US retail sector. For competitors to
capture a greater share of the consumer’s heart and wallet, they must build
Tensity beyond the category expectation of “value.”
Target has partnered with high-end designers including Missoni, Jason Wu, Prabal
Gurung and, most recently, Lilly Pulitzer to create affordable designer clothing
lines. Through IT’s Mission of “Design for all” and 12 years of designer collaborations
that started with Isaac Mizrahi in 2003, Target has reinforced the Tensity of Cheap-
Chic as core to its meaning, helping to make it a brand icon in our culture.
Base: BAV USA
“The key to Target's marketing strategy has
been its ability to continuously position itself
as a high-style brand despite its low prices.
It's a crowded retail space and Target Has
managed to create a brand that people love…”
- Jose Costa, President, MAACO5
CHALLENGING THE CATEGORY LEADER
The majority of fashion retail advertising focuses on the
clothing. RKCR/Y&R helped Marks & Spencer in the UK
stand out by highlighting the women in the M&S clothing.
The “Leading Ladies Campaign” featured notable women
as their models including singer-songwriter and human
rights activist Annie Lennox, actor and writer Emma
Thompson, structural engineer Roma Agrawal, designer
Lulu Kennedy and campaigner Baroness Lawrence. Marks
& Spencer balanced the Tensity between fashion and
substance to establish itself as a unique brand in the
“These dynamic leading ladies represent the unique and diverse women of a
modern Britain. They are united in their extraordinary achievements but
confident in their differences. Marks & Spencer is a democratic brand that is
relevant to women of all ages and strands of life; it is therefore natural
for M&S to celebrate women in this way. ”
Patrick Bousquet Chavanne, M&S Executive Director of Marketing and
When a brand embraces its Tensity, it more deeply engages people in the real
world. Land Rover integrated hardworking functionality with luxury. This
opposing dynamic enabled the brand to break away from its competition while
supporting its premium price point.
“Sometimes the ultimate in luxury is really just the ultimate in utility.
Call it industrial chic. A handful of clever brands — Viking ranges, Orvis
outerwear — have made fortunes out of it, but Land Rover wrote the
- Robert Klara, Adweek6
MORE THAN LUXuRY
6 Adweek “Land Rover’s Evolution From Safari Wagon to Luxury SUV: Once Ugly in England Now Admired in America” (Robert Klara, May 29, 2013)
THROUGH A 25-YEAR PARTNERSHIP
with RKCR/Y&R London,
Virgin Atlantic Airways
embraced IT’s Tensity of
Seductive - Service.
Your Airlines Either Got It Or It Hasn’t
Your Airlines Either Got It Or It Hasn’t
FOR beverage brand ichitan, Y&R
created the “guilty” campaign
featuring Thai singer Ben Calatit
and Miss Thailand World to help
the brand embrace its tensity:
Patagonia, a premium outdoor clothing company, positions itself as
an advocate for the earth and actively fights overconsumption with
IT’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign. To further mitigate
environmental impact, the brand encourages consumers to repair
items with its “Worn Wear” initiative.
Brands are bombarding consumers with reasons to buy their
products. Patagonia encourages conservative consumerism, a
thought that is counterintuitive to most retail marketing objectives.
“There is nothing we can change about how we make
clothing that would have more positive environmental
impact than simply making less. Worn Wear is a
celebration of quality products and their relationship
to our lives. It’s a simple but critical message: keep
your gear in action longer and take some pressure off
– Rose Marcario, ceo, Patagonia
Harley-Davidson embraces the Tensity of Rebellious - Camaraderie. In it’s - “United
by Independents” campaign, Harley tells consumers that while they are each
unique individuals, they belong to the Harley -Davidson motorcycle culture.
Embassy Suites had strong equity with business travelers, so it set out to increase bookings among
family leisure travelers. BAVLAB found a Tensity foundation for Embassy Suites in Approachable-
Excellence, enabling the brand to protect its Relevance while driving brand Differentiation. This
campaign successfully resonated with moms, who feel that family vacation is often full of
If you want someone to tell you how they
really feel, you must get to know them.
eXploring puts us in the lives of the
people we want to understand. eXploring
reveals the truths about how people
really feel and act.
Y&R Chicago used the Approachable-Excellence Tensity to craft the “YEAH, IT’S PRETTY GREAT!”
campaign. Through the lense of this tensity, the campaign highlighted the brand's unique product
offerings: every room is a two-room suite with free made-to-order breakfast and a
complimentary reception every evening.
FINDING TENSITY IN HOSPITALITY
IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND HOW
A LION HUNTS, YOU DON'T GO TO THE
ZOO, YOU GO TO THE JUNGLE.
WE complEment our data knowledge
with real world findings
eXploring is a guide to action, inspired by
real people in the real world.
what we do
SOME AREAS OF EXPLORATION
President, BAV Worldwide
Brand Tensity is a proprietary Y&R approach
to identifying compelling brand platforms for our clients
To learn more about Brand Tensity and how BAV data
can help position your brand for growth, please contact:
BAVLAB combines data with strategic planning expertise to help clients better understand their
brandS. Backed by 20 years of brand data and insights, we inspire motivating ideas, tactics,
partnerships and marketing platforms that drive brand momentum and yield tangible results.