The “Secret Powers of Brands” is a free course offered by the University of Anglia and designed by Wolff Olins. For today’s topic, we will focus on the 3Ps of branding. If you have ever taken a marketing class, chances are your first few lessons focused on the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion).

What are the Secret Powers of Branding?

What are the Secret Powers of Branding?

Well, according to Wolff Olins, Branding has 3 Ps (Proposition, Purpose, and Personality). The 3 Ps are explained as aspects of a Brand which answer different questions that lead to different types of engagement with the target audience.


The proposition is the answer to the “what” questions of branding. What do I get? What makes it worth the money? And, what makes it better than the competition? This question has to do less with the tangible product a customer gets and more with the intangible benefits a customer receives. For example, a trip to Disney gives you access to rides and shows which lead to family fun. The family fun is intangible but customers have to decide whether that family fun is worth the money. The overall experience of Disney is so unique that it separates the brand from the competition. Of course, other theme parks or other venues also provide family fun but they don’t do it through the “Disney Experience.”


Purpose answers the “why” questions of branding. Why do we exist? Why should we do this? And, why should anyone care? The answers to these questions are geared more toward the justification of the brand to even exist by addressing the need it fulfills. An example of this would be virgin’s mission to “change business for good” or Starbuck’s mission “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”. The answers to the why questions of branding are often very deep and go beyond the selling of products and experiences to produce much more aspirational and ethereal applications to solve world problems.


Personality is the “how” of branding. How does it feel? How does it come across? And, how do you do things? Personality is completely dependent on the perception of the target audience. A brand may be trying to create cool and hip personality but this may resonate with the audience. For example, the PT cruiser was meant to serve a young segment of the population which was 18-25 years of age. Unfortunately, the PT cruiser failed to impress this segment of the population because the car failed to seem cool and hip to 18-25-year-olds. Fortunately, the baby-boomer generation found the PT cruiser’s personality to be nostalgic inspired PT cruiser’s old-time design and the PT cruiser was able to connect with that segment of the population. This was completely unintentional but very lucky for the marketer of the PT Cruiser. The PT Cruiser was able to find its own personality and connect with a target other than its original intended segment. If the PT Cruiser had failed to find a personality, the product would have simply failed as many do in the market.

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November 2, 2018

What are the Secret Powers of Branding?

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