Killing Giants with Brand Tension

A book is only as good as it’s insights. Not takeaways; those bullet lists are a dime a dozen. Insights change your thinking or change your action. For me, Brand Tension was the insight in  Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry by Stephen Denny.


Brand Tension: The combination of two complex, but complimentary brand elements. The result is an internal complexity that creates an externally dynamic brand that can topple a giant. This doesn’t mean abandoning focus, it means being more than a one-dimensional brand, such as “being green” or “first class service.”

Denny asserts that with giant-killing brands, “It’s always more than just one thing.” Start with one skill deeply entrenched in your culture, your heritage, your values or your passion. Then, add a second functional strength that’s meaningful to customer.

Denny’s example in Killing Giants is Method, a company that sells household and personal cleaners. Method’s brand tension is built on the twin prongs of sustainability and product design. Sustainable, or “green,” in that they sell naturally-derived, biodegradable products. Then method adds tension to their brand, selling their products in elegant, simple, and functional packaging.


It’s never one thing, There is always something else, a tempering second element which makes the whole come together.
– Stephen Denny in Killing Giants

What two elements can you combine into a powerful brand cocktail? | Skill + Strength |
What’s your brand tension?

How I review books

I don’t really review books in the sense that I say “this book is good.” I look for insights that change the way I think, or the way I do things. Typically that means diving deep into one particular chapter of the book.  I never review a book I haven’t read. I don’t do negative reviews.

You can purchase the book here: Killing Giants
You can learn more about the author here: Stephen Denny

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