Sainsbury's, Live Well For Less

What makes a great ‘brand idea’?

When is a brand really a campaign? When’s a campaign really a brand?

We’ve been working with a well-known charity who need to move perceptions in a big way to achieve an audacious goal in the coming years.

They haven’t come looking for a new brand, but they do want something close – a ‘brand idea’. We immediately felt excited by the prospect, but with a big group of stakeholders we also needed a shared understanding of what a ‘brand idea’ is.

Define a brand idea?

We think a brand idea is one that:

  • Can be applied at the core or highest level of the brand.
  • Clarifies or pushes on the brand positioning and values.
  • Is relevant at multiple touch-points, across channels and all audiences.
  • May or may not feature a specific call to action.
  • Has long-term value and relevance – a good ‘shelf life’.

So it doesn’t qualify as a rebrand (the name and mark don’t change), but it may well change the strapline, affect style and tone of voice, and will undoubtedly create new opportunities to develop stories and content.

There are many examples of this, but three we found ourselves talking about were from Sainsbury’s, Persil and Cancer Research UK.


Brand: Sainsbury’s
Idea: ‘Live Well for Less’


This idea appeared in 2011, replacing ‘Try something new today’ (and Jamie Oliver). ‘Live well for less’ played out with soft-centred, Instagram-ish family scenes, light on branded product placement and heavy on the Good Life.

The campaign helped align the Sainsbury’s brand with post-financial-crash Britain. It also managed to speak to both value and values, espousing the joy of the simple things in life (see also: IKEA’s The Wonderful Everyday’), while addressing competition from new budget competitors and perceptions their own brand – the strapline is distilled from the nuanced message: ‘You can live well for less than you thought at Sainsbury’s’.

Compare with ASDA / Walmart’s woeful ‘Save Money, Live Better’ – a creative cul-de-sac.

(How much longer will Sainsbury’s be living well for less? A few days ago it was announced that Wieden and Kennedy have replaced AMV BBDO, who were Sainsbury’s creative agency for 35 years.)


Brand: Persil / Omo
Idea: Dirt is Good 

Persil, baby, dirt is good

Launched in 2014, and active across 78 countries, ‘Dirt is Good’ turns the conventional cleaning product attitude to grime on its head. In a famously saturated marketplace that spent decades telling us how much whiter things could be, Persil managed to find somewhere more interesting to take the conversation.

As well as delivering a more positive and celebratory tone, it’s created space to link the brand with a big societal issue: huge numbers of inactive kids and a lack of outdoor spaces for them to be active in. Persil’s invested in highlighting the issue, making a film that contrasts the amount of time prisoners and children spend in fresh air and linking up with campaign The Wild Network – more purposeful terrain for the brand to play in.


Brand: Cancer Research UK
Idea: Beat Cancer Sooner

Cancer Research UK

Can you distil your purpose into a three-word call-to-action? CRUK wanted to shift marketing that had been “too clinical” and “too scientific” and launched Beat Cancer Sooner in 2013.

The power is in the confidence – cancer *will* be beaten, it’s about how quickly we make it happen. That gives this concept authority and momentum, backed by the good news about survival rates that CRUK have helped make a reality, and which they are determined to push on.