WHOLE BRAND THINKING™: How to run your brand like a sitcom — and win the market.

Brandrunner - Wide

If a show about nothing can influence an entire decade, think what’s possible for your brand if you study the strategy behind its success.

Seinfeld took over network television with nine beloved seasons of quotable comedy. It was the brainchild of Jerry Seinfeld, yes, but also of his collaborator and showrunner, Larry David, who was a master of turning Jerry’s ideas and concepts into the beloved TV episodes that defined the nineties. David essentially ran the show.

If you think about your brand as a TV show, your showrunners are employees who demonstrate both creative and management chops and make things happen. They keep the theater of your brand running, from concept and customer service to product and presentation. 

Take Apple, for instance. The Apple Store isn’t a fun and engaging place just because it has cool products and a stylish layout. Sure, those things help. But the brand has a core idea — “Think Different” — and in their stores, that idea comes to life. From the way you’re greeted to the way they ring up your purchase, it’s a different kind of retail experience. Everyone in that store knows their role. They all have a job to do delivering their piece of elegance to you. Every one of them is, in ways large and small, a showrunner for the Apple brand. It starts when they greet you and only ends when you walk out knowing you got what you came for.

Takeaway for whole brands: The key to success for a whole brand is that a core idea drives everything. So, everyone in the organization needs to know and understand that idea and how it relates to their roles. Saturate your entire operation with a brandrunner mentality. Build rituals around it. Make it an unwritten code that brandrunning is what your place is all about, and that anyone can do it … but everyone needs to do it because the brand is everyone’s responsibility.

Run the brand, run the business.


  1. Know your core idea. If it’s not strong enough, rework it until it is, so everyone in your organization is armed to be a brandrunner.

  2. Rethink your “brand guide” and “brand foundations.”  It’s not just a rule book for your logo. It’s an owner’s manual for the brand that explains and extends the core idea, teaching everyone its importance and its unique relevance.

  3. Introduce the idea of a brandrunner inside your brand. Make it fun — use inspiration from Hollywood. Have your talent recruiter search for people with an elevated combination of skills — people who know how to ideate but also know how to implement and spread ideas internally. 

Learn more about showrunners here.

This article originally appeared in the Whole Brand Briefing newsletter.

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