Back in 1996, when I started my freelance business, I rarely ran across a small business owner who actually understood the meaning of the word “branding.”

“I don’t need any branding. I don’t have any cows.”

Yea, I’m not kidding. I’ve heard that.

I believe it was around 2008 that I began to hear the word “branding” used in certain “in the know” circles. Nowadays, the word—and especially the concept—are understood well enough that even mainstream entertainment is teaching us lessons on branding.

Who’s a Fan of Breaking Bad?

Did you see last week’s episode? Did you catch the branding references?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Breaking Bad is an AMC show about a chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer and told he doesn’t have long to live. White takes up crystal meth production to financially protect his family (including a son with cerebral palsy) in the event of his untimely death.

Ok, let’s talk branding…

Brand Bouts in To’hajiilee (Season 5, Episode 13)

From meth cookers to car wash owners, this episode really illustrates the importance of great branding and why it’s essential for any business success. By emphasizing the importance of branding in two separate incidents in one episode, the show’s writers were able to tie together just one component of what may have been the best episode yet.

A Catchy Slogan…

It reinforces our brand.

In the first example, we see Walter White’s wife (Skyler) teaching their son (Walt Jr.) to cheerfully say, “Have an A-1 Day!” to every customer as he or she pays for their services.

Let’s “break” it down… By encouraging this slogan to be repeated over and over to each and every customer, the Whites are encouraging others to think of the car wash’s name whenever they make a purchase. This encourages brand loyalty because the customer will remember the catchy slogan and the pleasant experience of the car wash, only to return again and again every time their car gets dirty. As a bonus, the line’s catchiness may encourage customers to repeat it to others (even if in jest), which could ultimately benefit the car wash due to the attraction of more customers via word-of-mouth.

A Consistent Product…

Blue is our brand.

In the same episode, Lydia explains to Todd (who has taken over as meth-cooking assistant) that their meth must be blue in coloration or people won’t buy it.

Let’s “break” it down… The meth made by Heisenberg (White’s underground moniker) is blue in color because it’s so pure. The buyers and dealers prefer the blue meth because it’s recognizable as the highest quality product available on the market. This is why Lydia, refusing to compromise on quality, won’t accept the product—even though the cooks insist it’s just as good. The blue color is the brand itself. Any other coloration would denote an inferior quality product. Brand consistency in both quality and appearance creates brand loyalty, as the product, service and/or brand are easily recognizable and memorable in the eyes of the consumer.

Disclaimer: The Branding Spot does not condone or encourage the use or sale of illicit drugs. The purpose of this post is to recognize just how important branding is for businesses, as shown by the fact that the idea clearly applies to ANY business model.

Can you think of any other shows or movies that also contain branding references? Love to hear them!