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3 Important Branding Lessons From ‘Breaking Bad’

By Sep 10, 2013

You can definitely count me as one of the millions of people helplessly addicted to the Guinness World Record-holding TV show “Breaking Bad.” I find the series, which heavily features methamphetamine, to be cheekily and fittingly addicting, yet I never thought it would have anything to do with my 9-to-5 task of writing about the wonderful world of marketing.

Then I saw Sunday night’s delightful episode, “To’hajiilee,” the 13th in the show’s fifth season. Therein lied three quotes that hold vital branding lessons for marketers.

(Note: If you haven’t watched the show but intend to watch the show in the future, or if you’re still in the early stages of the series, please note that the following quotes may shed a bit of light on what transpires closer to the grand finale. In other words, “spoiler alert,” though truly juicy context will be omitted.)

1)   “Blue is our brand”: This was the reaction a woman named Lydia had to seeing a batch of meth that was more white and impure than a highly coveted, pristine blue version of meth a certain set of buyers have taken a liking to. While the “cook” and his cronies were satisfied with the outcome, Lydia refused to compromise on the standards of her buyers. Lesson: Marketers can learn a thing or two from her staunchness and remember to stay on brand wherever they are – home pages, social media platforms, landing pages, mobile apps, display ads and beyond.

2)   “Have an A1 Day”: This is the tawdry motto of a car wash, cheerily spoken to customers after they’ve paid for its services. “It reinforces our brand,” the owner justifies when her son asks why he has to say it. Lesson: The lesson here is two-fold: marketers should find ways to be memorable, and they should ensure that their branding is taught and known to everyone within the company.

3)   “Better Call Saul”: This is the recurring advertising slogan used by a smarmy-yet-entertaining lawyer named Saul Goodman. Lesson: While you can argue that this is just as bad as the catchphrase above, this one is a much better model for marketers. It positions Saul as someone to turn to when you’re in need of help or advice, which is exactly what brands should be doing with their copywriting and content marketing. The simple phrase also emphasizes the specific action to take. The specific action of making a call is especially important for marketers as smartphone adoption grows, mobile optimization on websites and landing pages is par for the course, and click-to-call functionality becomes more useful.

If there are any other marketing lessons hidden in the remaining three episodes of “Breaking Bad,” you know where to find them.

 

 

  • S T

    With all of the highly profitable and well-established companies in the US, it’s surprising that you’ve learned these marketing lessons from a TV show about drug addiction. Aim higher.

    • PB

      Does that stick make it uncomfortable to sit down?

  • jzmcbride

    Love this article. Wish I’d have thought to write it for my own blog. Great job.

  • Craig McDaniel

    10 years ago when I created Sweepstakes Today, I created two logos. The second being Mr. Sweepy. The reason was I want to put on a happy face to our brand. Much like Disney and the Energizer Bunny. There was a reason that came later that prove more valuable. Mr. Sweepy as a keyword cost a faction of the price compared to “Sweepstakes”.
    My catch phrases? “Go win something!” and “What do you want to win today?”
    Old school marketing does work on the net but is forgotten.

  • don rua

    If you are going to blog about branding lessons in Breaking Bad, you need to do a post on the “Blowfish” pitch. Heisenberg, Blowfish, Chili P, the writers have a strong sense of branding, and how to deliver a message on the street.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HMts8iiZ3M

  • http://kayakonlinemarketing.com/ Randy Milanovic

    If there’s one thing that Walt and his associates have taught us over the past handful of years, it’s that a lot of life (and business success) lies in shades of gray, and that the best lessons are the ones that are learned through time and experience. A lot of us have learned firsthand that online marketing works in the same way.