These brand tenants should be evicted

January 23, 2010

The word ‘brand’ has been so pulverized by misuse that it has become devoid of any specific meaning. It is a verbal husk from which most of the nutrition has been extracted.

As a result, other words are frequently added to it in an attempt to inject some meaning. Thus we have Brand Core, Brand DNA, Brand Insistence, Brand Momentum, Brand Physique and Brand Science, to mention just a few notable examples of the genre.

I came across a new one recently.

A presenter from a research company of international repute was earnestly discussing the “brand tenants” of a company to a group of its senior executives. No, I did not hear incorrectly; there it was emblazoned on the screen:

BRAND TENANTS.

These ‘tenants’ included words such as ‘innovative’ and ‘trusted’ with supporting verbiage. No one blinked, not an eyebrow was raised.

In search of brand tenants

It had me guessing for a while before I realized she meant ‘tenets’.

While tenet and tenant share the same root tenere (to hold) they mean totally different things. A tenant is a person that pays rent to use or occupy land or a building owned by another; a tenet is an opinion, doctrine, or principle held as being true by a person or especially by an organization (it says so in the dictionary).

Brand tenets, however wearisome the verbal concoction, makes some sense. Meanwhile, those company executives in the meeting are presumably quite content to believe they have brand tenants. Which is OK, as long as they don’t expect to collect rent from them.


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