The Sex Panther Formula For Finding Your Brand’s Secret Sauce

Anchorman’s Brian Fantana may have been off the mark with his Sex Panther cologne, but his head was in the right place. Every brand could use a simple lesson in setting itself apart.

Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy’s friend and Channel 4’s field reporter, brings home the importance of having a “secret sauce” to make your product stand out in the movie Anchorman. Talking about Sex Panther, the best cologne in his arsenal when he’s on the prowl, Brian tells Ron that the cologne’s secret is that “It’s made with bits of real panther.” He then hits Ron with some research-based evidence, “They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time it works, every time.”

While Brian eventually ends up striking out (the target of his desire, co-worker Veronica Corningstone, likens the cologne’s aroma to that of “a used diaper”) the iconic scene does make the point: Every offering needs to have a secret sauce. And it has to have that something inside that leads to a differentiating benefit.

For example, Gatorade helps athletes recover faster in the heat by having ingredients that replenish their fluids and electrolytes quickly. Under Armour sportswear keeps athletes comfortable and dry because its high-tech fabric wicks away moisture from their bodies. Moving to a different arena, Walmart helps value-conscious shoppers live better by giving them the lowest prices every day.

One way to test if your brand has a secret sauce is to apply the tried-and-true “brand promise” format:

  • For (target customer)
  • Who needs (what they need)
  • The (offering name)
  • Is a (category)
  • That provides (primary differentiation benefit)
  • because (secret sauce/reason to believe)

For example, Sex Panther’s brand promise would be:

  • For young men
  • who want to attract women
  • Sex Panther
  • is the cologne
  • that works sixty percent of the time, every time
  • because it’s made out of bits of real panther.

When I speak with marketers it’s that last part, the secret sauce, the reason-to-believe, that their brands struggle with. Sometime it’s not clear, what, if anything, makes them special. Oh sure, there’s vague references to “quality” or “better performance” but too often there’s no understanding of what’s unique about the brand.

So what to do?

1. Find out what’s different about your brand. 

2. Scope out the competition.

3. Find a gap in the market.

Here’s the full story.

mountain biker: need to save this for later… :)