“It’s rarely one brand that knocks off another. Usually, brands succumb to self-inflicted wounds.”

See what I did there? I opened up this post about quotes from You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Ass by branding expert Kurt Bartolich with a quote from the book.


The essence of the opening quote and of the book is brand conservancy. Protection. Vigilance. Curation.

Many branding books have been written on how to build a brand. Now we’ve got a clear and concise guide to nurturing and protecting our most valuable asset from the lack of discipline and understanding that devalue, if not destroy, our brand.


The book title itself is a quote. “I immediately recognized how it embodies everything I believe about branding,” Kurt writes in the opening chapter about the expression he heard an account manager use with a client.

And with that … two dozen quotes about brand conservancy from You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Ass.

All quotes are from the author, except where credited to someone else. They’re included here in sequence as they appear in the book. All bolding is mine.


24 Quotes on Brand Conservancy

1. Consumers are the proprietors of brands, while companies are the caretakers.”

2. “A confused customer buys nothing.” – Annette Franz Gleneicki, VP of Customer Experience at Touchpoint Dashboard

3. “The marketing department – and every department – has one purpose: To curate the brand.”

4. “Taking a non-partisan position requires having evidence gathered by a third party and sharing the insights with your employees. That way, you can create a level playing field by mandating all challenges be rooted in what your consumers need, not what employees want. Stripping away the subjectivity will both galvanize your employees toward common goals and intensify their engagement.”

5. “You need to explain your company’s purpose and outline expectations for internal and external clients alike. Make it unique to your company, make it memorable, keep it real and, just for fun, imagine it on the bottom of a coat of arms.” – Richard Branson

6. “Far too often, there’s a chasm between the company’s purpose and the brand customers expect. But a brand mission can help you bridge that gap because it embodies your “why” (purpose), “how” (differentiation), “who” (target customers), and “what” (customer expectations).”

7. “Every organization needs a brand mission to ensure that the promise your brand makes and the payoff your consumers expect are one and the same. Essentially, what you say you do is what you always do.”

8. “When unique value is absent, consumers make purchasing decisions based on default factors such as lowest price, convenience, or familiarity with an employee – none of which are controllable or sustainable.”

9. “If you think paying higher wages than your competition is the solution to hiring the best people, you would be wrong. The right employees for your organization must be driven not by money but by your organization’s mission.” – Jim Collins (Forbes, 2013)

10. “If you’re not working for the brand, then you’re working against it.”

11. Be yourself. No one is more uniquely qualified.”

12. “Business thinkers typically put profits ahead of people while brand thinkers put people ahead of profits.”

13. “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy.” – Jack Welch, GE CEO (Financial Times, 2009)

14. “The truth is this: Consumers really don’t care about your business. They only care about what’s in it for them – i.e., your brand. Put another way, when you’re focused on feeding the business, you will starve the brand.”

15. “The more focused I am, the more I’m seen as an expert. Being an expert commands a higher ROI for a project. As soon as I started focusing on what I do best, I was able to increase my revenue immediately.” – Teresa Carey, founder of Performance Pointe

16. “As soon as a brand tries to be everything to everybody, it loses focus in the mind of the consumer.” – John Wolkonowicz, Bulin Group, (New York Times, 2001 – as Mercedes Benz rolled out $25,000 hatchback)

17. “When it comes to partnerships and innovation, the question to ask yourself more than ‘can we do it?’ is ‘should we do it?’”

18. “Like any relationship, you’ll get more traction through consistency. So, when businesses color outside the perceptive lines consumers have assigned the brand, they undermine that congruency and the very thing that attracted people to it in the first place.”

19. “Making conservancy, not expansion the priority for your brand is difficult because company leaders are constantly under pressure to grow the business.”

20. “Good marketers know that only members of the target audience can decide what is ‘too long’ and what is ‘too short.’ If people are really interested in something, they want more. If they are not interested, they want less. You cannot have too much of a good thing, but any amount of a bad thing is too much.” – Ira Kalb, Kalb and Associates

21. “Ultimately, I believe you say only what you need to and nothing more to get your message across.”

22. “Specificity also means avoiding claims such as ‘best,’ ‘unique,’ ‘safest,’ and so on. These are vague and company-centric, not consumer oriented. They are also results; they’re not reasons to choose your brand.”

23. “The key is to recognize that in terms of brand equity, all that really matters is that the customer develops a positive image. Experience or word of mouth is probably the best way to do that.” – Kevin Keller, professor of marketing at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

24. “Brand thinkers tend to spend their money on product development and employee and customer experience more than advertising. By doing so, they create stories that their customers willingly share with others.”


It’s True: You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Ass

Though lengthy and substantial, this list is some tiny fraction of the value packed into this fun, helpful read. Kurt packs every chapter with real life examples and stories from his decades of experience to make key points more tangible.

As one of the quotes above implies, the relevance of these ideas transcends the marketing department or leadership team.

Brand conservancy is everyone’s business.

Learn more, read my book review, and order You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Ass by clicking here.


brand, branding, brand conservancy, brand vigilance, Kurt Bartolich, You Can't Ride Two Horses with One Ass