Branding for referrals – more about the N.U.D.E. Model

I wrote about Scott Degraffenreid and his research which discovered the N.U.D.E. Model for referral marketing.

But I forgot to give you the details about the book and his website. So before I go on, here’s his website, You can order his book and/or an e-course from there.

If you recall, the letters N.U.D.E. stand for Novelty, Utility, Dependability and Economy. These are the four attributes Scott’s research revealed to be the motivators for referring a company, product or service. This combination, usually with emphasis of novelty and utility, are those that will, at least as perceived by the referrer, make the referrer LOOK GOOD in the eyes of the person receiving the referral.

One significant thought here: quality is not one of the attributes. Scott explains that on his website.

Anyway, novelty and utility together make a pair that form a tension between themselves that needs to be addressed. The same tension exists between dependability and economy.

Now I’ve known Scott and his theories for several years, and from his teachings (particularly through the IBI Free Enterprise Forum where Scott is a faculty member) I’ve formed several opinions about the value of tension in branding. This is especially pertinent to high-tech new products, but also relevant to any branding project.

In order to get noticed, in order to get press, in order to get the attention of distribution channel members, you need tension between the known and the unknown. Another way of presenting that is tension between problem and a unique solution (AKA differentiator).

And of course when branding for referrals you want to create those two tensions (novelty-utility, dependability-economy) in a way people can easily understand and communicate.

Here’s an example: a chiropractor client is also a mountain climber: That’s one of the reasons he relocated in Colorado. We developed his story – he wants to climb all 53 Colorado mountains of 14,000 foot or more. So he’s keeping a score card in his office, checking off mountains after he’s been to their summits. He always talks to his patients about his latest climb. His summary story: “Climbing the 14ers one at a time – only xx more to go. If you’re as active as I, you just might need a treatment.” Though they account for less than 25-percent of his clientele, he’s attracted mountain climbers to his practice. And he finds his story gets circulated most often to people in pain who have declared in conversation with one of the doctor’s current patients that they were aching because of a hike or climb.

So we’ve capitalized on the novelty (mountain-climbing doctor) and utility (chiropractic treatment). The natural tension between the two brings the business to top-of-mind with patients when the time is right.

Now there’s a lot more to this tension thing and to the N.U.D.E. Model. I’ll address it, but you can get a lot more info and understanding much more quickly by visiting Scott’s site.

Martin Jeslema

One thought on “Branding for referrals – more about the N.U.D.E. Model

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.