Brand Development, Explained

I recently wrote a set of slide presentations for SlideShare to explain very simply, what brand-building is all about and I thought it might be worth sharing them with my blog’s readers and subscribers as well.

In recent years, brands have become more significant in a company’s operations and there are entire new disciplines emerging in both brand consulting as well as brand valuations. The little-recognised fact until now is that brands represent the intangible capital that companies have at their disposal and they are also the measure of how strong their relationships with customers and stakeholders are.

Many of you might have read Capitalism Without Capital by Jonathan Haskell and Stian Westlake, in which they write about the new economic reality of intangible capital becoming an important asset in the corporate world. I had written about this in a blog post some time ago. Along with data, patents and innovations, brands are part of intangible capital.

Well, many of us even from the world of advertising and brand communications have been slow to anticipate or recognize this, preferring instead to chase the world of data that digital communications promises. I have written about this as well on my blog and will not dwell further on it here. And therefore, I believe that as an industry we have not realised that we are creators of that long-term intangible capital that our client organisations depend upon.

I prefer to see brands as relationships that consumers have with products and services that they use and sometimes with the makers of those products and services, namely, companies. At the moment, in the world of brands there are three related, but distinct, areas of work: brand development, brand consulting, and brand valuations. And although we in advertising and brand communications always thought our work was only to create communication for brands, we were actually always in the business of helping our clients build brands. Because it is only brand communications that makes products brands. That should have automatically put us in the brand consulting field, except that because we didn’t see the value that brands represent to their owners, we fell short of fulfilling those requirements adequately.

The agency where I worked for almost half my career in advertising, Ogilvy, is responsible for building some truly great brands in India and across the world over several years, even decades. It is also where I learnt about allied communication disciplines besides advertising, such as direct response and public relations, and I have had the privilege of seeing them all work together in perfect orchestration on businesses such as American Express, British Airways and Seagram, to name a few.

Several advertising agencies, especially the large, well-established multinational ones, have their own methods and ways of looking at brand strategy, even if it is only brand communication strategy. At Ogilvy, we had the OMI Strategy Blueprint, which helped us understand the consumer, the competitive framework and how best to persuade him or her about our brand’s benefits so that he or she might consider using it.

Years later, we added another tool based on Geert Hofstede’s study, Organisations and Cultures, which helped us understand a brand’s architecture and cultural values as well. These helped us differentiate our clients’ brands better.

Over the years, I have also become convinced that companies are brands, albeit different from product brands. They have relationships with their customers and many other stakeholders and need to keep strengthening them. I have been putting my thoughts down on several brands, including on how product brands impact the corporate brand and vice versa. These can all provide important guidance to companies on what their corporate brand is based on, which product brands to emphasise more on, how to develop and build them, how to better integrate product brands with corporate brands, etc. All with a view to achieving the larger corporate strategy. There is an entire, relatively unexplored, field that I happen to see great value in, and am very excited about.

In the slide presentations I am sharing here, I have tried to simplify and explain the three building blocks of brand development: brand strategy, brand cultural values and brand communication. In addition, I devote a presentation each, to corporate brands, and cities and countries as brands.

You might have read some of my previous blog posts on brands. I hope these slide presentations will further your understanding of brands and how they can be built, as well as how they add value to people’s lives.

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