Brands Need Long-term Vision and Care

In addition to my last blog post in which I had shared five of my presentations on the building blocks of brand development, I thought it might make sense to explore other aspects of brand-building as well.

I have been thinking about these subjects for many years, while observing developments in the advertising and marketing industry, even though I have been out of it in an active sense for almost two decades. As I have written before, I have used all this time to think, formulate and crystalise my thoughts on brands and hope to put it all to work someday.

In particular, I have been disconcerted by companies looking at brands as nothing more than products with a brand name, with which to take on competitors in the marketplace. Many a time, very little attention is paid to what that brand does for the company and its image. Even less thought goes into how a new brand acquisition helps the company and its corporate brand. And most of all, I find the mad rush to the digital space quite amusing and annoying, because as I have written on my blog before, digital media has yet to evolve to be able to play an important role upstream in brand-building. At the moment, it is nothing more than a downstream sales funnel.

The three dimensions of brand-building that I would like to focus on in this piece, and for each of which I have a presentation to share, are brand differentiation, brand integration and brand extensions. They are all important aspects of building a brand over the long term.

It begins with creating a brand differentiation right at the start, which is inherent to building a brand. As I say in the presentation, it is the very reason for the brand to exist, and naturally requires companies to have a clear and long-term vision for it.

As the brand grows and becomes established, companies usually tend to leverage the brand’s strengths by extending it to new product lines, thereby strengthening the brand and growing their revenues. At what point does over-extending the brand become a threat to its very existence and what should one ensure while extending brands, are some of the issues I deal with in the second presentation.

Over the course of time, brands also tend to proliferate at companies, and quite often companies tend to lose count of just how many brands they exactly have, and how many can they truly do justice to, with the right investments and marketing budgets. It’s not uncommon, therefore, to find companies, divesting what they call “non-core assets” (brands) and right-sizing, every decade or so. What’s more, often these brands do not form part of a whole, of a single, distinctive and comprehensive image of a company. That’s because nobody thought of the company when the brand was being conceived.

Brand integration is the increasingly important dimension I look at, in the third presentation, in an attempt to integrate all the brands as much as possible with the corporate brand. That way, brands all add value to the corporate brand, and various corporate brands in a diversified conglomerate all contribute to the single unified corporate brand.

Together, these presentations form a piece on building brands over the long-term, a journey that requires vision, careful planning and ideating, and attention at every stage. Besides, of course, consistency and sustained investments.

These days, brand valuations as intangibles are all the rage, and there are a few established companies in the advertising and brand communications industry that offer brand valuation ranking as a service. As a writer in the advertising and brands communications business with sound strategic skills, I have preferred to stay with brand strategy and brand campaign ideas thus far. I suppose I will put my mind to the brand valuation exercise next, since it is a necessary – though less engaging – part of brand-building.

I do have some preliminary thoughts on the parameters that brand valuations ought to be based on and will give it further thought. Although it would be a pity, if companies built their brands only in pursuit of higher valuations, though it appears to be an unavoidable part of business. Meanwhile, watch this space.  

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