Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Editor’s note: Today we welcome a new Zyncro Author: Javier Velilla, founding partner and director of the strategic communication consultancy company Comuniza. He is an expert in brand management, planning and social networks. He is also a professor at higher education centers, businesses and institutions, as well as an academic researcher and author of a book on branding. Thanks for joining the Zyncrommunity, Javier
Strong brands target consumers. They must do so from within, but outwardly. More or less introspective proposals, focused on, say, the product or on quality, are not enough. For example, in the kitchen manifesto of elBulli, the subject of quality lies second out of the 23 declarations: “The use of products of maximum quality, and knowledge of the technique to prepare them, goes without saying”. This culinary synthesis defines a style, and for years was behind the performance of this mythical restaurant. In short, quality is not enough and competitive branding needs more.
More what? Performance of brand management has been discussed at length. In times of crisis when efficiency is a mantra, is there any return on brand management? Does branding make sense? And what sort of sense?
Yes, (of course) it makes sense. Brand equity is dependent on a large number of factors we will thresh out in later posts, but the impact of these factors affects brand value, an intangible but vitally important reality (the same as other realities such as know-how). For accounting purposes, brand value can be calculated as an intangible asset or goodwill, but the aim of this post is to look outside this dimension (which makes sense, particularly when a company has to be valued for a corporate operation).
The valuation of a brand is based on three simultaneous analyses: legal, financial and performance. Looking at the indicators which, although not set in concrete do offer a very revealing perspective, we perceive that a correct branding for an organization strengthens its market position, acting as an entrance barrier to new competitors, making copying more difficult, facilitating the incorporation of better talent, making access to financing easier, building memorable relations, orienting the sense of the organization as a shared culture…
The key to understanding the value of a brand is knowing to what extent it contributes to the success of the business (and, to do so, focus must be on this objective).
Essentially, managing a brand efficiently could help to accelerate your business at least from the point of view of four aspects:
Defining the competitive field you operate in.
It establishes the competitive arena, the rules of the game and relative differences. The brain’s function is, mainly, to discriminate constant sound and the thousands of impacts we receive each day. In this regard, the brand is a symbolic exercise that unifies, categorizes and organizes a large amount of information.
In time frames (remember G. Lakoff and his elephant), a brand helps because it provides a very economical solution to conveying a large amount of information. Starbucks isn’t only coffee, it’s a “third place”; Volvo is safety on wheels; Estrella Damm is the Mediterranean; Duracell adopts the logic of superheroes… This exercise allows, in the terms of W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, blue oceans to be created where the competition is nothing less than irrelevant.
Defining who the brand exists for (in other words, the target).
The proposal must mean something to someone, which is often manifested by profiles based on behavior. A brand is a proposal aimed at someone in particular. Séneca said that “there is no fair wind for a boat that doesn’t know where it’s headed”. Defining a target means choosing, and choosing requires ruling out. Strong brands are capable of conveying a proposal of value to specific people (or groups which share very specific motivations). For this point, segmentation is increasingly more to do with responding to insights, in other words, understanding that people have goals and that the way of discovering how to meet them is essential.
Defining the vision of the world, the brand goal that synthesizes its mission, vision and values.
This goal comes in the form of a promise that balances a combination of rational, emotional and relational elements. A business is an organization of people, therefore the collective sense (the goal, the dream, the challenge) should be inspiring and the cornerstone of the people who work there.
Defining and extracting value from the main trends to align the business with cross-cutting elements that give the brand depth and speed.
The world is changing and markets are becoming more and more dynamic. Brands that connect more closely to trends are capable of taking more value from the market and assuring they are competitive.
And this is the secret. There are few approaches that are more powerful for a brand than working on these four aspects.