Five Management Traits For Global Brands

Via Brandchannel & Interbrand, an interesting list of five management traits that are employed by leading global brands.

Seek out insights:

Outstanding brands identify customer insights. When these insights are shared across cultures they assist in a brand’s adoption globally.

Integrate local intelligence:

Brand guidelines are tremendous tools for ensuring consistency. However, they have been known to impede innovation and diminish relevance. Brands are dynamic, never static, so the management of them must integrate new thought. In the case of global brands, to assume that one message can appeal uniformly to all audiences with equal relevance is unrealistic. Well-managed global brands cull local markets for intelligence related to the ‘next big thing’ to ensure local relevance and to counter competitor’s moves.
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Drive Organisational Growth Through Your Brand Strategy

A brand touches every part of the organisation and cannot be defined by: a product or service; a logo or graphical identity; an advertising campaign; a symbol; a spokesperson or a name.

Ultimately the brand is the intellectual and experiential substance behind the value you create in your customer, staff and stakeholders mind. This is far more than just creating a brand perception. It is about ensuring the delivery on the perception so that brand perception and brand reality become the same thing.

How do we go about developing an effective brand strategy that is designed to drive organisational growth? Here a simple five step process as a guideline:

1. Redefine organisation strategy to include the principle that your brand is everything and drive brand from the top of the organisation.
2. Understand clearly who you are, and who you are not, as an organisation.
3. Understand your target market clearly:

  • Understand how their purchases are broken down between the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase stages.
  • Understand what their specific needs and motives are during the different stages, as they will be very different during each stage
  • Understand how your organisation impacts on each stage

4. Identify and engage with your brand culture as this will drive your staff’s behaviour and result in a positive brand experience.
5. Understand how to measure the above in terms of brand strength and the strategy pillars, so you know how to adjust your organisation in a meaningful way.

Branding as Business Personality

Big companies with big marketing budgets usually have personalities. Their ad agency calls this branding, but it is really just a corporate personality.

Giving your company a personality can be done on the cheap, an important thing for a small or medium-sized business.

The real cost of a corporate personality is commitment. A commitment to represent yourself through your corporate, personal and community communications with a consistent (and positive) personality.

Personality makes you a brand – not the other way around. Personality is what makes people remember you, for better or worse. A good personality makes people come back for more.

A personality can make your business remarkable.

Hiring a Branding Company – 5 Tips

1. Know your needs and have an idea about how you’d like them met.
2. Go ahead, be a fan. If you admire the branding efforts of a certain company, call around and find out who did the work.
3. Go with a referral, not a blind hire. Canvass your contacts. This is always better than hiring someone with no frame of common reference. I
4. Throw a few companies a bone & see what they do with it. Give them a general question or problem scenario. See how responsive they are and how much time it appears they put into crafting their response.
5. Money isn’t taboo. Once you’ve found a company you’d like to work with, discuss it from the outset. It’s better to agree on financial terms from the start than for either of you to be in a precarious position somewhere down the line.

When CEOs Are Part of the Brand

Branson, Gates, Jobs and the examples of CEOs that are part of their corporate brand equity can go on and on. Business Times has an insight on this:

A study by global communications company Burson Marsteller showed that the CEO’s reputation is responsible for approximately 50 per cent of a company’s reputation, which translates into achieving key business objectives and increasing sales.Like it or not, CEOs are part of a company’s brand equity. In other words, the leaders inevitably reflect on the company.

Today, consumers expect a consistency between a company’s brand message and the behaviour and image of its key executives. Brand validity can only be fully achieved if the CEO embodies the brand and its values to meet the new challenges of an increasingly critical and demanding marketplace.

The CEO is often said to be the brand leader or guardian of the company’s brand. Consequently, all CEOs need to clearly understand the value and importance of the powerful, clearly defined corporate and personal brands. They need to ensure that there should be a clear brand strategy in place and that all stakeholders in the organisation understand and embrace it to deliver the brand promise.

4 Steps To Start-Up Your Brand

Where do you start building up your brand? Steve Strauss author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. answers for USA Today‘s readers:

Step 1: Understand how you are perceived: How do people perceive your business now? Is that how you want to be perceived?

Step 2: Decide upon your Unique Selling Proposition: What makes you or your business unique, different, special? What niche is available that only you can fill?

Step 3: What are customer expectations? What do your clients typically expect of you? What unique attributes do you offer that best fit client expectations?

Step 4: Make it personal, if possible: Who do you trust more, a corporation or a person? Whom would you expect to give you better customer service – a corporation or a person? What about honesty – whom do you think is more honest? The answer to all three, of course, is a person. That is why, if possible, it is often a good idea for a small businessperson to tie his or her own name/personality in with the brand. People like and trust people more than businesses.

The fourth point is probably the strongest and really recommended especially for small businesses cases. Interesting reading here: Time for some brand aid

Managing a Brand Under Fire

Even though is dealing with pharmaceutical industry branding, I spotted a very intersting article, over BrandWeek, that deals with how to manage your branding when your company, or even your whole industry is under fire, and has to face negative reactions to some aspects, whether from the public or the media.

Strategically, a shift is needed throughout the industry—from corporate brands to their agency partners—toward a better understanding of consumers. The industry must know how consumers truly feel (as patients, as caregivers and as family members), what they want, how they react and what drives them to action.

Well so far, is a little general, but here is a list with some practical strategies ideas that help: Continue reading

Key Branding Trends in 2006

Robert Passikoff is president/founder of Brand Keys, which has published the Customer Loyalty Index of leading companies in 26 product and service categories since 1996., has an interesting article over at Chief Marketer about what he calls the five key trends that will determine the difference between success and failure for brands and marketers for 2006:

1. An emphasis on “engagement.”
Inserting itself between traditional marketing activities and an increasing demand for return on investment assessments, engagement will become the Holy Grail for marketers and advertisers. Defined as the outcome of ad and marketing activities that substantively increases a brand’s strength in the eyes of the consumers, engagement will be used more and more to allocate marketing budgets. Continue reading

Interactive Brands

The brand – the collection of sentiments, concepts, ideas, myths, whatever, surrounding your product or commercial offering – is beholden to the needs, desires and tastes of consumers. Your brand had better be able to adjust or it becomes irrelevant. What your target consumers consider a relevant message is even more shifty and unstable than what they consider a relevant product.

The brands are interactive in the sense that the web in general, and blogs in particular, are making the feedback loop between consumers and marketers incredibly tight. But the only thing new about the situation is its immediacy; the loop has shrunk from a traffic circle to a wedding ring. The “brand stewardship” model of marketing, in which the brand is dictated to the consumer and only grudgingly changes course under threat of absolute ruin, has always been wrong-headed. You can’t completely and totally manage, control and broadcast your brand or its perception. Immediate feedback and reactionary blogging have only amplified what has always been the case. Brands are creatures of relevance and relevance is incredibly unstable. If a brand can’t intelligently react to maintain relevance (in a way consistent with its history) then it will fail.

It’s our job to look ahead, determining relevance and the appropriate means of communication for our clients. But first we must understand that it’s interaction, not broadcast.

Well said.

Five-level Brand Leadership Model

The BBDO’s five-level brand leadership model provides a systematic approach to developing brands. This model comprises five development stages that function as building blocks for brands to reach or be elevated to.

Level 1 – Proprietary goods

At this level, the functional aspects of a product are in the foreground. Typical of a proprietary good is the fact that, though it literally has been “branded” with a label (in the physical sense), no advertising efforts is expended for it. In this context, the product is branded to indicate its provenance and affix a “seal of quality” that comes from its manufacturer. This quality pledge allows consumers to clearly associate any deviation from the expected quality with a specific manufacturer. The supplier commits itself to a pledge on which consumers can call the company at any time and which they expect – if not demand – that company to deliver.

Level 2 – Branded products

In addition to the characteristics of a proprietary good as outlined above, this level also includes success factors as yardsticks of “major brands.” Besides bearing the basic manufacturer’s mark, a branded item fulfills certain criteria such as constant, above-average quality, above-average price level and a high level of awareness created by way of advertising pressure. A branded item is characterized by the fact that it is widely distributed and enjoys major recognition on the market. One characteristic of brands at this level is the fact that, while their consumers have access to additional information, the quality of this information has achieved neither mind share nor heart share. In other words, these brands have not yet succeeded in forging emotional bonds with consumers.

Level 3 – Positioned brands

The brands clustered here are set apart by their emotional and cognitive impact on consumers in addition to their functional utility.

At this level of development, consumer attitudes and associations are extremely important. Expertise about preferences and purchase patterns, coupled with cognitive and emotive positioning efforts, is used to evoke certain associations among consumers. To this end, the consumer must, however, also interpret the message conveyed by the brand. To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality.

To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality. The result of these measures can then be seen in a product’s ability to capture a certain position on the market and hold its own against the competition.

Level 4 – Identity-building brands

This identity is the product of interplay between producer and consumer to create a suitable brand environment. The brand is integrated into the consumer’s personality.At this level of brand leadership, consumers define themselves via the brand (and the brand via its loyal customers), relying on it for self-expression and identity formation.

The suitable drivers at this level are communication tools with specific attributes – for instance, emotionality, interactivity or virtuality – that support the process of building brand identity particularly well.

Level 5 – Mythological brand

As with the level of identity-building, a “mystique brand” helps provide customers with a social orientation, and most of all with a metaphysical orientation. Increasingly, such a brand assumes the function of a guide or mentor offering insight into the meaning of life, helping consumers better process the social and the existential, and offering them support when it comes to finding their place within the “collective self.”

No drivers can be identified for this level because the timeframe for brand development is extremely long and special societal factors are indispensable. This brand status is not desirable for all brands and can only be achieved in isolated cases. A brand at this level, virtually having attained a cult or “religious” status, is difficult to manage; the danger of falling down to earth is extremely high due to the risk of disappointing followers or alienating a portion of them. In addition, such a brand is vulnerable to potential value shifts within a society that are completely beyond a company’s control.