From reassurance to stimulation

Certainly the key concept of brand management is identity: we have been stressing it since 1990. ‘Identity’ means that the brand should respect its key values and defining attributes. However, there is a point where too much repetition of the same creates boredom. Too much predictability is a drawback in modern markets. (Table below)

This is why the role of modern brands is to stimulate the consumer to have new experiences. The role of the brand in providing reassurance and generating trust is not dead, far from it: but it needs to be used to encourage the consumer to take more risks, explore new behaviours, try new unexpected products. In order to do so, disruptive innovations become very important. To grow through time while keeping its identity, the brand should continue differently.

To this end there is a need for new research tools. Why are all companies now listening to forecasting consultants, trend spotters? Because they need to think now about what consumers are not thinking about today, but will think about tomorrow. Classical marketing research analyses sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the product or service or brand.

The outcomes can be used to prompt immediate and continuous improvements. But can disruption come from this type of marketing research? Satisfaction is always linked to customers’ existing values and goals. Research is needed also to spot how these values and goals will change, leading to new insights.

Brand management needs a set of boundaries. This is called brand identity, which covers how the brand defines itself, its values, its mission, its know-how, its personality and so on. A clear sense of identity is necessary, for the brand meaning to be reinforced by repetition. On the other hand market fragmentation, competitive dynamism and the need for surprises call not for reinforcement but for diversification. As ever, brand management will act as a pendulum, going from an excess of sameness to an excess of diversity. There is nothing wrong with this. The same holds true of the local/global dilemma, or the ethics versus business dilemma.

Another consequence is the need to know the identity of the brand. More precisely, what is its kernel, the attributes that are necessary for the brand to remain itself, and what are the traits that can show some flexibility? If all the attributes of the brand belong to its kernel, that is to say, they are all necessary to its identity, its ability to change will be hampered.

How can a brand surprise customers, evolve, adapt to new uses, situations and markets, if it is too rigidly defined? Peripheral attributes can change, or be present in some products but not in others. Eventually, innovations introduce new peripheral attributes, which may become

From risk to desire: the dilemma of modern branding

Brand = capital Brand = impulse
Capitalise Surprise
Repeat Diversify
Sameness Variety
Identity Change

The identity versus diversity dilemma

incorporated into the kernel at some point in time. This is how brands evolve through time, how innovations have an impact on their identity. Peripheral traits act as the key longterm change agents within brands (Abric, 1994; Michel, 2000). The tools to identify the traits held by consumers as kernel traits of a brand are presented below but their use is not sufficiently widespread.

The brands that ultimately last are those that are able to surprise their customers, and the customers of tomorrow in particular. This sums up the challenge facing modern brand management in a nutshell. Far from seeking to capitalise on its past – and thus to repeat itself – the brand should surprise, and promote change. This is what should be termed the ‘exploratory function’, which plays an epistemic role for the brand (Heilbrunn, 2003). But how can you know what will surprise the customers of tomorrow?

Market studies provide a good understanding of today’s customers; or at least, of the expectations they express. So much needs to be done to improve customer satisfaction. How long ago did readers receive a satisfaction questionnaire from their bank? Their car dealers? Their telephone company? To surprise customers, you need to take a long-term view – hence the growing use of trends in brand management.

Trends are hypotheses relating to change that occurs within small groups in our societies, but could potentially create a tidal wave among the general public. These trends are established on the basis of combined information regarding the demographic, technological, social and cultural future of our societies.

We thus need to define three levels of vision: long, medium and short term. Car concepts in the automobile sector, for example, are governed by long-term considerations. Decisions regarding models that are already part of the seven-year production plan are considered as medium term.

Strategic Brand Management Related Practice Tests

Strategic Management Practice Tests
Brand Equity In Question What Is A Brand? Differentiating Between Brandassets, Strength And Value Tracking Brand Equity Goodwill: The Convergence Of Finance And Marketing How Brands Create Value For The Customer How Brands Create Value For The Company Corporate Reputation And The Corporate Brand Strategic Implications Of Branding What Does Branding Really Mean? Permanently Nurturing The Difference Brands Act As A Genetic Programme Respect The Brand ‘contract’ The Product And The Brand Each Brand Needs A Flagship Product Advertising Products Through The Brand Prism Brands And Other Signs Of Quality Obstacles To The Implications Of Branding Brand And Business Building Are Brands For All Companies? Building A Market Leader Without Advertising Brand Building: From Product To Values, And Vice Versa Are Leading Brands The Best Products Or The Best Value? Understanding The Value Curve Of The Target Breaking The Rule And Acting Fast Comparing Brand And Business Models: Cola Drinks From Private Labels To Store Brands Evolution Of The Distributor’s Brand Are They Brands Like The Others? Why Have Distributor's Brands? The Financial Equation Of The Distributor’s Brand The Three Stages Of The Distributor’s Brand The Case Of Decathlon Factors In The Success Of Distributor's Brands Optimising The Dob Marketing Mix The Real Brand Issue For Distributors Competing Against Distributor's Brands Facing The Low-cost Revolution Should Manufacturers Produce Goods For Dob's? Brand Diversity: The Types Of Brands Luxury, Brand And Griffe Service Brands Brand And Nature: Fresh Produce Pharmaceutical Brands The Business-to-business Brand The Internet Brand Country Brands Thinking Of Towns As Brands Universities And Business Schools Are Brands Thinking Of Celebrities As Brands The New Rules Of Brand Management The Limits Of A Certain Type Of Marketing About Brand Equity The New Brand Realities We Have Entered The B To B To C Phase Brand Or Business Model Power? Building The Brand In Reverse? The Power Of Passions Beginning With The Strong 360° Experience Beginning With The Shop The Company Must Be More Human, More Open Experimenting For More Efficiency The Enlarged Scope Of Brand Management Licensing: A Strategic Lever How Co-branding Grows The Business Brand Identity And Positioning Brand Identity: A Necessary Concept Identity And Positioning Why Brands Need Identity And Positioning The Six Facets Of Brand Identity Sources Of Identity: Brand Dna Brand Essence Launching The Brand Launching A Brand And Launching A Product Are Not The Same Defining The Brand’s Platform The Process Of Brand Positioning Determining The Flagship Product Brand Campaign Or Product Campaign? Brand Language And Territory Of Communication Choosing A Name For A Strong Brand Making Creative 360° Communications Work For The Brand Building Brand Foundations Through Opinion Leaders And Communities The Challenge Of Growth In Mature Markets Growth Through Existing Customers Line Extensions: Necessity And Limits Growth Through Innovation Disrupting Markets Through Value Innovation Managing Fragmented Markets Growth Through Cross-selling Between Brands Growth Through Internationalisation Sustaining A Brand Long Term Is There A Brand Life Cycle? Nurturing A Perceived Difference Investing In Communication No One Is Free From Price Comparisons Branding Is An Art At Retail Creating Entry Barriers Defending Against Brand Counterfeiting Brand Equity Versus Customer Equity: One Needs The Other Sustaining Proximity With Influencers Should All Brands Follow Their Customers? Reinventing The Brand: Salomon Adapting To The Market: Identity And Change Bigger Or Better Brands? From reassurance to stimulation Consistency Is Not Mere Repetition Brand And Products: Integration And Differentiation Specialist Brands And Generalist Brands Building The Brand Through Coherence Defining The Core Identity Of The Brand Confirming The Presence Of Brand Core Facets In Each Product Identifying The Role Of Each Product Line In The Construction Of The Brand Graphically Representing The Overall System Of The Brand Checking The Coherence Worldwide The Three Layers Of A Brand: Kernel, Codes And Promises Respecting The Brand Dna Managing Two Levels Of Branding Growth Through Brand Extensions What Is New About Brand Extensions? Brand Or Line Extensions? The Limits Of The Classical Conception Of A Brand Why Are Brand Extensions Necessary? Building The Brand Through Systematic Extensions: Nivea Extending The Brand To Internationalize It Identifying Potential Extensions The Economics Of Brand Extension What Research Tells Us About Brand Extensions Avoiding The Risk Of Dilution Balancing Identity And Adaptation To The Extension Market Segments Assessing What Should Not Change: The Brand Kernel Preparing The Brand For Remote Extensions Keys To Successful Brand Extensions Is The Market Really Attractive? An Extension-based Business Model: Virgin How Execution Kills A Good Idea: Easycar Brand Architecture The Key Questions Of Brand Architecture Type And Role Of Brands The Main Types Of Brand Architecture The Flexible Umbrella Brand The Aligning Umbrella Brand (masterbrand) Choosing The Appropriate Branding Strategy New Trends In Branding Strategies Internationalising The Architecture Of The Brand Some Classic Dysfunctions What Name For New Products? Group And Corporate Brands Corporate Brands And Product Brands Multi-brand Portfolios Inherited Complex Portfolios From Single To Multiple Brands: Michelin The Benefits Of Multiple Entries Linking The Portfolio To Segmentation Global Portfolio Strategy The Case Of Industrial Brand Portfolios Linking The Brand Portfolio To The Corporate Strategy Key Rules To Manage A Multibrand Portfolio The Growing Role Of Design In Portfolio Management Does The Corporate Organization Match The Brand Portfolio? Auditing The Portfolio Strategically A Local And Global Portfolio – Nestlé Handling Name Changes And Brand Transfers Brand Transfers Are More Than A Name Change Reasons For Brand Transfers The Challenge Of Brand Transfers When One Should Not Switch Analysing Best Practices Transferring A Service Brand How Soon After An Acquisition Should Transfer Take Place? Managing Resistance To Change Factors Of Successful Brand Transfers Brand Turnaround And Rejuvenation The Decay Of Brand Equity The Factors Of Decline Distribution Factors When The Brand Becomes Generic Preventing The Brand From Ageing Rejuvenating A Brand Growing Older But Not Ageing Managing Global Brands The Latest On Globalisation Patterns Of Brand Globalisation Why Globalise? The Benefits Of A Global Image Conditions Favouring Global Brands The Excess Of Globalisation Barriers To Globalisation Coping With Local Diversity Building The Brand In Emerging Countries Naming Problems Achieving The Delicate Local–global Balance Being Perceived As Local: The New Ideal Of Global Brands? Local Brands Can Strike Back The Process Of Brand Globalisation Globalising Communications: Processes And Problems Making Local Brands Converge Financial Valuation And Accounting For Brands Accounting For Brands: The Debate What Is Financial Brand Equity? Evaluating Brand Valuation Methods Brand Valuation In Practice The Evaluation Of Complex Cases What About The Brand Values Published Annually In The Press? Strategic Brand Management Interview Questions