Chapter 11 : BRAND ARCHITECT
Introduction - why directors of intangible assets increasingly need to be architects
The brand architect is concerned with overviewing how a company's branding of goodwill is being organised strategically to add value and leverage corporate advantage. Beyond fragmented management of a portfolio of separated brands, there is a new world of competition in which survival of the fittest ultimately depends on foresightful evolution of a company's brand architecture. How can two brands be presented together in a way which the consumer perceives as offering the best of both brands' worlds?
The construction of brand partnerships within a company raises issues like : how do we get the most out of linkages between top level banner/corporate branding and lower level product sub-branding?
Back in 1989, Peter Drucker observed that partnership strategy would become increasingly important and would overtake the importance of competitive strategy at some time in the 1990s. So a company's brand architects also need to keep on asking: how can we learn the most about partnering brands with other companies?
An external brand partnership is used to cultivate a valuable alliance with another organisation. It is vital to plan how to make a win-win game for both organisations, and to foresee what other processes and competences additional to brand identities are actually being connected up. The architect of any valuable union must have a well balanced sense of control and flexibility. Both parties will need this talent to live in harmony and to profit from co-leadership.
|When two brand organisations partner, one linkage leads to another|
2) essence link?
3) future news link?
4) additive core competence strategy?
5) organisational process interfaces and team networking?
Practising brand architects can therefore qualify at two levels of expertise:
- compulsory curriculum for architects - know company's internal brand architecture
- advanced curriculum for master-architects - lead other companies into brand partnerships through superior understanding of both company's brand architectures.
In this context, we can soon see why some brands are multi-billion dollar assets, but only when they are directed dynamically by a CEO who believes in architectural learning.
However big the ultimate strategic prizes, brand architects must keep on returning to the fundamental question : how can different levels of branding within the company be linked up as partners to create more value than the sum of their existing parts. Learning this procedure helps to clarify issues like that of internal allocation of resources between brands. Best practice architecture of this sort removes the politics which occurs within organisations when rival groups of managers are fighting turf battles to ensure that their branded empires get the most of the company's investments both in monetary terms and in claims to people's time.
The good news is that you can take a helicopter ride over a company's brand architecture quite easily. Its primary building blocks (shown in Figure 1) should be:
levels of branding from top level corporate or banner brands to bottom level product sub-brands
linkages between brands
Figure 1 - BRAND ARCHITECTURE 1
TOP LEVEL "BANNER" BRANDS CONNECT GOODWILL ACROSS MARKET TERRITORIES...
THEY ARE PROCESSES CONNECTING UP ORGANISATION, STRATEGY AND LEADERSHIP
ie Banner Brands work as Unique Organising Propositions
¡ ||| ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡
LEVELS of brand ¡ ¡ ¡
LOW LEVEL SUB-BRANDS TARGET MESSAGES WITHIN PRODUCT CATEGORIES
ie they may work as Unique Selling Propositions
but within a higher level organisational script
Once you intend to navigate through the breadth and depth of a company's brand architecture, you need to be prepared for a long journey. Top level brands work as banner communications processes, connecting up organisation, strategy and creative leadership. Harnessing their corporate advantages involves examining how to integrate the full spectrum of marketing capabilities inherently connected with core business processes, including those shown in Table 1. As well as being concerned with brand architecture within the company, master architects think in parallel about how to extend the creative arena to that of partnering brands across different companies.
|Table 1 : Exploring Architectural connections : brand<->organisation<->strategy|
·leadership of world class quality and value
·going beyond the classic organisational form of brand management to inter-departmental networking of marketing skills and other added value schools of thinking, eg innovation
·banner branding of world class goodwill across marketing territories
·aligning meanings of leadership for all stakeholders of the company
·interconnecting specifications of brands, core competences and organisational systems
·clarify competition and partnership priorities across added value chain of sphere of business·branding as partnership strategy between different companies
Figure 2 : BRAND ARCHITECTURE 2
WHEN TWO COMPANIES ENTER INTO LONG-TERM BRAND PARTNERSHIPS...
¡ ||| ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡
LEVELS of brand ¡ ¡ ¡
|<->|| ¡ ||| ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ |||||||||||| ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ |
LEVELS of brand ¡ ¡ ¡
...BANNER BRANDING IS TYPICALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT LEVEL;
FOR WIN-WIN, CORE COMPETENCES MUST BE DIFFERENTIATED AND ADDITIVE;
BE PREPARED - TRANSPARENCY OF LEADERSHIP STRATEGY IS A LIKELY OUTCOME
This chapter will set out basic rules for understanding the keys to brand architecture. Once these foundations have been established, our travels around a company's brand architecture can help to connect up decision-making at other top level directions of the business as:
Strategy Architect (chapter 12)
Organisation Architect (chapter 13)
Drama of Leadership (chapter 14)
Ownership of chartering, architecture and brand organisation
When a company has tidied up individual brand charters and their architectural connections, embarking on a journey around all of a company's goodwill foci will still involve long-distance flying, but concentrating on top level information structures makes for a speedy business trip. What previously was like going round the world in 80 days in a hot air balloon becomes akin to the astronaut's orbit around the sphere of business.
CEOs do not have time to travel in hot air balloons, so historically critical keys of their companies' brand strategies have often been decentralised. Brand Chartering gives the power back to the central brains of the company, where their participatory input of architectural foresight into leadership systems is needed. It offers an opportunity to go beyond counting up brands as the company's most valuable assets by turning them into core sources of corporate advantage. Brand Chartering, or something similar, is what World Class companies need to ensure that their brand communications processes play the lead role in competing for the future.
Two thought experiments illustrate why foresightful management needs to keep on asking why a company's brand architecture is the way it is, and how to cultivate investments in it for leveraging the future business.
First, differentiate between two organisational forms of branding : those that brand from the product up and those that evolve from the company brand down. What sorts of generalisations do you associate with these different forms? Examples:
|Table 2 : Primary investment in branding evolves from...|
|...product level (bottom-up)||...company level (top-down)|
|·Classic (fragmented) brand management|
·Line or business unit performance measurement
·Short-term is prioritised
·In-between customers often come first
·Core products are today's volume sellers
·Partnership strategies are sometimes completely absent in intent or practice
|·New integrated brand organisation process (eg new Gillette, see ThinkPiece 1)|
·Organisation-wide alignment and appraisal
·Medium-term is prioritised
·End-consumers and employees come first (feedback loop leads each other)
·Core products are marketing pathways
·Partnership strategy has at least as high a priority as competitive strategy
We will show how thought-provoking exercises on brand architecture facilitate a decision-making synthesis between these two organisational forms. Much of our recent work has focused on helping companies transfer branding goodwill historically invested at product levels up to higher level branding processes. Our empirical evidence would support Mats Urde in his contention that:
"Today, branding strategies in many companies are inefficient, ineffective, and unnecessarily complicated. This is frequently due to the use of brands being determined by development of the product range. The situation should be the reversed in the brand-orientated company."
Second, consider the following debating case (Table 3) on the fundamental role of brand architecture in influencing what organisational and strategic manoeuvres remain available to the business.
| Table 3 : Future of branding - debating case : Heinz UK of 1994|
·Heinz had for decades (70s/80s) one of the largest advertising budgets amongst food products associated with a single brand distributed through UK supermarkets. However, investment in its brand architecture was increasingly devoted to fragmented messages in support of its best selling individual lines. With advertising weight often geared to biggest product volumes, sustained campaigning around Beanz Meanz Heinz eventually left many consumers with the reverse impression that Heinz Meanz Beanz.
·Heinz (1994/5) deserted advertising for direct marketing as its primary medium. There is a view that suggests Heinz missed an extraordinary broadcasting opportunity. What if Heinz brand strategy had adopted a change in brand architecture equivalent to that which transformed the meaning of Gillette into the lifestyle "the best a man can get"?
Example of Heinz-first lifestyle advertising campaignCreate and continuously direct a consumer-exciting script revolving around the brand essence: "Heinz loves families" :
showing a day in the life of Heinz with -
·babies gurgling over baby food,
·children lapping up beans and nutrition,
·teenagers relishing ketchup,
·adults loving salad cream
Add to this seasonal episodes such as the family coming home in winter to heart-warming bowls of Heinz soups (possibly served in a co-branded range of uniquely designed soup bowls and mugs); and other integrated PR storylines directing the Heinz banner to be at home with being the UK consumers' most loved grocery brandWhat might have happened if this brand script had over the years been fully orchestrated with advertising playing the lead role in an integrated marketing mix? We conclude that there is organisational added value in periodically stepping back to review your brand architecture and indeed having one person constantly charged with sifting through the biggest possible ideas evolving strategic and organisational perspectives of branding as a core business process. If Heinz is currently missing out on an exciting breadth of consumer relationships, the brand history suggests that the company was not architecturally able to foresee all the creative alternatives that the banner branding of Heinz could offer.
In order for teams to work with brand architectural design, you need to prepare for two kinds of innovative endeavour. The first involves defining a working language for ways of making brand connections which nobody has yet standardised. The second involves making a collection of the new kinds of questions that different members of a business team do need to bring to the table - and creatively develop into an inquisitive agenda - before a considered response on brand architecture can be made. Remember all the while that architectural capabilities offer unique opportunities to connect up - as a virtuous spiral - all the goodwill that a company invests in and earns. These connections can serve to leverage corporately branded credentials across various horizons of doing business such as:
·consumer recognition and extending allegiance across various marketing territories (eg product category, geographic, generations of human needs)
·forming umbrella partnerships with key contributors to the added value chain of a sphere of business (eg partnership strategies which pre-emptively develop allies to your brand who you would not want teamed up under a competitor's umbrella brand)
·pre-marketing leadership credentials (eg a reputation for having a world leading competence can be leveraged amongst journalists who look to you as the world's number 1 source of trade news).
|Table 4 : How Macintosh's launch and Apple's architecture "sneaked" up on IBM pc |
Industry analysts and media representatives were amongst Apple's most important pre-launch audiences. For them, we put on a series of "sneaks" (previews) around the country; all told, sixty individual seven-hour presentations to pave the way for a successful introduction. Not only would the Macintosh product be unveiled at these sessions, but people got to meet creative leaders of Apple's business team including Steve Jobs, myself and members of the design team.A group of 'luminaries' and key decision makers was also chosen to receive free Apple Macintoshes. Our annual report went on to feature eleven of these 'great imaginations' experimenting with Macintosh: entrepreneur Ted Turner; novelist Kurt Vonnegut; Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin; ballet master Peter Martins; designer Milton Glaser; Muppet creator Jim Henson; San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein; composer and Lyricist Stephen Sondheim; Life's magazine art director Bob Ciano; Lee Iacocca, and David Rockefeller. Odyssey - Pepsi to Apple, John Sculley
"First cut" at a terminology for brand architecture
We need to clarify practical meanings for three architectural terms : levels, leagues and linkages.
Levels of branding are to do with hierarchy in the brand architecture. You might begin by getting acquainted with five levels of branding :
·corporate or banner brands (eg Heinz, Gillette, Sony, L'Oreal, McDonald's, Nestle)
·sub-umbrella of a corporate brand (eg "Series" of Gillette, "Studioline" of L'Oreal)
·product sub-brand (eg "Sensor" of Gillette, "Big Mac or McNuggets" of McDonald's, "Kit Kat" of Nestle)
·umbrella but stand alone (eg Timotei)
·stand alone brand (eg Sprite)
We will see that higher level branding generates powerful opportunities throughout the architectural chapters of this book. For example, Chapter 12 on strategic architecture looks at why the modern strategy gurus Hamel and Prahalad believe that "any company which fails to take advantage of the logic of global banner branding will find itself at competitive disadvantage." We have already introduced some of the new rules of umbrella branding in Chapter 9. Add these phenomena together and further reasons why the future of brand management needs more teamworking coordination comes into focus:
·many twentieth century brands were stand-alones - branded only at one level
·today most brands already carry more than one name - eg the product name and the company name (which may or may not be heavily branded)
·tomorrow most brands will learn to make the most of double-branding processes by exploiting the different levels of meaning that each of their names represents.
This megatrend - an irreversible one whose full impacts are yet to come - was already observable in 1990. Getting on to this learning curve early can be very rewarding.
|Table 5 : The way brands were in 1990|
"Double-branding" rebuilds corporate brand hierarchies and can be used to evolve internationally recognised brand umbrellas. The ideal of double-branding is to offer a global aspiration with a local touch. Corporate added value is derived from the brand umbrella which translates business leadership into a unique social style.
What's in a name?. Sony's Walkman, Schweppes Indian Tonic water and Ford's Escort illustrate the predominant pattern in branding today - most products are being born with more than one brand name.
An appropriate analogy is to think of brands having surnames and forenames. Typically, the surname depicts the company or the family which the brand belongs to, while the forename identifies the individual product line. Several ideas flow from this analogy:
·The surname should be the constant guarantee of quality, the credentials which a company (or a subsidiary) rallies round. It should epitomise the breadth and depth of tradition that is founded in the interrelationships between the company's expertise and image, and its audiences' demands and expectations. Forenames represent the different product members of the family. They can exhibit their own personalities, functionally and imagewise, so far as they remain loyal to the reputation and sense of style which the family's name evokes.
·Given a choice between a world class surname or forename, the surname will open more doors. As a family name it can be marketed to unite relationships across borders, whereas forenames are more readily positioned for local nicknames.
Historically, the use of branding surnames and forename has often reflected little more than the desire to display who own's whom. As markets converge and world class alliances increasingly make just-in-time business sense, we should expect to see increasingly creative uses of double-branding including arranged marriages of brands. They may literally aim to offer the consumer the best of both their worlds.
Many companies will need to shift allocations of their communications budgets towards family names and away from individual progeny. Or, where the forename has a world class aura, they should consider incorporating it as its own surname subsidiary. Chris Macrae, World Class Brands
Companies who cannot be bothered to think through all the organisation and strategic purposes of their brand architecture deserve to find themselves to be disadvantaged. They are less than the sum of the parts of their brands. In Chapter 1, we argued that it was vital not only that a brand's own essence was fully clarified, but that its relationships with other brands in the corporate family were properly scoped. Think of ways in which a brand's "selfishness" can damage a company's communications investments:
·By cannibalising territories of other brands in the company's portfolio, confusion multiplies both in the internal politics of rival brand managers and among retail customers who perceive that the company is unable to empathise with economies of category management which the retailer needs
·By extending itself too far (eg downmarket) the brand's dilution of image may spill over to have negative impacts on other levels of brands it is connected to
·By losing market leadership or in other ways damaging its reputation, spillovers may again damage other brands
·By claiming too much of a company's promotional resources like Heinz's baked beans - albeit often with the good intent of selling more - a product brand may overwhelm higher level brands whose meanings are the truly vital strategic properties.
Damaging deviations from a brand's essence of the sorts described are always to someone else's advantage : the competitor whose brands span an architecture in which each is essential and serves relationships dedicatedly within its own purposeful scope. Once the fit of an individual brand's Charter is clarified within a company's overall brand architecture, the evolution of brand architecture and individual brand Charters needs to be synchronised.
Leagues of branding focus the purpose which a particular brand is aiming to fulfil. The structural consistency of Chartering is designed to ensure that all members of a business team are working on the same goals. The idea of brand leagues is to clarify information on a brand's purpose whose absence of mind from any team member could result in different people making diametrically opposite decisions. Need-to-know examples of what type of league a brand is playing in are:
·if you know that a brand is to be global and local, you make different decisions than if the brand is local only
·the branding goal of being a self-perpetuating fashion calls for different investment decisions from being just a short-term fad
·the branding goal of having consumer pull requires a different marketing mix from merely clinging to the needs of retail distributors
·the goals of tactical brands need to be specific and highly disciplined.
|Table 6 : The tactical brand that gets out of its league|
Here is a typical case which we have encountered during more client projects than we wish to count. For obvious reasons, we will not cite any branded examples by name.
The brand is conceived for a specific tactical purpose, such as being a value for money offer within the category. Typically, a manufacturer who also owns the brand leader may do this so that the lower added value end of the market is controlled. The tactical brand is then aiming to:
·offer value to consumers who only want to buy on price
·give retailers a sufficiently good deal that they see no reason to develop their own label brands
·contain the size of the value for money segment to be no bigger than is necessary to account for these specified consumer and retailer needs
Over time, these original aims of the brand are forgotten in the organisation. This memory lapse often creeps in bit by bit. Perhaps, a new brand manager adds some fancy packaging to make the brand more attractive at point of sale. Perhaps, a creative supplier - unaware of the brand's original script - adds some cheerful personality to the brand, with the result that it starts to be marketed as more cheerful than cheap.
Suddenly, the unexpected (or to the Brand Charterer the predictable) happens. A competitor, or a retailer own label, launches into the cheap end of the market. And the embarrassing thing is that the tactical brand is no longer competitive because its total offer is no longer low cost to market. It has got caught in no-man's land as neither top quality nor top price-fighter. Its share of the market erodes, often irreparably so. Worse still the brand leader, which it was devised to protect, has been made highly vulnerable. There is now a live competitor trying to draw everyone it can into the bottom of the market. And that is how many strongly branded markets have over time been reduced to little more than commodity status.
None of this needs to happen. The tactical brand is one of the easiest of all to charter. All its management team needs to do is stay totally focused on its founding aims :
· to ensure that nobody else is lower total cost to market· staying dedicated to the consumer and retailer values that were defined at the brand's conception
The brand's intended league is a vital part of scoping its essence. Both should be clearly stated in an individual brand's Charter, and subsequently neither should be adapted without crosschecking the other.
A study of linkages between brands involves "what" identifying components are used to make linkages and "why" goodwill connections need making.
The "what's" of linkages include :
·the standard format conventions which a company uses in its brand architecture -- eg to retrieve itself from the brink of brand fragmentation (as many as 1500 being in use in 1990), 3M now specifies that only three options are allowed for every new brand naming decision :
1) preferably 3M + generic product name, eg 3M fire baulk carrier,
2) 3M+existing sub-brand+description, eg 3M Scotchmate hook and loop,
3) new brand name but this is reserved for very few situations
·how closely consumers are intended to remember linkages between top-level and sub-level brand:
- you probably think of Snickers as a stand-alone brand even if you know it is made by Mars
- in the case of Studioline from L'Oreal, the link is always clearly presented but you would not speak of the two names as if they were one phrase as you might with Gillette's Sensor
·also, there may be designed-in linking codes such as:
.Mc and Big as used in McDonald's design language
.the Nes syllable which connects up many Nestle brands and the "Nest" device
The "why's" of linkages focus on the next objectives of connecting up goodwill at particular points of time. We will develop this theme later in the chapter but here briefly are two examples:
·Early 1990s : in the temporary use of brand linkages between Philips and Whirlpool, the objective was to transfer all the goodwill of Philip's relating to its white product division to Whirlpool who had acquired this division but only a temporary licence to the Philip's name. (Whilst, Whirlpool's ultimate objective was to have a more competently focused brand process for this sphere of products, it needed to transfer Philip's goodwill first)
·In the design transformation of the Gillette-Sensor architecture, both brands gained from being linked to each other almost from day one. Gillette paraded the lifestyle message; Sensor provided a flagship product's confirmation of Gillette's leading edge capabilities in razors.
"Take-two" at brand architecture
Many of the greatest creative opportunities will come from the dynamics of reassembling a brand architecture. This is done to fit new competitive or partnering needs, whilst retaining key connections to your heritage of consumer recognition and reputation. Table 7 itemises dynamic concerns which we will review in this second take of constructs of brand architecture.
|Table 7 : Upcoming perspectives on the dynamism of brand architecture|
·Agree your own terminology for architectural special effects
·Taking a quantum leap with a brand's level
·Catalogue "game rules" presenting new architectural styles
·Internalisation of new brand architecture is a big change management challenge
·Marrying a brand architecture to partner another company
Agree your own architectural terminology
When dealing with dynamic configurations, it is important not to get bogged down with terminology. Still a quick recap may be helpful:
·Brands can be classified by levels and leagues; with corresponding investments in essences (chapter 1), identifiers (chapter 2)
·The levels of brands are connected through linkages:
·identifiers - as designed-in devices consumers associate with a brand - serve specific purposes (one of which may be that of a linkage); other linkages are simple presentational format's like Studioline from L'Oreal
·If you start at any brand within a company's brand architecture, you can travel up or down a branch through brands that are linked to it; from the consumer's viewpoint this branch may be perceived like a constellation of associations - eg those starring in McDonald's design language - comprised of different levels of branding together with all the identifiers that form each brand's identity system
·By travelling across branches of brands you can obtain a picture of a company's brand architecture. Higher level brands may connect up various branches but even where such branding connections are not explicitly made, some audiences, eg the retail trade in reviewing what brands a company is offering across its portfolio, will be making their own (dotted line) connections across your brand architecture
·Ultimately, there is of course a difference between the brand architecture which you present for general awareness, and the much deeper one that opinion (or vested interest) leaders know you by. Henceforth, the most realistic scenario for any globally powerful company is that it is not possible to hide behind brands all of the time - for example, if something is perceived by global journalists to go importantly wrong with one brand, questions are quite likely to be asked about the whole company's reputation.
This recap provides a reasonable basis for iteratively refining your own terminology. There will always need to be opinion calls for borderline classifications. There is, for example, no harm treating some elements of a brand's architecture as both brand and identifier:
·Is Ronald an identifier or a sub-brand of McDonald's? You might want to take a hard line and say that he is not a brand because you cannot buy a Ronald (unless you count charitable contributions he sometimes collects); but we would rather treat him as a sub-brand too because it is valuable to know the "essence" of Ronald as an integral part of McDonald's cast (and anyway maybe Ronald could or should franchise some wares)
·In Sony's brand architecture is "-Man" a linkage-identifier or a banner brand? The argument for regarding -Man as a banner brand is that Walkman values, eg young, hip, street-smart, give -Man a differentiated essence and one which Sony has conferred as the pivotal part of successive brand names like "Discman" and "Watchman".
Summing up : architectural terminology matters to the Charterer in so far as business teams within a company need one in order to articulate dynamics of the brand process and to share a deep understanding which consensus-in-action requires.
Taking a quantum leap with a brand's level
A shift from local marketing of products to global marketing of businesses will require quite radical changes in brand architectures.
If your company name lacks branded meaning or can never have an essential focus, it may be that some of you big product brands are worth raising to the top level. Recently, the BSN corporation rechristened itself Danone after its main yogurt and chilled foods business. The strategic logic is irrefutable. Danone is already a world class brand, and BSN is virtually a consumer non-starter.
Opel was reported in 1994 to be the name which will increasingly be used for General Motors' cars in worldwide markets apart from the USA. Radical evolution of a brand's architecture is not a new phenomenon in this early example of a global industry. British Leyland had various famous marques that fell by the wayside over the years, such as Austin and Triumph, but also one that took over all of the corporate reputation as the business converged on being Rover.
Increasingly, as companies need to get ruthless with portfolios containing too many fragmented brands, it may be a good idea to make up new brand combos. In the UK, the Gibbs of Unilever's personal care subsidiary used to connote toothpaste expertise which until recently remained in a product brand called Gibbs SR but is now appearing as an SR variant of the Mentadent umbrella. Elida (which previously was mainly used as a name for the corporate subsidiary Elida Gibbs) has been promoted along with Ponds to a potential consumer banner integrating the "Institute" form of branding lifestyle that Unilever has recently innovated.
| Table 8 : Elida Gibbs, an organisational revolution - innovation and presentation|
In 1991, Elida Gibbs started to change its organisational form. Unilever has gone on to create "Institute" innovation centres of excellence such as that for Elida hair products in Paris and those for Ponds and other skin care products in Hamburg and New York. Says Unilever Chairman Sir Michael Perry "these innovation centres focus research, development and marketing with a brief to generate things for the whole world. It is a very exciting model that enables you to work much more effectively and much more responsibly".
To present these foci to consumers, the Institute is evolving within Unilever's brand language. Thus the global roll out of Unilever's newest shampoo brand features "Organics from Elida Institute, Paris". Supporting PR advises cosmopolitan consumers to keep a look out on their travels for Institute showrooms open to consumers like that on Paris's Champs Elysee. Meanwhile, the Ponds Institute is being featured in commercials as the consumer-oriented laboratory source for Pond's expanding range of skin care products. Corresponding PR coverage of this appears in advertorial columns in women's magazines.
Catalogue "game rules" presenting new architectural styles
It is up to every brand marketer of the future to keep a catalogue of game rules which apply to brand architecture. To date, this is an extraordinarily under-developed area of brand research. One honourable exception, featured in Table 9, comes from the quartet of contributors, Farquhar, Han, Herr and Ijiri.
|Table 9 : Think before your brand extensions gets out of control|
The question of how far to extend a brand overlooks the more fundamental question of how to extend a brand.
Many brand leveraging efforts rely on solely one strategy : the direct extension of a brand across product categories. This can put valuable brands at risk with the extraordinary strength of an existing brand's association interfering with customers ability to learn new associations. Instead, marketers can bypass the risk of direct extensions by leveraging brands indirectly across categories. As the following examples show, the marketing key is to link the brand to an association that has enough flexibility to provide a platform for both current positioning and subsequent leveraging:
The new umbrellaIn the US, Anheuser-Busch created the Eagle brand for its honey roast peanuts as part of a strategic platform for launching other products. The Eagle banner was easily extendible to a variety of different snack foods. (The Eagle is also a prominent part of Anheuser's Busch's corporate heritage appearing on the corporate crest).
The renewed umbrellaAunt Jemima is famous in America for its association with pancakes. Recently, the company began promoting a broader association by moving from a product category, pancakes, to a usage situation, breakfast. This association comes naturally to American consumers (as breakfast is prime time for eating pancakes) and has enabled Aunt Jemima to extend to various breakfast lines.
Sub-brandingSub-branding can be a key to modifying the meaning of a master brand. It does this by directing attention to the intended new meaning of the master brand in a way that makes it easier for customers to link the master brand with a target category extension.
Sub-branding devices can upmarket the brand's value range Holiday Inn has re-branded its top of the market hotels as Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza. Through prominence of the phrase Sony Trinitron, Sony televisions add in their own branded technology. Successive product generations of Procter & Gamble's Ariel brand have progressed through Ariel to Ariel Ultra to Ariel Future (Ultra).
Synergetically presented multi-brand platforms surround singular brands with a view to overturning their positionings. You can no longer be sure that your brand leader has a right to perpetual existence simply because it is effective at dominating the most important position in a product category.
The multi-brand combination of Colgate (global banner), Plax (global sub-brand), partnered by local (professional brand) endorsements such as that of the British Dental Association appears to be extremely confident of winning. To the extent that some UK advertising devotes half of its space to the leading rival Listerine (global brand leader of the product category) and Clifford (identifying icon). Conventional advertising effectiveness guidelines are apparently being turned upside down by asking the consumer to observe the choice on offer:
·Listerine as recommended by a dragon called Clifford
·Colgate PLAX as recommended by the British Dental Association
Brand Transfers - corporate reasons why linkages make architectures flexible
One of the most critical of all architectural plans concerns how the diffusion and infusion of branded goodwill between linked brands is to be leveraged.
Permanent double-branded linkages between different levels of brands should be developed so that over time both brands gain from the other's goodwill : examples Gillette-Sensor, L'Oreal and its family of sub-brands, Nestle and its family of sub-brands.
Temporary linkages may:
-deliberately transfuse goodwill from one brand to another (the Philips to Whirlpool example cited above)
-provide temporary umbrella sponsorship to a new brand launch which may be important to both consumer and retail customers. For example, when Kimberly-Clark recently launched their Huggies brand of diapers in the UK, this was presented as Huggies from Kleenex (the company's existing banner brand in the UK). This may be primarily a tactical linkage to get the Huggies brand up and toddling in the fastest possible way.
You may also think of other subtle transfers of added value between brands. For example, in the UK two Nestle coffee brands Nescafe and Nescafe Gold Blend are powder and premium freezed dried alternatives within the instant coffee category. However, these two brands' advertising campaigns appear to endorse each other so closely whilst differentiating popular and prestige coffee-drinking lifestyles. The consumer is effectively allowed to choose which of the branded products to drink and which advertising image to drink. You can enjoy Nescafe Gold Blends campaigns and still drink Nescafe, or vice versa.
Internalisation of a new brand architecture is a big change management challenge
There is nothing new in many branded goods from western companies carrying a corporate signature as well as the brand name. However, we would cite Gillette's Sensor presentation as a landmark because the double-branding process was explicitly used to reengineer the interpretation of all that Gillette would stand for. Here are extracts from this corporate transformation. (See ThinkPiece 1 for more on Gillette).
The consumer story
The story is well documented that through most of the eighties, old Gillette's advertising of best selling local products had conveyed an image of cheap, blue and plastic to a generation of consumers. Gillette literally came within a whisker of relegating the shaving category to a commodity one. The new presentation of Gillette scripted the corporate brand's essence as the lifestyle message of "the best a man can get". And required that this be confirmed by advertising only those product sub-brands like Sensor which were innovative or aspirational. Thus the lifestyle story of Gillette heightened Sensor's leading-edge product story and vice versa. Consumers quickly digested that Gillette products now had doubly leading images and
The corporate story
Gillette's double-branding strategy together with its innovative new products quickly turned a lacklustre in-market corporate performance into a globally winning one. But before this ever happened internal aspects of the corporate transformation included:
·Investment in lengthy and costly R&D program whose output was Sensor's world class product
·Major changeover in responsibilities of global and local marketers, and all the organisational learning that was required to make this happen
·A totally different resource allocation of advertising spends. This was designed to remove ad spending on local bestsellers (of the cheap, blue and plastic variety) and focus only on Gillette and flagship sub-brands. The new Gillette advertising campaigns were developed as a global communications package which could leverage satellite tv (international advertising) platforms.
We use the term "reengineering the Gillette brand" advisedly. There is a real problem for brand historians - and all who write up case studies on new brand architecture. Namely, once a company has successfully transformed the style of its brand architecture, it's naturally easy to see elements of the great new architectural style - the advertising, the brand linkage tactics, the newly exciting composite essence. It's equally easy to forget - or never see - the organisational reengineering and teamworking which went on behind the scenes before the new architectural style could be consistently served. To emphasise this we will turn to two other examples of newly transformed brand architectures for a pair of contrasting summaries:
·how marketers retell the achievements of newly transformed brand architectures and the future advantages which they will leverage
·what happened first internally before the architectural transformations could work
|Table 2 : Double-branding of consumer perceptions at 3M, and at Nestle|
(extracted from the video "Branding - the Marketing Advantage", from BBC for Business)
Here we replay interviews recorded on video by BBC for Business featuring two practitioner accounts of how a conscious decision to implement double-branding works to establish leadership perceptions in the minds of consumers. Note how quickly this accelerates trust in the guarantee of the corporate brand, and establishes its own banner credentials to connect up with other brands and products. As chapter 2 explained consumers are now highly literate in the multiple ways that they can identify with a brand. A loyal consumer, who recognises his/her brand through ten different identifiers, becomes even more delighted if a new identifier turns out to be another famous brand provided that the new double-branding offer is harmonious and appears to offer the best of both brands' worlds3M"One of the issues for 3M in branding is the use of brand of Scotch and 3M. From my perspective being focused on the consumer market, then Scotch brand is the key brand that we advertise. But we do want the name of 3M to be better known. I want people to say yes it's Scotch brand - I'm going to buy that video tape and also to say "Ah and it's by 3M - yes 3M make other products that I like too, like Post-it notes, like adhesives and so on". It's these sorts of connections that I want the consumer to make more strongly. And then I hope in the future they will take the brand either Scotch or 3M and say "Ah that's a Scotch brand, or a 3M brand - all of the products I have tried under that brand have delighted me, they've met my need and served me well, I'll try this one". Because 3M is always going to be bringing out new products."
Nestle"Increasingly more and more branding effort is being put into what Nestle stands for. Simultaneously, brands bought in business acquisitions - eg Kit Kat form Rowntree - are re-badged now with Nestle's name and logo very prominently alongside Kit Kat. The idea is that both brands can contribute to each other. So Kit Kat's leading position in the UK and strong consumer loyalty can rub off on Nestle, and meanwhile Nestle can now launch Kit Kat in other parts of Europe where Kit Kat isn't known but Nestle is."
The external communications formats of double-branding can look so simple. Indeed, that's how they make their impact on consumers. But before these can work, the internal changes to brand marketing and organisation must not be underestimated. Many reasons are now evident why the classical brand management system - of junior product managers rotating local brand responsibilities on two year shifts - is passing into history. But any intent to action double-branding forces the re-organisational issue for once and for all. A moment's thought shows that anybody who rushed into imitating the kinds of double-branding strategy described above whilst keeping junior brand managers in control of the sub-brands would be taking a gamble with the lives of their brands at every level. So what sorts of changes to the structure of brand management were needed before our exemplars of double-branding could externalise their brand new marketing communications? Table 3 summarises roughly what we would have seen happening in these organisations if we had re-wound these brand histories back a few years.
|Table 3 - Internal brand re-organisation prior to externalised double-branding |
As recently as 1990, Jean-Noel Kapferer was citing 3M as "a typical case illustrating the problems of brand proliferation. Although it ranks 29th in the Fortune 500 index and sells 60,000 products worldwide, 3M is rather poorly known with only 25% of people familiar with what 3M does. This poor level of awareness creates a real shortcoming in one of the major roles of a corporate brand : to endorse. 3M does not really act as it should as a power brand. The roots of this situation lie in 3M's brand proliferation policy : 1500 product brands with each receiving too little financial support to compete properly. Furthermore, the effect is to create a screen, hiding the corporation 3M."
In the days described by Kapferer, 3M's marketing department was creating as many as 100 new brands a year. First, a virtual moratorium was put on this - so that now few if any new brands are created. Second, a lot of product brands were culled - typically by renaming them with 3M followed by the generic product descriptor. Third, as part of 3M's continuing re-organisation towards customer divisions and away from national ones, opportunities have been taken to undepartmentalise marketing. Marketers have increasingly become business managers and vice versa.
In Nestle's marketing hall of horrors, there is a famous picture of the Kit Kats that were bought when Rowntree was acquired in 1988. Almost every country manager had created his/her own design of Kit Kat. It was not strongly managed international brands that Nestle bought from Rowntree, but their potential to be re-organised as great international marketing platforms to the particular corporate advantage of Nestle's banner brand. Before Nestle's double-branding strategy could work : it had to converge the designs of Kit Kat; converge local managers' views of what was the essential meaning of Kit Kat; re-organise ways of working so that national marketing and international branding were harmonious partners. Considering the changes that had to be made, Kit Kat's sales have started to boom as an European brand in a surprisingly short time. Having shown that this could be achieved even with Kit Kat - one of the worst cases of over-localised design interpretation ever perpetrated by a single company across Europe - a similar process has been accelerated with other acquired sub-brands. Over the last few years, confirmation of the increased power of Nestle's corporate brand equity has come from the brand's leap into top 10 rankings of global brand awareness. This is an extraordinary turnround in brand fortune. Not much more than a decade ago, Nestle's corporate brand had little visibility. Worse still, it had a tarnished image among lobby groups who felt that Nestle was over-aggressive in its marketing of infant milk formulas in developing countries.
We will come back to more practical experiences on changing over to new forms of brand organisation in Chapter 13.
Brand Marriages (within and across companies)
We are old enough to still regard marriage as a strategic partnership and therefore add this to the architect's vocabulary where:
·either two brands owned by a company are joined together (starting from apparently equal levels of branding)
·strategic connections are made between architectures owned by different organisations
(An alternative term, co-branding, has become part of marketing parlance. However, this term seems to be applied to any instance of two brands appearing together from sharing a one night promotional stand to founding a long-term strategic partnership).
|As recently as 1990, who would have thought that American Express & Virgin would co-brand?|
Writing in 1995 it's too early to say whether press advertising featuring these brands' combined messages ( seen eg in The Times of London) are a local co-branding affair or the first visible signs of a longer-term business alliance. The immediate consumer proposition is "Fly free faster - with Membership Rewards (from American Express) and Virgin Freeway".
What might have seemed totally opposite corporate personalities five years ago, do find a union in terms of each being a brand whose consumer vitality depends on a "with-it" platform. Behind the varied lifestyle interpretations of this driving need are service businesses with very different core competences, but maybe that's how two service businesses can most profitably form a "glocal" (global and local) network to be more than the sum of their parts.
In the BBC for Business video on branding, a detailed journalistic cross-examination of American Express reveals this brand's mission to be the number 1 service brand in the world. This video portrait shows an Amex that is banking on being the first to establish a world class membership club of VIPs (which now appear to be visioned as a global network not just of the wealthy but the entrepreneurial too). To support this infrastructure, Amex will invest whatever it takes in smart cards and IT technology to customise messages circulated to its club members. It already has its own channel for two-way customer relationships through the brand's monthly correspondence which is set to evolve from what is temporarily the medium of "a bill through the mail" but is being fashioned to serve increasingly customised incentives. These already include:
·the Membership Rewards program (loyalty points are being transformed into an international currency which, unlike the ECU, can been spent directly on offers of various global service businesses from Virgin's Airline network to hotel networks like Forte)
·computerised personal message columns on local happenings activated by an individual member's purchasing history at the stores he or she uses most.It's fairly clear what Virgin gets from American Express : a foot-in-the-door to a program which may yet out-pace its giant rival's sub-brands Air Miles and Executive Club - loyalty programs which through 1985-95 have done much to make British Airways the world's favourite airline amongst many global business travellers. Arguably, Branson ends the 20th century as one of the western world's most entrepreneurially daring business people. For example, see chapter 12 for Branson's part in the Virgin-Cott vision to challenge the added value chains of the world's biggest product brands like Coca-Cola. It may be that a little each-way image investment in leaders who appear to be entrepreneurially re-distributing global and local wealth - on top of being the club with status for the established wealthy - is a savvy Amex platform for communicating new-millennium values. Or even more simply, if we worked in American Express, we would enjoy being refreshed by having some sort of continuing dialogue with those animating the Virgin way of marketing as well as respecting the more classical American Express disciplines for marketing financial services.
Marrying brands within a company
The wooing and subsequent corporate "seeding" of Weight Watchers by Heinz is described in ThinkPiece 1. It provides an interesting example of joining two brands to advance each other's added values. Heinz talent spotted an acquisition - Weight Watchers with high image credentials but under-recognised as a commercial branding platform - and carefully extended the business to embrace mass market products which Heinz wanted to target whilst retaining the essential values and services of the original Weight Watcher's health club.
We would also expect to see companies becoming more proactive in marrying brands they already own. For example, if a cosmetic company has two famous brands whose category associations are with different grooming functions, and if their categories are increasingly overlapping with 2-in-one formulations, it is foreseeable that a marriage presented as "Brand A" tested by the "Brand B Institute" can offer consumers the opportunity to buy into the best of both brands' worlds.
Marrying brands across companies
Along with a detailed discussion of the architectural powers of top level banner branding, we will primarily discuss partnership strategy's new forces on branding in the next chapter. For now, it is worthwhile introducing the panorama of agendas brand partnerships are forming in businesses near you.
Nestle's brand visions illustrate how a banner corporate brand leverages goodwill of many stakeholders, and not only end-consumers. Typically, Nestle has leveraged its corporate branding reputation in a Euro-marketing joint venture with General Mills who was happy to join all of its US cereals sub-brands, eg Cheerios, to Nestle's banner brand and thereby access the advantages of Nestle's distributional reach and the reputation of the Nestle banner with consumers. (See Brand Benchmarking of Nestle in ThinkPiece 1).
As we have already speculated current co-promotions of American Express and Virgin may mature to be more than a co-branding affair. Certainly, we will see in Chapter 12 that Virgin is an extraordinarily active partnering brand. There we will also see that many new markets, eg Multimedia, will involve strategic partnerships where it is logical to assume that both partnering brands will want to take the credit for their produce. Already one confederation of companies has started to invest in the identity "General Magic" - a sort of co-operative personal entertainment software house for the future.
Credit card brand marriages using one of today's most portable consumer medias (the wallet/handbag) - eg like those between GM and MasterCard - are evolving towards tomorrow's smart card unions.
Instead of being opposing warriors in the added value chain, some supermarket retailers and manufacturer brands need to discover intelligent forms of partnership. Recently, we have been getting the feeling that consumers have been suffering from the jealousies between these industry types. Partnerships between two organisations do not work unless there is a basis of trust and a genuine search for win/win forms of evolution. Neither trust nor motive other than taking the shortest-term advantage of buyer power is manifest in the following expression of corporate purpose. Maybe this is only an individual expressing his function in life. But it would be doubly ironical if the current climate of over-accounting means that this was indeed an organisational belief, and if the organisation concerned fails to realise that consumers may quite soon have no need nor any residual affinity for a brand whose own autobiography is powerful but not smart.
|We are the nation's most powerful brand.|
We do not partner suppliers.
Innovation is not our job.
Me-toos of manufacturers' brands gives great value to our customers.
And in our service business, front-line employees have no training on what consumer essence we intend to communicate; nor do senior managers share a view on what this is.
Impromptu view of a buyer of a supermarket chain
If manufacturers and retailers do not get their acts together as partners, their separate powers will be dwarfed by the newly emerging superpower of multimedia owners. We may be talking a time horizon of ten to fifteen years here, but world class branding partnerships are now being made precisely because the most significant marketing opportunities are those which prepare to leverage the significance of this sort of business system discontinuity, and to use the "pre-marketing" time span involved to learn to trust each other.
One more heretic thought : the world's most valuable brand, as we leave our second millennium is not owned by a corporation. It is Japan. It comes at the top of the branded architecture to which the likes of Sony, Honda, Toyota, Seiko, Toshiba and dozens of other corporate stars are intent on delivering world class quality. This is making the Japanese manufactured product a collector's item in markets whose focus is rapid evolution of consumer-facing technology.
Once upon a time past, competitive strategy may have been the only discipline that really counted but then another, partnership strategy, came into being. As we will see in succeeding chapters, new strategic architects foresee banner brands being used to unite both of these strategic endeavours.
If you have too many brands in your portfolio, or want to extend a brand, half an hour invested in reading this chapter may be the best opening investment you have made in branding in recent years. Within one organisation, or across companies, when two or more brands really partner each other to offer consumers the best of both their worlds, they wipe stand-alone brands off marketing's game board. To do this new kinds of organisational forms of brand management will often be needed, but Chapters 12,13 show why brand new organisation is an urgent priority in many companies.
Until recently, brand management was often operated in fragmented ways through local offices. This is no longer how the marketing process of a world class company adds most value. Major investments in branding purpose and corporate goodwill need to be reflected on iteratively, globally and locally. Real corporate foresight also calls for process insights that must have breadth and depth. Ideas on strategic vision or organisational form are unlikely to issue corporate advantage unless brand architecture is party to the same thinktanking sessions. Brands are not a company's greatest assets unless they are directed - and increasingly interconnected - as "dynamic assets".
We have viewed a vocabulary for "brand architecture" including key terms : levels, leagues and linkages of branding. Refine these as part of a newly fundamental brand marketing vocabulary for your business team, and then build on these dynamic constructs. You will then be able to innovate powerful new game rules for leveraging brand process as a strategy architect (Chapter 12) and as an organisation architect (Chapter 13).