lINKS 1 2 Thanks to Jen-Hsun best decade AI collection- 8000 cases improving peoples communal computation, data & brains - 2025rEPORT.COM year 75 of Neumann & Economist briefings- : 4 JULY 2024 last 80 days of ECONOMISTDIARY.COM

Sunday, December 31, 1995

2024 - welcome to year 30 of chartering leaders purposes- first published with Economist Intelligence Unit 1995, Chartering designs network leadership round core Q&A starting with purpose- who would uniquely miss what if your identity did not exist- good practice chooses at least 3 whos? eg investors, society, next generation (best customers, smartest intelligence data modellers ... partners) - governance requires showing win-wins between trust makers-breakers of whats 

Can you help search out purpose of trillion dollar markets millennials will need most - examples 

1 how does market of money need to be designed to celebrate dev of every 21st c child

2 how design food/water - human energy at every last mile

3 last mile health

4 access to livelihood ed- personal learning agencies - for all

5 empowerment of women to be as productive and free as men or any historically undervalued segment

My dad Norman debated intelligence with Economist readers over half a century; that's because editor Geoffrey Crowther review of The Economist's first 100 years showed that academic economists and weekly journalists had exponentially failed to see world change by engineers; dad was sent from London 1951 to NY-Princeton US to be trained on leadership interviews by Neumann (Einstein-Turing)

When i first read last notes of von Neumann "Computer & Brain" I was shocked to see half a century gap between what NET expected of engineers of brainworkers and autonomous service age. This gap was only bridged when several genii changed Artificial Intel futures in 2012:
Fei-Fei Li's purpose and all her edu partners at stanford
Hassabis Purpose - and all his games (natural science) designers purposes London, Cambridge, Valley
Jensen Huang and his purpose of million times less costly supercomputing and the first foundations he supported including womens ai-4-all with Li & Melinda Gates
King Charles wished for English language AI across commonwealth...

Footnote !984 was Macrae family's 33rd annual report "2025report" of NET (Neumann-Einstein-Turing) Futures for humanity. We mapped opposite end game to Orwellian Big Brother designing little sister community ; transformation of education; valuing sustainability as primarily collaboration goals
Since 2001 California's (Pacific Coastal) Womens and Youth Ai advaqnces have primarily aligned trust multipliers across communities. Nvidia and Taiwanese Americans eg Hung, Su, Yang Tsai, Chang, Tang (also see female more Asian AUS Immigrants Li (China) , Priscilla Chan (Vitnam), Lila Ibrahim Lebanon), Keller (Israel), Roy (Canadian-Lebanese) (possible bridges eg Tokyo Mayor Koike Alam Mater Cairo U, Sheika Moza world edu laureates and and UN number 1 partner in refugee education/ai) offer many open (co-pilot, digital twins, deep local data sovereignty) sightings such as
AI is personal computers - see eg Dell
AI in workstations eg Hewlett Packard already
AI Disaster Weather Alerts - Taiwan and Weather Company (nb tv weather forecasters already practice local workstation access to huge LMs - why not many sorts of community forecasting making nighly news sustainably smart)
AI Desert transformation - UAE
AI Civil Engineering/Architecture - Siemens. NB i fully accept Gemini's criticism that far more broadly Siemens aims to linkin following futures: 
  • Technology Company: Siemens is a leading technology company with a presence in various industries.
  • Focus Areas: Their core areas include industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare.
  • Specific Solutions: Within these areas, they offer solutions like:
    • Industry: Factory automation, resource efficiency, and digitalization for manufacturing.
    • Infrastructure: Smart grids, intelligent buildings, and sustainable transportation systems.
    • Transport: Rolling stock, rail automation, and intelligent traffic systems.
    • Healthcare: Medical imaging technology, diagnostics, and digital health solutions. (Siemens Healthineers, a separate company, focuses on this area).
AI supercity public-street videos - Tokyo & NTT
Decolonial AI including small island Agriculture - Barbados; Key national farmers value chains Kenya
Pharma IN Silico : ... Keller & ...

Open Copyright asserted by and World Class Brands Network
Original Version - published Economist Intelligence Unit 1995

Brand Chartering
Communicate : essence :: id system :: history (stregngths, wesknesses, famos moments)
future :opportunity- rising exponential Threat ( collapsing exponential)


Local-Global Network

Chapter 1 - brand ESSENCE
Please forget what you may have read in marketing textbooks for a few minutes. Before you think of targeting, concentrate on "connecting up". This is the defining - and literally essential - communications purpose of powerful brands.
Peter Drucker says that "the business enterprise has two basic functions : marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs". The power of branding is greatest when it draws on both these functions and communicates the business mission to appeal to all of the company's audiences from employees through to consumers.
The essence of a brand is the communications connections:
· which it has the founder's right to propagate and own
· which will give it an evolutionary right to an unique leadership domain - the brand's service or adding value raison d'etre.
By directing Brand Essence you can interconnect all kinds of reasons why the world values the declaration of independence implicit in a leading brand (or indeed any other leadership identity such as a great nation).
Three immediate consequences of Essence are:
·In the ideal brand world, everything that's done in the brand's name should be a confirmation of its essence
·Choice of essence permeates everything an organisation will be able to do strategically with the brand. We will see that, when other things are remotely equal, the history of marketing communications shows that the most meaningful and communicable essence wins out time after time
·It is vital that companies scope the essence of brands properly and to maximum organisational advantage. It has been estimated that it now takes about one billion dollars of advertising to build a significant share of mind with consumers across North America, Asia and Europe. Consequently, a tragic loss of resources can befall any brand owner who scopes a brand's essence in such a way that the brand's meaning is unable to evolve beyond the first product to carry the brand's name.
As an intellectual concept, brand essence sets a trap for anyone who tries to define it more precisely than we have done above. Essence can involve everything at the core of a brand which works to the brand's unique advantage as a communicator. From this perspective, a brand is vacuous as a consumer promise unless it is also a core business purpose. Fortunately, recognising key aspects of the essences of particular brands is, if not an easy job, one which any business team which concentrates passionately and inquisitively on living a brand's raison d'etre is qualified to do.
Looking back at 20th century market categories, many of the world's biggest essences are remarkably transparent:
· The leadership essence of cigarettes is embodied in Marlboro. This brand was founded with the brief of being "the cigarette for men which women like". The cowboy icon and later stereotyping, such as American Independence and Marlboro's Wild West Country, were identifiers which translated the meaning of this essence into an image for generations of consumers to wear.
· The biggest communications essence for soft drinks is "the refreshing and most friendly drink in the world". These were the connecting visionary slogans of the brand from the early 1900s. Subsequent identifiers translating this lifestyle into reality include Coca-Cola's designer bottle, red for visible packaging and logos, familiarisation as the real thing , the friendship of the "American Dream" which Coke's advertising brings like an ambassador to the world's youth and young at heart.
·The world's most powerful essence for fast foods is McDonald's "fast foods served consistently with home-from-home values". This was the connecting vision repeated in most of the published scripts emerging from McDonald's proprietor Ray Kroc. This resonates through the training manual which every new employees receives.
When you line up essences founded on communications of such "great ideas", it becomes apparent why these brands could be destined to lead the social values that matter most in their marketplaces. Of course, this doesn't happen unless organisations also set about living these essences internally (eg with all the product and service contributions inspired staff can make) as well as promoting them externally (eg cost-effectively to consumers and retail customers). So, for example, Coca-Cola's formative distribution goal was set to be "within arm's reach of desire". An early inspirational act for ensuring continuous improvement of staff training at McDonald's was the founding of Hamburger University.
Many of history's most famous brands grew when they were nurtured by a business person with a consistent vision, the power to command long term corporate commitment to taking the vision to marketplace, and the creative passion which leverages the company's capabilities to distinguish product and market values.
If a brand does not have a vital consumer meaning, it is not worthwhile investing in its leadership organisationally. It is not worth the enormous financial resources which it will take to continuously publicise it ; nor is it worth the time and political resources required to make it a rallying point for the skills of the company's people; nor is it worthwhile living the value relationships which feed through the brand process to trading customers to their end consumers and feed back again. Conversely, if a brand does have a vital (and self-perpetuating) consumer meaning, companies discover that there are more significant similarities than differences among consumers in their sphere of business as they market a brand's essence around the world.
The fact that a product-orientated and impulse-grabbing essence like " have a break, have a Kit Kat" could also establish a global and local "time-out" meaning in consumers' diaries was never appreciated by Rowntree. It was by Nestle, which acquired Rowntree because of this. It thought that Rowntree's leading brands had enough meanings of this sort to be worthwhile buying. They would then be served up globally as brands which could stand out as unforgettable in their own right, and also play a strong supporting role when cast as entries on Nestle's menu as the world's leading foods company. Although some accountants' renderings of commercial history may tell you otherwise, it was not the past performance of Rowntree's brands which Nestle valued at 4.5 billion dollars - a record-breaking five times book value - when it acquired Rowntree in 1988. It was the future advantages which Nestle as the world class packaged foods company could create out of the latent essences of these brands.
The story of Kit Kat as part of Nestle's global vision is amplified in Chapter 13. So too is the evolutionary story of Guinness as a brand whose essence - beers whose visible characters are so distinguished that brewers around the world prefer to partner them rather than compete against them - is reflected at such different levels as:
·Guinness products - beers instantly recognisable by their unmistakeable physical appearances (stout's black and white poetry, the red beers from Kilkenny, Kaliber's zero-alcohol)
·Guinness corporate style - frothy confidence of a company that knows where it is going almost as focusedly as the record-breakers chronicled in its annual publication ("The Guinness Book of Records")
·Guinness country - the brand that represents Ireland more than any other (the idea that a brand which is a country's major export can take over the essence of the world's stereotyped images of the country of origin is a subtle one which we will come back to in chapter 3)
Test the following essential hypothesis : a strong leader is humanly attractive if 1) leadership is transparent; 2) values added are fairly shared. Before testing this on brands, test this on other great organising identities such as nations. These are opening clues to why powerful brands work. Another clue is that brands are the most democratic of independent competitive beings; the day that a brand process loses it essence in such manners as ruining its reputation or loading itself with too many organisational costs is the day that consumer votes will ebb away in all free competitive markets.
Living and breathing an appropriate cultural philosophy of why branding really matters is particularly important now that more and more companies realise that competing for the future will involve something more important than product branding. This is the banner branding of global business domains with organisational support systems that are specific to the brand and its unique service raison d'etre.
Some banner brand essences may seem to be as simple as focusing on being the world class branded company which leads a designated sphere of business. In fact, electing to be both world class (capable of offering the world's best quality and value) and branded is not a simple cocktail to mix. Branding is not one of those core competences that a business can choose merely to add on to other competences. Instead you need to choose other core competences in a way that will enable branding to be worthwhile. Specifically, brand-orientated organisations need to go beyond the purposes of other organisations in two respects:
·Aiming to have sufficiently unique control over the added value chain glocally so that other companies prefer to partner you rather than compete against you
·Aiming to have economical ways of staying in the news that excite both staff and consumers, and share the brand's leadership essence as closely as possible between them.
For example, the essence of British Airways aims to do both these things through the medium of its slogan "the world's favourite airline'. This declaration of intent is a mission for staff to live up to as well as a meaningful consumer promise. It also connects up competences, which were underexploited in the old British Airways, such as the routes and hub for a global network and world class engineering staff. (See Brand Benchmarking of British airways in ThinkPiece 1).
For another example, the founder of Honda was once asked : how did you originally decide that the Formula 1 motor racing would be a worthwhile consumer promotion? He replied that he had not thought like that. His actual reasoning was : engine technology is a core competence of Honda; therefore we want the best engineers working for Honda; the challenge of winning Formula 1 will be a timely way to ensure this.
As far back as the 1920s, Marks & Spencer developed a philosophy which the Japanese were to (re)invent decades later. The aim was to develop continuous relationships with suppliers who would then be asked to improve their offers at regular intervals. The distinguishing feature of this policy was that Marks & Spencer would choose, at each of these steps along the learning curve, whether the next improvement should be in terms of better quality or better value. Through control of this partnership strategy, Marks & Spencer determined that it would always stay quality steps ahead of the competition.
The essence of a brand-oriented culture should be that a restless spirit of improvement pervades the organisation. The Japanese have a notion of cultural duality which is hard to translate into English but whose spirit can be interpreted as : "organised self-improvement means mobilising self organisational-improvement". From day one, Sony's cultural essence (for the company's staff) began with the founder's mission statement:
"If it were possible to establish conditions where people could become united with a firm spirit of teamwork, and exercise to their heart's desire their technological capacity, then such an organisation could bring untold pleasure and untold benefits"
Over the years this has been translated into the consumer essence of 'Sony being state-of-the-art-electronics'. Sony's cultural and consumer essences are thus reflections of one and the same branded being.
Research by Hamel and Prahalad concludes that the four top level communications investments in branded businesses are:
If essence guides everything you think and do, these four communicators are the top level and continuing ends that branded businesses seek in order to continuously know themselves.
Consider how close to ten to the power four, Sony's branding investments score:
·Being state-of-the-art-electronics is a great business domain. Unless you're a competitor in which case as one company told us : "Its Sony's unfair advantage. We innovate new features in our product category, but whenever Sony replicates them within a few months, word-of-mouth amongst Joe Public ends up being that Sony innovated everything"
·Sony's identity system deserves its near universal recognition (see the ThinkPiece on brand benchmarking of Sony)
·Reputation - Sony (subsequently joined by other Japanese companies) deserves its place in history for taking the quality of corporate guarantees to new consumer heights
·Affinity - Sony consumers are a loyal club by any standards. For new generations "-man" strikes a pretty hip chord as an integrated part of Sony's brand architecture
We will see that implementation directives associated with "connecting up" brand essence can permeate every level of Brand Chartering - creative development, management, organisation and strategy - and all fifteen branding junctions. Indeed, defining the essence of a brand-orientated organisation, and aligning this with employees who serve the brand, makes the vital difference between essential branding processes and fairly useless ones with nowhere valuable to go.
Brand Essence Workshops - dancing with your core values
To focus on competing for the future, Brand Charterers frequently use brand essence workshops as a navigational tool for aligning business team understanding of the adding value raison d'etre of the business and the strategy for propagating this. There are various reasons why the branding process needs essential communications clarity to thrive. As we discuss these reasons keep in mind that:
·the essence of "branding" is "uniquely purposeful creativity"
·the essence of "process" is "teamworking and connecting up"
1) Team consensus and virtuous spiralling
Leadership qualities can be clarified by questions spiralling round a brand's outstanding virtues (and weaknesses) in order to confirm a business team's beliefs in why the essence of their business is of unique and enduring value. For example, in the case of brands which aim to be world class leaders of product categories, the framework shown in Figure 1 (courtesy of The Leo Burnett Brand Consultancy) has proved to be an invaluable way of connecting up a virtuous spiral of themes to a brand's core. By concentrating on this methodology, business teams can converge both on a consensus statement of the mission of the branded business and why this is the essential communications perspective for directing values that are developed in the brand's name.

In consumer terms, strong brand essences are apparent when there is a link between each inner quadrant and where the whole has a degree of clarity. Essences begin to weaken wherever:
·confusion exists in the consumers' mind about what the brand does or is for
·real performance differences over competitive offers are no longer apparent
·personality or image loses unique relevance
·source of authority declines in credibility or in its base for admiration
Inner and outer core questions can be tailored as a function of a brand's purpose and domain of influence. By interrogating the core of the brand, the aim of virtuous spiralling is to iteratively refine team consensus down to the simplest possible statement of the main and distinctive characteristics that make the brand unique and represent its future source of power.

2) (Re)Focusing the Brand Architecture

Those who direct a branding organisation cannot afford to rest on a blind belief in the company's Brand Architecture. Brand owners must be capable of flexing change, particularly in the competitive environment of the late 1990s characterised by an extraordinary congruence of change trends including:
·business internationalisation
·retailer concentration
·integration of new age media.
As business organisations confront these changeovers, many corporate leaders must deal with increasing urgency with the problem of owning too many fragmented brands representing fragmented product or geographic territories. Across a company's architecture of brands, survival of the fittest will require firm decisions on which brands to demote as investments either by culling them, or sub-branding them to appear not in isolation but as part of a corporate or "banner" brand's family. Conversely, companies must find ways of identifying with higher level branding platforms, which act as banner brands (ie quasi-corporate umbrellas) in the ways discussed in Chapters 11-14.
One way forward is to single out each brand and ask such essential questions as:
·what would consumers really miss if this brand did not exist?
·what would trade channels really miss if this brand did not exist?
·what would the company really miss if this brand did not exist?
·if this brand was our company, and if we pumped all our resources into it as our only brand, would its essence be transformable into a leading domain for one of our core spheres of business? This simple visioning exercise provides an acid test of whether there are any hidden jewels in the existing brand portfolio worthy of investing in and directing at higher levels of corporate advantage.

3) Stretch-Domains
Japanese tuition
Recently, in a letter from a Japanese pen-pal of mine, I was reminded that our first conversation on umbrella branding got off to a sticky start. It was ten years ago and my first visit to Japan. Typically, I had adopted expatriate defensive posture in being slow to immerse myself in the power of corporate branding. I had argued along the lines that "Perhaps it is only in Japan that a company brand can represent salmon, steel mills and electronics at one and the same time". The reminder in my friend's letter began : "perhaps, we see now that it is only in the UK that a brand (Richard Branson's Virgin) can stretch its virginity from pop music to air lines to colas to personal pension plans". The letter concluded "by the way I hear that your nation's biggest grocery brand (Sainsbury's) now advertises itself as able to supply everyone's favourite ingredient". Fair cop guv.
Memories came flooding back. My friend had coached me with exquisite patience that there is a right and a wrong way of asking how do brands work at making connections. The precisely wrong sort of question relies on literal consumer research. Sadly, a lot of academic research of brand equity still perpetrates this by asking "as a consumer who knows this brand's existing products, what else could be manufactured in this brand's name?" Framed in this way, you will get the response that the manufacturer should at most stretch his knitting to neighbouring product categories.
A vaguely right kind of questioning needs to be asked of the company. If we started with one brand as the company's topmost brand which brand would this be? And more importantly what stretch-domains of leadership can the brand represent in consumers' minds?
Diary entry - Chris Macrae (1995)
It is particularly valuable for those who might be tempted to classify themselves as product manufacturers to ask what if we were to project ourselves not only in this way but also as:
a fashion styler (eg L'Oreal, Dunhill)?
Or a service club for our consumers (eg American Express)?
Or a media owner (eg Disney, Cosmopolitan)?
Or a world class guarantor of competences (eg Sony, Nestle)?
or any other way that prevents the brand being too closely anchored to individual products instead of an evolving business?
Sir Adrian Cadbury once said that chocolate needs to be marketed both as function and fashion. A similar realisation turned Gillette-Sensor into a winning combination of "Best a man can get" lifestyle and visibly innovative product. Previous branding efforts communicating the functions of local best selling lines had come within a whisker of turning the market into a commodity one with a generation of young men perceiving Gillette's leadership image as involving little more than cheap, blue and plastic.
Nor should we assume that manufacturing is an essential competence of operating a brand franchise. Manufacturing for Nike's flexible range of merchandise is largely contracted out. Similarly products are sourced for Body Shop or the Virgin range of drinks without these companies needing to own manufacturing plant.
The right origin for (re)developing a high level brand is not a product per se. The brand should consider drawing on any or all channels of access which the company has already won -the communications kind, the distribution kind, the world class competence kind.
The way that your company scopes the essence of a brand has a simple but vital consequence. If you think of a brand's essence as being a singular product, then potential consumers will too. And if you ever want to move the brand on to endorsing something else it may be nigh on impossible to do. This has been a costly lesson for many late twentieth century manufacturing companies. So much of the brand power they invested in was dedicated to individual products that it is now hard to transfer these investments to higher level branding domains on whose future playing fields world class branded companies are assembling.
One constructive approach is to debate what is the essence of particular world class domains from the consumer viewpoint?...
·The essence of manufacturing - best quality? best value? really innovative products I didn't know were possible? safe and caring?...
·The essence of retailing - best prices? exclusive offers? widest range? at my doorstep? a socially rewarding atmosphere?...
·The essence of the service company - all the information/help I need in one place? worth knowing for a lifetime? helps you learn about costs and benefits? warm human feelings?...
·The essence of the fashion company - new ways of making impressions? escapism?...
Swatch was formed out of the great idea of re-interpreting the watch to have more than a manufacturer's hallmark of excellence by being fashionable too. Swatch marketers now reckon that their brand's equity extends to any category that can potentially be re-interpreted in a surprisingly fashionable way but not product neighbouring categories such as clocks.
Given time and consistency of presentation, apparently intricate details can help consumers widen their brand's horizons. For example, it is noticeable that Ariel's UK advertising in 1994 has begun to evolve away from the standpoint of the detergent product. With the help of a mere preposition - "At Ariel we believe in..." - the brand's tone of voice appears to be taking on the form of a company with competences such as stain removal instead of being confined to the product domain of the detergent.
In other cases, brands which hone their characters to epitomise a product category's most impactful emotional values - eg soothing and trusted in the case of cough mixtures - may proceed to unlock a character whose extendibility across other categories is the envy of competitors' brands whose own characters have not been visioned beyond those of aggressive product salesmen. The choice of which founding product is right for a new brand involves more subtleties than first appearances suggest.
There is a never ending list of human needs out there for brands to portray and serve. Consequently, it is sad to see companies investing a lot of money in product-obsessed brand essences whose stretch capabilities are something less than vital. And we do fervently believe that the essential opportunity for every brand leading business is to make a valuable difference emotionally as well as functionally - a double act which makes it hard for any other organisation to follow.

4) Connecting up other core strategic properties
For higher level brands including corporate and banner ones, it is critical that everyone in the company understands the strategic direction (vision, culture, mission, values etc) which a brand's essence simultaneously represents by being:
·a corporate source of advantage (over competitors and for partners)
·a continuous pathway for added value leadership
·an uniquely relevant consumer meaning
·a reference point in the sphere of business
The brand oriented business also seeks to broaden strategic perspectives on every operating matter. One particular advantage of a strategy being expressed in terms of brands is that it is perceived as alive and thus more stimulating to work with than, for example, an abstract level of return. (Organised purposes of leadership are a subject we return to in Chapter 14).
Some connected strengths to consider when revisiting which inspirational qualities essence can contribute to forming a fully integrated business perspective are shown in table 1.
Table 1 - a list of approaches for clarifying essential connections
·Big meaning for company and consumer (providing everything coheres and is relevant in a self-perpetuating way) a bigger brand beats a collection of smaller brands)
·Connections to sub-meanings (usage meanings, performance differentiation, source/platform of values owned, personality/image that is consumer-smart)
·Uniqueness that company can protect and which can't be outpositioned by a higher level appeal
·A capacity for growing and growing, eg by coining its own legends/heritage and creating buzz and self-perpetuating momentum
·Consistently adds value, should ideally encompass highest quality points in core markets (as well as other value points) if it is not to be outpositioned
·Strategic fit with company's core competences, ie brand pathway matches corporate advantages to deliver (although not necessarily to produce, eg Nike sources products as of course do top retailers)
·Has sufficient flexibility to be proactive to change (whether this is in environment, consumers or competitors). Robust as a competitive survivor even when not optimally supported.
·Clarity of its own territories versus rest of corporate brand portfolio. Focused so that company organises around : eg NPD for this brand
·Competitive Impact - easily lends itself to great identities, newsworthiness etc; here again company must be clear on which brand services it can profit from and which are vital for brand's essence as image-makers etc
·Consistency/Integration, alignment in everything done in the brand's name, eg masterbriefing or "intuitive feel" of serving this brand. Ideally, a very simple core so that it is never misinterpreted by corporate personnel etc
·Global Prestige (from staff pride and motivation, to communications channel newsworthiness, ie free PR to distribution channel partnership), eg to be perceived as world's number 1
·Values/vision as if it were a company brand intent on two-way smart relationships with every audience
5) Global and local ownership
We have observed two common organisational models where brand essence is king and the brand process is directed in an action-oriented way:
1) the benign dictatorship - where the quality of being benign comes from a brand owner or founder whom the team recognise as having a dedicated and true belief in the gospel that if consumers' needs are not properly led then the brand's franchise will surely die.
2) the soft-wired culture - where the brand's essence is networked as the operating culture for everyone who serves the brand. For many organisations, this is the ideal model provided there exists a will and a way. The will must come from seeing branding as the ultimate service that organisations can seek to deliver; one systematic way is continuously uniting organisational action and vision by Chartering the brand's essence and living script.
When a business has previously fragmented branding responsibilities to operating territories - countries, product streams or business units - whose divisional managers were free to rule as long as they met their own revenue targets, the sizeable challenge of becoming an integrated brand-oriented organisation is not to be under-rated. Visioning the brand's essence will ultimately be a way of strategic bonding. But sometimes it is necessary first to concentrate on agreeing the few most important strategic elements of the business. Focus on elements that must be developed in a consistent way by all involved because they are the value-differentiation heart of the business. By recognising and formalising a consensus between managers that they are organisationally interdependent, you are pathing the way for two things:
·a communications strategy is needed to harness value-creating commonalities
·someone has to have leadership responsibility for directing this
If this kind of agreement cannot be reached then you may need to conclude that either you do not have a brand-orientated business or that you do not currently have the right people skills to serve one.
The craft of preparing any workshop is to be forewarned and forearmed. If a collection of people have not previously had much in common, start with some team building procedures which may range from:
·rehearsing strategic essence first for somebody else's business, eg a competitor's
·dramatising extreme organisational cases where other companies have - in crisis - resorted to a not-so-benign dictatorship and profited from mandatory pulling together!
Most of the time, however, brand essence workshops serve to develop constructive tensions out of natural and healthy diversity. Brand decision-making is frequently a balancing act between imperfect alternatives. Judgements should be transparent to all teamworkers and not hidden away in expert silos. Thus essence forums are a constructive way to initiate or revitalise multifunctional teamworking. When we have facilitated this with brand teams around the world focusing on a global brand process, it has almost invariably been a real privilege to participate in such progress towards global and local, thought and action. And unlike many other teambuilding events, globally organised workshops of this kind are guided by an essential purpose.
6) Audit of lead opportunities and risks in systemising and (re)vitalising essence
A brand-orientated business focuses on organising unique added values. Throughout this book, we will see various examples of why organisation systems of branding need to feed back and forward through brand essence. In a sense brand essence is like taking out a contract on what particular business relationships you wish to form. Here are some examples of leading questions which drive organisational form through perpetuating the value and realising the investment of brand essence:
What focal points evolve from brand essence in terms of value creating functions? Specifically, what needs to be developed inside the organisation and what needs to be contracted out?
Example : being Benetton (1994) includes organising the following value functions:
% of value function developed within Benetton
Design themes 100
Design options 5
Catalogue 100
Store range 0
Material procurement 100
Knitting 1

For every function, what opportunities/risks particularly interact with brand essence?
Example : essential risk audits
Wherever brand essences of global businesses represent the key to billions of dollars of goodwill, you might think that companies would audit the functions most at risk of destroying their perceived value. At the time of writing (mid-1990s), a surprising number of companies do not do this.
The 1980s essence of Perrier was about purity at a single source, but then trouble at the source of production caused Perrier's essence to temporarily self-destruct (and many feel that it has not fully recovered to be the brand it once was).
In the summer of 1994, one of Body Shop's founding family was alleged to question whether being positioned as an ethical company was worth the candle. This was prompted by press reports that part of Body Shop's US operations had been charged with some local misdemeanours relating to waste disposal. It was specifically because of Body Shop's ethical brand image that this issue did pose a serious question as to whether the company was being faithful to the essence of its contract with the public.
1994 also saw the European launch of Unilever's "Power" detergents. Seldom has a company invested so much time, money and reputation in a marketing war that was lost before it started. In spite of the imposing battle cry of a PR campaign revealing "Unilever's largest launch in a decade" and a continental launch process costing close to a quarter of a billion pounds, an unintended part of the launch mix was retrospectively confirmed by co-chairman Tabaksblat as "a product which had a defect which we had not detected". As another Unilever executive subsequently opined "We were very enthusiastic about an exciting new product and did not look closely enough at the negatives. Somewhere between research and marketing something went wrong".( See also Chapter 14, Drama of Leadership for why World Class companies cannot afford to imagine that the reputation of the corporate brand is separable from the essences of their product brands.)
In conducting risk audits of a brand's essence it is very important to explore acute sensitivities which can arise from:
·interaction with uniqueness of a brand's essence - eg Perrier's problems were greater because its positioning was purer than pure
·extremities of a product's use particularly if the consequences can be dramatised by a competitor - eg the critical weakness of Unilever's power products was evident for only a few special fabrics/dyes, but was dramatic enough for Procter & Gamble to obtain European news coverage of the crisis; earlier in a 1980s UK relaunch of the Persil brand, Unilever's initial failure to clarify that the new product was biological caused a highly publicised furore with an UK pressure group - The Eczema Society - which had previously endorsed the Persil brand
To vitalise brand essence across internal departments or external business partners, are there lessons to be learnt from brand franchising?
Many of the world's most consistent branding operations employ franchising mechanisms from the fully franchised McDonald's to the part-franchised Coca-Cola. In the latter case, Coca-Cola Headquarters effectively franchises the latest marketing concept for worldwide use to sales organisations around the world, many of whom are independently owned bottling companies. Franchising kits do offer advantages including : consistency, speed of global implementation, shared knowhow. As management structures in organisations flatten, marketing skills will increasingly need to be networked instead of departmentalised. Franchising modules, as communications-sharing toolkits, will play an increasingly active part in experience-based marketing.
7) Clarifying essential keywords and picturing the big ideas that embody them
There comes a time, in any branding, when a creative agency needs to be briefed. And the brand will have to be turned into messages which communicate as simply as possible to consumer values.
Some points to note are:
Brand essence is usually not a slogan that you can directly campaign on. (British Airways being an exception). Moreover, the essence of the branded business mission ( eg from a team's virtuous spiralling in section 1 ) may be stated in terms which include the industry sector you wish to lead. So, it should not be surprising that the essence of a business vision will often need to be translated into consumer vocabulary. For example, in the clothing industry product lines range from "haute couture" to "basics". So if your brand is to be the leader of an everyday clothing sector, "basics" is not a keyword for external consumption even if this is part of essential vocabulary for the internal mission statement that the business team are aligned round in directing the brand.
To ensure an optimal strategic fit between brand and business purpose, the business team should vision their brand essence as a summary of relevant leadership qualities that a good agency will be able to work it into big ideas. However big your communications budget, simplicity is a core operating principle of branding because of the practical working hypothesis - your public is never completely there, in mind and spirit, to listen to you. The intriguing and defining characteristic of commercial media is that of aiming to propagate a message to people whose primary reason for being there is very different from your own. This is literally the common denominator of all media : from reading a newspaper, to watching television, to playing a computer game, to sifting through correspondence whether this is in historically postal or futuristically electronic form.
There are a variety of eliciting tools for the business team which wants to transform brand essence into a transparent creative brief. One of the best and simplest is keywords. Get every member of the team to write down the one word they would hope consumers most associate with the brand. Then another if it has a valuably different meaning. And repeat this, stopping as soon as no more unique value triggers are forthcoming.
When a brand has a weak essence, the team will have produced a very long list of conflicting words which is a finding in itself. When a brand has a strong essence, a handful of keywords capture it.
Consensus on a handful of essential keywords is an excellent place for a brand team to be. A creative agency may, for example, transform these words in a single picture - eg Marlboro's cowboy - which will prove as useful as any verbal translation of brand essence. Note that most consumers picture a brand in their mind's eye much more clearly than they can verbalise it. This is a topic which we will come back to when we discuss the identifying property rights of branding investments in chapter 2.
In creating personal relationships, brands exhibit a knack of their own when they play the humanising role. They take on unique characters, express themselves - and their businesses - through particular tones of voice, and may even be capable of offering a change of mood to the consumer, as well as a lifestyle image. In these and other essential style rules of branding, any way of prompting and retaining a commonly held feeling for a brand's essence across the brand team is to be valued. Whilst we are not advocating that every CEO needs to dress up as the legendary Kentucky Colonel who founded the world's leading chicken fast foods take-away (KFC), this organisational means of globally identifying with the brand's service disciplines was not as corny as it may appear at first sight!
Many brands these days are supported by business teams comprising hundreds of people. Alignment makes a vital difference to the power of the brand. Imagine the contrast between the brand whose every team member shares a common belief in a leadership purpose, and one where every member of the business team has a tangentially different perspective on the brand.
Higher level brand leadership bundles up the communications of everything that a company has accomplished, eg product competences, know-how, trading partnerships, reputation and consumer values, and projects this forward to tomorrow's marketplaces. We do not believe that it is now cost-efficient to think of the origin of a higher level brand process as merely a product. There should be a lot more than that for a leading company to serve.
Within the branding of a business process, Essence is a vital branding junction. It works to keep branding faithful to its leadership purpose. The transparency of brand essence as an organising contract helps to guide a business team in thought and action, through the short-run and long-term, aligned towards an integrated and value added direction.
You might make your own long list of reasons why Brand Essence matters wherever business strategies are highly dependent on organisational goodwill. But a shortlist of lead connections made by orchestrating brand essence thought processes runs as follows:
·The valued meaning of a brand both for the company and the consumer
·The clarification of what is in the brand for other stakeholders : eg trading channels, company shareholders
·A tool for aligning a brand's resource allocation and focus within a company relative to other brands and in relation to a company's core competences
·A way of maintaining integrity for a brand at all points of delivery
·An engine for new product delivery
·A procedure for driving communications and advertising briefs
·A means for inspiring (new) personnel both inside and outside the company with the meaning of the brand
·A system for defining the organisation required to deliver the brand and to take proactive advantage of change
·An approach for ensuring that a business culture is foresightful and value-orientated

-> For an agenda of a typical Brand Essence workshop, please refer to ThinkPiece 2.

Thursday, November 30, 1995

Chapter 2 : brand IDENTITY SYSTEM
Chapter 1, on brand essence, began with the plea to focus brand communications on the integrated connections your branding process needs to make, before contemplating various targeted news you want to convey. Readers who felt inhibited by this apparent relegation of market targeting to a secondary status may enjoy the multidimensional freedom of expression inherent in the concept of a brand's identity system.
Today, powerful branding goes beyond a name, to invest in a visual design language -of symbols, colours, sub-brands, flagship products, service promises and other identifying reminders which shape the way in which a brand's sphere of business is recalled by our senses. Brands navigate human associations and perceptions by a constellation of reminders, each acting as a consumer code. A powerful corporate or umbrella brand is capable of conveying multiple messages with particular relevance to different audiences, as well as other mind-expanding interpretations of its essence. In the case of global brands, identities need to be crafted as component forms in an international design language. In this chapter, we will see how analysis of the brand identity system enables us to explore the breadth and depth of the universe of associations which a brand has invested in consumers' minds.
The power of a well designed identity system is difficult to over-estimate. We begin with some examples.
If you are aware of McDonald's, you are likely to make many of the following associations with the brand's identity system : Big M logo, Ronald, Big Mac, Mc named menu items, Red and Yellow...
The identity system is a communications tapestry. The brander must keep on asking two questions about this:
·What identifying "threads" are known to everyone who knows the brand?
·How are they working for the branding process - both its consumer heritage and its future business?
These questions should be guided by an informed belief in design impact and aesthetics. Remember:
·There is no point in cluttering the tapestry with another thread unless it is serving some vital purpose
·The identifying threads must all fit together. As part of a pattern, they should provide overall confirmation of a brand's essence. Identities should not directly clash, but subtle tensions can be good. For example, the most fascinating human characters are those who intrigue because they are at once familiar and continuously capable of surprise.
Table 1 shows some interpretations of how the identity system of McDonald's works for the brand. Interrogate this and add your own insights to our list by asking the sorts of questions tabled.

Table 1 : Exploring the identity system of McDonald's
whilst confirming the essence of fast food served with home from home values
WHAT brand identifiers ( eg colours, symbols, stereotypes, slogans, platforms, famous moments in brand's history, product features, design icons, other appeals to senses etc) are in the minds of your consumers?

McDonald's integrates

Big Mac
(also Big Breakfast, Mega Mac)

Red & Yellow
An identity system:
· casts leading identifiers with different roles;
· connects everything up to achieve multiple effects such as "multi-positioning", "multi-recognition"...
What leading interpretations can you find when exploring McDonald's identity system? Which identifiers would you show off where if you were directing the McDonald's brand?

Signpost for distant media; nicknamed destination (golden arches)
Children's aspect of multipositioning; local community visibility; anchor of family personality
Adult appetite aspect of multipositioning; Big codes (eg value); Familiarisation slogans, eg Mac Attack

Linking identity for broadening product menu

Global and local PR platform

Heartwarming impact

To obtain a greater feel of the significance of these identifers to the goodwill invested in - and stewarded by - those who direct the business of McDonald's, read our section on Benchmarking McDonald's (ThinkPiece 1), and then take a second look at table 1.

Some would say the cowboy has proven to be the most valuable branded identifier ever created, in light of the internationally popular image he conferred on the brand and its smokers. But don't underestimate the powers of other Marlboro identifiers such as : red, the device of the red chevron with white backdrop, Marlboro (and Big) Country scenery.
The red chevron has always done a great job in ensuring that Marlboro's pack stands out from the crowd. Think of how many ways this works - from making the Marlboro pack visible on a retailers' crowded shelves to being Marlboro's signature wherever one smoker shares a cigarette with another. Twenty years ago, as a rookie market researcher, one of us was talking to a Marlboro brand manager in the UK. As twentysomething marketing ignorami, we were sharing bewilderment over instructions from Philip Morris New York headquarters that while much of the marketing mix, eg advertising, allowed for a high degree of local flexibility, if the brand manager wanted to change one iota of the brand's packaging design, this had to be signed off in triplicate from HQ.
These days, we confess to a complete u-turn in thinking. We would be bewildered by any owner of a global brand who did not regard packaging design as a strategic property that requires global control. The consistency of Marlboro's red flag is the connecting thread which keeps the whole history of the brand's equity alive. In some countries, cigarette marketing is so highly censored that only two image-building acts remain to support your product:
1) sponsor an abstract global flag - eg Marlboro's red chevron around the world's grand prix motor racing circuits
2) show your package off on retailers' shelves and in consumers' hands.
By owning red in a product category, the brander enjoys the most impactfully differentiated colour as well as the most popular bold one. Of course, most Marlboro smokers are also reminded of Marlboro's wild west legends by their pack's identity - as Marlboro's continuous flag of independence - even if these associations are only latently charged by memories, or refreshed when travelling to countries where Marlboro imagery is free to express its communications tapestry to the full.
In China, you will see a remarkable modern rendering of a brand's identity system, with the Marlboro brand using its red and big country identifiers to extraordinary effect. Imagine a commercial which mixes footage of:
·a popular sports event sponsored by Marlboro, congregated by Chinese youths who are waving red Marlboro flags as part of their supporters' ritual
·Big Country scenery
You only need to think of the Great Wall to realise that the rapport of Chinese people with the Big Country dwarves even that of people in the USA. In this oriental context, Marlboro's red flag connotes the future dreams and inspirations of China's youth as well as being a visual neighbour to their symbol of patriotic familiarity. At a single stroke, the brand becomes the consumer passport to imagineering the evolution from China's history as a great power to an era already beckoning mankind where the Orient is the most dynamic place on planet earth and where China will have a great international role to play.
In the US Budweiser brand, we have an intricate example of how identifiers can be threaded together as consumer codes to portray a national institution. This analysis of Budweiser's identity draws on a book by Sal Randazzo in which Budweiser is called archetypal of a male mythology brand. Says Randazzo:
"The unique power of advertising goes beyond its ability to build and maintain successful, enduring brands by creating perceptual entities that reflect the consumer's values, dreams and fantasies. Advertising turns products into brands by mythologising them - by humanising them and giving them distinct identities, personalities and sensibilities that reflect our own. In some sense, advertising brands have, in our consumption-driven society, come to serve a similar function as the ancient Greeks' pantheon of gods. They function as projection holders wherein we project our dreams, fears and fantasies...
The connection between advertising and mythology seems fairly obvious to me. Myths are more than entertaining little stories about gods, goddesses and heroic characters. The universality of myths, the fact that the same myths recur across time and many different cultures, suggests that they originate from somewhere inside us. Psychoanalyst, Carl Jung said that myths, like dreams, are really projections that emanate from the soul or unconscious psyche. Myths represent humanity's collective dreams, instinctive yearnings, feelings, and patterns of thinking that seem to be hard-wired in humans and that function somewhat like instincts to shape our behaviour".
Table 2 helps to explain "Budweiserness" by suggesting seven of the brand's most significant consumer codes (together with my attempt to translate meanings for non-American readers).
Table 2 : Inventory of US consumer codes identified with Budweiser
Brand Identity context as American consumer code
ClydesdalesThese are shire horses used by Budweiser at promotional events and previously in delivering beer. They fascinate Americans and connote macho images of power, strength and working pride.
CvolskiMost famous execution of a long running series of slice-of-life ads featuring blue collar workers as America's real heroes
This Bud's for youBudweiser's long running brand slogan
Red, White & BlueBrand's packaging colours (corresponding to America's national colours)
American eagleThe company's oldest trademark modelled on the bald eagle (America's national symbol)
Beechwood agingAs Budweiser's product legend declares on every pack, this proprietary process "produces unique taste, smoothness and drinkability - we know of no other brand of beer that costs so much to brew or age"
Genuine articleThe heritage of being America's number 1 brand of beer
Some points to digest from Budweiser's inventory of identities are:
·Each identifying code is a valuable property right as a contributor to Budweiser's image bank. Each code has required a large and continuous marketing investment to imprint its association of Budweiser on American consumers' minds.
·Each identifying code is intimately related to Budweiser's essence as a leader - namely being the product hero of the American working male by portraying the American male as (unsung) hero. Budweiser's inventory of identities are engineered to work with each other in developing an integrated picture. It links product connoisseurship with images of working males with the integrity of traditional American values and overall pride in belonging.
·Once you have examined how intimately a brand's vital reserves depend on its inventory of identities in consumers minds, it is difficult to attach credibility to any analysis of brand positioning, brand valuation or brand 'anything' unless it includes an integrated analysis of brand identity.
It is prudent to think of the brand name as an audio-visual symbol. It can serve to connect up customers around the world only if they all find it readily pronounceable. Early World Class branders like George Eastman knew this. He christened his camera Kodak because it was 'short, vigorous, incapable of being misspelt ... and meant nothing'.
Kodak's Identity system nicknamed "Big Yellow", remains a source of competitive advantage for the brand today. The ways in which the brand's colours grabbed Japanese attention in the late eighties would surely have made George Eastman proud.
Sky Wars
At a time when Fuji and Konica were committed to heavy spending abroad, Kodak spent three times more than both of them combined on advertising in Japan. It erected mammoth $1 million neon signs as landmarks in many of Japan's big cities. Its sign in Sapporo Hokkaido, is the highest in the country. It sponsored sumo wrestling, judo, tennis tournaments and even the Japanese team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, a neat reversal of Fuji's 1984 coup when it won the race to become the official supplier to the Los Angeles Olympics.
Kodak's cheekiest ploy was to spend $1 million on an airship emblazoned with its logo. It cruised over Japanese cities for three years, mischievously circling over Fuji's Tokyo headquarters from time to time. To Fuji's chagrin, Japanese newspapers gleefully picked up the story. The Japanese firm was forced to spend twice as much bringing its own airship back from Europe for just two months of face-saving promotion in Tokyo.
Half of all Japanese consumers can now recognise Kodak's goods instantly. kodak's recent growth puts it within sight of second-place Konica in Japan's market for camera film.
(The Economist, 10 November 1990)

A creative break
Before further examination of how identities work to create and renew brands , it is worth noting some of the organisational implications of investing in brand identity. Like most of the component frameworks of Brand Chartering, identity system seems to be naturally anchored in one arena of branding, creativity in this case. But interconnections with all other arenas of the brand as business process must be constantly reviewed.
Identifiers represent valuable property rights of the branded communications process. They have often involved significant investment costs to become symbols whose power is proportional to the global share of mind that they have accumulated. In spite of this, archaic national laws do not always provide protection against visual counterfeiting. Wherever this geographical anachronism persists, branded manufacturers must be wary about the extent of their possible exposure.
For example, at the start of 1994 Coca-Cola's UK business was the largest manufacturer's brand monitored by audits of packaged goods products carried out by Nielsen market research. One year later (at time of writing) a proportion of this business has been lost to partnership combinations involving Cott colas, major British retail chains and in some cases host fashion brands, eg Virgin. This vulnerability has not been due to replica products as such - since well formulated own label colas have been around for years. The new cola warriors have been "lookalikes" deploying two identifiers that had previously been Coke's very own : namely red livery and classic associations with Americana.
How did this gap in the brand's defences emerge so suddenly, in spite of Coca-Cola's world of experience? A slightly technical answer is that a manufacturer's "me-too" of another's famous branded identity never proves profitable when both are competing on level playing fields. This is because some of the me-too's communications will be mistaken by consumers as messages for the real thing. Even more will be interpreted by the consumer as an impostor's challenge to their loyalty to an old friend. But the mechanics of competition from a major retailer ( one like Sainsbury's, whose distribution power represent over 10% of grocery purchases made by UK consumers) are different. With only marginal overheads (instead of advertising and other marketing budgets) the retailer can offer product at a lower price, (though this did not make previous own-label colas particularly big business). The sting to the manufacturer's brand comes, from the retailer's control over shelf space. In some UK retailers, consumers have seen red American lookalike colas being given up to four times the display of Coca-Cola's facings where the points of sale are made.
For Coca-Cola this UK lookalike phenomenon is insidious. Its image is becoming diluted and its value undifferentiated, because confirmation of the brand's essence was invested in Coca-Cola's whole visual language, not the mere name.
The drastic impacts of "lookalikes" are so far confined to Britain and a few countries whose attitude to designer's rights might be labelled as "third world", like any country that refuses to recognise artistic copyrights protecting audio, visual or computer software. Britain's isolation in Europe on the lookalike issue was evident from a recent test case in which the UK's leading brand of wine Le Piat D'Or - positioned as French blend for English palate - was able to negotiate a halt to a lookalike offer from the same British supermarket chain that started the Cola wars. Appeals were made won not in UK courts but to French law which was applicable because the wine's bottling was done in France. Until Britain's laws are changed, no manufacturer's branding strategy is secure from the possibility of a lookalike invasion without:
·development of a design that is protectable but more complex than consumers really need
·ownership or long-term partnership of retail channels
·ownership of a scale or other product advantage which cannot be replicated.
Another major organisational issue connected with identity systems involves the networking of design skills. These are increasingly relevant at the interface between tactical and strategic decision-making on the branding process. In chapter 11, Brand Architecture, we discuss how many brands a company needs and how high level banner brands can be designed to connect up much of the company's goodwill with lower level sub-brands targeting local consumer needs. Nestle assigns a lot of its detailed thinking on these matters to visual communications experts who are specifically charged with two major jobs:
·arbitrate in a balanced way between strategic brand requirements from Nestle's headquarters in Vevey (Switzerland) and ideas on brand identities related to marketing initiatives of national subsidiaries
·control the design formats used to ensure that Nestle's banner brands are communicated with global consistency compatible with the consumer image of a world class company and yet sufficiently flexible to connect up with every sub-branding presentation. Figure 1 shows an example taken from the design catalogue of approved ways of representing Nestle's corporate brand:
(Figure 1)
(For further details: see Brand Benchmarking of Nestle in ThinkPiece 1)
Table 3 shows extracts from recent speeches by an executive from American Express. It highlights some intriguing points about the importance of taking corporate identity systems seriously.
Table 3 : "Keeping a brand image up-to-date" (at American Express)
I'd love to be able to claim that everything about our brand is the result of thorough research and careful deliberation, but I guess we all know that in real life things don't always work out that way.
Take our Centurion, for example. You see him on our Cards and our Travellers Cheques, embodying such brand characteristics as security, integrity, strength, protection, service. We couldn't have created a better symbol if we'd employed droves of researchers and designers and branding consultants. Which we didn't. The truth is altogether more serendipitous.
We owe our Centurion to an explosion of forgery after the Second World War. In the postwar years our Travellers Cheques became hugely popular, not only with travellers but also with counterfeiters. We desperately needed a harder-to-forge design, but at the time new engravings could have taken a year or more. So we asked our printers, the American Bank Note Company, to help - and from a dusty shelf they produced this guy; he'd been engraved for another job which had never been printed. From the obscurity of a printer's store-cupboard he's gone on to become one of the best-known brand marks in the world - proving that great symbols aren't always made to measure. You can sometimes get them - literally - off the shelf.
In 'Project Jigsaw', we recently undertook a complete revamp of our visual identity. We laid out all our direct mail packs and product literature and they looked as if they had come from a whole bunch of different companies. So we needed to reassert a consistent visual style that every part of the company could use. But Project Jigsaw went far deeper than a routine rethink of graphics and typography : it examined the style and tone of voice we use when we talk to our customers and potential customers.
Let me quote you a few sentences from the internal manual that resulted from Project Jigsaw:
'The transition from the 80's to the 90's was traumatic. People who were happy participants in our 'prestige dream' have changed. They now speak about getting value. Words like 'exclusive', 'privilege' and 'select' seemed to permeate every level of our communication. The tone and manner generally suggested someone who felt he was getter than most...but attempts to apply this florid (and, to today's ear, pompous) language across a wide array of marketing communications ended up working against us...looking old-fashioned and out-of-date. People talk about the world moving forward and American Express lagging behind".'
In short, our brand attributes and values might have been as good as ever, but the way we were presenting them had lost its relevance. So what are we doing about it now? Again, I quote from the manual:
'Our tone and manner should reflect those of a service company...a group which consistently reinvents itself to meet and exceed it customers' changing needs and expectations. Our voice should no longer be from the 'Chairman of the Club's Membership Committee' or from a disembodied global corporation that's full of itself. Rather, it should be the voice of a consultant... a skilled, flexible and entrepreneurial advisor and supplier. Someone who earns his customer's trust through performance nit promises. A competent, confident professional.'
And that, I think is the essence of everything we're doing to bring our brand up-to-date. The values don't change but the audience's perceptions do. The attributes don't change but the presentation must. In conclusion, I think the most important step we've taken in renewing our brand image is to be honest with ourselves; to listen to what customers were saying and admit that our corporate style had become outmoded. Once we'd taken that on board, we could see that a new style of advertising would help, but that advertising alone would not be enough.
A brand is a very public thing."
The brand identity system offers immense power to the brand-oriented company, but the use of this capability by many twentieth century brand owners has been underwhelming. Why?
One reason, frankly admitted by American Express, is "honesty" about an organisation's current weaknesses. The biggest impediment to valuable evolution of service values in every great company is often arrogance. It takes a subtle blend of modesty simultaneously to be proud of being number 1 and continuously to interrogate whether your presentation values are up-to-date.
Marketers have sometimes tended to enjoy advertising as a sexy activity where you subcontract out dream-making to an external agency. In contrast, designing a corporately branded identity immediately involves the laborious business of serving the lifestyles you present. Here, the point to reiterate from Amex's confession is that : true service unites performance and promise. In fact, one good test of a design consultant is the extent to which (s)he converts you to the service theme. Avoid those who fail to make this point, because they may hit you with artistic brilliance but run away from the deeper organisational issues involved. Conversely, one of the best design consultants we have ever met was adamant that the first slogan of marketing should be that "all brands are services". We last met him preaching this gospel at every operating level of a World Class packaged goods company, and promising to excommunicate anyone who referred to the company as a manufacturer.
Now that we have developed more of a feeling for identity systems, take a deeper look at some of the initial questions we suggested every brander should keep on asking about identity systems which (s)he is operating.

What consumer codes are identified with the brand?
Often, the brander will end up with quite a long list for each brand. If appropriate, cluster them where they have similar meanings and try to locate the topmost one which most clearly represents each cluster.
Then start classifying:
·Which of these associations come for free with the product's visibility? - Eg the colour of your pack if one has been consistently chosen, or if you are really lucky your personifying icon, eg the Centurion of American Express.
·Which involve a heavy investment to keep in consumers minds? - Eg an advertising slogan is usually a heavy investment. It will usually need a lot of repetition if it is to stay in consumers' minds. It may take literally 5% of all your advertising time spent and probably more than that in terms of your share of consumers' attention. It will usually be at the expense of establishing some other consumer code.
·Which of these consumer codes are strategic? - Eg being a vital confirmation of the brand's essence or a permanent part of the brand's visual recognition. Which of the codes are tactical or transitional? Eg helping the brand to compete on a fad value in the local market but something that you do not expect to be permanently associated with the brand.
These details are worth clarifying before the brand team addresses the purpose of each consumer code : How exactly are we using this identifier in the brand process?
- eg, what does it do for the brand in consumers' minds in relation to 1) recognising, 2) purchasing, 3) enjoying the brand?
Table 4 shows that quite a long list of answers are available, and it is there for you to add to them.

Strong brands use identifiers to work in many, many ways. HOW? Make a list of all the ways in which your brand's identity system must compete for consumer attention, such as:
·General recall of brand as top of mind
·Specific recall of brand as top of mind (eg occasion of use, calendar of mind)
·Heighten visibility/recognition of brand (eg impact in a specific media or on a new platform)
·Badge brand with personality or other image to wear
·Extend a brand
·Endow a brand with a stereotype bringing instant cosmopolitan appeal
·Local buy-in to a globally branded phenomenon
·Develop architectural strengths of high level brands (eg corporate/banner brands, see chapter 11)
·Build linkages between brands (eg corporate brand and product sub-brand)
·General reminder of brand essence
·Pre-emptive (eg symbolic) ownership of brand essence
·Souvenir of brand essence (or other empathy translator)
·Connect up values of flagship brands to benefit other brands
·Seed a brand's cachet
·Brand a word-of-mouth legend
·Identify a brand's own PR platform
·Transition a brand through evolution of its identity system
·Translate essence into lifestyle or service guarantee
·Express a corporate tone of voice; a cultural style
Identity for Brand Recall
Historically, packaging and product design have often been sidelined from their role as a brand's first (and almost-free) medium. We are now witnessing the passing of an era of mass communications where advertising agencies, as their name suggests, had certain biases as creative suppliers, particularly towards the provision of tv advertising, and away from helping to integrate design and other forms of communications that holistic brand identity systems need to exploit.
Notably, brand recall can tap a richer spectrum of brand power than many branders practised when results of communications campaigns were routinely judged by superficial measurements of advertising and brand name awareness. These measurements were made by market researchers paid for "precision", defined by the amount of data they collected and the standardisation of formulae they used in number-crunching.
Now that brands are increasingly aiming to be umbrellas for various products, there are many new subtleties in the ways that brand awareness works in consumers' minds. They cannot be calculated merely from such basic market research questions as : which brand names (or advertising) do you think of spontaneously when I mention a particular product? Or which brands do you know when I prompt you with a list of names?
One way to identify valuable brand recall involves uniquely associating a brand with an occasion of use that is a vital part of every consumer's diary. For example, from Malaysia we see how simply "Showertime is Lux Time" associates the Lux brand with taking a shower - what a suitable diary entry in a humid country for the Lux brand's core range of beauty cleansing products. It is easy to imagine why a Lux brand manager should rather have Lux spontaneously return to mind every time a consumer thinks of the joy of taking a shower than when questioned generally and out of the blue by a market researcher.
(Figure 2)
Identity for taking advantage of new and global media
Today's global media calls often provide only a fleeting glimpse of the brand, whether this is as the sponsor of an advertising hoarding behind the goal on a football pitch or of the player's shirt or of the backdrop to the interview after the game. Clearly, concise brand identifiers like capital M of McDonald's or the Coke of Coca-Cola work to ensure that their brands can play with the best in front of global audiences. So do such gems for brand names as the four lettered Mars and Sony or the three lettered Lux. One consequence of the natural visibility that short brand names command is that you are now unlikely to find any name which is :
·globally pronounceable and
·clean (ie free of unfortunate connotation in someone's mother tongue) with
·four letters or less which has not already been registered as somebody's trademark
Table 5 provides an Italian souvenir of how the suitably identified global brand stands out from the crowd.
Table 5 : Worldwide footage
Unlike local brands, the world class identity also enjoys making cost-effective use of such global media spots as trackside hoardings at the Olympic Games. Being seen in the neighbourhood of other world class brands is to inherit a state of international approval which local brands cannot muster. Subliminally, historical replays of such global media events create a cumulative sense of discrimination between brands with world class status and those with something rather less.
Alongside the footballing superstars of Italia's 1990 World Cup, the serious competitive pitch was reserved for brand hoardings. As events turned out, many of these identities looked under-rehearsed to play their part behind the scenes, being handicapped by over-long names or graphic logos designed to exploit media opportunities offering more time or space in front of the audience. In contradistinction, one four-lettered word made use of every camera angle. The MARS house colours - dramatic red with gold bordering and black background - proved to be a stylish flag for the confectioner's global panache. By easily scoring the most global rating points, the Mars branding was the visible winner of the championship. World Class Brands (1991), Chris Macrae
And, of course, it's not just global media sponsors that are prone to materialise in fleeting glimpses from the crowded brandscape of our mass communications society. Think how many identifiers flash by the city worker on an average commuter's journey, or the shopper travelling with a trolley through the aisles of a hypermarket.
Identity for brand image and brand personality
Marlboro without the cowboy would never have got started as a global brand; Lacoste without the alligator would have no fashionable meaning. The competitive make-up of brands whose products are primarily consumed in social settings requires an identifier which badges the brand with an image for consumers to wear.
Throughout this book, you may detect many subtle ways that we suggest personality icons - in human and animal forms - give their brands extra metamorphic powers. At this stage, just a short list of illustrative examples is:
·Introduce a dramatic new value to the brand - eg Amex's centurion
·Make the brand more personally recallable to occasional purchasers - eg Johnnie Walker in the seasonal market of Scotch Whisky
·Give the brand child - and therefore family - appeal : eg McDonald's Ronald or Disney's cast of animal characters
·Authenticate a slogan through the brand's announcer - eg the way Tony the Tiger establishes that Kelloggs Frosties are Grr..rreat
·Stereotype a brand's essence without saying a word - eg the power of any advertising copy which features Esso's Tiger
·Merge fantasy and fashion - eg Lacoste's Alligator

Identity for brand extendibility
A particularly interesting challenge facing many companies who are finding that one-product brands are no longer economic involves extending (some would say stretching) the brand. Table 6 is only a slight exaggeration of how a poor frame for brand extension decision-making is something which brand decision-makers can ill afford.
Table 6 : Which of these alternative approaches to brand extending is more sensible?
·Option 1 : Stretch the brand instantly by announcing that new product X is now offered by the brand
·Option 2 : Review whether the brand has any identifying codes which are relatable to product X:
->If yes, brief your advertising agency to help consumers interpret the brand's extension to the new product by portraying the brand in a way that emphasises the relevant codes as signposts to and from the brand consumers know to the new product you wish to announce
->If no, and in the absence of other brand alternatives, integrate into your brand's identity system a relevant new identifier and only once this has been cultivated proceed to announce the new prod using the new identifier as signpost
Through the process of extending a brand, the ultimate difference between these options can be "all or nothing". By enabling consumers to interpret where you are going, option 2 allows a brand to become all that its leadership essence is capable of. By confusing consumers, option 1 can end up diluting the consumers' feel for brand essence until the brand's relationship has lost all its meaning. Yet, in the 1990s as brand extendibility has increasingly become the most valuable creative talent associated with branding, many companies have adopted option 1 either in an ill considered rush to obtain new product revenues or through failure to develop an organised understanding of brand identity systems.
Unfortunately, faddish frameworks (often compounded by measurements of so-called proven - ie historical - brand power like brand valuation and early US research into brand equity) seem to have been accessories to the folly of disorganised stretching of brands. The acid test for any framework on the future power of the brand revolves round prioritising the following line of questioning : Does this framework recognise that a brand's future power is largely leveraged - positively or negatively - by what you creatively make of it? In particular, is it agreed that the most relevant communications creativity involved in extending a brand is that which helps consumers to translate their imaginative connections between :
·where your new products and service values are going to, and
·where they think your brand is coming from?
Identity for enabling global and local communications
You may find some clues to construction of strong brand identifiers by brainstorming how human languages work:
·Brands contribute characters to an experiential language designed for human exploration of quality and value - a language which is the first truly global and local one. Presence in the mind depends on the consistency, creativity and visibility with which a brand makes particular values its own. Key identifiers assist in this process both by adding particular nuances to a brand and by being devices which heighten recall. Ultimately, just as familiarity governs which words you choose most regularly to express yourself, familiarising devices breed a comforting inclination towards certain brands; just as some words appear to have a particularly distinguishing tone, some brands strike irreplaceable personal chords.
·One particular power of the brand is to mix image with reality. For example, brands can work like package tours that transport the human imagination without the physical strain of leaving home. Most consumers now enjoy perceiving a mixture of local and international offerings to be at their front doors. Appeals to our local senses remind us of our roots, offers of cosmopolitan experiences broaden our horizons. Indeed, John Naisbitt advises that one of the megatrends for our third millennium involves "the blending of global lifestyles and cultural nationalism"
·Unsurprisingly, identity themes which dominate branding's universal design either resonate with appeals to human fantasies or are stereotypical of human needs. Much of this canvass of branding concentrates on the themes shown in Table 7. To be effective communicators, most identifiers refer to some extent to the interpretive conventions which other brands or widely known entities have already established. It is unwise to identify yourself in a competitive vacuum since it is necessary to relate to codes which consumers already know how to read.
Table 7 : Predominant themes referenced by branding's universal design codes
· Countries
· Clubs and other affiliative institutions confirming belonging or belief systems
· Male/Female roles (more specifically: Male for impressing Females, Male for Males, Female for Males, Female for Females)
· Friendships, smiles, humour
· Fun/appeal to children's imagination, family rewards
· Mothering/growing/Environmental concerns/home-from-home comforts
· Rebels, youth, adolescence, artistic freedom, power to the people
· Sun, seasons, nature
· Purity/good health
· State-of-art/science/modernity
· Self-indulgence/treat/pleasure/fantasy
· Status/self-achievement
· Biggest/World's number 1/ Leader's guarantee
· Celebration occasions:anniversaries/rewards
· Symbol of good fortune/tradition
· Safety/simplicity/stability
· Power/strength/confidence
The inclusion of local identifiers gives a global brand identity system much needed flexibility. It can also allow local consumers the pleasure of feeling that they are improving a global institution.

Identity for brand architecture and high level brands
As we have seen, the McDonald's brand language demonstrates one way of establishing a multi-dimensional communications format facilitating all the linkages that high level corporate and banner brands need to exploit. Its multiple communication territories include:
·the geographical : global and local
·consumer segment : from children to adults
·usage occasions : from Breakfast to Drive-away snack
·menu of products : from burgers to nuggets to pizzas
When constructing the constellation of identifying effects that a coherent brand architecture needs, remember:
·Each brand or sub-brand has its own essence, but there should also be transfusion synergies between these essences
·Each identifier should make at least one specific "how to use" contribution: either to a particular brand or as the linkage between two or more brands
·The constellation of effects of all the identity systems in the brand architecture should be more than the sum of the parts.
It is because of McDonald's constellation of consumer codes that it is difficult ( almost impossible?) for any business to attack McDonald's directly - Is McDonald's fast food? Family entertainment centre? Cosmopolitan meeting place and break from city pressures?...It is all of these at one and the same time.
Identity as an essential advantage
Hershey's is America's favourite chocolate company. The company has never seemed to share the passion for global marketing of its major indigenous rival the Mars company. Because of this, Hershey's has had to try that much harder to stay closer to American hearts and minds in a business environment where in Sir Adrian Cadbury's words "you cannot afford to be in the second division" because recognition as an industry leader, economy of scale and world class production competences are critical success factors. Hershey's achieves its special rapport with American families to a large extent through the means of its "Hugs" and "Kisses" brands which are notable identities for the following reasons:
·In the English language, these are cosy brand names for playing confectionery's role in family bonding
·"Hugs" and "Kisses" are bite size chocolate morsels that are probably the smartest individually packaged brand units that a few cents can buy
·The brands' shape, wrappings and product patterns - Kisses are a mosaic of dark and white chocolate - involve a production complexity that required a large upfront investment. Hershey's therefore feels confident that neither manufacturer nor retailer could affordably imitate Hugs and Kisses. Regarded as a marketing platform
- over the long lifetime of the Hugs and Kisses brands - the high cost of investment in production technology is in reality a low cost branding delivery system.
·Moreover, as flagship brands in Hershey's brand architecture, Hershey's Hugs and Kisses are affordable entry tickets for each new American generation to the chocolate world of Hershey's. Arguably, the success of every Hershey brand depends on their familial connections to Hugs and Kisses. While these identities may be largely America's own, they are the foundations of a world class branding process judged on the criteria of the unique values they deliver to their consumers and to their corporate owner.
Seeding, ie identifying a brand's cachet prior to mass marketing
From Lacoste to Haagen-Dazs, a remarkable number of famous brands seeded their reputations, in some cases up to haute couture levels, by winning stylistic acclaim or becoming word of mouth cult fashions among opinion leaders - before they spent money on mass marketing media. As Table 8 shows Lacoste was one of the first brands to cultivate its image from an individual sportsman's prowess.
Table 8 - Looking into the Legend of Lacoste
The brander should never forget that the typical consumer test of a symbol is : how pleasing is it the hundredth time your eyes meet up with it? This helps to explain why the most productive symbols have a certain cleanness of style, a hidden simplicity rather than a showy complexity.
Consider Lacoste's alligator. This is one of the world's most successful brand trademarks and has come to be pitched on probably the most impactful advertising hoarding - namely, people's breasts. It works both subliminally and supraliminally to confirm the brand's stylistic essence of "being abreast of an adult sense of humour".
How was this brand conceived? Rene Lacoste was a French tennis player and a hero in Davies Cup competitions of the twenties. Lacoste acquired the nickname of the alligator and a girlfriend embroidered an alligator on a blazer he wore on the courts. And that's where the brand's star was born.
World Class Brands (1991), Chris Macrae
In the Benchmarking of Haagen-Dazs (see ThinkPiece 1), you can note that the brand's exotic, Scandinavian-sounding origins down to its diphthong were the invention of a New York ice cream manufacturer. And the brand's global expansion through seeding methods of communications has pioneered new standards of creative efficiency. Do not be critical of this inventive process. All global brands have a duty to consider exploiting almost free mythological transfer to the utmost as this provides a brand's stakeholders with a better deal than the multi-billion dollar scoops of advertising that may otherwise be required for a brand to gain global share of mind.
Identity as a brand's own PR platform
Beaujolais' global birthday party as a branded PR event is world class. The "new Beaujolais" arrives. Can you think of any brand which has established its own PR day on the world's calendar with greater economy of resources?
Identities for transitioning a brand
Through investment in a system of interconnecting identities, brands can be transitioned through major evolutionary stages by phasing identifiers in and out while maintaining sufficient identities at any moment to ensure perceptual continuity. This process needs to be thought about very carefully, particularly where a brand derives a great deal of impact from action replays from the past. Sometimes these replays take place metaphorically in consumer's memory traces; sometimes literally, eg because a brand was a prominent sponsor of an event at which a world record was established. Three examples of transitioning a brand's identities illustrate the diversity of this process.
Ronald was proceeded by a completely different human icon Mr Speedy. Speedy was caricatured as a hamburger headed man and helped to popularise the notion of fast food while this consumer category was in its infancy. Mr Speedy was retired from the McDonald's identity system back in 1962 once two hundred McDonald's franchises were up and running
·From Marathon to Snickers
During the 1980s, the Mars company tidied up several local brand names. For example, in the UK the Marathon chocolate bar was rechristened with the product's international name Snickers, so that UK consumers could in future relate to the global sporting stages where this brand was increasingly billed to appear. It is claimed that Marathon's consumers had little difficulty in adapting to this name change. The bar's traditional brown, blue and white packaging was so clearly differentiated on shopping shelves that visual identification with the brand took over while the brand's name was changing.
·From Darkie to Darlie
"Pandemonium in a toothpaste" was the way that the Herald Tribune headlined the controversy over Darkie during the late 80s. The brand was a sufficiently strong market leader in various Asian countries that Colgate decided to acquire an interest in the Hong Kong company which owned the brand. Unfortunately, the Darkie trademark, which gave the brand's packaging a prominent identity, was a black man with shining white teeth. While not distasteful to Asians, sections of American society, including some of Colgate's shareholders, found this racist. Colgate's solution in transitioning this brand's identity system is shown in Figure 3.
Identity as a corporate tone of voice, service lifestyle and cultural state of being
As illustrated earlier in this chapter by American Express and McDonald's, and as investigations into most meaningful banner brands will show, top level opportunities of branding are derived by unifying investments in a company's communication processes as much as possible. Can branding, corporate identity, PR, cultural mission, service training etc be directed as an integrated communications process instead of being managed as separate activities? All communications should be organised to confirm a business's leadership purpose and to serve the various stakeholders of the company in an equitable way. Increasingly, corporate goodwill is cultivated in the most consistent manner by recognising that many stakeholders interact with each other and people of the topmost importance to your company will often play a variety of stakeholding roles through the lifetime relationships that really valuable branding offers.

Branding (or whatever word you use for an organisation's added value communications process) invests identities in the minds of consumers (and all stakeholders of the company). Identifiers go beyond a brand's name creating a design language which includes symbols, colours, sub-brands, flagship products, service promises, slogans and other perceptual prompters. This investment needs continuous and integrated cultivation if it is to be properly harvested tactically and strategically.
An organised branding process depends on:
·business teams sharing up-to-date knowledge on what consumer codes are owned by the company
·being committed to serve the values and differentiated meanings that stakeholders may globally and locally interpret to reside in the codes which identifiers represent
·coherently foreseeing connections between investments in branding's identity systems and other process parameters which contribute to organisational form and successful evolution of core businesses.
Every widely recognised identifier owned by a company is a communications property right which should be making a purposeful contribution to added value or competitive advantage. This chapter illustrates the spectrum of capabilities that identity systems can be used to evolve and the values they (re)create.
Throughout a company's brand architecture, identifiers contribute to a constellation of essentially differentiated sources of power (ie brands) and the ways in which goodwill connections can be interweaved to be more than the sum of their parts (ie linkages between different levels of branding from corporate/banner brand to product sub-brand).

-> For an agenda of a typical Brand Identity System workshop, refer to ThinkPiece 2.