Chapter 3 - brand HERITAGE FRIENDSHIP
The communications power of the brand is amplified by:
·its history - the defining moments which made it famous, exciting and relevant as a cultural leader
·its consumption meanings at an intimately personal level, eg its values as a friend and character
·its accessibility, ie there's no point being famous or a friend unless you're there when needed "in mind (eg breadth and depth of recall) and in body (eg strength of distribution)".
The brand's power to make relationships can become an in-depth exploration of connections made with any audience - eg refer to the importance we attached in chapter 1 to what the brand's essence was to each of the 3C's of end-consumers, channels (eg retail customers) and company (eg employees).
Consumers admire a brand which feels as if it knows where it is going. And is proud of the leadership standards which it has displayed in the past. Every meaningful brand has a lot of company knowhow built into it as well as an essential platform for being the consumer reference point.
Neglect of a great brand's history of meanings can be very costly to a company. Here are eight reasons why organisation-wide appreciation of this statement matters. We will begin with memories from consumer heartland, and build up to the thesis that branding values are most strongly perpetuated when consumer and company lifestyles are bound up in one enduring relationship.
1) Heritage Beliefs
In many product categories, brand heritage is the most important property of all. For example, the average age of the world's top 30 spirits brands is over 100 years old. And German lagers market themselves as brewed to purity regulations of 1516 which probably sets a record as far as the history of quality control goes. Make your own list of why heritage values have vital meanings to consumers in your markets. Examples may include:
·A family or seasonal habit past through generations
·A heartwarming souvenir of good times
·A well known quantity, eg something which you can give to someone else and know it will be appreciated
·Trust in something which has never disappointed you
·Something which turns you into a connoisseur
We will return to some of these reasons later, but for the moment note that you could dig deeper into each of these and develop detailed relationship scripts. For example, is connoisseurship in your brand's script mainly about pride in a personal possession -(eg reminding the consumer of his/her own expertise) or being a social talking point (eg a subject which you can use as a conversation opener)?
Organisational forms and communications media may be changing fast, but basic human motivations do not. Most of branding's most compelling interpersonal keys are there - in the history of branding - for all to see, dig deep into and then contemporise in appropriately analogous settings.
Powerful as heritages are at personal levels, their superpowers are derived from being recognised by society as part of the fabric of life. Some of the biggest institutionalised meanings may not even seem to be brands. But why are diamonds (instead of some other substance) so widely recognised as an essential symbol of marriage? Because De Beers has consistently marketed them that way. Or why is champagne the drink for your biggest celebrations? Because the champagne houses in Reims cooperated to brand this essential meaning as their collective raison d'etre.
In the symbiotic way that mass communications work, branded beings can go wider than their organisational parents. For example, they may come to be leading ambassadors of the countries that founded them. Ask the world's consumers what Americana is and you will see how intimately branded heritages of the likes of Disney, Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Levi's etc reside in the mind maps of humankind around the globe. Or look into the mirror of Ferrari in Table 1.
|Table 1 : What sums up Italian culture? "Ferrari - it is all that is beautiful"
So goes the consensus reply in Italy. And author Andrew White, in "The Centenary of the Motor Car", is only a shade less passionate "Motoring would not be the same without Ferrari; in the case of motor racing it can be said with certainty that 'Ferrari is a cult; Ferrari is Italy".
Ferrari is the ultimate dream car. It has speed, grace, beauty and a roll of honour that runs from here to Le Mans. Ferrari has won 9 driver's world championships, 8 Formula One constructor's world championships and 14 sportscars championships.
And certainly Ferrari is symbolic of Italy. Stylish, cool, sophisticated - it couldn't have been built anywhere else. To Italians it is more than that. Through post-war Italy's troubled times, Ferrari was there contributing to the rehabilitation of national pride - gaining respect throughout the world both industrially and in sporting terms.
Ferrari's universally known insignia - a prancing horse, the cavallino rampante - is even further seeped in Italian history. Legend has it that this was originally the personal emblem affixed to the fuselage of a fighter plane by a gold medal winning pilot in the first world war. He died, but his parents presented a portrait of the horse to Enzo Ferrari when he won the 1923 Circuito di Ravenna. In turn Ferrari adopted this as his firm's logo, representing it against a yellow background - the symbolic colour of his native city Modena where Ferrari's production facilities remain to this day. brand strategy, 28 October 1994
2) Making Friends
It has been said that most of the globe's city dwellers now see more brandscapes than landscapes. Our living conditions involve brand messages projected all around us - a thousand or more commercial propositions every day if you stopped to count everyone you met, which of course you don't. Instead we screen most brand messages out. We all make personal dichotomies of "in" brands from the strangers outside. Some of our "in" brands we just about tolerate attending to, or may be on the verge of dismissing to out-that-was-in (a third state which marketers would technically be right to classify as different to a brand that has never been "in"). But others among our "in" brands are good friends in various senses of the phrase - sometimes as a virtue of necessity, sometimes as characters we have a real attraction to.
Add to this personal list of examples of sources of brand friendship:
|·Familiarity, it's become a routine part of my day - eg does the same brand meet you at every breakfast time?
·Simplicity, it makes choosing easy - eg amongst dozens of purchases for the household I make every week, most are routine or frankly boring. In all honesty, I shop on auto-pilot in many categories. If I'm buying replacement batteries - I just want them to last a long-time, fit the appliance and be safe. The brand which I recognise as communicating simply that is a good sort to know. It saves my time and is hassle free.
·Habit, I have been a customer there for twenty years and I am too lazy to change -eg my bank.
·Best Friend, if you don't think that some brands make deep friendships, you have probably never let your children near Ronald McDonald!
·Image, like the clothes I wear, being seen with this brand is part of my image and the impression I make on my peers, and myself
·Mood changer, when I want a break from writing/reading this book I have been known to reach out for my favourite chocolate bar.
·Fan club, I have bought that brand so often that to tell you the truth when I see it in the news I applaud it - and myself. Rather like you might applaud your football club when it's had a winning day.
From a list like this we can start to make some observations on modus operandi for forming brand relationships based on consumers' viewpoints. It is strange how quickly executives in smart offices can forget some of these most basic points. This applies especially to committees of executives and this is one reason why we are keen that this chapter dramatises the importance of brand history to every teamworker involved in Brand Chartering. Do please expand this partial listing of communications mechanics which brands work with in forming relationships with consumers:
·Many of a brand's befriending devices can appear corny if you are not "into" the particular brand. For example, this can apply to caricature ways of presenting a brand whether in personified form like Ronald or logo form like Nike's swoosh mark. Here are some of the designed-in histories which people who are "into" the brand may be seeing:
·With all-the-family brands, it is highly appropriate to be able to appeal to the youngest member of your audience even if the device is twee to adults. Similarly, with brands intent on being multicultural, naive symbols often work best. For example, if a logo like Lacoste's alligator raises a twinkle of a smile in any culture we would rather own that than something that is more sophisticated.
·Loyal consumers meet their brand hundreds and thousands of times. What really matters to them is the impression the brand confirms, not the first impression it makes on a stranger. For "in" consumers a brand will also be a bundle of connecting memories, many of the more significant ones cannot be experienced unless you have actively participated in Purchasing-Consuming-Witnessing the brand.
|Role playing of brand by purchaser as a function of P-C-W meaning
Image to wear
·Brand recall is often crafted to being situational in the sense that brand memories should come flooding back at significant times such as when a purchasing choice is being made or a consuming experience is taking place. We know of many brands whose real power is reserved for these occasions. Consequently, if you ask a consumer about a brand out of context - as much market research is prone to do - you are likely to miss many of the most subtle points of the brand's relationship.
·Consistency is vital to branding relationships of the sorts we have described. Changes to the brand's core communicating devices need to be made in emotionally caring ways. Subtle branded values are most at risk of being murdered by any brand management system where frequent rotations of marketing personnel and brands are made. If a brand has a deeply meaningful relationship with consumers, it would seem to be common sense that a new manager has a lot to learn to get a real feeling for the brand. This is particularly the case if there is an organisational absence of a system like Brand Chartering for effecting the handover of care for a brand.
·There are also some costly side-effects of brand relationships which are worth digesting. Because many of branding's lesser relationships are trading on consumer sufferance due to lack of urgent need to change a habit, we know of many brand decision-making instances where organisations have allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. Typically branded goodwill can protect an organisation even as it becomes less and less competitive until suddenly the poor value of the offer makes even the most loyal consumer think again. If your business team is not fully aware of empirical brand diffusion patterns of this sort, it comes as quite a shock how consumers are prone to flock together, perhaps because of a price rise that has gone over some common psychological precipice or in the case of a brand leader the loss of its goodwill halo effect - which can explain up to 25% of its business at stroke - once the brand has visibly lost its number one status to a rival contender. An aim of Brand Charterers is to fuse together branding analogies so that unnecessary organisational shocks like these never take place.
·If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the quality of your brand's emotional relationships with consumers, most of the analogues with human relationships are worth exploring. For example, consumers can give revealingly consistent answers to what kind of person a brand would be or what kind of mood they associate with a brand. Similarly, most of the ways that people express themselves are applicable to brands. Valuable brands do have their own tones of voice, style rules, idiosyncrasies and creative ways of coping with conflicting tensions which have over time made their characters pleasingly multidimensional. In a word : mature.
Brand friendships are reflections of human nature. People to brand relationships have many similarities to interpersonal ones. For example, you probably have an inner circle of friends with whom you feel familiar. Whilst not always being able to explain what might appear to be logically borderline classifications between inner friends and mere acquaintances, there are usually deeply emotional reasons even if some of these are sourced in the historical serendipity of being in the right place at the right time.
3) Extraordinary Recognition
The making of "in-out" relationships is a primary purpose of branding because of the advantage of being closer to end consumers and their purchasing decisions, but it is certainly not a solitary purpose. Consider this extract form Sal Randazzo's excellent book "Mythmaking on Madison Avenue":
The Green Giant is counted among the so-called Leo Burnett critters that include Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. The Green Giant's humble beginnings were the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, founded in 1903. The company chugged along until the early 1920s when it developed a seed that produced peas that were unusually large and tender. The code name for the new peas was "Green Giant", and in 1926 the image of a Green Giant became the trademark for the company's superior peas.
Then in the early 1930's, a young copyrighter named Leo Burnett entered the picture. Burnett changed the image of the Green Giant and made it more friendly and appealing. He also introduced a new descriptor "jolly".
Through the years both the brand and the company prospered. The Green Giant became one of the most widely recognised trademarks, and in 1950, on the advice of The Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, the Minnesota Valley Canning Company changed its name to the "Green Giant Company". This proved to be a wise decision for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that, when the company went public in the 1960s, the name carried with it instant recognition and respect.
The Green Giant character works on a number of levels:
It works to engage and entertain the consumer by lending a sense of drama and intrigue to an otherwise unexciting category
Once the consumer is engaged, the Green Giant character communicates important product attributes: quality, freshness, and consistency
The character also works as a mnemonic, an immediately recognisable brand trademark and symbol
As a friend puts it : "I have never bought any canned vegetables in my life. But I still recognise jolly good characters like the Green Giant as standing out above and beyond the duty of branding consumer loyalty. They embed themselves in the human imagination even when you are not a target of the company's current products." And that's a great asset, because brand recognition and reputation also counts with every kind of non-consumer stakeholder including those featured in the above extract (company staff, shareholders and trade).
4) Action Replays
Powerful brands make the most of action replays in many ways. A simple way into this realm is activated by having the equivalent of a brand's photo album at the business team's fingertips for every PR occasion. International brands are getting more and more photo calls as journalists write up their stories. They often appear as the props if not the stars of news features crafted for cosmopolitan audiences. Which comes first in terms of celebrity status : basketball as a famous sport? The world's best basketball player? Or Nike? Any brand which successfully travels across international markets and decades needs newsworthy aspects of its heritage to propagate - its own source of (hi)stories as a leader. And, once you appreciate that lifestyle journalism for cosmopolitan consumption can only instantly refer to the relative rare breed of icons that already have internationally recognised meanings, you may plot the particular advantages of having an internationalised press kit assembled for your brand.
Market histories are dominated by leaders who leave traces of brand memorabilia behind both physically and in the popular imagination. This is evident in museums of technology - from cars to electronic products. And in public retrospective of fashions, as well as more privately treasured possessions. Brand memorabilia also plays a part in themed settings such as those that create the atmosphere of many bars and restaurants.
Increasingly brands - by investing in sports and other forms of dynamic media - circulate through timepaths which work in far more diffuse ways than the specifically scheduled 30-second spot of television's commercial break.
Defining moments in history are now global stages on which branders aim to play their part. The opening of McDonald's in Moscow captured a symbolic moment of a new era in history; so was Coca-Cola's sampling at Checkpoint Charlie as the Berlin Wall fell.
One moment with the historic impact of McDonald's Moscow opening gains goodwill for the branded organisation amongst a wide variety of stakeholders. There are valid grounds for believing that this single corporate act has improved the power of McDonald's in the eyes of all of the following :
·Consumers in Moscow and globally
·Society in Russia and globally
·Staff in Moscow and globally
·Franchise owners - current and prospective
·Journalists in Russia and globally
·Shareholders and city analysts
(See ThinkPiece 1 on Brand Benchmarking of McDonald's)
For all these kinds of stages to be valuable, there must be sufficient visual continuity of the brand for action replays to be recognisable when consumers of today and tomorrow revisit history and history and all the parts the brand has played. It also helps if every product ever associated with a brand looks like a leading representative of its historic time zone. Every long-term brand should consider using design as its first media, and moreover one that it owns.
Brands can also become the heros of global legends. Some of these plays have consciously been scripted to turn the brand into a commercial myth - a classical icon -for their corporate owners. For example, in the ThinkPiece 1 on the Brand Benchmarking of Coca-Cola we relate the legend that Father Christmas is today turned out in smart red and white uniform as a courtesy of Coca-Cola's sponsorship. This gave Santa's image a facelift during the second quarter of this century. (Until this relaunch in Coca-Cola's red and white livery, Father Christmas had fallen on hard times : his appearance had become that of a bedraggled wizard).
Intriguingly there is still a lot to learn as to how some brands capture the global imagination and others do not. Every time you come across a globally famous reputation, it is worth asking yourself : do I really know how it came to be like this? For example : how did Manchester United become so famous around the world whilst some other English football clubs with comparable records have only local pockets of affinity or recognition? Was it that many of Manchester United's successes coincided with the Swinging Sixties to the extent of becoming a symbolic association of the era? Was it to do with the legends associated with Busbee's babes including those of tragic heroism when most of Manchester United's team died in an air crash? Was it that the club has always had an ebullient mix of a strong team plus some especially colourful stars? (The Charltons', Best's , Giggs' and Cantona's of this world). How much of all this did the club promote? Of course, not all of these clues could ever be transferred to any other branding situation, but many of them can.
Do you know whether your brand owns any magic moments in local consumer histories? For example, has it inherited any peculiar founder's rights as a market pioneer? Lux is an example of a brand which not only introduced the world to glamour in a soap bar but was in many developing countries consumers' first affordable access to branded glamour of any kind. So in Lux's world of beauty what kind of brand essence works best for Unilever? A first kind which scripts the brand as being soap and neighbouring categories? Or a second kind which sees the brand's relationships as able to evolve through a broader range of cosmetics provided they are about introducing consumers to life's simple luxuries at affordable prices? As we have previously pointed out, Unilever's historically soap-confining view of Lux may mean that the brand has largely had its day in the USA and Western Europe, but the business opportunity of building the Lux Company out of relationships of the second kind is potentially one of the branding world's most exciting platforms in emerging high-growth economies such as Japan, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and China.
Some companies just do not seem to have realised the magic that can be associated with a brand which happens to have been at the right place at the right time. Take Bass for example. Bass is probably the only brand to have sat for an impressionist painter - and what a painting Renoir's barlady at the Folie Bergeres turns out to be. This would seem to be a great brand "seeding" opportunity. Admittedly, Bass has only truly visioned its business as international in the last decade since its acquisition of the Holiday Inns hotel chain. So let us leave aside any debate as to whether there might previously have been an opportunity to internationalise the Bass brand in a parallel way to that which Guinness has with its globally visible ales. An item for Bass's current agenda is : why not create within Holiday Inns a Renoir (or Folie) Brasserie Format -replete with the kind of French food that is washed down best by ales, using Folie Bergere-style memorabilia with the Renoir print as centre-piece, and offering commemoratively branded lines of Bass? Would a format with unique elements of this sort provide a powerful seeding platform for establishing Bass as a worldwide brewer?
Two questions contribute to a debate of the above proposition:
·Are there historic precedents of brands which have succeeded in trading off a double image crafted for 1) home based and 2) international consumption?
·Is the "seeding" of brand fashions a successful investment strategy?
Going for "Glocal" Organisation
Many brands have used the power that is granted to a globalising business to exchange values between different cultures. For example, in the evolution of Sony, the company took great pride in introducing to Japan interesting Western customs. Whether it was for newsworthy impact associated with Sony's image or sheer exotic delight, Akio Morita's biography clarifies that he wanted Sony's first building in Tokyo to be different from any other and thus chose that the building's plaza would feature a French restaurant - a cuisine that had not previously been available in Japan but which he rightly foresaw as having a lot of fashionable potential.
Inside Japan, Sony consciously developed quite a reputation for being one of the first gateway companies to the rest of the world, just as outside Japan Sony set out to develop a pioneering standard bearer for the quality of Japanese products. As other Japanese corporate brands have become masters of this craft, they have created a visionary terminology - eg being a global citizen or a "glocal" insider - to highlight what cultural values an organisation should nurture in striving to serve the best of both world's : global leadership knowhow and locally sensitive customisation.
The strategy of brand seeding focuses on refraining from mass market expense until the essence of a great brand has been planted. Our research suggests that "Brand Seeding" is one of the strategic marketer's best kept secrets, and Brand Benchmarking (ThinkPiece 1) on Haagen-Dazs provides ideas for those who want to develop a global brand without risking the high advertising costs that are classically associated with launching a brand.
Typically, a valuable seeding opportunity may stem from : the reputation of a thriving and fashionable business in some foreign country; high quality products which become talking points when sampled amongst opinion leaders; legends of magic moments associated with the brand; mechanisms for strong PR and visibility. Table 2 adds some lessons from Brand Seeding across national markets. This serves to illustrate how seeding sets about transferring market histories to the cumulative benefit of the brand.
|Table 2 : Some lessons from implementing brand seeding across countries
Key elements of seeding mix include: premium product and pricing, strong design, PR, word of mouth, visibility in fashionable places
Roll out criteria include:
Go from one success to another, ie do not necessarily go to the biggest market or channel first
Do not use mass marketing techniques until your exclusive image is thoroughly planted, eg mass advertising can kill off a seeding strategy if it is executed before the brand's cachet is firmly in its opinion leaders' minds
All opinion-leading audiences - eg journalists, business partners, prestige retailers, consumer opinion leaders - can be seeded in parallel
Diffusion (ie transfer) tactics can be aimed within a group, from one group to another, across cities/countries (eg jetsetters-word-of-mouth), across distribution channels
Tricky addendum:Some seeded brands form a mixed range of product lines including flagships that are never intended to be profitable because they are made as limited editions or specifically placed in high visibility arena where the distributor charges the brander for the privilege. In this case, the brand team (including marketing and financial personnel in particular) must be absolutely clear as to which product lines are image-making flagships and which are to be best sellers. And corresponding performance criteria and measurements require subtly different monitoring instruments.
Whilst we are advocating orchestration of brand seeding as a conscious option for strategic marketers, it is interesting to note that the origins of many famous brands were seeded in the past by accident as well as design. These include : Coca-Cola (the drink of the smart set in turn-of-the century drug stores- the American equivalent of Parisian cafe society); Dunhill (the leather goods attire of early car drivers); Del Monte (produce originally associated with a famous hotel); many of today's "haute-couture" brands. The marketing analogy with Aladdin is irresistible : marketing geniuses now search for old brands, symbols or commercially magic properties which can play the lead role in fashioning brand new presentations.
In an emerging area of smart multimedia channels, we believe that seeding knowhow will become increasingly important in developing new brands and revitalising old brand essences.
5) The first global language
Global brands aim to pre-empt association with "big idea" identifiers as their own universal property rights. For example, if an international competitor to Marlboro tried to advertise cowboy imagery for its cigarettes, the chance of profiting from this would be remote (because even without any legal redress from Marlboro's owner) the two most likely consumer outcomes would be:
·many would misread such advertising as being for Marlboro
·many others would see no point in choosing an imitator instead of the real thing
A cultural stereotype such as Americana appears can also work to the pooled benefit of a group of brand leaders - Marlboro, Levi's, Disney, Coca-Cola, etc - each with distinctive competitive domains but American theming in common. A symbiosis results. The more famous these brands become, the more they become leading reminders of why the American way of life is appealing to a global public.
We advocate that brand teams need an increasingly high literacy rate in reading branding's glocal (global and local) language. It is not just a case of being able to read what stereotype codes are embedded through the market histories of your brand and those of your traditional competitors. These days it is necessary to have coding antennae attuned to attack scenarios that might come from any kind of territory:
·from ostensibly different products as Virgin airlines invasion of cola and other drinks markets illustrates
·from different geographic territories, eg the globalising brand
·from a different zone of history, the seeded brand. Eg Haagen-Daz's long established heritage in the US has been a pivotal component of its recent global scripting.
Whether national governments like it or not, two trojan horses of our emerging era of global networking are joining to form humankind's first global language : brands (whose unique essences reserve their own memory traces) and computerised icons (which are making human communications more symbolic and less verbal). Both of these systems of thinking work to draw on (and deposit in) a global reservoir of accessible cultural stereotypes and symbolic forms. In multimedia's global highways, these communications phenomena will be an integral part of the way that global society learns, as well as keys to the commercial influence that branded organisations will exert.
6) The time to perfect and the time to market
The brand organisation needs to make these time zones coalesce but pay each the distinctive organisational respect which is its due. Leading brands are unique business systems. Often they represent a long learning curve. Quality product formulas, vibrant staff cultures, efficient supply and delivery systems, knowhow networks and partnerships, overall reputation and track record take years to build. Often, a leading brand emanates from a core format or a winning element which took years to refine. Ask yourself how often the actual development process of a strong brand follows this three stage pattern of evolution:
1) winning element is cultivated as core component of an improved consumer benefit
2) integrated system is refined for commercial viability
3) competitively efficient format is replicated in mass way, and at this stage amplified by mass market branding
Strong brands do sometimes appear to have come from nowhere, but this is often because stage 3 is both the visible and fast moving one. In contrast, the foundation stages are often painstakingly slow to perfect.
How old do you think McDonald's is? The business was actually born in 1937 when two hard working brothers opened a hamburger restaurant in California. Another site was opened in 1939, but after that a total of 17 years was spent on stage 1 by the McDonalds as they perfected how an outlet could serve food fast and economically to a maximum number of customers.
Stage 2 of McDonald's began when Ray Kroc entered the scene in 1954. At the time, he was a fifty-two year old milkshake-mixer salesman who had visited the McDonald's in California to understand how they could possibly need eight of his machines at a single site. Ray was amazed at what he saw - fast food being served through a process of world class efficiency - and being operated only at the two McDonald's sites. Ray watched this spectacle for two days before approaching the brothers with an offer to franchise their concept.
Stage 3 involved a local and a global branding episode. It had taken Ray seven years to licence America's first two hundred McDonald's franchises. But along this learning path, Ray's special genius created the family values of McDonald's that made the restaurant so consistently welcoming across the USA. So if you were a family with children needing personal refuelling on a highway miles from home - you knew that McDonald's would be a safe haven for you. As the pioneer of this meaning for fast food, would-be American franchisees were now lining up to join McDonald's. Mass market advertising budgets rapidly increased both to pre-empt the family image and to transform it into the brand's leadership essence. A core purpose was to ensure that franchisees were proud of both their service role and their contribution to the history of the marketplace.
Brand expansion then progressed to a worldwide race to lead the fast food business with the McDonald's branding franchise across the world. By 1990, the prize for being the fastest on the accelerator to this global market could be recorded in terms of McDonald's daily customer base of 23 million people.
A lesson appears to be that once evolution of a winning business system is fully proven, the painstaking stages of development can turn into a hectic race to global markets. Once you have innovated the world's best business system, the last thing you want is for a competitor to do the replicating. Here is how Hamel & Prahalad describe the evolution of winning businesses from learning curve to lift off:
"Developing new competences and reconnoitring new competitive space can be the work of a decade or more. Yet despite the studied space of competence acquisition and market exploration, the final dash to the finishing line can be an all-out, pell-mell sprint. This is particularly likely when several competitors have been working in parallel to develop needed competences and marketing insights, and simultaneously come to believe, after a round or two of expeditionary marketing, that the market is finally ripe. This last, mad scramble to the finish line is a race to pre-empt competitors in key markets, to capture market leadership in the biggest and fastest growing national marketplaces, and bank the rewards in pioneering.
Managers have given much attention to the very important task of reducing product development times. Speedy product development is an important component of the capacity to preempt competitors. Yet the time interval to be minimized is not just "concept to market" but "concept to global market". A product development cycle that is 50 % shorter than a competitor's is of little benefit unless it is coupled with a strong worldwide distribution capability. Although being first to market is important, the real returns go to companies that are first to global markets".
Global races need to be scripted carefully. And branded ones are so visible that the CEO must keep on checking that local scripts are not being misinterpreted. On one occasion, even McDonald's had to take strong corrective action to keep it's image together.
|At the beginning of the eighties, the Motherly McDonald's had a fleeting French affair. France's tradition of gourmet food probably did not make it seem likely to be one of the most important lead-countries in the company's European advance. so the business in Paris was licensed to a single franchisee. The McDonald's fast food concept soon proved itself to be just as welcome with busy Parisian families as other Europeans. Unfortunately, McDonald's franchisee, flushed with the success of the business, was equally tempted to choose such prime take-away sights as a shopping arcade dominated by St Lazare's pornographic movie house as he was to select respected boulevards for all the family. McDonald's had to buy back the franchise as a matter of urgency.
Strategic imperatives associated with globalisation imply revolutionary changes to the architecture of brand, strategy , and organisation (Chapters 11,12,13) that companies will need to compete in the future. Your organisation will not be able to compete in a global business world with the kinds of brands that were effective in the local business world.
Gillette provides an early example of a company which has successfully reengineered its branding architecture. The changes which Gillette made to its communications mix are chronicled in Brand Benchmarking (ThinkPiece 1) but for now let us concentrate on Gillette's strategic commitment. What Gillette did was to amalgamate all its historical goodwill which had been fragmented at local (and low value) product levels into a credible corporate architecture where everything connects through to the Essence of Gillette as "the best a man can get". Gillette now and for ever more has a serial global platform for launching all new world class products (stage 2 proven performers) at a global stroke. This ensures that no competitor can be faster than Gillette at Stage 3. Here is Hamel & Prahalad's summary appraisal of the Gillette-Sensor launch:
"After spending more than $100 million over ten years developing its revolutionary Sensor razor, and conducting an initial round of customer research, Gillette launched the product in 19 countries simultaneously. Followers, like Warner-Lambert's Schick division, were quickly buried under Gillette's worldwide promotional avalanche."
If you do not have your own access to an appropriately global banner reputation, a franchise model of global branding may be attractive. In the race to global markets, you will need partners to locally replicate your brand's indomitable spirit in the eyes of consumers everywhere. You need to write-up the system developments of stage 1 and 2 together with a branding kit that your local partners/customers round the globe find a joy to use. The fact that a franchisee is an external partner makes for good discipline. You are likely to specify the strategic controls which must operate glocally with more depth of care than you would in dealing with a local office of your own company. Examination of the franchiser's craft can provide excellent insights for the disciplines which need to be practised by any business team which finds itself involved in their organisation's stage 3 race to global market.
7) Lifestyles for Lifetimes
Hamel & Prahalad also shed more light on how purposeful corporate branding seeks to leverage the most important consumer connections between the history and the future of the business.
"The goal of the corporate umbrella brand is simple : to help customers transfer the goodwill that has been built up through positive experience with one of the company's products to other products it offers or intends to offer. Besides having a Canon copier at home, one of us also possesses two Canon 35mm cameras, a Canon 8mm camcorder, a small Canon electronic typewriter, and a Canon fax machine. There was never a decision to be a Canon home, it just worked out that way. Whenever confronted with Canon as a choice in a purchasing decision, one instinctively reflected back on the reliability, performance and value of other Canon products. Imputed with those virtues, each additional Canon purchase looked not only like a "safe" buy, but a "smart" buy. As the pace of life has continued to accelerate, and as the complexity of what people buy has accelerated exponentially, banner brands like Canon and Sony have become mnemonics, standing for quality and value, in the minds of harried, confused consumers.
8) Ritual values for revitalising consistent obsessions
Change is constant. Competitive businesses will always look for new ways to gain advantage, whereas the most basic human meanings of product categories seldom change. Take chocolate for example. Should children ever be denied access to the joy of chocolate? Should adults ever be denied access to the mood changing influence that life's least costly indulgence can offer? Of course not if you are to be a leading chocolate manufacturer who stands up for the democratic meanings of chocolate. Consequently, value for money will always be the leading success factor in the industry and its not surprising that many of the world's leading chocolate companies - Mars Hershey's and Cadbury's - have cultures that are puritanical about value for money. Note how even as distributing supermarkets have insisted on multipacks, the chocolate manufacturers were inventing bite size and pick and mix formats so that in the most hyper of supermarkets, chocolates may be picked up as branded morsels (at the lowest ticket price of any unit sold in the store).
We asked a marketing director who had two careers in marketing - the first in chocolate, the second in spirits (eg whisky) about the biggest similarities and differences in branding winners in these marketplaces:
·Biggest similarity : the data trends you need to look at to judge how strong your brand equity is
·Biggest difference : while you always need to be obsessed with a product category's critical success factors, you need to be prepared for how the focus of consistent obsessions will vary as you go from one product category to another.
For example, to succeed in chocolate bars we needed to offer unbeatable value and quality : to square the value circle we wanted to have scale to be the low cost producer in any bar we marketed and to offer the consumer the best value for money. In the case of the Mars bar it was important to offer more appetite satisfaction per penny than any other bar. Similarly, the quality obsession with the Mars bar was to look perfect and have a consistent texture - so much so that there was even a Mars bar brand manager's tooth test : bite into it and your teeth should meet exactly at the centre of the bar. Contrast that with marketing whisky brands where you are often concerned with appealing to connoisseur and fashion values. There are places where you would not want your whisky to be available and you are certainly not obsessed with the Mars bar obsession of finding every different campaign theme possible to renew the emphasis on value for money such as "the biggest Mars bar ever offered".
Rituals turn abstract customer service virtues into reasons for the staff to be proud of the brand they serve. McDonald's organises crew competitions across its franchises and the prizes for those attaining the highest customer satisfaction ratings are management training courses at Hamburger University. In another example of virtuous spiralling between customer path and staff delivery, the British Airways advertising campaigns (of the late 1980s and early 1990s) featuring the "World's Favourite Airline" and "Smiles as BA's corporate body language" justified their high advertising spends to a large part because of their motivating effects on staff culture. We would suggest this indirect effect on consumer sales was their most important purpose. It is notable that consumers appreciate the amount of organisational effort that goes into making a smile campaign work amongst every member as staff almost as much as they see through the company that advertises such a message without training staff to live up to it.
It is not only service companies that benefit from ritual celebrations. The leader's knack revolves round an insatiable appetite for searching for strong methods of bringing the whole organisation closer to customers and then taking pride to keep on improving. In particular, celebrating a valid claim to be the world's number one in something is so powerful for employees as well as consumers. The world's best is worth going an extra mile for : whether the mile is the extra effort that employees put in as part of the winning company or the distance a consumer is prepared to travel to find the best. The world's best instills pride whether you serve it as an employee or wear it as a consumer.
In a technological world, it is tempting to think of core competences in abstract terms. But in fact the continuous cultivation of almost all core competences depend on people teams building skills through intense dedication and concentrating for long periods of time on routine or systematic elements of work. Any way that branding can be deployed to transform routine into ritual is well worth considering.
Corporate values also act as signals of strategic focus and become associated with a company's right to lead. Opinion-leading audiences are impressed by an organisation like Procter & Gamble, whose purpose is guided by the mission statement of only entering markets where the firm can develop and sustain a quality difference against all competitors. See how many additions you can make to this list of the kinds of impressions that are made by such a consistent declaration in a quality improvement culture:
·P&G's selection of markets on quality criteria becomes textbook wisdom amongst commentators ranging from business journalists to academic scribes
·P&G's quality reputation amongst business students gives the firm a lead in recruiting the best
·P&G's new products tend to be given more serious attention by the trade (including the biggest supermarket multiples) than many of P&G's competitors
·P&G's employees are empowered to stand up for quality on an everyday decision basis within the firm
We would give particular emphasis to three reasons why a brand's values have a vital influence on the consistency of leadership within an organisation:
·Provided the brand values are aligned to critical success factors, they anchor the focus of the brand on the fundamental determinants of quality and value that are most relevant to consumers
·They reinforce the employees' sense of mission and pride in fulfilment; and when allied to rituals they go beyond the routine to the nobler kind of craft associated with dedicated customer service
·They empower - ie they provide an employee with the best defence against transient
decisions being made somewhere up the hierarchy - in P&G there is a communally felt right of appeal as : "is this a Procter kind of way of behaving?"
We have explored eight intriguing nuances of brand heritage and friendship:
Primarily form the consumer viewpoint
1) Heritage Beliefs
2) Making Friends
3) Extraordinary Recognition
4) Action Replays
5) The first global language
Primarily from the company (employee) viewpoint
6) The time to perfect and the time to market
Primarily in relation to the service/leadership guarantees between consumer and company
7) Lifestyles for Lifetimes
8) Ritual values for consistent obsessions
In the process, we have noted that various models of global branding rely on editing the future of a brand's history in strategically astute ways. The following models and processes of organising round global brands have been introduced:
·"Glocal" brand process