While branding has been an integral part of marketing since its inception, it has often been approached using multi-dimensional models. However, these studies can sometimes be done without a systematic approach, with redundancy or with ad-hoc views. Marketing has the 7P-model which is widely used and practical, but branding lacks a basic structure that can be used to create the foundation of any branding story.
This is a simplified version of the model that I have created to assist in designing and understanding existing brands. I have collected seven layers of branding, each with seven tasks that must be fulfilled in daily activities. This is my hope that it will be of use to the readers.
Before we can enter this syllabus, it is important to define brand and branding. In our view, brand is a vision related to a company, product, or other entity that lives in people and materializes for them. Branding is the art and science of directing the entire process.
First pillar: Publicly recognized
A Branding is defined as a small or large group of people who have some knowledge about the product or service. This is the precondition or trivial condition for all brands. If you’re the only person who knows about a service or uses a product, it is impossible to make the product or service a brand. This is the main task of all marketing efforts. It involves making the product or service (alongside its entire branding costume) well-known on the targeted market. The majority of marketing budget goes to this goal. This is where we pay most attention to details such as the target segment(s), content, geography, demography, communication methods, timing, etc.
Task 1: Design and create your public relations
The fame and popularity of a product/service is not solely dependent on how much publicity they get (mostly depending upon the amount of money that can be spent to promote the brand). Communication is an important aspect of reaching the second stage. People involved in the communication flow will likely share information and begin a discussion about the product/service. All brands have shared information. Suggestions, opinions made in public are very important in articulating brand and thus creating or strengthening/weakening brands. It is this reason that Facebook’s importance in modern marketing cannot be understated. Likewise, customer service and problem handling have always been a key point of customer satisfaction.
Publicity of branding includes all media that share information about a brand or service. There are two types of publicities. One is the tightly controlled information sharing (typically marketing communications), and the other is the massive uncontrolled communication. We need to identify all ways that a brand has gained publicity. This is done when we’re looking at a brand, or just reviewing an existing brand.
Controlling publicity is key to branding success. However, public control does not mean that information monopoly has been granted over media or the outcome. Even situations where a company theoretically has 100% control of the situation (e.g. It is difficult to control what is happening at the shop or office, and what will be said or heard. From micro to macro, publicity has a high uncertainty factor in terms of reach, direct effects and future consequences.
Second pillar: Narrative and associative – stories about
Discussions about brands or branded products and services, as well as information that is shared with the public, would reveal the next major characteristic, which is the power of the association or coupling related to these products or services. Branding is the art of telling stories about a brand. The official stories that reflect the brand’s narrative on different levels include brand identity, personality, brand vision and brand promise. Marketing creative planning refers to exactly the same thing as for a particular product of a brand (e.g. Marketing creative planning is exactly the same as for a specific product of a brand (e.g., “The environment friendly Toyota Prius”). While general brand stories (I’m referring to the Toyota brand in this example) or associations are at a higher level only. When examining these stories, we must consider multiple layers of brand stories and narratives. These stories should be consistent, professionally formed and not contradict each other.
Brands incorporate many stories and ideas, not only from products and services but also from stories and ideas that come from the public. We cannot control all perceptions of our brand, as we have already mentioned. The narrative universe is built by individual opinions, perceived qualities, bad or good experiences, and, more importantly, the stories that a brand tells.
Task 2: Create and drive brand stories
We can still drive brand stories and narrow them down to the desired ones in at least two-three areas, despite the above. The mission statement for a company/organization determines the brand direction through its written values and operational reasons. The slogan, or tagline of a company (like LG’s Life’s Good), is intended to convey the driving narrative story. It acts as a magnet and collects all associations surrounding a brand. The third layer of story is associated with specific products and services. By repeating slogans, taglines, while inserting logos of the brand on each product/service, the particular product or service is painted with the general brand’s attributes and associations. The product’s story is just a garnish on the branding cake. Pure brand campaigns, on the other side, are focused on identifying and fixing the desired main stories or narratives of customer qualities.
The control of publicity is impossible without the management of the stories associated with a brand. This seems to be the main task for all branding and communications managers. We must also mention a related issue that acts as a blind spot in branding: rebranding. Rebranding campaigns aim to change the brand’s fundamental story. These campaigns often fail, and real rebranding occurs very rarely.
Third pillar: Concrete, multiplicative form
Because we want to make money from our money spent, we give tangible forms to brands in real life. A brand without a product or service to purchase (or without a person related when we are talking about personal brands), is ineffective and a promise. (Like the Jolla mobile OS that only has a demo video). Brands are only as good as the way they are embodied.
We normally use the power and reach of a generic Brand Name for individual products. A brand already in existence gives its potentials (its stories about quality, value, etc.) To specific products, we already have expectations about the new product. Many people consider a VW car reliable. However, it is possible that a new model may have a lower quality than the one they had previously.
Task 3: Make several appearances to leverage brand power
We often say that a brand is transposed into multiple products, so it is multiplicative. Rarely is a brand’s earned reputation represented in one product or service. Although the perfume 4711 appears to have been transferred into one product over a long period of time, the brand’s product portfolio includes more than one item. After shaves and even shower gels are also made. Most start-ups only have one product, and the product that forms the brand is usually the first. The brand is usually built on one product or service at first. This is why it can be very sensitive when entering new markets with a company and a brand new product. It also influences the future brand and products that company assesses with.
Personal brands are not multi-faceted, as they are seen superficially. A person with a double face (see politicians), who is unable to create a consistent personal brand and build it quickly, can easily lose their reputation. Because brands can only tell one story (credible), without having to deal with major contradictions. Another perspective should be used to examine the multiplicative nature personal brands. If we consider a person’s public appearances as concretes and multiplications for his/her brand, then we are closer to truth and can better understand why politicians and celebrities are so passionate about public appearances.
Fourth pillar: Unique proposition
The desire to make a producer’s products identifiable is the origin of branding. This is done to protect against copying or forgery and to identify the goods. These attributes are still present in brands we see around us: The logo of a company/brand is used to express the uniqueness of a brand (supported legally as trade marks) which helps us identify a particular brand within the vast array of signs and brands.
It can be difficult to distinguish between products/services. Pepsi and its competitors who put in neutral glasses next to each other are impossible to identify. This is why branding is so important for both companies to gain profit. The technological industry, just like the Coca Cola case, heavily depends on branding to sell its products and services. Computers, smart phones, and internet access are all very similar. A tax advisory firm may also face real difficulties in defining a brand vision.
Task 4: Find and use brand differentiations
It is important to present the unique proposition of each brand to the public. For example, the logos of individual brands on devices help companies to distinguish themselves from competitors. They also help customers identify market players and make their choice. Companies rely heavily on unique brand distinguishers such as stories about their market segment, tailored products and additional services, etc. Sometimes stories of a group of rivals are very similar (like the Big Four Auditors), and their services are similar. In these cases, a common story can develop around them, which focuses on the similarities and indirectly expresses the exclusivity of the group members.
Fifth pillar: Value
We identify brands based on their telltale signs (e.g. We don’t focus on what we see, but the brand value of the product or service. Even though we don’t see the product, we might say that Martin Logan stereo speakers are great. But Philips isn’t so cool. Different brands can represent different values. There are high-end and low-end brands, with many in-between. Starting companies must position their brand value according to the predetermined market axis. The decision to position the company’s products or services on the lower or the higher end of the axis is not based on ethical values. A low-end car can help many people with disabilities or who are poor without any doubt. Instead, the brand values we choose will determine which market we target. This decision directly impacts our business outlooks. Toyota likely considered higher profits when it launched the Lexus series of cars.
A brand’s value is also measured in tangible ways. Brands are considered part of the company’s goodwill. They are sensitive to new product introductions, amortization, and other factors. Brands are considered assets from a financial perspective and can lose or increase in value.
Task 5: Define and carry brand values
Brand value is reflected in the individual products of a company. The brand’s value also affects the sales of those products. Surprisingly, the brand’s value can be transferred to the buyer persona, influencing the perception of value in a particular group (see Apple fan effect), while the network-effect (exclusivity, limited model) also affects brand value.
Both the relative price of a product and the entire brand portfolio have a special relationship with brand value. It is harder to imagine a low brand value if the price is higher than it is. The brand value is affected by the narrative surrounding the price (see the Second pillar). Brand value is also affected by other narratives, such as how durable a brand is or whether celebrities use it. The brand value is also affected by the public’s exposure (see First Pillar – how well the brand is known and how much advertising was spent).
Other factors, which are not mentioned here, can also influence brand value. This is partly due to the company’s deliberate actions (market positioning and products), but also external factors (like time and public opinion). The rebranding of LG from the Goldstar brand, which is low-end, to the LG brand, showed that brands need to work in both these areas. Grundig did the opposite when it was sold to a Chinese company.
Sixth pillar: Personal Relationship
Because branding is 100% about human perceptions and feelings, all the pillars mentioned previously can be summoned on a personal level. This personal feeling and effect can be translated into brand values and brand position in customers’ heads. People like and dislike brands. They also become fans or haters of them.
Task 6: Turn personal relationships into action
This personal disposition of a brand is clearly linked to buying. Marketing professionals must not ignore the original intent of branding to influence purchasing decisions at a personal level. Marketing professionals are not simply trying to influence people in business for general human goals. We don’t want world peace, but we do want our products and services to be sold. We want John and Clair Smith to choose our product or service. This is what we, or more broadly: investors, expect from all investments (including brand campaign)
We don’t all live in business, and not everyone follows business goals (i.e. sales) in our lives. This is surprising because non-profits aren’t so different from business ventures. Non-profits want to reach a specific action. This could be something that appears directly (like donating money to starving people), but can also be mental action or targeted change (like diversity campaigns).
A matrix can show the personal relationship to a brand entity. On the first axis, we can determine the readiness or likelihood of buying action (or in the case of a non-profit: readiness to act) and on second axis, we can highlight the brand’s emotional acceptance.
It is possible to map the personal relationship to a particular brand in terms of the ultimate sales motive. However, it is important to remember that emotions and relationships to brands go beyond the shopping experience. Some people feel that their brand represents them as a person, while others are neutral (like me with hunting brands).
Therefore, we must identify the personal relationships of potential and existing customers to our brand and take focused actions to recoup the branding efforts that we have made.
The seventh pillar is Exposure to Time
As an important aspect of brand value, we have mentioned amortization before. Amortization is simply because the brands (via materialized services/products) and customers live in the same time.
The brand’s overall life exposure to the time factor is represented in concrete forms with respect to specific products/services and Branding. This is the only result of this process. The products/services’ timelines have a significant impact on brand perception (e.g. The brand’s current products/services are a major factor in brand perception (e.g.
Task 7: Time is a consideration: Plan and replan as you go
Bunker Branding are not permanent and they change over time. Amortization is an economic term that expresses the time factor in economic terms, but all of the other pillars have a time layer. Even if the company doesn’t perceive it, repeated marketing campaigns, product development or market changes can alter the face of a brand. Nokia’s sad story is an excellent example of how time can affect a brand. This includes the marketing of its phones (a new generation has skipped Nokia phones), as well as the changing narratives and the sharp decline in brand value.