Innovation Inspiration: Re-defining Brand Management

09 Mar 2009|Added Value

CEO Added Value FranceLast month, we talked about how corporations are waking up to the opportunity offered by new models of innovation. This month we focus on the impact of change on the core brand management function and whether ‘brand mobilisation’ is a concept better suited to today’s environment.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Roland Rust, Valerie Zeithaml and Katherine Lemon propose a re-invention of brand management Companies talk a good game about customer-centricity, but brands have become the focus of decision-making and the basis for accountability.They need to re-orient around growing customer equity.

Read More: Customer-Centered Brand Management

According to Alain Delcayre in Stratégies, consumers and NGOs have joined forces to exert pressure on commercial organisations to become increasingly responsible. Corporations are having to re-define their role and build responsibility into how they manage their brands.

Read More: Marques Privées et Débats Publics

Research by McKinsey reinforces responsibility as a key driver of consumer trust in companies and their brands in six key sectors: Food & Beverage; Retailing; Petroleum; Pharma; Electric Power; and Financial Services.

Read More: What consumer expect from companies

But some companies are going much further. Over 2 years ago A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, put it this way: “Customers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands…we need to learn to let go” and Russ Klein, President for Global Marketing, Strategy & Innovation at Burger King, advocated “(taking) control away from brand-management control freaks…turning your brand over to the consumer is taking control.” Wal-Mart, MasterCard, Yahoo and Mini agree.

Read More: Letting Consumers Control Marketing

But are corporations prepared to “let go” and cede control of precious brand equities to the vagaries of consumer manipulation? After all, it can result in highly damaging campaigns from YouTube to billboards – French artist Zves makes his living launching ‘visual attacks’ on brands by manipulating their identities.

Read More: Visual Attack

What if there were a way to balance management with flexibility? What might this brave new world of ‘brand mobilisation’ look like? In a nutshell, the key is to use story and character to create real brand distinctiveness and to evolve continually in line with cultural change. Douglas Holt, author of When Brand Become Icons, argues that consumers buy into the carefully-crafted myth embodied in brands such as Nike, Harley, Apple, Absolut and VW. These myths evolve over time in line with culture and this is how enduring customer value is built. And the impact of the crisis? As Holt puts it, “the greatest challenge comes when there is a major disruption…brands falter when disruptions hit.”

Read More: What Becomes an Icon Most?

By Jonathan Hall, CEO Added Value France

To sign up to the Innovation Monthly newsletter, click here

prev next