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This is the second session (Sep 8) of our Free Open Advanced Branding Masterclass at www.mootee.typepad.com. Pls rememebr no books are needed. We will forward additional reading material for all registered participants.
How are brands built? Managing brand meanings.
Idris Mootee CEO Idea Couture Inc.
Sept 8 2007
All brand names mentioned and logos included in this presentation are registered trademarks of their
respective owners and are legally protected. Their inclusion in this presentation is only for the purpose of
illustration, criticism and analysis.
Disclosure: Starbucks, Nike, Kitchen Aid, Jordan, Virgin, BMW, Nintendo, Crate & Barrel are clients of
Blast Radius Inc. which I was formerly employed as Senior VP and Chief Strategist. The mentioning of
these names are solely for academic purposes and should not be considered as case studies. The
material here was prepared solely with public information supported by the author’s analysis during the
writing of the book 60-Minute Brand Strategist which was published in four languages. Other brand
names including Levis, Apple, Mercedes Benz, Sony, Coca Cola, Macys, Target, Daimler Chrysler,
Citibank mentioned here were at some point a client of mine in association with previous firms under
which I was employed or co-founded. No confidential or proprietary information were used or mentioned
This series of presentation is designed to provide relevant and up-to-date information for brand and
marketing practitioners and it is not to be used in marketing or rendering of professional services. Some
rights reserved. Idris Mootee 2001-2007. Presentation can be freely embedded in any website or blog
under creative commons license with prohibition of any commercial use.
“We spent eight months
and a lot of energy on a
brand strategy and all
that’s changed is the logo
- CEO Financial Services Company
“We hired a brand consultancy and
developed a grand brand strategy.
Our ad agency went on to create and
produce an ad campaign that
stepped way ahead of our capability
to deliver the brand promise. We
ended up with customer
disappointment, internal conflicts and
brand credibility erosion.”
- CEO Utilities Company
“From a brand management
perspective, there are just too any
cooks in the kitchen. It is one thing
to allow consumers in participating
in meaning creation. It is quite
another to bring in everyone to let
them loose in the crazy world of
consumer generated content.”
- CMO Consumer Goods Company
“Many companies are simply
not ready to deal with or
obsolescence, much as they
anticipate the obsolescence of
products lines or business
- CMO Media Companies
Management do not
understand why we
need to have a brand
Sales and marketing
Cannot justify the
aren’t reading the
cost for brand re-
same book, let
alone the same
Where’s the ROI?
thinks branding is
just another logo
with a new tag
reality do not
Best Practices + Strategic
Outsourcing + ERP = ?
Not only are brands similar, even
companies are now more or less
the same or nearly identical.
Sameless is the worst thing you
can have for marketing.
The very technologies that make it faster
and cheaper to innovate also help us to
imitate. The competitive pace switching
back and froth from innovation to imitation.
The increasing difficulty in differentiating
between products, services and the speed
with which competitors take up innovations
will assist in the rise and rise of the brand.
In a world that is predisposed to
sameness, there are few things in
life more satisfying than building
brands that disrupts predisposition.
Some develop brands that move
market share. Some develop
brands that win advertising award.
Some create brands that build
culture. Some do all.
If you are planning for one
year, grow sales. If you are
planning for three years, grow
channel. If you are planning
for business that is build-to-
last, grow a brand.
The traditional thinking around branding
was to endow a product or service with
unique characteristics through the
creative use of name, slogan, packaging
and advertising. However, in a world
where there is a muddle of images and
messages, it is extremely difficult for a
brand to rise above the noise to be
noticed or remembered.
The romanticized view of
advertising is that it can change
what people think about your
brand; however, the realistic view
is that advertising does not
change what people think about
your brand (which has always
been very hard), but only has
them think about your brand at all.
Too much advertising too little meanings?
The rationale behind branding is all
about creating positive differentiation
that in consequence leading to a
dominant or at least profitable brand
shares. Brand marketers must deliver
tangibles and/or intangibles that
differentiate a brand among others.
This differentiation not only needs to
be perceived, but also valued.
QUESTION: How do you create
and deliver intangible benefits for
Brand has meanings beyond
functionality that exists in people's
minds. Part art, part science, brand
is the intangible yet visceral impact
of a person's subjective experience
with the product, the personal
memories and cultural associations
that orbit around it.
Lyle's Golden Syrup was named as
Britain's oldest brand, with its green
and gold packaging having remained
almost unchanged since 1885.
… brand is the difference between
a bottle of soda and a bottle of
… brand is the difference between
a mp3 player and an iPod ….
… brand is the difference between
a cup of coffee and a cup of
… brand is the difference between
a luxury car and a Mercedes
… brand is the difference between
a designer’s hand bag and a
Psychological differential are often
more resilient than functional
differential advantages. Intangible
emotional associations are difficult
to copy: once an emotional territory
is occupied by a well known brand,
it is more difficult to displace than a
brand with a functional claim that
can be beaten.
“Globalization is an influential
driver behind global brand
development and in particular,
there is a direct connection
between technology trends and
global brand building that should
not be underestimated.”
- John Quelch Harvard Business School
“You can say the right thing about
a product, and nobody will listen.
You've got to say it in such a way
that people feel it in their gut.
Because if they don't feel it,
nothing will happen.”
- The Late Bill Bernbach Founder DDB
A good brand strategy is about finding
ways to tap into emotions and connect
with other. That’s when they that
transcend product. A brand is a
metaphorical story that connects with
something very deep — a fundamental
appreciation of mythology. Stories create
the emotional context people need to
engage themselves in a larger
“In technocratic and
brands bring warmth,
familiarity and trust.”
- Peter Brabeck Nestle
QUESTION: Although it is logical to
assume that brand marketers see
the main objective of branding is to
create high involvement situations.
Indeed if the branding exercise fails
to deliver a relevant and valued
differentiation for its targeted
segments, then can it be argued that
its efforts are unsuccessful?
QUESTION: What if consumers were
not in anyway prepared to pay for that
differentiating activity by way of
perceiving or appreciating any
differences between brands in certain
….. then there would be no
economic justification for brand
marketers to invest in branding
exercises. In a product category, if
differences are not valued, buyers
tend to discriminate between
products or brands on the bases
of price and availability.
QUESTION: Does it really make
sense to invest in building brands
in low involvement markets?
Or is it even possible to generate
high brand involvement in the face
of low category involvement?
Here is a case that needs to be
made: a good branding strategy
should be capable of completely
transforming categories to the
extent that the brand effectively
creates new, or at least sub-
Can you name a few
brands that have been
categories or inventing
Consumers often don’t buy products,
they buy the personalities associated
with those products. Big K cola and
Coke are equal in taste tests … but not
in market share. Brand personalities
help consumers define their own self
concepts and express their identities to
others. People can find meanings only
on those brands with personalities.
Brand personalities help
firms differentiate their
products from the
competition and build brand
equity (value). Stand for
something or you’ll fall for
QUESTION: How do you
create and measure brand
Personal Plasma TV Cigars
Digital Skateboard Perfume
Air Conditioner Tea Bags
Milk Bottled Water
The Involvement Grid
There are voices about the no-brand
movement. This anti-brand movement is
well-understood. Companies have even
been successful in branding
commodities such as bricks, paper,
chickens, diamonds, milk, salt, sugar,
oranges, bananas, microprocessors and
even air, water and sand. The question
is: What more can you brand?
As long as there are humans,
there will be brand marketing.
Brand humanizes products and
personifies them with distinct
personalities and sensibilities to
reflect our very own and help
products differentiate from the
A quick reminder for us.
Brand awareness does not
equate = brand differentiation.
Most common mistake brand
marketers made is they think
attitude = behavior. In this
case you are confused
between “I love you” with
“I want you”.
I Relate to the Brand (ATTITUDE)
Customer loyalty (behavior) might be different from brand image
Loyalty might be the result of price, or availability, and not of a good
relationship with the brand (pseudo loyals).
A good relationship with the brand is not always enough to bring loyalty.
Customers like the brand, but not its offerings (potential loyals).
QUESTION: Does market
leadership = loyalty
leadership? If not, then you
need to decide which one is
your prime branding
Why do we need a theory for strategic
brand management? Because theory is
eminently practical. Managers are the
world’s most voracious consumer of
theories. Every time a brand marketing
decision is made, it is usually based on
some implicit understanding of what
causes what and why. The real problem
is they often use a one-size-fits-all theory.
There are many ways to build great
brands. Here are the four approaches:
Types of Brand Philosophies
Branding by Branding by Self-
Branding by Customer Expression
Procter and Gamble Abercrombie & Fitch Starbucks
Coca Cola Calvin Klein Tiffany
Johnson & Johnson Ralph Lauren Southwest Airline
Nestle BMW Hertz
Intel Absolut Disney
Gillette Milk Costco
Kodak Marlboro Marriott
GM Tag Heuer Yahoo
Branding by Planning. Branding is
approached as part of a formal planning
process. The typical approach includes
application of portfolio and product life
cycle concepts together with competitive
positioning. The information is distilled
and analyzed through each individual
brand’s performance in terms of market
share and margin contribution.
Branding by Imageries. Branding is being
approached in a more functional manner.
Usually advertising agencies take a
leading role and advertising is linked to
branding. The levers of brand building
consist mainly advertising. Marketers and
agencies closely link the brand to
advertising creative execution.
Sometimes the burden is given to
celebrated art directors and
Branding by Experience. Companies see
customers taking functional benefits,
product quality and a positive brand image
as a given. What they want is products,
services and marketing communications
that dazzle their senses, touch their hearts
and stimulate their minds. Here the
customer becomes the most important
part of the brand. Service design and/or
usability usually a core part of these
Branding by Self-Expression. Companies
put the role of brand building partially into
the hands of customers. Consumers also
do not want to use the brand to endorse or
reflect his or her personality; rather it
contributes to building a personal or
individual brand. Users are actively
participating in creating meanings for the
brand and using it as a symbolic
representation of his or her innerself.
involved with a
collectivity of brands so
as to benefit from the
meanings their add to
- Susan Fournier Formerly Harvard Business School
QUESTION: If a brand does not have
vital consumer meaning, may be it is
not worthwhile investing in its
leadership financially and
organizationally. Does it still justify the
enormous financial resources which it
will take to build or maintain; nor is it
worthwhile living the value
relationships which comes out from
the branding process.
Ries and Trout suggested that “owning a
word in the prospect’s mind” is the most
powerful concept. It is when the
association is so strong that any word can
immediately be linked to a brand. But
today’s brands have become very
sophisticated. Owning “category words”
and “benefit-related words” are not
enough; one can easily find themselves
under attack from competitors who will try
to undermine the association.
The most powerful concept is
actually to be able to own a set of
values beyond the narrow focus of
functional benefits. “Benefit-related”
word association is becoming less
powerful when those are at par and
companies aggressively expand
their product range targeting
Mercedes owns the word “engineering”, BMW
owns the word “performance”, and Volvo
owns the word “safety” and each of them
comfortably occupied those words and their
associations until now. But when Mercedes
launches the C-series to appeal to the
younger segments; BMW launches the highly
sophisticated 7 series targeted at those who
appreciates state-of-the-art engineering and
Volvo revamps its product range and change
to a more sporty look suggesting speed,
those associations can quickly become quite
“You can’t survive floating on the tide,
assessing the competition, conducting
surveys to find out what your
customers want right now. What do
you want? What do you want to tell the
world in the future? What does your
company have that will enrich the
world? You must believe in that ‘it’
strongly enough to become unique at
what you do.”
- Jesper Kunde A Unique Moment
“The idea that business is just a
numbers affair has always struck me as
preposterous. For one thing, I’ve never
been particularly good at numbers, but I
think I’ve done a reasonable job with
feelings. And I’m convinced that it is
feelings - and feelings alone - that
account for the success of the Virgin
brand in all of its myriad forms.”
- Richard Branson Virgin Group
A brand is only a trademark
without deeper meanings.
That’s the most important thing
about a brand strategy.
Colonization of physical space
is now extending to the mental
space and happening at an
even faster pace.
“We are in the twilight of a society based on
data. As information and intelligence become
the domain of computers, society will place
more value on the one human ability that
cannot be automated: emotion. Imagination,
myth, ritual rich — the language of emotion
— will affect everything from our purchasing
decisions to how we work with others.
Companies will thrive on the basis of their
stories and myths.”
- Rolf Jense Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies
“Most people can’t understand what
would drive someone to profess his or
her loyalty for our brand by tattooing our
logo onto his or her body—or heart. My
fellow employees and I understand
completely. We also understand very
clearly that this indescribable passion is
a big part of what has driven and will
continue to drive our growth.”
- Richard Teerlink Harley-Davison
Companies used to be all
“product producers” now they all
need to become
Brand Managers should now
be Meaning Brokers
(BM vs. MB)
CMO should really stand for
One big question for a
brand strategy to answer is
to articulate in an authentic
manner what does your
brand stand for?
So what does your brand
fearless unexpected bold radical
dreamer resolute poetic security
undaunted classy daring
adventurous gentle futuristic
individual power passionate
unwavering provocative idyllic
visionary wild sexy undaunted
soulful caring dynamic authentic
brave unorthodox daring trustful
kind innovative curious human
intriguing active uncommon
irreverent cool absolute joyful
unusual technological fun
sensible smart sensuous hopeful
Session two of eight.
For notes and discussion visit
Idris Mootee CEO Idea Couture Inc.