We have seen that branding essentially is the process of discovering and expressing clearly and coherently the uniqueness of a business. It is the starting point in a much broader journey in brand building. Once the idea of the brand is discovered, it must be made tangible at the level of the four vectors that support the construction of a brand:
1. Product & services
3. The behavior of the organization
4. The environment in which the brand manifests itself
Of course, depending on the business category, each vector influences to a greater or lesser extent the construction of a brand. For example, if we are talking about a pharmacy brand, the construction of the brand is based on two vectors: the environment and the behavior of the people who serve. Conversely, if we are talking about a classic bank brand, in an industry where products are similar and difficult to compare by consumers, the most important brand vectors are: the environment (branches), brand communication and human behavior.
Here is a brief overview of the vectors that build a brand:
Product & services
The construction of a product brand starts, as is natural, from the product. The product itself is the central vector in brand construction. No matter how much you invest in other brand vectors, a bad product will not build a brand. Unlike other vectors, the product is the one that can convey the idea of the brand in a more concrete form. This is because everything that has a tangible representation forms the message from the base easier. The central concern of product companies remains to keep the idea of the brand behind the product intact, to reaffirm it and to highlight it throughout its life.
Of course, if the product is ok and bases its evolution on a central idea, other vectors, such as communication, will have a positive impact on brand development.
Most of the time, businesses confuse branding with communication. As we have discovered so far, branding is more than that. Communication is just one of the vectors of brand building that becomes important for certain business categories. Food brands, for example, build their identity through advertising and massive promotional campaigns. The advent of the internet has most influenced this brand vector and has led companies to open the door to dialogue with their consumers. Thus, consumers not only receive messages from brands, but can respond in real time, take a stand against the actions of a brand, can relate to other consumers and can trigger massive movements for or against a brand.
This vector builds and reflects how the people of an organization relate within the organization and to the audiences outside (customers). It is the main vector in the construction of service brands: medical, business consulting, specialized store networks, airlines, banks, education, etc. The human component is so important in service brands that people are considered to be, in fact, the brand for this category of business. People being the ones who through their behavior create the experience with the brand. Therefore, from the perspective of building a service brand, the priority are the actions of accommodating the behaviors of people in the organization with the idea of the brand, to understand it and to act in its spirit.
Brands in categories such as hotels, resorts, amusement parks and retail are strongly driven by the ambient vector. Of course, in the case of brands in these categories, the communication and behavior of employees are also important, but environmental experience is decisive for the development of the brand.
There are product brands that complete the experience with the product, bringing it into an environment that speaks to the personality and aspirations of the brand, such as cafes or cars. Brand exposure in a setting that enriches the sensory experience with them has been adopted since the earliest moments of the life of many brands. 100 years ago, for example, the Ford showroom replicated the atmosphere of a middle-class American family and spoke in this way about the vision of entrepreneur Henry Ford to democratize access to a car.
Questions for you:
1. Which of the four brand vectors (product, communication, behavior, environment) are the important vectors on which your brand construction is based?
2. Have the investments in your brand been prioritized in the area of the specified vectors?
3. Have you made sure that decisions made in favor of one brand vector do not affect the performance of another vector? For example, how do you think the communication of the BMW brand (“the ultimate driving machine”) will be affected by the introduction of the electric car? What could be the consequences?
4. If you have a service business, did you think that, in the specialized training budget, you should also include brand assimilation trainings? What do you do to make a good specialist in your team a person who behaves in accordance with what the idea of your brand conveys?
5. How do you manage to communicate with your consumers, with the fans of your brand or even with those who hate your brand? For example, Ikea met a wave of protests from its fans, because it demanded the closure of the site www.ikeahackers.net, whose purpose was to create new experiences with Ikea3 products. How would you have solved this situation?