In late 2012 researchers published a study in the journal Nature that asserted breast cancer was not a single disease, but rather an umbrella for ten genetically distinct diseases. This finding was significant because it revealed the need for nuances in treatment. One genetic type of the disease will respond to a protocol in a very different way than another. By understanding the fundamental differences, scientists have a richer understanding of how to treat each variant, to save more lives, and to reduce the trial-and-error approach that leads many women and men to suffer agonizing paths to wellness.
Marketers would do well to learn from this breakthrough in the science lab. In the same way “breast cancer” is not homogenous, “brand” is a blanket term that encapsulates increasingly diverse subtypes. Yet, managers and consultants generally approach brand development and management uniformly. Survey the landscape of branding and marketing agencies and you will find some differences in the semantic language used to express essentially the same framework for brand strategy: a positioning or promise statement, followed by an articulation of values (or pillars that define differentiating behaviors) and some collection of descriptive attributes that are variously referred to as “personality,” “voice,” and/or “DNA.”
Photo credit: Jess Lewis under license from Stocksy.com
“Is our brand the hero or is the consumer the hero?”
I am asked this seemingly philosophical question more and more. It hinges on a desire to understand more about how archetypes work in the context of branding. Much has been written about archetypes and some of it is actually useful. But a lot of the material circulating the business press about archetypes and brand strategy causes more confusion than assistance. The reason: much of it focuses too much on the least important way in which archetypes can help a brand convey a personality and a story. And the question I used to open this post illustrates the point.
Many brands aspire to a life of luxury—or rather, they wish to be positioned and perceived as a luxury brand. But luxury is subjective. To some it means a brand for the rich, to others it means a brand with richness. Because so much of our branding work revolves around the concept of luxury, we’ve developed a strong point of view on how to express it in various categories. But we decided to ask some experts how they might define it.
Nowhere is the “luxury” designation more applied (and perhaps abused) than in the world of automotive brands. Our guest, Phil Patton, characterized it this way:
It occurs to me that there are not that many products we explicitly refer to with the adjective “luxury.” We don’t say, “I’m going to buy a luxury laptop,” but people do say, “I’m buying a luxury car.”
Phil is a columnist who writes about automobile design for The New York Times. He describes a luxury car as having “design, grace and elegance.” But he suggests that some brands have a harder time defending their claim on luxury status. For example, many people ask whether or not Acura is really a luxury car?
This was a perfect jumping off point for our show, not least of which because we have just completed a new Brand Dependence Index that studies brand attachment to automotive brands (the results will be announced on November 19th at the LA Auto Show). We wanted to know why some auto brands seem to be a natural fit for luxury designation, while others have to work hard at it? And how does that interplay affect attachment?
As we do every week, Brand Studio staffers messaged one another from planes, trains and automobiles to share the most interesting brand-related stories of the week. Here’s what piqued our attention this week.
As we do every week, Brand Studio staffers made a list and checked it twice to serve up some of the most interesting brand-related stories we could find. To close out the year and ring in the holiday season, we focused all of our findings on the work of spirits brands.
As we do every week, Brand Studio staffers channeled their inner Katniss in a competition to suggest the best and most interesting brand-related stories of the week. With the LA Auto Show in full swing, we decided to focus this edition entirely on automotive-related branding stories.