Think about any great brand. Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Starbucks and Apple are just a few examples. Great brands do not happen by accident; rather they are the result of careful and creative brand planning and the timely execution of innovative marketing strategies.
Renowned brand expert, marketing professor and author Kevin Lane Keller has distilled strategic brand planning into three complementary models that grow in scale and scope as they progress. These models help in developing brand strategies and business marketing ideas. Keller’s extensive research into the understanding of consumer behaviour has improved the way many companies apply their marketing strategies and the way they build, measure and manage brand equity.
Like a set of Russian nesting dolls – the three models are interlinked and build on each other. The first is a component of the second and the second of the third. Keller sets out his three interconnected models for strategic brand planning to establish a unique brand positioning, create intense and actively loyal relationships with your customers and to allow you to better understand the financial impact of marketing expenditure and investment in an eBook entitled Brand Planning.
Brand Positioning Model
The first model is the brand positioning model. Positioning is defining your offering and image so that it occupies a distinctive placement in the minds of the target market.
Within the positioning model there are four distinct components which should be considered to create superior competitive positioning for your brand. These can be summarised as follows:
- Competitive frame of reference. This defines which other brands your brand is competing against. It’s important to know which these are so that you may focus your analysis.
- Points-of-difference. These are the attributes that set one brand apart from another. In essence, these are benefits that customers strongly associate with a brand, and believe they could not find with a competing brand.
- Points-of-parity. The opposite of points of difference, points of parity are associations that are not unique to a brand and may be shared with other brands.
- A brand mantra. This is designed to give more focus to the brand’s intended positioning. A brand mantra should articulate the “core brand promise” in three to five words. This should not be the same as the ‘slogan’ used in advertising and is for internal use.
Brand Resonance Model
The second model is about creating loyal relationships with your customers. This model builds on the brand positioning model, and also includes four steps which should be followed in sequence. Brand resonance refers to the relationship and extent to which your customers feel that they connect and have a relationship with your brand.
Think about the following steps carefully and how you would build on each sequentially to build a strong brand resonance with your customers.
- Brand Identity – Who are you?
- Brand Meaning – What are you?
- Brand Responses – What about you? What do your customers think or feel about you?
- Brand Relationships – What about you and me? How much of a connection, and what kind of association do your customers want to have with you?
These are the stages of brand development – and the objectives at each stage are different starting with deep and broad brand awareness ending with intense, active and loyal relationships.
Brand Value Chain Model
The third and final model is the brand value chain model that describes how to trace the value creation process in order to better understand the financial impact of marketing costs and investments.
At its core this model assumes that the value of a brand lies with its customers. Based on this, brand value creation starts with a company investing in marketing to real or potential customers. This marketing activity in turn affects the customer’s mindset with regard to the brand, when this mindset is multiplied across a group of customers this results in certain outcomes for the brand in terms of its performance. In this way – the investment in marketing can be assessed.
Naturally this model also assumes that there a number of linking factors between each of the stages. These links determine the extent to which the value created at a preceding stage is transferred (or multiplied) to the next stage.
When these three models are combined, they provide crucial micro and macro perspectives that are required for brand building. This enables marketers to create brand strategies that maximise profits and long-term brand equity, while being able to track their progress as they implement these strategies.