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Enduring Brands: A Matter of Perspectives

How to Create a Deeper Brand-Building Approach That Lasts

By Published on .

Doug Molnar
Doug Molnar

Without a true sense of perspective, too often brands fall prey to Shiny New Ob­ject Syndrome—where we chase trendy and narrow foundations from which to build our brands.

Over the last 20 years, various brand-building approaches have surfaced as a result of economic, societal and technological changes. For instance, the dotcom boom made insight conversations revolve around how a brand lives online. Then the Great Recession came along, and we wanted to understand the role of a brand in culture.

When digital's role resurfaced with Google's Zero Moment of Truth, we re-evaluated the decision-making process and began to explore how consumers and brands interact in the moment to spark a purchase. This, in turn, signaled the end of the traditional path to purchase and hastened conversations of nonlinear purchasing journeys.

Today we pursue new insights through Big Data and artificial intelligence platforms, with traditional agency holding companies buying up data firms like it's Black Friday and the dotcom boom rolled into one.

While each of these trends in insights and brand-building have brought value, too often in our quest to integrate the latest perspective of "the big idea to build big brands" we place a myo­pic lens on the brand, ignoring other perspectives that could build better insights and deeper brand connections.

Brands live and breathe across myriad per­spectives. So a brand built only through the lens of culture can consider itself lucky if it makes an impact in the purchasing decision mo­ment. Better insights and more meaningful brands are built with a wider perspective, result­ing in brands that can have as much impact on the shelf as in culture.

A wider perspective seeks in­sights and understanding across six core constituents to impact how a brand must be built:

  • Context: Understanding the cultural context of the brand
  • Brand: Identifying the core purpose, value and personality of the brand
  • Competition: Determining the different strata and positionings throughout the wider competitive set of solutions
  • Consumers: Uncovering the needs and motiva­tions of consumers in their everyday lives
  • Shoppers: Pinpointing the drivers of attitude and behavior change in the weeks, days and seconds be­fore, during and after a shopper makes a purchase
  • Purchase channels: Finding the role that the brand can play within the retail channels in which it's sold, and how this can help deliver a more unique retail experience

This Brand Conversion Strategy approach, as it's called at Catapult, forces us to dig deeper in the areas that offer the most intriguing insights that may have been missed using a more limited view. It's within this wider view that Big Data and AI can exploit larger data sets to uncover the unexpected insight—without that unexpected insight losing the connection to the wider world in which the brand lives.

As some insights rise and others fall to the side, the most powerful insights weave together to define the brand. And as the brand idea forms, it is tested back against each aspect to ensure that a brilliant brand idea will truly have impact everywhere: in culture, in how the brand behaves internally and externally, against the competitive set, in its con­nection with consumers, in the moment of purchase and on the shelf.

It's always a matter of perspective. Insights that connect across not just one or two, but all the aspects of the Brand Conversion Strategy can have impact today, while laying the foundation for a truly enduring brand—a brand that can survive the whims of the next technological shift, the rise and fall of economies and the next fad in brand building.It's our openness to wider and even contradictory insights that will allow the most powerful "aha moments." And the ability to connect disparate thoughts, insights and ideas is what leads us to the most intriguing innovations and brand ideas.

So as we begin to see the potential of Big Data and AI, we must avoid the myopia of Shiny New Object Syndrome, and stay open to a wider perspective of all the aspects that build enduring brands today—and tomorrow.

About the Author

Doug Molnar leads the plan­ning group for Catapult. He has over 20 years of planning experience helping clients launch new brands, reinventing brands for the new economy, building global brand engagement experiences and navigating the changing expectations of brands' roles in consumers' lives. Just a few of the brands he's helped over the years are Citi, T. Rowe Price, Johnnie Walker, Jose Cuervo, Oxford HealthCare, UnitedHealthcare, AT&T (as BellSouth), Timex, Elizabeth Arden, Enfamil, Zyrtec, Benadryl, Lipitor, Levitra and Prevacid.

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Catapult is a conversion marketing agency where branding and buying are part of a total solution. Its data-driven ap­proach identifies the core actionable insights that inspire brilliant creative with the power to convert consumers into shoppers, shoppers into buyers and buyers into advocates. Catapult has a fully in­tegrated network of over 30 offices, with a global footprint anchored in offices around the world.
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