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Summary Connective Branding


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Includes a summary of the main findings of our book "Connective Branding"

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Summary Connective Branding

  1. 1. A Special Report © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster
  2. 2. Special Report Connective Branding Dear Madam, dear Sirs, We live in a demanding world – demanding because many of our fundamental beliefs are put to the test along with established pillars of both society and the economy. The recent financial crisis alone has wiped off a reported € 39 bn1 of the value of global brands. This makes it particularly important to check the validity of old habits and old paradigms so that we can break away from outdated patterns of brand theory, brand management and brand strategy and replace them with adequate tools that can respond to the forces that shape the future of branding. In our book, Connective Branding, we have attempted to analyse these forces and their impact on branding. We want to empower our readers to see new patterns emerge, draw relevant new connections and build successful brands in this new branding environment. Connective Branding also guides the reader through a step- by-step practical process which can be followed in sequence or used in a modular fashion. In more than 120 interviews with marketing practitioners, branding experts, and academics we have confirmed our hypotheses about the way branding is changing. We have researched and surveyed brands from across the globe in order to give the book sufficient cultural depth, incl. Aer Lingus, Aral, BMW, BP, Deutsche Bank, Ducati, Edun, Google, innocent drinks, Lacoste, LEGO Group, Manner, Maggi, Orange, Old Mutual, Rabobank, Sony, SOS Childrens Village, Siemens, Thomas Sabo, TED/United, TUI, UBS, Vauxhall, Wal-Mart, Wikimedia and many more. Hopefully this will entice you to read the entire book! Dr Claudia Fisher- Buttinger Dr Christine Vallaster For a free sample chapter or to buy a copy of the book please go to The book is also available in all major book stores around the world. 1 The Guardian, September 23 2008 © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster i
  3. 3. Special Report Connective Branding SPECIAL REPORT CONNECTIVE BRANDING I. 5 Key Insights.............................................................. 1 II. Core Model .................................................................. 6 III. Process and Critical Success Factors ........................... 9 IV. Key Questions ............................................................ 10 Selected Reviews....................................................... 11 V. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster ii
  4. 4. Special Report Connective Branding I. CONNECTIVE BRANDING PROVIDES 5 KEY INSIGHTS The current branding environment is shaped by a number of market forces that are playing together to redefine the ground rules of branding: Control issues. Complex and global supply chains as well as increasing pressure • to outsource various parts of the supply chain reduce companies’ ability to control all aspects of their business. This leaves companies in a position of increased risk to make mistakes (not necessarily of the company itself but e.g. of less experienced partners). Blaming mistakes on such partners no longer protects the brand or reduces the negative impact (e.g. child labour used by contractors in India, hazardous material used by manufacturing facilities in China). Megaphone Internet. The Internet acts like a giant megaphone into a “socially • networked” world, exposing and magnifying any irregularities related to business conduct. It is no longer possible to retain information related to negative news within a controlled group of stakeholders since the Internet actively defies “censorship” and also has caused the blurring of boundaries between stakeholder groups. Environment of Distrust. A never ending series of corporate scandals from Enron • to Parmalat, the current global financial crisis, the after-math of 9/11 and the Bush government in the US all have contributed to the erosion of trust in (large) companies and established authorities in the economy and society at large. This © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.1
  5. 5. Special Report Connective Branding results in increased scrutiny of company and brand activities, further amplifying the vulnerability of brands. CSR Imperative. As the consumer has learned that their money is an effective • way to pressure companies into action, they are looking to companies to save our world and our planet, not governments. Sustainability and ethical business conduct are no longer PR gimmicks but need to be addressed as part of a holistic business and brand strategy. Window-dressing and green-washing are easily spotted and no longer tolerated as opportunistic means of getting attention or seeking differentiation. The expectations of brands are high in general, but even more so if a communications focus is placed on CSR related issues. Based on this understanding of the current branding environment, we have identified the following 5 key insights that make it necessary to break old patterns and adjust brand strategy: 1. BACK TO BASICS: EARN YOUR TRUST Brands – in particular large global brands - need to regain the trust of their key audiences, foremost that of the employee and the customer. While large companies and brands once were a pillar of consumer confidence, they are now viewed with suspicion or even scorn. Connective Branding explains how brands need to put programs in place that proof to their key target audiences – including customers and employees – what their values really are and why they are trustworthy (before they can do anything else). © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.2
  6. 6. Special Report Connective Branding 2. LIVE THE BRAND SO THAT IT CAN RADIATE OUTWARDS In traditional branding concepts brands are created primarily through an external image built on advertising and other forms of one-way information disseminated in main stream media. This used to work particularly well for product brands. However, in today’s world a brand is delivered through every single point of interaction between the brand and key stakeholders, including word-of-mouth communication, the purchasing experience, the product itself and post-purchase interaction points. In order to increase the consistency of stakeholder experience across these interaction points, all employees have to live the brand. If all employees – not only those who are directly customer facing, but literally all employees – embrace the values of the brand and live them, every day and in everything they do – the brand can radiate outwards. This also means that employee engagement has become a much more important element of branding. Connective Branding explains how to engage employees and systematically increase consistency of interaction points in order to let the brand radiate outwards and optimise stakeholder experience. 3. STRENGTHEN THE BRAND THROUGH INTERACTIVE RELATIONSHIPS Traditional branding was based on a one-way, often manipulative communication paradigm. With the proliferation of the Internet the long awaited shift in communication power has finally happened – the consumer is now in control of when, where, and how to interact with the brand. This necessitates a more engaging communications paradigm and a whole range of new skills and competences. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.3
  7. 7. Special Report Connective Branding Connective Branding explains how to create interactive relationships with all key stakeholder audiences by recognising the new rules and requirements that embrace the online world. 4. EXPAND THE ROLE AND AUDIENCE OF THE BRAND Increased scrutiny by the market place, the blurring of stakeholder boundaries, the shift of power caused by the Internet, and the move by some companies to place their branding focus on the company instead of the product level, all put the entire organisation into the limelight. As a result, the entire organisation and all its actions are at the heart of the brand. This not only broadens the target audience of the brand since it now has to address a number of “new” audiences ranging from special interest groups to the financial community (i.e. it is no longer limited to customers), but it also adds a number of new tasks and required skills to the list, including driving the share price, increasing employee retention, build relationships with distributors and retailers, and engaging NGOs. Connective Branding explains how the role of the brand has expanded to include all stakeholders and how to satisfy the resulting different, in some cases conflicting, expectations and needs. 5. ADOPT A NETWORKED APPROACH TO BRAND MANAGEMENT Traditionally, a brand manager was responsible for both creating and maintaining the brand, with limited interaction with other departments and functions. However, the necessity to deliver on the brand in every interaction point has made it paramount for branding to become a shared concern of all internal functions and processes. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.4
  8. 8. Special Report Connective Branding Branding can no longer be the sole responsibility of the marketing department but needs to adopt a networked approach towards fulfilling the brand promise. Connective Branding explains how such a networked approach can work by assigning brand responsibilities to a number of different teams across the entire organisation, thereby breaking down silos and properly anchoring the brand. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.5
  9. 9. Special Report Connective Branding II. CORE MODEL Connective Branding presents a framework that helps companies build and maintain strong brands even in the current challenging environment. In the core model of Connective Branding, the two key drivers of brand equity are Alignment of brand promise and actual brand experience (i) By identifying and eliminating misalignment between elements that define the brand (e.g. brand principles, brand vision, brand architecture) and elements that deliver the brand (e.g. brand metrics, enabling processes, actual employee behaviour), the brand becomes more trustworthy, more authentic and more credible. Strength of emotional connection with all key stakeholders (ii) By continuously finding meaningful ways to engage employees, customers, and other stakeholders in a welcome, appealing dialogue, a brand can effectively counter scepticism and build emotional connections with all key stakeholders, and at the same time satisfy stakeholders’ heightened need for information and create transparency. The Connective Branding framework is designed to systematically build the twin imperative of brand alignment and strength of emotional connection into the brand. The core model is organised around four brand levers – brand strategy, brand management, brand building through engagement and brand building through alignment of processes and structures (see Graph 1 below). © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.6
  10. 10. Special Report Connective Branding Graph 1: Core Model of Connective Branding with 4 Levers 1. Brand Strategy Connective brands have a clearly defined role that is consistent with the brand’s mandate and power to act, they are built around a welcome and engaging brand promise (or purpose), they have a clear brand vision that outlines the future strategic direction, and they are aligned with business priorities and company culture. 2. Brand Management Connective brands are owned by the CEO, represented by a C-level executive and managed by a branding team that understands the new paradigms of stakeholder engagement and networked collaboration. The branding team is empowered to work with all relevant functions and departments to facilitate alignment of brand promise and corporate actions. A system of actionable metrics provides regular feedback on where to improve and where things are going well. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.7
  11. 11. Special Report Connective Branding 3. Brand Building through Engagement Connective brands continuously find ways to engage employees in order to create commitment and motivation to act in line with the brand promise; they also seek to engage customers and other key stakeholders such that deep connections and meaningful relationships are created. They also manage the complexities of converging stakeholder groups. 4. Brand Building through Alignment Connective brands are able to deliver on the brand promise to their stakeholders in every touch point by continuously improving alignment of enabling processes and structures with the brand promise and brand vision. © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.8
  12. 12. Special Report Connective Branding III. Process and Critical Success Factors Reflecting the brand promise in every single point of interaction between company or brand and key stakeholders is a difficult task. We know from practical experience that many companies are struggling with this issue. Therefore, Connective Branding proposes a process of five simple steps that will increase alignment of brand promise and actual brand experience over time. The process is designed in a modular fashion, allowing companies to either work through the entire sequence (rarely the case) or to focus on individual steps of particular relevance to their competitive situation and business goals (much more likely). For each step, the critical success factors are identified (see Graph 2 below) and illustrated with a rich body of original case studies from around the globe. In addition, a tool box with key questions is provided for each step, helping the reader to find solutions for their particular business and brand issues. Graph 2: Connective Branding Process – Step-by-Step and Modular © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.9
  13. 13. Special Report Connective Branding IV. SUMMARY AND KEY QUESTIONS Connective Branding provides a model based on engagement and alignment that helps companies adapting the brand strategy to the new branding environment. After reading Connective Branding every brand strategist should be able to answer the following questions How can I strengthen the brand? Where do I start? What are the critical success factors? Who needs to be involved? How do I know if every part of the organisation lives the brand? How can I make sure this is the case? How can I create a strong and relevant connection between the brand and key stakeholders? How can I develop and expand the brand? How can I make sure it can facilitate key business objectives? How do I best manage the brand? How do I cultivate and empower brand enthusiasts in the organisation? How do I foster and leverage networked collaboration? How can I address CSR as part of brand strategy? How can I strengthen or protect the brand in times of crisis and turmoil? If you would like to discuss any of these issues and questions with us, we would be delighted to work with you. Lemontree Brand Strategy is a young and dynamic consulting firm with lots of ideas and expertise. Please do not hesitate to drop us a line with feedback, questions, or ideas: © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.10
  14. 14. Special Report Connective Branding V. SELECTED REVIEWS “Fresh and fascinating with a host of in-depth best practice case studies. A must- read for every brand strategist, Connective Branding demonstrates how to accomplish the twin brand imperatives of brand engagement and brand alignment.” David Aaker, Vice Chairman of Prophet, Author of Brand Portfolio Strategy and Spanning Silos Connective Branding presents a much broader view than traditional association- based branding. Presenting a brand as a set of values that must radiate outward to all stakeholders offers managers superb opportunities for enriching their brands. I highly recommend this original book. Bernd Schmitt, Author of Customer Experience Management and Big Think Strategy The foundations for brand building are changing radically. All the stakeholders of the brand are connected at a global scale expecting brands to engage in a responsible, transparent and customized dialogue with each of them. In this exciting book, Fisher- Buttinger and Vallaster take the reader through a compelling journey of how brands transform themselves in this new reality without loosing sense of who they are. Majken Schultz, Copenhagen Business School, Co-Author of The Expressive Organisation and Taking Brand Initiative “Reading Connective Branding will change the way you approach brand building. While Connective Branding does not claim to have all the answers (thank goodness - I hate being patronised ), it will certainly get you musing on how best to improve your brand strategy. If you are challenged by the principles raised here - what better way than that to leave that comfort zone of always doing the same old thing? Brand Management is Dead ..... Long Live Brand Management!” Paul Harrison, Marketing Manager, General Motors © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.11
  15. 15. Special Report Connective Branding The days when branding was a function somewhere in the marketing department are over. Connective Branding explains in a systematic way the current and future challenges of branding with a broad and thoroughly researched spectrum of real life examples. After reading this book, you will not look at your brand the same way as you did before. Marco Meyrat, CMO, Hilti Corporation It's refreshing to see the long-standing pillars of conventional branding tumble in Fisher-Buttinger and Vallaster’s text. In Connective Branding we consider the new rules for engaging stakeholders in the brand and for aligning brand promise with actual brand experience. Rob BonDurant, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Patagonia, Inc. Today’s great companies must understand that their success depends on nurturing a living brand that embodies company values at every level and through every interaction. Sound tough? It is. But Connective Branding will show you how essential it is for survival today, and how to successfully implement a living, strong brand in your organization Matt Gardan, Communications Manager, innocent drinks France © Dr Claudia Fisher – Buttinger & Dr Christine Vallaster p.12