Markets Change. Brands Evolve. Businesses Adapt. Therefore so must the theory and tools that brand managers use in their development and execution of brand strategies.
At Sagacite Brand Agency, where I work, we make use of an adapted version of Kevin Lane Keller’s model of the customer-based brand equity pyramid, which provides a very workable approach to building a brand.
The pyramid essentially takes the brand through four successive steps: creating awareness about the brand; establishing understanding of the brand; developing the consumer’s opinion about the brand; and finally cultivating a loyal and active relationship between the consumer and the brand. Click here to learn more about the pyramid.
Whilst we are great fans of the pyramid we felt it didn’t tackle the equally important task of building a brand within a company and ensuring that the brand could deliver on its promises to the market.
We adapted the model to include three additional stages that sit below the pyramid and focuses on the brand within the company, and called them the foundations of the pyramid. We have recently been playing in the foundations.
The stages were originally titled buy-in, diffusion and capacity and descended in that order. We have now integrated diffusion (the internal communication of brand strategy) into the buy-in stage and added a new stage called alignment.
Very briefly, the three stages deal with:
The first stage is ensuring that there is alignment between the brand strategy and all other strategies within the organization. This seems obvious, but I am still amazed how often the brand strategy is developed in isolation to other organizational strategies. The section reflects Sagacite’s strongly-held view that brand strategy = business strategy.
The next stage is to ensure that there is capacity within the organization to deliver on its brand message and promise. This involves insuring that the organization’s systems and processes can deliver: whether it is a certain level of service or ensuring that a product arrives on time and works as promised. Capacity also stretches into third-party sections of the value chain to ensure that the brand is properly serviced and represented.
The final stage is organizational buy-in whereby all stakeholders in an organization, from employees to suppliers to distribution channels, understand the brand message and positioning and believe in it. Here we have incorporated the previous section of diffusion which dealt with ensuring the brand, its message, values, and strategy are effectively communicated throughout the organization.
What hasn’t changed about buy-in is our view that people associated with the organization don’t buy into the brand, then the intended market won’t. Getting internal stakeholders to understand and develop a positive relationship with the brand requires the same effort as getting an external audience to buy into the brand. This means that the brand strategists need to apply the four steps in the top half of the pyramid to this foundation stage.