Why should brand religions drive your design.

No two brands are an equivalent . they need different objectives, serve different needs, are in several stages of their product life cycle, face different levels of competitive intensity and are travel by different marketers with their own strategies. So why is it that we measure them an equivalent way? Why do market researchers have the tendency to push standardized research approaches across brands no matter context?

Branding research – as varied as segmentation and positioning, brand archetypes, distinctive assets, advertising optimization and testing, packaging research and brand tracking – is aimed toward measuring brand success and performance. Yet what defines brand success and the way are you able to measure it?

Every marketer must build, craft and grow strong brands. Many books are written capturing marketing theories, frameworks and models on the way to build future-proof brands. they supply brand owners and marketers with a framework on what defines brand success, which drivers to pursue also as which key dimensions drive brand growth. Furthermore, they provide insight into which metrics and KPIs to think about when measuring brand strength. This abundance of visions and beliefs causes tons of confusion amongst brand owners and marketers on which strategy to pursue and the way to define brand success. Yet during this abundance of complex choice, focus is crucial.

This is where the notion of religions kicks in. Religions have emerged because people want to possess an evidence for phenomena that can’t be explained or are very complex. a faith may be a line of thinking and “a pursuit followed with great devotion.” Similarly, as this definition points at, brands can enjoy choosing a brand strategy framework to guide them in everything they are doing .

In that sense brands need commandments (e.g., to realize understanding and alignment on brand strategy also as measure brand foundations to support knowledge and instruction). Marketers and insight professionals got to contemplate (e.g., to develop your brand and translate it into brand activation, communication and packaging). and that they got to show devotion – to consistently behave consistent with the commandments and track the performance of the brand and measure the impact of the marketing mix.

Those who have taken a course in marketing were probably introduced to Philip Kotler’s principles of selling and branding. For those that haven’t , Kotler talks about STP (segmentation, targeting and positioning), the importance of differentiation and therefore the creation of a singular selling proposition. Kotler is that the godfather of recent marketing and he and other thinkers like Kevin Lane Keller and David Aaker have laid the inspiration of what we could label because the classic religion. a bit like the classics in food and music, this thinking remains of great value today, with many brands using it as a framework to line up their marketing plans or brand strategies.

Yet within the postmodern world this Kotlerian thinking is being challenged by new beliefs and visions of the way to grow a brand. This has mainly happened thanks to consumers being more informed and knowledgeable, often empowered by technology and social media. There have also been new vogues in business and marketing theories by several thought leaders, e.g., around System 1 and System 2 thinking. consistent with a number of these experts, brands got to stop segmenting and specialise in the whole market to ensure growth, while others appraise the empowered role of consumers where they become the voice of the brand. We found that we will bundle these various streams of thought in five brand religions.

The classic religion
“There is merely one winning strategy. it’s to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering thereto target market.” – Philip Kotler

The foundation of recent marketing, emphasizing the importance of segmenting the market and differentiating a brand within the minds of consumers. Building brand equity through the notion that retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring a replacement one, backed by consistent integrated marketing communications, is at the core of this religion.

The penetration religion
”Sales growth won’t come from relentlessly targeting a specific segment of a brand’s buyers; this fantasy is harming marketing effectiveness.” – Byron Sharp

This school of thought challenges the classic thinking by introducing new marketing “laws” that specialize in penetration through acquisition of consumers (not retention) supported mental and physical availability.

The relationship religion
“Emotion results in action, while reason results in conclusions.” – Donald Brian Calne, neurologist

This brand philosophy highlights the importance of building a long-lasting emotional reference to consumers to realize loyalty from the guts and beyond reason, where these relationships are coherent with inter-human relationships.

The experience religion
“Welcome to a replacement era of selling and repair during which your brand is defined by those that experience it.” – Brian Solis, digital analyst, speaker and author

Building memorable experiences forms the foundations of this brand religion. Experiences surpass physical products consistently but even have exclusivity, play on multiple senses and specialise in creating delight.

The influencer religion
“A brand is not any longer what we tell the buyer it’s ; it’s what consumers tell one another it is.” – Scott D. Cook

This brand religion follows a technique of selling “through” not “to” people. there’s a key role for disciples (macro, micro or natural influencers) who generate online also as offline word-of-mouth to make a ripple effect for growing the brand.

Each of those frameworks provides a special viewpoint on what defines brand success, what to aim for and which key performance indicators to pursue. The graphic summarizes the key principles or commandments, if you’ll , per religion.

While all of them preach different beliefs, within the end, all brand religions serve an equivalent purpose: growth in sales and creating shareholder value. As Gandhi said: “The various religions are like different roads converging on an equivalent point. What difference does it make if we follow a special route, provided we reach an equivalent destination?”

What is important is that each one stakeholders within a business align on which brand framework(s) to pursue and depart within the same direction. no matter the selection or mix, clarity is vital as strategy is additionally choosing what to not do. a transparent brand religion definition (or mixture of religions) forces all stakeholders to act consistently, it clearly defines brand success and which key performance indicators and metrics to pursue to assess performance.

Outlines how one should measure
No two brands are an equivalent , nor should they be measured an equivalent way. the selection of brand name religion (mix) not only shapes how one defines brand success, it also outlines how one should measure brand and communication performance.

Consider advertising research, where many approaches specialise in ad liking and recall. What defines an honest advertisement depends on the brand strategy and thus the brand religion framework. A brand that follows the penetration religion will specialise in creating ad messages that strengthen its “mental availability.” This school of thought emphasizes the importance of distinctive assets (i.e., brand identity elements like colors, slogans, logos, etc.) that signal the name to consumers and hence function memory shortcuts, allowing consumers to form buying decisions rapidly and simply . These assets allow a brand’s communication to figure effectively. Brands should use these assets in communication (and packaging) consistently so as to create memory structures within the consumers’ minds over time. The research design should reflect this thinking and test if assets are strongly and uniquely associated to a brand – e.g., by means of putting participants under time or cognitive pressure.

Brands that pursue the connection religion, on the opposite hand, will focus more on the emotions that are triggered by a billboard . the connection religion stipulates that ultimately consumers are driven by emotions and feel emotionally connected to brands. The goal of a brand is to create a brand-consumer relationship. Therefore, advertising here is aimed toward building and strengthening that emotional reference to consumers. The research design won’t specialise in assets but rather on emotions by, for instance , using an indirect measure like facial coding or an implicit association task to avoid rationalization.

A different research approach is additionally needed for brands pursuing the influencer religion strategy. Here the main target of the ad is to fuel conversations around brands, requiring research specialise in the conversation potential of a billboard . it’s clear that, counting on one’s strategy, advertising features a different focus and thus must even be measured differently.

The same are often said for trackers. Trackers function the continued finger on the heart beat , gaining insight into how a brand is performing in line with brand strategy. However, trackers are probably one among the foremost static, repetitive and unidimensional research solutions out there. If one were to match two random brand trackers, likelihood is that they might be characterized by an identical research design and sometimes be centered around measuring the brand funnel. this is often a typical framework from the classic religion, which emphasizes that it all starts with building awareness, to then move to consideration, trial, usage, preference, ending with loyalty to create brand equity. While the classic thinking remains relevant today, we see many purchasers shift faraway from these principles, embracing new beliefs beyond the Kotlerian thinking.

If brands are shifting brand strategy frameworks, why are trackers still reflecting the classic marketing principles? Trackers should be seen as a composite of all metrics and KPIs that are important for brands to assess the extent to which they’re on par with their brand strategy. instead of considering a tracker as static and unidimensional, it should be a modular build-up where the KPIs reflect the relevant dimensions of brand name success.

In essence, what one measures and the way one measures it all link back to one’s brand strategy. All brands are different and brand success is defined differently. Before starting research, it’s essential to know what brand religion (or mix thereof) is true for your brand.