Tim Kitchin at the Glasshouse blog picks up the branding debate. It’s a lucid summary of several strands of the debate. Here’s a snippet
The proliferation of factual information and rising standards of quality across the board make brands less and less important as guarantees of quality. Brand must therefore migrate to a different competitive arena…offering different benefits beyond the product per se: leveraging service benefits knowledge emotion, ethics and empowerment.
However these benefits do not and cannot reside within branded packages, stacked on shelves. They are the net effect of corporate AND product performance. Of behaviour, as well as value-delivery.
Tim argues that the company reputation is going to increasingly impact the perception of the box on the shelf. And I like the passion behind this statement
Vapid story-telling has had its moment. Organisations must take their organisational principles to the front line – and into their products.
Tim also says
In all these areas, whether brands are trying to become ‘lovemarks’, ‘dreamcasts’, or ‘anti-brands’, what matters is consistency. It is critical that the organisational purpose is felt in every stakeholder’s experience.
I see where Tim is coming from and I also feel wary of excessive consistency and a possible implied counsel of perfection (eg in every stakeholder experience). I don’t need to experience Mars’ deep purpose every single time I buy a chocolate bar, and I also think that it’s the nature of human organisations to mutate to stay alive – so that too much consistency is a bit inhuman. One of the aspects of conventional branding that most troubles me is the tendency to set up idealised visions that aren’t really compatible with our essential human fallibility.
That said, I think Tim’s onto something and his full post is worth a read.