Who own's the brand?
There are three additional owner groups that are vastly neglected. In some cases their brand perception can reach the importance of consumer perception.
- Company’s employees: While an increasing number of brand centric firms realize that their employees are the living embodiment of the brand, most companies still don’t consider their employees not just as simple brand advocates but the physical representation of a brand personality. Best example is the hospitality and travel industry, where only a few brands live this concept with significant success like Singapore Airlines, or Riz Carlton. Most other providers in this industry prefer to spend significant marketing dollars in TV centric programs with no plausible linkage to their employee base
- Company’s supplier and partner network: Surprisingly most marketers don’t consider a company’s supplier and partner network as potentially very strong or very harmful brand advocates. A company’s procurement department focuses mostly on cost containment (which is their job) but marketers can significantly influence the brand perception of their partners. In cases like Wal-Mart these supplier and partner networks represent millions of individuals.
- Company’s competitors: Brand perception by competitors can be a very useful weapon in defining a company’s identity as well as the competitor’s self perception. Any holistic brand strategy needs to include the element of how it influences the competitor’s perception of the brand.
The outlined extension of brand owners to more groups stresses not only the increasing complexity of managing large brands but it provides us marketers with additional audiences for whom we have to build brand strategies. In the future I would love to see a brand strategy developed not only for the consumer but for this extended audience. Such a well designed and truly holistic multi-audience brand strategy will significantly strengthen the brand reach and its relevance.