Branding has come a long way since it originally meant burning one’s mark onto livestock to assert ownership. Today, the layman often uses the word to mean a company or product logo, but many recognize it to be so much more than that.
The brand encompasses what it means to interact with a company, to buy their product. The brand helps describe how a company does what it does. It sets expectations for quality and experience, and the company has incentive to live up to its “brand promise” because its name is stamped on it, and therefore any over- or under-achievement will be attributed to the “brand equity”, impacting customer loyalty and future success accordingly.
Michelle introduced us to the concept of a brand as a “nexus of values”, where nexus means a connection or series of connections linking two or more things, values in this instance. What does this mean?
Well, rather than just becoming a loyal customer based on Attenzi’s consistent design and manufacture of great kitchen equipment, or satisfaction with our post-sales service, it means the customer understands and has affinity towards the values driving Attenzi’s business, informing how it undertakes its business.
Attenzi doesn’t make cars or run schools, but if the nexus of values is crystal clear to us and to the customer, we should all have a clear and common appreciation of what an Attenzi car or school would be like.
Michelle finished by explaining why this latest evolution in the meaning of brand is important. In short, while ‘poor’ products still exist in some markets, we live in an age where product quality (ie, fitness for purpose, living up to the expectations set) is increasingly simply presumed – witness our disgust when the odd exception disrupts this happy situation. Whereas during the best part of the 20th Century quality was a differentiator, it is now a qualifier. Failure in this regard quickly leads to reputation damage, to business damage.
The discerning customer can now look beyond the immediacy of the product or service they’re consuming. They can and do ask: “Do I like this company’s attitude towards the environment / sourcing / equal opportunities / etc.?” And: “What’s their wider contribution to society?”