How Brands Become Icons
Cultural icons: p. 1 Iconic Brands p. 2 Cultural Branding p. 4 Mind share Branding p. 6 Emotional Branding p. 7 Viral Branding p. 9
Cultural icons: Icons serve as society's functional compass pointsâ€“anchors of meaning continually referenced in entertainment, journalism, politics, and advertising. Cultural icon is a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol, specially a culture or movement: a person or an institution considered worthy of admiration or respect. Cultural icons are exemplary symbols that people accept as shorthand to represent important ideas. Icons come to represent a particular kind of storyâ€“an identity myth that their consumers use to address identity desires and anxieties. Icons have extraordinary value because they carry a heavy symbolic load for their most enthusiastic consumers. Over time, ideas about a product accumulate and fill the brand markers with meaning. A brand is formed. What makes a brand powerful is the collective nature of this perceptions: the stories have become conventional and are continually reinforced because they are treated as thrush in everyday interactions.
Iconic Brands: Brands become iconic when they perform identity myths: simple fictions that address cultural anxieties from afar, from imaginary world rather than from the worlds that consumers regularly encounter in their everyday lives. In modern societies, the most influential myths address people's identities. Identity brands participate in myth markets, competing and collaborating with films, music, television, sports, and books. The right identity myth well performed provides the audience with little epiphaniesâ€“ moments of recognition that puts images, sounds, and feelings on barely perceptible desires. Emotional attachment is the consequence of a great myth. Iconic brands have distinctive and favorable associations, they generate buzz, and they have core consumers with deep emotional attachments. This characteristics are the consequence of successful myth making. This brands don't simply evoke benefits, personality, or emotions. Their myths prod people to reconsider accepted ideas about themselves. Managers can build iconic brands only if they apply the tacit cultural strategies that supported the success of brands. Identity value is created in particular historical contexts. In iconic brands, the brand is a historical entity whose desirability comes from myths that address the most important social tensions of the nation. For identity brands, success depends on how well the brand's myth adjusts to historical exigences, not by its consistency in the face of historical change. The identity value created by a brand's myth depends entirely on how well it fits a particular historical context. Sometimes cultural disruptions occurs, and brands have cultural opportunities where to use evocative myths. Iconic brands address acute contradictions in society. Iconic brands develop identity myths that address these desires and anxieties. Over time, the brand comes to embody the myth.
An example of an iconic brand is Volkswagen. In a time when cars in the US where all big and look alike, Volkswagen entered the market with a revolutionary small soft design producing cars for a new era and a new kind of consumer. The People’s car, or as its later slogan claims, The Car. In the late 1950‘s its sales soared—thanks in part to the famous advertising campaigns by New York advertising agency Doyle, Dane Bernbach. Volkswagen advertisements became as popular as the car, using crisp layouts and witty copy to lure the younger, sophisticated consumers with whom the car became associated. On 17 February 1972 the 15,007,034th Beetle was sold. Volkswagen could claim the world production record for the most-produced, single make of car in history. By 1973, total production was over 16 million. If iconic brands come into being by tapping into cultural tensions, it seems likely that some iconic brands will be limited to a particular culture, country or era. For example, the VW Combi van speaks of hippies, surfers and an itinerant lifestyle. Although this is true, Volkswagen has developed strong cultural roots and their values had evolved as the concept of the itinerant lifestyle have too. In the early 1990s, as the company struggled to survive in the U.S. market. Research identified that Volkswagen had carved out a distinctive mind share position in the auto market as a brand engineered for great driving at a value price. Since the mid-1980s, advertising had emphasized the excellent engineering and developed the tag line "the German Engineered Volkswagen." The new marketing strategy pushed the communications from product features (e.g., tight turning radius) to benefits (Volkswagens provided a great driving experience for people who really enjoyed driving and appreciated the feel of the car on the road). Volkswagen owners where people who viewed driving as an experience rather than as a utilitarian means to get from A to B. Volkswagen customers liked to drive fast and appreciated the finer points of how the car performed. Hence, the ad agency developed an advertising strategy to communicate that Volkswagen is a car for people who love to drive. "Drivers Wanted" campaign communicated the drivability benefits of Volkswagen. On the same product-benefit platform, this campaign built a myth about iconoclasts who are able to find ways to be creative and spontaneous in everyday life. What made the myth successful was that this campaign updated the Beetle myth about creativity in a way that worked in the social milieu of the United States of the late 1990s. 3
Cultural Branding: The power of the brand lies in the abstract associations that one finds when one "ladders" up from basic functional properties of the product to these sifter values, thoughts and feelings that consumers think of the brand. Cultural branding applies particularly to categories in which people tend to value products as a means of self expression, such as clothing, home decor, beauty, leisure, entertainment, automobile, food, badge or ego-expressive products. Also applies to other marketed entities that people really on to express their identity. Lessons of cultural branding can be applied to any market offering that people regularly use as means to improve their lives. Product benefits work as a platform on which a brand can build powerful identity myths that to spoke to ideals. The brands values resides in the specifics of the brandâ€™s cultural expression: The particular culture content of the brands myth and the particular expression of the contest in the communication. Abstracting cultural expressions to generic qualities strips these brands of their most valuable assets. Most consumer brands need a cultural strategy as part of their branding tool kits. Communications are the center of customer value. Customers buy the product to experience these stories. The product is simply a conduit though which customers can experience the stories that the brand tells. An effective cultural strategy creates a storied product, that is, a product that has distinctive branded features through which customers experience identity myths. VWâ€™s cultural branding strategy adopted in the 90â€˜s is a perfect example of this category, as it directed the brand toward a particular kind of myth and also specifies how the myth should be composed. Rolex is also great example of cultural branding. Rolex watches are valuable status products, which serve to measure time, and at the same time are timeless. they transcends
generations, and gives status to the person who wears them. It is supposed to stay over generations in the family. Every Rolex watch has a history. Who wears a Rolex is making an statement, that his family is powerful, and therefore he is too. In this way, it differentiates this person form the rest, improving his life as it empowers him. Also, that men is over the elements: It is an immortal product, it own value with time and it trespasses this qualities to their owner. It spokes to the ideals of regal, family, heritage, tradition, quality, immortality, precision, state of the art.
Mind share Branding: The mind share model ignore the emotional and relational aspects of branding. Mind share is driven by a logic of quantificationâ€”the drive to simplify the world so that it can be contained through measurement. In the mind share model the brand is understood as a set of timeless concepts. Once the brand has earned valuable associations-the brand essence-don't change anything! Consistency is the watchword, and brand stewardship is the mode of management. Many successful and durable brands have been built by the compulsive reiteration of the distinctive benefit (cavity fighting, gentleness) supported with rational arguments (dentistsâ€™ recommendation, one-quarter cleansing cream) and emotional appeals. Effective for utilitarian, low involvement brands because distilling the product to a handful of key benefits simplifies decision making to the customers. If the brand is timeless, abstract entity, then creating a brand strategy is painless process. Once you've got it, you've got it. Identity value exists in the details that managers who follow mind share principles routinely consider extraneous executional issues. In the mind share model, the manager is anointed the steward of the brand's timeless identity. The manager's role is to identify the transcendental core of the brand and then maintain this core in the face of organizational pressures to try something new. Mind share branding is today slipping out of favor even among its most loyal stalwarts. the "interrupt and repeat" model of advertising is in decline, and so marketers can no longer push "messages and memorability into the skulls of the audience."
Colgate toothpaste brand is a great example of mind share branding strategy. It was founded in 1806. Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream was the first toothpaste in a collapsible tube, introduced in 1896. Colgate is almost synonymous with toothpaste. It has been ranked as the 51st top brands by Interbrand in 2011. Today it owns 43 percent market share.
Emotional Branding: In emotional branding, the basic mind share assumptionsâ€“that the brand consist of a set of abstractions that should be maintained consistently in all the brand activities over timeâ€“ still hold. But as the name suggests, emotional branding emphasizes on how this brand essence should be communicated: Managers should build emotional appeals into their branding efforts, which are used to spur emotional changed relationships with core customers. Managers should continue to stake out distinctive associations and consistently articulate these associations through everything the brand does. But a brand must emphasize its personality and forge an intimate connection with customers. Communications should work to build emotional linkages between brand and customers. Wen a brand is communicated with a supercharged emotion, a deep bound will form with customers. For brand success, imbue the brand with a compelling identity myth, and potent emotional ties will follow. Example of emotional branding is Harley Davidson. Its followers are so emotionally connected, that they tattoo the brands shield logo to their bodies. The myth surrounding the Harley-Davidson brand is hard for any competitor to mimic. Harley-Davidson sustains a loyal brand community which keeps active through clubs, events, and a museum. Licensing of the Harley-Davidson brand and logo accounted for $40 million (0.8%) of the company's net revenue in 2010. In one hand, HD own several product features, like the V engine and the design of the bike. It also have strong customer benefits, as it empowers people to feel free and creates the sense of belonging to a group of comrades that share same values. Harley Davidson brand is charged emotionally. The lesson we should learn from Harley success is straightforward: Imbue the brand with a compelling identity myth, and potent emotional ties will follow. The compelling identity myth is the independent, the explorer, the outsider, restlessness, yearning for something is not present.
At its simplest, the Explorer archetype embodies the urge to hit the open road and explore the world around us. At deeper levels of the archetype, the journey can become a way to find one’s own individuality and express one’s uniqueness. This archetype was represented in the movie Easy Rider in 1969. It tells the story of two bikers who travel over Harley’s through the American Southwest and South with the aim of achieving freedom. A landmark counterculture film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination," Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle.
Viral Branding: The viral approach is a compendium of ideas rooted in the classic ideas about public influence–diffusion of innovation, word of mouth, and public relations–that responded to two major shifts in the 90's: the increase of thinnish towards mass marketing and the emergence of the Internet. Cynical consumers will no longer heed the missives of mass marketers, so instead must discover brands on their own. If the firm can convince these people to make the brand their own, and configure the brand, like a virus, to make it easy to talk about, these influencers will rapidly spread their interest in the brand to others through their social networks, just as a virus spreads. In this view, brands are no longer led by corporate activities but rather given meaning and value on the streets by opinion-leading trendsetters who adopt the brands and give them cache. The viral approach presumes that consumers–not marketers–create identity value. Consequently, identity branding has turned into the task of stealthily seeding brands with the right customers so that they will take the brand and develop its value. The viral model is essentially a fashion branding model. The model relies on taste leaders who set trends and create the brand's must have desirability when they use it and talk about it. Viral efforts thus seek to influence tastemakers. Iconic brands operate over this cycle. Identity brands that are developed through viral approaches have a fatal flaw–they are author less. The problem with viral model is that it assumes that an communication is good as long as it's retold. Much more important is what people remember and use symbolically in their everyday lives. A perfect example of viral brand is Old Spice. On July 14, 2010, Old Spice launched the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever, garnering 6.7 million views after 24 hours, ballooning over 23 million views after 36 hours.The Old Spice “Questions” is been shard by 70,492 people on Facebook and by 9,113 9
people on Twitter. It ranks first in frequency of videos in chart, and counting 13,4 mill views across all chart videos. For the first time a company decided to talk to their customers, as in literally take questions on the air and then respond directly back to that person.Â Not only that but create an endless stream of commercials in near real-time based on what their customers were saying. Instead of paying Isaiah to spend another day or two shooting an expensive ad what they did was put him in a bathroom with a high quality camera and simply had him answer youtube comments, tweets, Facebook messages and the occasional reddit blurb here and there. As a result, sales for Red Zone body wash, the product the Old Spice Guy was initially pitching, reached $1.6 million in the four weeks ended July 11, a 49 per cent increase over the four weeks ended Feb. 21, SymphonyIRI Group data show. According to Nielsen, sales of Old Spice Body rose 11 percent over the past 12 months and since the effort broke in February, sales seem to be gaining momentum. Over the past three months, sales jumped 55 percent and in the past month, they rose 107 percent, also per Nielsen.
How Brands Become Icons