FROM FROM BRAND BRAND PROPOSITION PROPOSITION TOTO INVOLVEMENT INVOLVEMENT AND AND DIALOGUE DIALOGUE Hans P Brandt Hans P|Brandt Jurjen Bügel | Jurjen Bügel
Year inYear yearinout, yearlarge out,and large small and organisations small organisations spend spend hundreds hundreds of millions of millions of euros of on euros commuon communications: nications: printedprinted matter,matter, visual visual material, material, logos logos and banners, and banners, printing printing styles styles and letter and headletter headings, campaigns ings, campaigns and radio andand radio television and television com- commercials. mercials. Organisations Organisations and the and professionals the professionals they commission they commission work on work theon basis the of basis trusted of trusted conventions, conventions, reflexes reflexes and methodologies; and methodologies; there is there a demand is a demand and what and the what professionals the professionals supplysupply is nothing is nothing more than morean than answer an answer to thatto that demand. demand. In other In words: other words: familiar familiar products products at at familiar familiar prices prices in accordance in accordance with awith previously a previously formulated formulated result.result. Everyone Everyone is satisfied, is satisfied, or so or so it appears. it appears. But beneath But beneath the surface the surface there is there is a growing a growing uneasiness. uneasiness. The question The question of effecof effectiveness tiveness is being is increasingly being increasingly posed.posed. And this And this concerns concerns the reputation the reputation and image and image formation formation of the of organisation. the organisation. For years, For years, this theme this theme in in designdesign has not has been notabeen particular a particular subjectsubject of dis-of discussion, cussion, because because what was whatcreated was created here inhere the in the Netherlands Netherlands was per was definition per definition of an excellent of an excellent standard standard and therefore and therefore effective. effective. The Netherlands, The Netherlands, an Interesting an Interesting Breeding Breeding GroundGround Over the Over lastthe three lastdecades, three decades, the Netherlands the Netherlands has has been anbeen interesting an interesting breeding breeding groundground for thefor develthe developmentopment of highofquality high quality design.design. The specific The specific Dutch Dutch contextcontext possessed possessed a number a number of characteristics of characteristics that made thatthis made possible: this possible: – a relatively – a relatively weak national weak national identityidentity based on based strong on strong individual individual consciousness; consciousness; – a heterogeneous – a heterogeneous societysociety aimingaiming for consensus for consensus between between extremely extremely divergent divergent social and social religious and religious fields of fields influence; of influence; – a liberal – a liberal marketmarket flankedflanked by a strong by a strong welfarewelfare state; state;
– a non-critical – a non-critical and generally and generally ideologically ideologically inspired inspired view ofview public of institutions public institutions and companies; and companies; – a complex – a complex interweaving interweaving of the national of the national and and the municipal, the municipal, with the with necessity the necessity for reconcilfor reconciling many ingsmall-scale many small-scale economic economic and planning and planning antitheses; antitheses; – a pragmatic, – a pragmatic, extremely extremely consensus-directed consensus-directed administrative administrative culture,culture, in which in which extremes extremes are are avoidedavoided and subtleties and subtleties cherished; cherished; – an abstract – an abstract and reasonably and reasonably traditionally traditionally straightstraightforward forward conception conception of aesthetics; of aesthetics; – a high – aregard high regard for traditional for traditional professionalism, professionalism, with generally with generally anti-authoritarian anti-authoritarian traits. traits. With this With sort this of sort socio-cultural of socio-cultural mix, the mix, the Netherlands Netherlands was able was toable develop to develop in the 1960s, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1970s 1980s and into 1980s aninto idealanlaboratory ideal laboratory for for designers, designers, architects, architects, fashionfashion designers, designers, graphicgraphic artists artists and advertising and advertising strategists. strategists. After aAfter period a period of growth, of growth, this advance this advance position position nevertheless nevertheless seemedseemed to havetobeen havetransformed been transformed into a mental into a mental arrears.arrears. The Brand The as Brand Product as Product InsteadInstead of the individual of the individual artisticartistic interpretation interpretation of the message of the message that was that propagated was propagated in the Nethin the Netherlands, erlands, the idea the ofidea brand of strategy brand strategy was launched was launched in Britain in Britain and America. and America. The brand The as brand hero. asThe hero. The brand as brand the as binding the binding force between force between the product the product and theand consumer. the consumer. The brand The as brand product. as product. And forAnd a for a moment moment there was there panic, was certainly panic, certainly when design, when design, brand expressions brand expressions and mass andcommunications, mass communications, under the under influence the influence of the new of the brand new thinking, brand thinking, had to had become to become not only not successful only successful but equally but equally attractive attractive as well.asAnd well. theAnd communications the communications
branchbranch threw itself threwinto itself theinto new the phenomenon new phenomenon wholesale. wholesale. The crisis Thecame crisisabout came because about because this this short-term short-term thinking thinking put pressure put pressure on considon considerationeration of the essentials, of the essentials, on the on fundamental the fundamental communications communications question. question. You could, You after could,all, after all, build up build andup load and a brand. load a brand. A brandA created brand created its its own world. own world. A brandA was brand autonomous was autonomous and hadand had its ownits existence. own existence. But a ‘corporate But a ‘corporate brand’…? brand’…? Definitely Definitely not! not!
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Fundamental Fundamental shifts in shifts our culture, in our culture, social economsocial economics andics theand patterns the patterns of communication of communication associ-associated with atedthem withhave themprofoundly have profoundly alteredaltered the the conditions conditions for corporate for corporate communications communications and and design.design. We willWe restrict will restrict ourselves ourselves here tohere a few to a few previously previously mentioned mentioned consequences consequences of these of these shifts: shifts: the globalisation – the globalisation of markets; of markets; the dissolving – the dissolving of differences of differences between between branches branches and product and product characteristics; characteristics; the synthesis – the synthesis of goods of and goods services; and services; the increasingly – the increasingly intermediary intermediary naturenature of of distribution; distribution; the forming – the forming of communities; of communities; the increasing – the increasing regionalisation regionalisation of consumption of consumption patterns patterns and outlooks. and outlooks. Unmasking Unmasking of the Corporate of the Corporate Brand Brand Under the Under influence the influence of the shifts of the mentioned shifts mentioned above, above, scores scores of instruments of instruments that professional that professional serviceservice providers providers in advertising, in advertising, design design and and corporate corporate communication communication use to use support to support the the positioning positioning of companies of companies have lost have their lostformer their former effectiveness. effectiveness. They seem Theyto seem havetobecome have become blunt blunt and doand not do achieve not achieve the required the required effect. effect. And even And even when they whendothey havedoanhave impact, an impact, it is of it short is ofdurashort duration. The tion. conventional The conventional methods methods and techniques and techniques – however – however perfectperfect and refined and refined their development their development in the various in the various métiersmétiers may have maybeen have– been no longer – no longer produce produce the desired the desired result. result. The hero Theseems hero seems to to be falling be falling off theoff pedestal. the pedestal. The unmasking The unmasking of the of the world of world the brand? of the brand? It would It would be wisebetowise subject to subject our approaches our approaches and and work methods work methods to critical to critical analysis. analysis. Preferably Preferably before before principals principals start asking start asking themselves themselves if they if they
are getting are getting value for value money. for money. For there Foristhere reason is reason enoughenough for scepticism, for scepticism, especially especially concerning concerning the the mannermanner whereby whereby large brands large brands are presented are presented and and maintained. maintained. Aside from Asidethe from economic the economic changes changes mentioned mentioned above, above, there are there alsoare cultural also cultural changes changes that are that are havinghaving far-reaching far-reaching effectseffects upon the upon manner the manner in which in which information information is received, is received, appreciated appreciated and processed. and processed. Every consumer Every consumer is his own is his king, own king, taster, taster, executioner executioner and victim and victim simultaneously. simultaneously. Objectivity Objectivity as the as yardstick the yardstick for voracity for voracity has has disappeared. disappeared. QualityQuality and reliability and reliability have been have been reduced reduced to empty to empty subjective subjective assertions. assertions. These These qualities qualities can only can beonly substantiated be substantiated through through the the perception perception of individual of individual observers. observers. WhereWhere previously previously the transparency the transparency of the market of the market was preached, was preached, the individual the individual perception perception of cus-of customerstomers and business and business contacts contacts is now is dominant. now dominant. We denote We denote the sum the ofsum theirofevaluations their evaluations – in the– in the absence absence of anything of anything better –better as corporate – as corporate image. image. The pedestal The pedestal has crumbled; has crumbled; the self-image the self-image is is wobbling. wobbling. Freely quoting Freely quoting Descartes, Descartes, the contemthe contemporary porary maxim maxim runs: I runs: am perceived, I am perceived, therefore therefore I am. But I am. ‘amBut I’ when ‘am I’my when expressions my expressions of communiof communication cation are notare registered, not registered, or are not or are sufficiently not sufficiently convincing? convincing? You’ve You’ve guessed guessed it: this it: is this the end is the end of being. of Diffuse being. Diffuse imagesimages are created are created that instil that instil doubt in doubt the consumer’s in the consumer’s mind. mind. Emotion Emotion of the Recipient of the Recipient In this In thesis, this thesis, corporate corporate identity’s identity’s centre centre of of gravitygravity shifts to shifts the perception to the perception of the observer. of the observer. It is notIt the is not brand, the brand, the design the design or the message or the message that determines that determines the effectiveness the effectiveness of the comof the communication. munication. It is theIt highly is the individual highly individual emotion emotion of the recipient of the recipient – customers – customers and business and business con- contacts, one’s tacts,own one’s personnel own personnel and investors and investors – that – that determines determines the effectiveness the effectiveness of the message. of the message. Attitude, Attitude, commitment commitment and recognition and recognition are theare the new key new concepts key concepts for thefor appreciation the appreciation and and acceptance acceptance of enterprises of enterprises and public and organisapublic organisations. And tions. forAnd those forwho those are who notare recognised: not recognised: there isthere no existence. is no existence. The identity The identity scenario scenario in in this diagram this diagram makes makes this clear. this clear.
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out g ab n i r b phase 1: arency transp knowledge ƒ
e in flu e
o gu t
re la t c io n o in m sh cu m ip ltu uni re cat / o ion r ig s ina lity
ec sp e r tud atti
nce pha s e3 soc ially : operate in a relev ant m anner
of ling-in l i f : e se 3 ogramm pha ations pr ic mun m tency co consis n o i t isa hor aut ess
on ati c i n ion mu osit m p tn co pro inc c d c su
wants to establish links wants to be transparent via attention to content to sympathy assessable programme aims at relevance
wants to be distinctive wants to be present via daring to sympathy ideological programme aims at appreciation
phase distinction ƒ 1: co of capa n city f struc t or d isti ion n c presenta tio tion n sym ph pat hy a of se 2 ac br : ce an pt an ce
ƒ ƒ ƒ |– strength of the brand |– innovation |– profiling
o sh t h : i e2 w as ing h p on i sit po
|– positioning |– improvement |– position of the organisation in society
appreciation ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ
the relationship between the supplier and the consumer, between the brand owner and the individual who experiences the brand.
So that we can understand the far-reaching implications of this paradigmatic shift, we must make a clear differentiation between methods and their effect, between the instruments used and their intended effect. With our professional knowledge and our perfected tools, we are generally powerfully focused on methods and techniques. Therein lies our power, and with them we measure the impact of our statements, campaigns and products. In other words: the device is correct and therefore the result must be as well.
Every purchasing decision is the result of identification. Thus much more is necessary for real communication than a medium or a channel. Communication that takes root requires a relationship between the messenger and the receiver. A form of connection is necessary, and even a degree of identification. Whomever wishes to be seen has to be felt. Whomever wishes to be heard must first be able to convince. It seems a paradox: an important degree of trust is necessary before a start can even be made with the development of a relationship between the supplier and the consumer, between the transmitter and the observer. The messenger needs to have arrived even before he has departed, and his message has to have been understood before it has even been explained. This revaluation of professional axioms can only be understood when we achieve understanding of the important transformations in culture, economics and collective consciousness.
It is through this limited approach that the confusion of ideas comes about. We confuse real presence with attention value, we register reach as impact, we speak of response when we mean unease and we talk of acceptance when there is an absence of resistance. And thus we fool ourselves. As a sector and a professional group we keep a decorum of corporate communications in existence, where in reality little more occurs than the charming configuration of a series of monologues. Identity Scenario as Perspective Still, the moment is close at hand when enterprises are going to consider the return on their investment of millions more regularly and profoundly. And primarily the lasting effect of their expenditures on their corporate campaigns and brand expressions. It is inescapable that the focus of the leading principals will – in the progress of such a re-orientation – shift considerably. Two important trends are inevitable: traditional selfprofiling (the brand scenario) will give way to identification (the identity scenario) and dissemination of information will give way to a capacity for involvement. For a considerable period already, enterprises have stopped trying to differentiate themselves by providing information about the products and services they offer. After all, the transmission of expressions does not necessarily guarantee impressions in the receiver. Knowledge and information are commodities that are taken for granted. They add very little to the experience of
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Determining Shared Values It is not the transmitter that is central in this new approach, but the values that are shared with consumers and business relations. Examples of such values are: attention for the durability of products and processes; identification with the experience of consumers and their culture of values; respect for the singularity of individuals and minorities; awareness of the human measure in both process and distribution. In positioning that is thematic and focused on experience, not only do the emphases in communication shift, there is also a question of fundamentally different parameters. The translation of values can be represented by the following concepts:
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from– information from information to emotion; to emotion; from– images from images to experience; to experience; from– attractive from attractive to affective; to affective; from– impressing from impressing to identifying; to identifying; from– impulse from impulse moments moments to relatioonreslhaitpionship development; development; from– profiling from profiling to commitment; to commitment; from– a from service a service orientated orientated to an inttoearancitnitveeractive relationship; relationship; from– comprehensiveness from comprehensiveness to credibility; to credibility; from– the from convincing the convincing to the transparent. to the transparent. This wholly This wholly different different approach approach to the commuto the communication nication between between companies companies and their andcustomtheir customers and/or ers and/or business business relations relations has far-reaching has far-reaching consequences. consequences. It demands It demands a different a different mentalmental attitude attitude from the from transmitter, the transmitter, the organisation the organisation that wishes that wishes to communicate. to communicate. NamelyNamely the capacthe capacity to listen ity to on listen all levels, on all levels, to see things to see things from the from the point ofpoint viewofofview business of business connections, connections, to receive to receive signalssignals and translate and translate them atthem any at given anymoment given moment into a newly-adapted into a newly-adapted position position and product. and product. It is It is an empathic an empathic attitude, attitude, and this and is this at odds is atwith oddsthe with the paternalistic, paternalistic, pedantic pedantic pose that pose wethat arewe accusare accustomed tomed to fromtolarge fromorganisations. large organisations. The sort The of sort of interaction interaction with consumers with consumers and stakeholders and stakeholders that that is fitting is fitting for thefor present the present time entails time entails more than more than merelymerely adjusting adjusting the communications the communications strategy; strategy; it also it requires also requires a completely a completely different different internalinternal approach approach to people to people and processes. and processes. What we What we are talking are talking about is about a change is a change of attitude, of attitude, which which will also will have alsoits have effects its effects in the area in theofarea human of human resources, resources, approach approach to customers, to customers, productproduct development development and information and information management. management. The whole The enterprise whole enterprise acquires acquires new senses, new senses, as it as it were, and were, hasand to has develop to develop new reflexes. new reflexes. Without Without that cultural that cultural change,change, according according to the identity to the identity scenario, scenario, marketing marketing communications communications will bewill a be a cosmetic cosmetic adjustment adjustment that will that merely will merely increase increase implausibility. implausibility.
Brand Identity Brand Identity IdentityIdentity outside-in outside-in inside-out inside-out based on based product on product image image based on based one’sonown one’s power own power positionposition in relative in relative sense sensepositionposition in absolute in absolute sense sense perception perception management management identityidentity management management marketing marketing communications communications organisational organisational communications communicatio Determining Determining RespectRespect and Identification and Identification The communication The communication between between transmitter transmitter and and receiver receiver becomes becomes the essence, the essence, insteadinstead of merely of merely an instrument. an instrument. It becomes It becomes an essential an essential condi- condition of tion product of product innovation innovation and theand growth the growth of the of the organisation. organisation. The market The market is no longer is no longer the outlet, the outlet, the endthe of end the pipeline, of the pipeline, but a laboratory but a laboratory for newfor new developments. developments. The absolute The absolute concepts concepts of and of about and about the brand the–brand such –assuch familiarity, as familiarity, marketmarket penetrapenetration and tion consumer and consumer loyaltyloyalty – become – become irrelevant. irrelevant. They give They way give toway the identity to the identity scenario scenario and such and such concepts concepts as attention, as attention, relevance, relevance, appreciation appreciation and commitment. and commitment. Only companies Only companies that are that able are able to position to position themselves themselves in the consciousness in the consciousness of of customers customers will bewill ablebe toable carve to out carve a durable out a durable position. position. This expresses This expresses itself initself terms in of terms respect of respect and identification. and identification. ProductProduct recognition recognition and profit and profit marginmargin follow follow almostalmost as a matter as a matter of course. of course. This This deepened deepened relationship relationship between between the transmitter the transmitter and theand receiver the receiver is characterised is characterised by equality by equality and and acceptance. acceptance. There isThere a continuous is a continuous dialogue, dialogue, and and the expressions the expressions stem authentically stem authentically and recognisaand recognisably from blya from shared a shared patternpattern of values. of values. It is clear It isthat clear that the introduction the introduction of newof products new products and services and services into such intoa such climate a climate would would be simpler be simpler than with than with the traditional the traditional approach, approach, whereby whereby the superiority the superiority of the product of the product is ‘hammered is ‘hammered into’ the into’ consumer, the consumer, so to speak, so to speak, by means by means of massive of massive campaigns campaigns and and doctrinaire doctrinaire methods. methods.
Example Example ParallelParallel to Urban to Development Urban Development To clarify To the clarify far-reaching the far-reaching significance significance of this of this paradigmatic paradigmatic shift, we shift, willwe make willamake comparison a comparison with contemporary with contemporary urban development urban development and and architecture. architecture. Until recently, Until recently, it was the it was town the town planners, planners, projectproject developers developers and house-building and house-building corporations corporations who together who together decideddecided what type what type of homes of homes were suitable were suitable for occupation, for occupation, and in and in what manner what manner cities and cities neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods should should be laid be out.laid In many out. Incountries, many countries, certainly certainly in the in the Netherlands, Netherlands, this monolithic this monolithic approach approach to the to the marketmarket led to aled discrepancy to a discrepancy between between consumer consumer demanddemand and theand provision the provision of new of housing. new housing. Ghost cities Ghostwere citiesconstructed were constructed where no where one no one felt at home felt atbecause home because the supply the supply was unilatetally was unilatetally focusedfocused on those onofthose middle of middle income,income, averageaverage family size, family average size, average need ofneed greenery of greenery and and shopping shopping facilities. facilities. The ideal Thetype ideal oftype homeof home was imposed was imposed on the market, on the market, positioned positioned from from above –above marginally – marginally stylisedstylised within the within legal the legal framework framework that prescribes that prescribes the minimum the minimum requirements requirements regarding regarding safety, safety, incidence incidence of of light, and light, insulation. and insulation. Fortunately, Fortunately, there are there are recent recent examples examples in areasinofareas municipal of municipal developdevelopment where ment it where has been it hasdemonstrated been demonstrated that a that a very different very different approach approach is possible: is possible: a modular a modular divisiondivision of homes of homes and neighbourhoods, and neighbourhoods, a a malleable malleable mix of functions, mix of functions, plots for plots individual for individual buildingbuilding designsdesigns (the ‘free (the living’ ‘free of living’ the architect of the architect Weeber) Weeber) and housing and housing units for units forms forof forms cohabiof cohabitation other tationthan other the than exclusively the exclusively modal family. modal family.