Brands and Branding

Who's in Charge of the Brand?

Stewart Lewis,

Brands are managed and thought of differently now than they were a few years ago. But profound changes are happening in the mindset of consumers and other audiences which call for a more radical reappraisal.

The separation of brands from products has accelerated in the past decade. It is not that the quality of the product is ignored: thats a myth. But major brands increasingly focus efforts on associating themselves with the promise of an experience/lifestyle as Naomi Klein says1, creating a mythology powerful enough to infuse meaning into these raw objects just by signing its name. This approach has had some spectacular successes.

That trend is fine, but still leaves brand squarely in the domain of marketing, with reputation pigeon-holed in public affairs. Just as generals tend to be fighting the last war, company structures and demarcations do not keep pace with the outside world. The separation of internal and external communication functions reflects the past, not the future, and the separation of brand and reputation makes it likely that companies will miss opportunities and run into threats.