Brand strategy: Turning Japanese

Abe Dew

Brands adapting to an increasingly digital world and changing consumer behaviour can learn from the Asian model, which is based on shared values and collaboration with consumers.

Should we be concerned that our understanding of the relationship between brands and consumers, one that underpins the dominant logic of marketing and advertising, may rely on notions that face obsolescence? Traditional western branding concepts place emphasis on ownership and possession of branded goods. They reinforce a top-down dictation of brand narrative over bottom-up emergence of brand conversations, and often default to individual brand identities over those formed in social groups of networks.

These assumptions on brand identity and behaviour are challenged by the example set by digital brands. These brands are virtual, social and collective equities, where belonging rather than ownership is the basis for relationships. Their networked natures mean individualistic tools such as personification are inadequate to describe them. Physical objects are also less relevant when brands are experienced in participation. Their symbolism is virtual and community is the content most valued by their users.