Posted by Giles Lury on September 9, 2011
Recently a client asked me for a definition of “Brand Essence”. After she said how useful she had found it I thought I would share it, as the definition of terms is a perpetual grey area for so many marketing terms. I’m therefore sure there are other definitions but this one seems to work for us.
A ‘brand essence’ is most often defined as a very short summation of brand’s DNA, its raison d’être – hence its essence. It’s normally kept short – just two or three words, though it can sometimes be a sentence. It’s not as easy as it sounds as it should capture and distil a brand into a few memorable words. At their best they may be very short but they capture the long term heart of the brand – and stay with the brand as it grows over time and as it extends into new market sectors and territories.
A watch-out however is that a brand essence is not just the latest advertising strapline. Advertising campaigns come and go while hopefully brands last a lot longer. Their essences should remain consistent if not constant over many years. An advertising strapline is one changing expression of that essence.
BMW’s essence is “Driving pleasure”. It’s a good example of how the advertising campaign may have changed but the brand essence has remained the same. BMW’s advertising recently moved away from its long term strapline of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” to the clearly more emotive “Joy”. The Wall Street Journal reported on February 14th (interesting date) that Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing at BMW for North America said: “The new ‘Joy’ campaign is a big departure for us . . . We hope to really add some humanity to our brand.”
However while the marketing men felt there was a need to add some humanity to current perceptions of the brand, this doesn’t mean the brand has fundamentally changed. Now when you consider the brand more closely you can see that ‘Joy’ is simply a re-expression of the brand’s long term purpose. Its essence and on-going commitment remains to use its engineering expertise to create great driving experiences as the following copy on the corporate website demonstrates.
“We are BMW. We don’t just build cars, we create emotions – enthusiasm, fascination, goose bumps guaranteed. Sheer driving pleasure is our top priority. And so that it never ends, we constantly reinvent it. Making it more intelligent, more efficient, more dynamic. Because joy is what drives us – this most personal of feelings, in all its many different forms: Besides sheer driving pleasure, what matters to us is the joy of owning something very special, the joy of real values such as responsibility and recognition; the joy of success and progress. And not least, the pure joy of living. Joy is BMW”.
Posted by Giles Lury on October 1, 2010
In the last couple of decades, brand extension has increasingly become marketers’ default growth strategy. Nowadays there are very few one-product brands and more and more brands stretch across categories and markets. An un-stretched brand can seem to the exception to the rule.
One category however where the jury is still out as regards to the benefits of brand stretch is the car industry.
When Mercedes announced its stretch into the small car market with the A class many were horrified. The launch of the Lexus brand as Toyota went into the luxury car market just seemed to highlight some car brands’ limitations. However Porsche‘s move into 4×4 market with the Cayenne re-opened the debate, where its success is countering the gainsayers’ initial scepticism.
But the announcement of BMW’s plans for the Mini brand seems to have opened the debate again. Mini is launching a souped up 4×4 Mini and looks like its considering Mini-vans and electric scooters, but many in the industry are not convinced: are these true Minis?
It’s a debate that highlights the key issues marketers need to think about when considering extending their brands. What is the core, the DNA of your brand and how does any extension fit with that? At The Value Engineers we have always said that ideas aren’t the only problem, structure, strategy and vision are equally if not even more important. Extension that are on brand are much more likely to succeed.
But from a business perspective it is also worth considering your organisations’ capabilities. Extension may be right for your brand but do you have the capabilities to deliver what would be required? Building new capabilities increases the cost and risk of an extension and out-sourcing or licensing your brand cuts potential margins. Using existing capabilities within your organisation (even if they are not currently used on that particular brand) has to be a better option.
So looking at the car brands it is not surprising that a number of the car brands stretch into other transportation markets – BMW do motor boats, whilst Honda’s engine expertise stretches across cars, motor bikes, boats and even lawn mowers.
So in discussing Mini’s planned extension two questions that have to be answered are:
Are they on brand?
Are they on business?
Posted by Kamil Michlewski on December 16, 2009
In my earlier post, I suggested that BMW seemed not to be sticking to a coherent brand positioning. Admittedly, this rather stark hypothesis was based on several pieces of TV advertising, not on the wealth of marketing data we would normally be reviewing. Nevertheless, I felt that there was something not entirely in order with how BMW was joining all the marketing dots.
I wasn’t hugely surprised, then, when Campaign recently posted news about BMW calling a pitch for its advertising, digital and direct marketing accounts. The article stated that “the review is part of a statutory process that requires its accounts to be pitched every five years”. It so happens that the review will also include their UK advertising account led by US agency, GSD&M Idea City, appointed earlier in the year and responsible for their latest TV campaigns.
It looks as though BMW also think that brands like theirs deserve a robust, coherent and joined-up marketing plan…
Posted by Kamil Michlewski on September 14, 2009