Brand Marketing Models

Beyond Purpose-Driven Brand Marketing

Beyond Purpose-Driven Brand Marketing

Beyond Purpose-Driven Brand Marketing

1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Throughout history, brand marketing has continually adapted to new technologies and shifts in consumer preferences. From simple marks of craftsmanship to complex digital campaigns, brand marketing has become a fundamental aspect of business strategy, aiming to build brand equity, loyalty, and a strong emotional connection with consumers. As consumer preferences change, so must our methods of building relationships with them.

Over the past few years, I’ve been exploring different models for brand marketing, looking for unique and memorable ways to stand out in a marketplace where nearly every organization is looking to build customer relationships.  Brand marketing, in various forms, has been around for centuries, evolving significantly over time to adapt to changes in consumer behavior, technology, and market conditions. Branding dates back to ancient times when artisans would mark their goods to signify their origin and quality. However, the more modern concept of brand marketing, focused on creating a distinct brand identity and building relationships with consumers, is more of a product of the modern industrial society.

Brand Marketing Models

To help create a new model for brand marketing, I think it’s important to understand the models and methods of those brand thought leaders have given us over the years.  Many of us already use these methods and approaches but probably don’t know where they originated. While not a complete list of all the leaders in the field, these authors represent the most influential approaches to marketing this century – including a short summary of their contributions.

Marketing Myopia (Theodore Levitt, 1960)

Theodore Levitt revolutionized the marketing field with his concept of Marketing Myopia. He challenged businesses to broaden their vision of their industries to avoid a narrow focus on selling products. Levitt argued that companies should concentrate on customer needs and adapt to changing markets rather than being product-centric. This perspective encourages organizations to redefine their missions, focus on sustainable growth, and innovate continuously to meet the evolving demands of consumers.

Marketing Management (Philip Kotler, 1967)

Kotler’s work laid out foundational marketing concepts such as the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), which became crucial tools for marketers in planning and implementing effective marketing strategies. He also stressed the importance of market research, data analysis, and the continuous evaluation of marketing efforts to ensure alignment with changing consumer preferences and market conditions. Kotler as been a prolific author over the years, publishing several books on marketing, which discuss the topics of Holistic Marketing, Social Marketing, Concept of Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP), Marketing Management, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), and the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Ethical Marketing.

Brand Equity (Kevin Lane Keller, 1993)

Keller’s brand equity model focuses on the importance of consumer knowledge about a brand. He proposed that brand equity is built through brand awareness, brand associations, perceived quality, and brand loyalty. This framework highlights how consumers’ thoughts and feelings about a brand influence its success. Keller’s Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model is a framework that outlines how to build a strong brand. It suggests that brand strength is based on four levels of brand development: brand identity (who are you?), brand meaning (what are you?), brand responses (what about you?), and brand relationships (what about you and me?). This model emphasizes developing a deep, meaningful relationship with consumers. Keller also introduced the Brand Resonance Model, which provides a detailed approach to achieving brand resonance, where consumers have a deep, psychological bond with the brand. It outlines a series of steps that brands should aim for, starting from ensuring brand identity to creating intense, active loyalty.

Brand Asset Valuator (Young & Rubicam, 1993)

The Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) model assesses a brand’s strength in the market based on four key dimensions: differentiation (the brand’s distinctiveness), relevance (the brand’s importance to consumers), esteem (how well the brand is regarded), and knowledge (how familiar and intimate consumers are with the brand). It’s a tool to measure a brand’s current and future value. The Brand Asset Valuator model asserts that these dimensions interact to build brand equity. A strong brand starts by being differentiated, which makes it relevant. As the brand proves itself over time, it gains esteem. With sustained esteem and relevance, consumers become more knowledgeable about the brand. This model guides strategic marketing decisions, tracks brand health over time, and compares a brand’s strength against competitors.

Brand Identity System (David Aaker, 1996)

Aaker introduced the Brand Identity System, emphasizing the importance of a brand’s identity in its marketing efforts. He outlined that brand identity consists of a core identity and an extended identity, which includes brand essence, brand values, and personality traits. His framework provides a structured approach to defining and managing a brand’s identity across four dimensions. The first dimension, Brand as Product, focuses on the tangible aspects of the product, including its attributes, quality, and users. The second, Brand as Organization, emphasizes the organization’s culture, values, and operational strategy. The third, Brand as Person, assigns human personality traits to the brand, influencing its communication and consumer engagement. Finally, the Brand as Symbol dimension encompasses the brand’s visual elements, such as logos and visual identity, which enhance recognition and foster emotional connections.

Marketing Holism (Philip Kotler, 2000)

Philip Kotler introduced the concept of Marketing Holism, underscoring the necessity of an integrated and holistic approach to marketing. He advocated that marketing should not be seen as a series of discrete actions or tactics but as a comprehensive system where every aspect, from product development to customer service, is interconnected. Kotler’s emphasis on creating a seamless consumer experience across all touchpoints changed how businesses approach marketing strategy, ensuring that each element works together to support the overall brand promise and meet consumer needs.

The holistic marketing concept is organized around four main components: Integrated Marketing: Ensures that all forms of communication and messages are carefully linked together, maintaining consistency across all marketing channels. Internal Marketing: Emphasizes the importance of internal processes and employee engagement as integral to delivering customer satisfaction. Relationship Marketing: Focuses on building long-term relationships with customers, stakeholders, and other partners to foster loyalty and repeat business. Socially Responsible Marketing: Recognizes the importance of social and ethical considerations in marketing practices, including the impact on the environment, society, and cultural norms.

Brand Resonance Model (Kevin Lane Keller, 2001)

The Brand Resonance Model builds on the concept of brand equity, outlining a pyramid of steps leading to brand resonance, where consumers have a deep, psychological bond with the brand. It starts with ensuring brand identity (who are you?), followed by creating meaningful brand meaning (what are you?), eliciting positive brand responses (what about you?), and culminating in brand resonance (what about you and me?). The Brand Resonance Model, a component of the CBBE Model, specifically focuses on the ultimate relationship and level of identification that a consumer has with the brand. It is depicted as a pyramid with four levels, each building upon the last: Brand Salience, Brand Performance and Brand Imagery, Brand Judgments and Brand Feelings, and Brand Resonance. The Brand Resonance Model is essentially a detailed view of the last step of the CBBE Model (Brand Relationships), detailing how to achieve intense, active loyalty and attachment between the consumer and the brand. It emphasizes the importance of not just being known, but being loved and integrated into the consumer’s lifestyle and identity.

Blue Ocean Strategy (W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, 2004)

Though not exclusively a branding theory, the Blue Ocean Strategy is influential in marketing because it advocates that businesses can succeed not by battling competitors but by creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. It encourages brands to innovate and create new demand, making the competition irrelevant. Red Oceans represent all the industries today, where companies fiercely compete for market share, and the boundaries of industries are defined and accepted. The competitive space is crowded, prospects for growth are reduced, and profits are slim. Blue Oceans, conversely, represent all the industries not in existence today – the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In Blue Oceans, demand is created rather than fought over.

Cultural Branding (Douglas Holt, 2004)

Holt argues that the most iconic brands achieve their status by acting as cultural innovators. They craft a brand myth that addresses societal tensions and desires, positioning the brand as a symbol within cultural movements. This approach sees brands as playing a role in cultural narratives and movements, creating deep emotional connections with consumers. Unlike traditional branding strategies that focus on functional benefits or emotional connections, Cultural Branding emphasizes the role of brands in fulfilling societal myths and addressing cultural tensions. Brands like Harley-Davidson, Apple, and Nike have successfully employed cultural branding strategies.

The Golden Circle (Simon Sinek, 2009)

Sinek’s Golden Circle theory posits that successful brands communicate by starting with “Why” (their purpose, cause, or belief), then explaining “How” (the process or values that differentiate them), and finally “What” (the product or service they offer). This approach aims to inspire and attract customers who share the brand’s beliefs. The Golden Circle model suggests that when organizations and leaders articulate and lead with their “Why,” they attract customers and employees who share their fundamental beliefs, creating a strong, loyal following. This is not just about transactional relationships but about forming connections on a belief level, leading to more profound and lasting success.

What’s Next in Brand Marketing

“Purpose often fails. But perhaps it is so hard to fix because this failure can come in many shapes and sizes. Purpose can fail when a brand reaches too high and tries to build a purpose that is too lofty. Here, purpose becomes the ever-feared fluff.” (Meggan Wood, Forbes Councils Member)

While countless books on marketing have been published since Sinek’s profoundly influential book Start With Why, we haven’t been introduced to any new concepts that deliver such an effective, albeit simple, new framework or model we can apply to the modern marketing ecosystem. Drawing inspiration from the great minds in branding that have come before, this is where we start to ask the question: What comes after purpose?

The answer lies in the “Adaptive Brand Ecosystems” concept, an approach that merges Aaker’s structural insights and Sinek’s purpose-driven philosophy with a strategy fit for the digital age.

Adaptive Brand Ecosystems propose a new paradigm where brands are not just purposeful entities but living, breathing organisms that adapt, engage, and evolve within their environments. Here, the brand’s essence is fluid, shaped by interactions, technological advancements, and a genuine commitment to ethical responsibility, promising a revolutionary way to connect with consumers on a level that goes beyond traditional marketing narratives.

David Aaker, often cited as the father of modern branding, introduced the concept of brand personality in his book “Building Strong Brands.” His model focuses on developing a brand as a complex entity with a distinct personality, much like a human, including traits, culture, and values. This approach is pivotal in creating deep, emotional connections with consumers. Aaker also emphasized the significance of brand equity, consisting of brand loyalty, awareness, perceived quality, and brand associations, which contribute to the value offered by a product or service.

Simon Sinek, on the other hand, introduced a simple yet profound model for inspirational leadership and marketing, encapsulated in his Golden Circle theory. He argues that successful organizations start with a clear understanding of “Why” they exist, before moving on to “How” they do what they do, and finally “What” it is they do. This “Why” centers on the purpose, cause, or belief that drives every organization. Sinek’s approach has been highly influential in purpose-driven marketing, suggesting that consumers connect more deeply with brands that have a clear, altruistic purpose beyond just profit.

Merging Aaker’s and Sinek’s perspectives offers a compelling framework for modern brand marketing. While Aaker provides the structure for building brand identity and equity, Sinek injects the soul, emphasizing the importance of starting with a purpose. However, as we explore new territories in branding, there’s an opportunity to go beyond purpose-driven marketing.

The next evolution could involve what might be termed “Adaptive Brand Ecosystems.” This concept suggests that brands should not only know their foundational purpose (Sinek’s “Why”) and have a strong, character-driven identity (Aaker’s model) but also must be adaptive, flexible, and responsive to their environment. This involves:

  1. Dynamic Engagement: Brands should constantly learn from interactions across various touchpoints, adapting messaging, and strategies in real-time based on consumer behavior and feedback.
  2. Co-creation with Consumers: Moving beyond traditional engagement, brands should foster environments where consumers contribute to the brand’s evolution, creating a more personal and invested relationship.
  3. Sustainability and Ethical Responsibility: In a time increasingly defined by social challenges, a brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices becomes part of its core identity and purpose.
  4. Technological Integration: Utilizing AI, machine learning, and other technologies not just for marketing efficiency, but to enhance the customer experience and create new ways for consumers to interact with the brand.

In this framework, brands are seen as living entities within their ecosystems, constantly evolving based on external pressures and internal innovations. This approach can create deeper, more resilient consumer connections, ensuring long-term relevance and loyalty. It’s a blend of maintaining a strong, attractive brand identity and personality while being genuinely purpose-driven and adaptable to the rapidly changing world.

The concept of an “Adaptive Brand Ecosystem” represents a modern approach to branding that acknowledges the complex, dynamic nature of today’s business environment. This approach suggests that brands must evolve from being static entities with unidirectional messaging to becoming more like living ecosystems that adapt and respond to their environments.  Like the brand and marketing models that came before, I am currently working on a visualization model to help simplify this new approach.



All stories by: kraabel