Using Brand Taxonomies in Brand Strategy Development

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by: Idris Mootee

I got quite a few emails asking me to explain this slide further. Please bear with me as this is an important slide and not too easy to explain.

Also it is now 2am and I started at 7am this morning. I have been using it as a tool for the last ten years to help senior executives to understand how the brand strategy needs to align with the business strategy. This slide is actually dealing with how an organization wants to organize their product and services that determine the organizational boundaries so to answer the question "What business are we in?" This set the stage for brand strategy development.


There are basically four approaches one can take. This is where business strategy and brand strategy meets. Once the business strategy is clearly defined and the brand strategy needs to support that. Companies need to deicide day one the role of the brand within the context of business strategy. Example would be Intel, ING, Motorola, Tom Tom or Nintendo etc., these companies want to operate within a certain industry and the brands are identified with a specific range of products.

Some companies over time build up strong brands and these brands mean more than just their functional components. They are be either be tightly identified with the product or range of products (Nike, Coca Cola, Starbucks) or can almost be totally product-independent (Virgin, EasyJet, Sony)

There are companies whose brands are focused largely on their core functions and purposes and at the same time tightly identified with the product or range of products (Microsoft, Beck and Decker, Prada, Blackberry, Michellin, Duracell)

Back to our brand discussions, the challenge for brand management is finding ways of connecting with customers that provide value, substance, significance, meaning and usefulness beyond their current product and service definition and those offered competitively. This requires deep understanding of people’s lives. It means being smarter at developing real relationships. It also must be a dynamic process in keeping up with changes in ever changing customer wants and needs. One of the real keys to long term brand success is investing so customers like us, trust us, value us, talk about us, keep coming back to us, are willing to pay a premium for us, and choose to take us into their lives. Here’s a Nokia brand presentation which is one of the best I’ve come across. Truly articulating a desire to lift the brand to the next level. Life,Love and Lust. Enjoy.

For the most part, however, today’s organizations work against this type of brand success. Most businesses organization designs are disaggregated. Customers don’t think or act in organizational silos, but organizations do. This often blocks true understanding. How can we ever hope to understand customers when we only concern ourselves with a small part of their lives, attitudes and behaviors (that are defined by our organizational role and responsibilities)?  Brands are greater than the sum of their parts–and so too are customers. Both are sets of relationships, perceptions, meanings, actions, reactions, interactions and dialogues.


Here’s an interesting comment from Flavio Azevedo (Brazil), "Today probably we could rephrase the concept "I think therefore I exist" to "I communicate therefore I exist". This is a great theme for a brand platform either for Nokia or Ericsson. They should send Flavio a check or a at least few cool phones for this inspiration. Here are more great insights from our participants. All are really good ones. I am truly impressed. Amazing insightful…… better than many of the published books out there on this subject.

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