Brand Development Theory | Graduation Thesis

Even though a magazine can be a brand, not every magazine is a brand (Kapferer, 2012). Therefore first it needs to be clear what a brand is and why a magazine should want to be a brand. Secondly the choice for using Kapferer’s theory will be explained and lastly his theory will be outlined in more detail.

Therefore let’s first define a brand: “All organisations should understand the brand as a: name that symbolizes a long-term engagement, crusade or commitment to a unique set of values, embedded into products, services and behaviours, which make the organization, person of product stand apart or stand out.” (Kapferer, 2012)

In short: “a brand is a name, with the power to influence” (Kapferer, 2012). A brand exists out of different elements: the brand identity, positioning and program. Where brand identity is concerned with the self, brand positioning is about the comparative set it belongs to. Together the brand identity and positioning are the brand platform as defined by Kapferer (2012). The brand identity prism can be created after examining the brand program and the product (Kapferer, 2012). The brand’s program “indicates the purpose and meaning of both former and future products.” (Kapferer, 2012)

In this sub chapter literature will be examined which displays the profound ways in which our world is changing today. The reason for this is that “a brand’s products must always belong intrinsically to their time, but in their very own way.”(Kapferer, 2012). Therefore three remarkable books that interpret those changes in our world are highlighted.

The first book that provides insight in a changing world is called “The Starfish and the Spider” about the rise of decentralized organisations: “This book is about what happens when there’s no one in charge. It’s about what happens when there’s no hierarchy. You’d think there would be disorder, even chaos. But in many arenas, a lack of traditional leadership is giving rise to powerful groups that are turning industry and society upside down. In short, there’s a revolution raging all around us.” (Brafman and Beckstorm, 2006)

The arrival of decentralized organizations, as resembled in the image on the side, has different implications for any brand and thus the organisation behind it. The most prominent are mentioned and elaborated on here: “We have entered a new world where being small can provide a fundamental economic advantage.“ (Brafman and Beckstorm, 2006). This favours new organisations over established ones. Also, as creating a magazine is a creative venture, this could provide another edge: “Starfish – decentralized – systems are wonderful incubators for creative, destructive, innovative, or crazy ideas. Anything goes. Good ideas will attract more people, and in a circle they’ll execute the plan.” (Brafman and Beckstorm, 2006). Another dimension of the decentralized system is highlighted in the following text: “Not only do people throughout a starfish have knowledge, but they also have a fundamental desire to share and to contribute. “ (Brafman and Beckstorm, 2006). In the book a starfish is used as a metaphor for a decentralized system. By adapting a decentralised approach in the organisation, one can tap into huge potential. The only thing that is necessary is that the brand facilitates this.

Though the importance of evaluation, also in a decentralised organisation, cannot be understated: “Measure, monitor and manage: When we monitor a starfish organisation, we ask questions like: How’s the circle’s health? Do members continue participating? Is the network growing? Is it spreading? Is it mutating? Is it becoming more or less decentralized?” (Brafman and Beckstorm, 2006). Failing to evaluate will result in being like a sailing boat without sail, compass and rudder.

The second book, which provides other insights as to how our world is changing and its effects, is called “A Whole New Mind”. The last hundred years our society has been shaped around: “an approach that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical.” (Pink, 2010) This is changing however.

“Three huge economic and social forces – Abundance, Asia and Automation- are nudging us in the Conceptual age.” (Pink, 2010) The effect of this is that typical right brain characteristics like: design, story, symphony, play, empathy and meaning are becoming more important. (Pink, 2010). What the most prominent implications are for OM Magazine, have been outlined below. It must be noted however that left- brain abilities will not become unnecessary; rather they operate in a balance with the right brain;

  • Not just function but also design; design is economically crucial.
  • Not just argument but also story: there is information and data all around but it is not enough for an effective argument.
  • Not just focus but also symphony: what is in great demand today isn’t analysis, it’s synthesis; seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries and being able to disparate pieces into an arresting new whole.
  • Not just logic but also empathy: what will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand (…) to force relationships and care for others.
  • Not just seriousness but also play: ample evidence points to the enormous health and professional benefits of laughter, light-heartedness, games and humour.
  • Not just accumulation but also meaning: Abundance allows us to pursue more significant desires: purpose, transcendence and spiritual fulfilment. (Pink, 2010)
    The third book to provide profound insights is called “Zero Marginal Cost Society”. In short the book argues in a compelling way: “The capitalist era is passing . . . not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm—the Collaborative Commons—is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life.” (Rifkin, 2014)

    To look ahead at the implications of such change, one has to contrast the two economic systems: “His [referring to Gandhi] concept of happiness as the optimization of one’s relationships in shared communities rather than the autonomous pursuit of individual self-interest in the marketplace reflects the new dream of quality of life that is the hallmark of a Collaborative Age.” (Rifkin, 2014) The self-interest view of human nature stands in stark contrast with the view that people want to share and contribute as also outlined before in the book The Starfish and the Spider.

    Now how does this change our behaviour as such: “In a Collaborative Commons, sellers and buyers give way to prosumers, property rights make room for open- source sharing, ownership is less important than access, markets are superseded by networks, and the marginal cost of producing information, generating energy, manufacturing products, and teaching students is nearly zero.“ (Rifkin 2014). What’s most clear is that people will become more concerned with access over ownership. This makes the case for accessibility of a brand through a growing range of channels; the great facilitator in this is of course the Internet.

As the author talks about the collaborative commons, its pretty clear for him what this means for our future: “Most conventional economists are still betting that the extreme productivity unleashed by the emerging Internet of Things—even if it speeds the economy ever closer to near zero marginal costs and the swift rise of the Collaborative Commons—will ultimately be absorbed by the capitalist system. But the reverse is much more likely. That is, the two economies will become accustomed to functioning in more of a hybrid partnership, with the Collaborative Commons increasingly becoming dominant by the mid-twenty-first century and the capitalist economy settling into a more supplementary role.” (Rifkin, 2014)

The advent of the Collaborative Age also leads us to a different kind of consciousness: “If we have passed from mythological consciousness to theological consciousness to ideological consciousness to psychological consciousness and have extended our empathic drive from blood ties to religious affiliations to national identities and associational communities, is it not possible to imagine the next leap in the human journey—a crossover into biosphere consciousness and an expansion of empathy to include the whole of the human race as our family, as well as our fellow creatures as an extension of our evolutionary family?” (Rifkin, 2014). The difference in thinking is outlined in the image on the side, a popular meme on the Internet. In this one can also recognize the centralised top-down structure and decentralised structure without hierarchy.

Ignoring this shift as an organisation might set up the brand to fail directly as the rules of the game are changing in a very profound way. Interestingly enough this also directly links to Kapferer’s (2012) argument that brands need to be inspirational although he does not look ahead, as Rifkin does very specifically.

— You can download the full theoretical chapter here.