Blast artBrands over the past few centuries have been formed based on a number of factors. Long ago brands identified a craftsman’s work and were part of his or her name giving recognition to the person who made the product.

As the world evolved and these skilled artisans came to America, brands were developed for larger businesses that took advantage of these skills to develop products that highlighted the feature and benefits of the products produced.  These assets were leveraged to create brands that fought to differentiate themselves based on tangible assets that they could defend over long periods of time.
Once large retail was created branding took on another look, the look of what is considered a “traders” mentality.  This is where merchants traded in more commodities and while features and benefits were still important, they became more of an ingredient rather than the driving force behind products and “value“ sometimes became a larger factor in decision making.

With the launch of the internet, information regarding products that were out of the hands of the people making these items drove brands to become part of communities to plead their cases to consumers as well as making brands evolve once again.

In brand’s most recent iteration, they have created or become important to communities of influencers and their followers.  Brands that haven’t adapted to a more passive selling structure, one with a defined purpose that engages its customers, are risking being looked at as not understanding the needs and desires of these powerful groups.

Companies like BMW have moved forward with this idea to build brands that are set on a brand that delivers purpose.  There focus on having a vehicle that delivers the “ultimate driving experience” demonstrates that it as much about the excitement their vehicles provide as it is about horsepower.  Evan longtime retailers like Walmart moved from a message of “Every day low prices on the brands you trust”  to be more reflective of their core customer. Its current state of “Save Money. Live better” goes well beyond the obvious.  Being true their purpose Walmart has created a variety of programs that help their communities, customers and employees “Live Better” through social programs as well as becoming good social citizens within their communities with environmentally conscious initiatives that focus on the greater good rather than the bottom line.

Other brands such as Patagonia, have gone a step further by sponsoring and promoting programs that are a direct reflection of their core market.  They have also created a deep relationship with their customers by having a genuine understanding of not only their social commitments, they also have compassion for the challenges that face their core customer. They do everything they can to become part of the culture, not just an outsider selling products.

Going forward brands will have increasing pressure to align with the culture in which they intend to market to.  Advertising’s role will continue to decrease as channels continue to fragment.  Markets will continue to become communities where they will have the power to choose who is in or out.  In certain cases, causes will become equal if not more important than traditional features and benefits.  As these requirements become more of a necessity than an option, companies that can identify their purpose will have the upper hand in being invited into the new community-based brand platform where they will have the advantage over lagging competitors.Blast art

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