When hearing the name of the Médicis, the mighty family from Renaissance Florence, it is almost impossible not to immediately associate them to art and architecture. But, the wealth and influence of this family are far from having their origin in aesthetics. The Médicis ran a solid banking network for almost one century, which granted them economic and political power. However, the social prestige would only come by the family’s patronage. The attitude of associating the ‘Médicis brand’ to artists like Michelangelo and Donatello gained historical sympathy, creating a positive perception and re-positioning the bankers’ image. This way, the Médicis surname became a synonym for the sponsorship of arts, in a way that there was no trace left of the family’s bankruptcy and lineage extinction. This is, undoubtedly, an evidence of the power of expression and persuasion of a brand attitude, even when made in such an intuitive way.
The centuries went by and the great financial institutions kept on betting on sponsorship as an attitude, but, this time, with well-established goals and quite definite parameters. With its support to the arts, banks like Itaú, HSBC and Unibanco create a straight connection between their brands and the universe of beauty, of the sensitive, these are inestimable values that penetrate the collective unconscious. The difference between the sponsorship carried out in the Renaissance and in the 21st century focuses on ‘how’. In our time, the concept and planning of sponsorship is made bearing certain intentions in mind, and its communication is directed in a way to strengthen the transferring of the attributes of the action towards the brand.
The concept of brand attitude as it is known today is the result of a process of observation of common points among apparently different situations. Among other examples, within the same scenario, a bank supports a cultural center; a metallurgical develops a public health project; a mining invests in an environmental program; a supermarket sponsors a marathon; and a brewery promotes musical festivals. These, at first, contrasting attitudes, when considered apart from their apparent characteristics reveal a common objective and strategy: to strengthen affection bonds between people and brands, carrying out concrete actions, not linked directly to their trade actions. The realization of this uniform essence enabled the development of a unique method for the planning of these apparently different processes.
The brand attitude is a strategy of associative communication, in the sense that it creates a process of transference of meanings between the brand and the action that it carries out, which Gareth Smith classifies, in his article Brand Image Transfer Through Sponsorship: A Consumer Learning Perspective as TIM – i.e., the Brand Image Transference –, which happens when the commercial brand and the brand of the action transfer their attributes to one another, in both senses. The better the alignment factors between these brands are planned, the more successful will be the process of value transference and the consolidation of the desired identity. The resulting strength comes from the attitude’s objective: the brand must act before talking.
A key concept for social psychology, the term ‘attitude’ comes from the Latin word aptitudinem, and represents the organization of experiences and behaviors when facing a specific situation; it stand for the connection between opinion and conduct. The attitude distinguishes the individuals between those who limit themselves to simply boasting their views of the world, and those who channel their energy to act according to how they see the world. The concrete nature of their actions confers credibility to their speech.
Likewise, the brand attitude has the basic role of granting credibility to the communication processes of the companies, in the sense that it establishes the action as its premise and the condition of speaking only about that what they do. The difference is in the object of the communication. While some brands state what they are, or that what they intend to be; others turn into reality what they are, or what they intend to be, from actions that express their essence. In practice, while one brand states that it is aligned to the lifestyle of its public, another has a direct participation on it; while one brand states it is socially responsible, another acts and places its social action within the field of perception of its public.
The brand attitude is, simultaneously, a means and a message. Attracted by an activity or subject of their interest, the people get in touch directly with the brand, which, in turn, absorbs the symbols of the activity itself or the subject to which it is associated. The attitude favors the brand experience and creates an emotional affinity.
Somehow, the Médicis already knew this.