The idea of naming goods to distinguish them is not new. In ancient history, names and symbols were placed on bricks and pots to identify their manufacturers. Commercial societies in medieval Europe used trademarks to provide consumer safety and legal protection to the producer. At the beginning of the 16th century, whiskey distilleries transported their products in wooden barrels that had the name of the producer burned in them. Thus, the consumer had the identification of the manufacturer and avoided mistaking it for a cheaper one.
Although brands have long had a role in trade, it was only in the 20th century that they became the center of market transactions, in effect becoming worth more than the product itself. The latter can be copied by the competitor or become outdated whereas the brand is unique and can be eternal. If the product is what is made by the company, the brand is what is bought by the consumer. It is defined by the individual perception of the people and not by the company that owns it. Each individual builds its own feeling about a brand and the company has no decision-making power over that. But you can try to influence it through communication, so that a significant group of people can share the same sentiment toward the brand – which in fact makes it exist in the first place.
Scott Bedbury, a former VP of marketing for Nike and Starbucks, says “Brand is the sum of good, bad, ugly and non-strategy. Brands absorb content, images, ephemeral sensations. They become psychological concepts in the mind of the public, where they can remain forever. As such, you cannot control them completely. At best, it is possible to guide and influence them”
This effort is strategic for businesses because, in an increasingly commoditized market, the tangible benefits are not enough to attract consumers and customers. With the increasing supply of goods that are similar in price, quality, performance and distribution, the value perception and choices are guided by the affinities of individuals with brands, in both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) . The importance of the brand transcends the consumer market. Its reputation is also decisive in relation to all the company’s stakeholders – workers, suppliers, communities, governments, NGOs, etc.
“Brand is a culture and a dynamic of relations between the company / product and the community, creating value for all its stakeholders,” says Ricardo Guimarães, a consultant who helped raise branding to a strategic level in Brazil. That is why these symbolic entities have become major business assets. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM and GE are worth more than $ 50 billion. Brazilian brands: Natura, Unibanco, Petrobras, Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and Itaú range from US $ 2 to US $ 5 billion.
All the communication processes of companies today are related to the construction and strengthening of the brand, because the capital power is indicated by its perceived value and its attractiveness. Working the brand as a strategic asset guarantees the future results of a company and therefore its perpetuation. This requires authentically expressing its essence, making it tangible to its stakeholders, which leads the brand to act in the fields of its public’s interest.
When brands support, sponsor, invest or carry out social, cultural, environmental, sports, entertainment, style and behavioral actions that contain their attributes, they establish an affective relationship with people. These brand attitudes create concrete channels of involvement and participation, merging discourse with practice.
In the contemporary world, the centrality of the brand values the discipline of branding, which allows identifying and developing the basis of its differentiation. As a result, and also because of the loss of effectiveness of conventional communication models, brand attitudes have become increasingly adopted and acquired strategic character. By interacting with its audiences through causes and contents, the brand defines its position in the aspirational universe of its audiences.