Chapter Five
Strategic Brand Management

Branding is what gets people to believe in a product and understand its values. A strong identity sends a clear message and should mean as much to customers as the business model itself.

Anne Boden, CEO and founder, Starling Bank.
‘Banking On It: How I Disrupted an Industry’.

Business Context

In this chapter, we explore the nature and meaning of brands and examine the role of strategic brand management in driving profitable growth and contributing towards stakeholder value, including consumers, channel partners, employees, suppliers and investors.

Product per se has evolved into Value Proposition which, along with effective Marketing Communications, provides the foundations of strategic brand management.

The principles of branding are well understood and thoroughly documented in the academic and practitioner literature. However, in many cases, the practice of brand management is often poorly executed. To address this, we introduce and demonstrate the practical frameworks, methodologies, processes and tools which underpin world-class brand management competencies and organisational capability.

The impact of the internet and digital technologies on traditional brand management practice is evolving in many ways, some pretty predictable, others much less so. For example, consider the extent to which social media and ‘digital marketing platforms’ such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and WhatsApp are influencing traditional brand and marketing communications strategies.

Innovative, ‘disruptive’ technology business models such as those of Airbnb, Alibaba, Amazon, Baidu, Etsy, Just Eat, Lyft and Uber should be examined from a perspective that is commonly described as born global brands.

The exciting potential of new concepts in marketing communications such as viral marketing, guerrilla marketing, ambush marketing, social media influencers etc. is briefly explored alongside an assessment of the potential pitfalls and dangers which these bring from a more traditional strategic brand management perspective.

We also explore the increasing influence of countries such as Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea etc. on global brand perceptions. So, for example, what effect does ‘Made in China’ have on the perceived brand quality of a European company that outsources its manufacturing to that country. The world’s number 1 brand, Apple, hedges its bets on this issue: ‘Designed in California. Made in China’.

Brands themselves are fragile: difficult to build, easy to destroy; think of Blackberry, Kodak, Nokia, Toys ‘R’ Us and Yahoo for contemporary examples. The recent fall from grace of the mighty VW in the ‘dirty emissions’ scandal and Boeing’s 737 Max crash disasters are guaranteed to be featured amongst the all-time classic case studies of brand destruction, particularly concerning reputational damage and failures in crisis management. Crucially, though, from a financial perspective, brands are amongst the most important assets a company can own.

We can summarise the above themes as the Paradox of Brands: brands are both extremely strong yet delicately fragile. Their strength lies in customer satisfaction and loyalty, employee engagement, channel support and shareholder value. Their fragility is rooted in poor management. While it takes a long time to build a strong brand based on trust (which is what brand loyalty reflects) it takes no time at all to destroy one. As the ancient adage reminds us, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair”.

Well-managed strong brands, coupled with the creation and launch of new value propositions and brand concepts, provide the perfect balance between generating current cash flows and securing long term profitable income and capital growth.

Indicative Content

    • The product and the brand: definitions and clarifications.
    • Key issues in global brand management.
    • The central principles of global brand management.
    • Market segmentation, target market selection and global brand positioning (aligns with Chapter Four).
    • The value proposition, integrated marketing communications and strategic brand management (aligns with Chapter Six).
    • Building and maintaining strong brands.
    • Brand architecture, essence and personality.
    • Social media, digital marketing platforms and their impact on traditional approaches to strategic brand management.
    • Integrated brand communications: route to mind (aligns with Chapter Six).
    • Trade (channel) marketing strategies: route to market.
    • Pricing strategies: route to shareholder value.
    • Financial aspects of brand management.
    • Organisation for effective global brand management (aligns with Chapter Eight).

Learning Outcomes

After studying this chapter, readers will:

    • Understand the evolution of product management towards the creation of effective value propositions and integrated marketing communications strategies to create ‘the brand’: Brand Foundations.
    • Build upon their knowledge of market segmentation and competitive positioning principles (aligns with Chapter Four): Brand Context.
    • Be able to undertake a comprehensive competitor and differential advantage brand analysis: Brand Audit.
    • Be able to analyse and close brand performance gaps: Brand Bridge.
    • Have the ability to create and manage successful global brand propositions.
    • Understand the components of brand strategy and planning.
    • Have the ability to drive brand profitability through effective market analysis and brand positioning strategies.
    • Apply the principles of strategic brand management using proven practical frameworks, methodologies, processes and tools.


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All content © Colin Edward Egan, 2023