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The vital role of brand custodians

The importance of a well-documented brand heritage was put rather well on www.brandchannel.com:

“The most important advantage that a well-documented heritage provides is possibly its most underrated quality. It gives brand custodians a sense of history and with it an increased sense of responsibility. A brand’s heritage could reveal some of the brand’s intrinsic strengths and this knowledge could be reassuring as a booster during lean times or when the brand is under attack.

Not every brand has been around for a long time and many brands that have are not documented. Documenting the brand’s history helps give successors invaluable cues about how to act in the future. Indeed there are several brand managers who are not conscious of the need to pass on a valuable heritage to their successors. Senior management needs to develop systems that ensure that this is done for the longevity of the brand.

Brand custodians must realize that they inherit legacies created or enhanced by their predecessors and they, in turn, have a role to link the brand’s future with its history. Successes and failures must be recounted with equal candor for educating future decisions and as a possible source for ideas — successes can be found in earlier aborted plans. Either way, the future of your brand almost certainly depends on the past.”

Kartikeya Kompella is the business head of a leading DM Agency in Chennai, India. He has 10 years of varied experience in the fields of advertising, brand consulting, marketing, and online branding.

Chinese consumers want authenticity

The Economist reports that Chinese consumers are falling out of love with fakes (The Economist, 14th January 2012). Counterfeit goods are now looked down upon as more and more Chinese consumers aspire to flaunt a brand name. McKinsey found that the number of consumers who said they were willing to buy fake jewellery fell from 31% in 2008 to 12% in 2011. In other words, the authenticity of real brands, with real heritage is becoming increasingly valued.

Samsung’s success hard to copy

Samsung began as a small noodle business in 1938 and has since swelled to a network of 83 companies accounting for 13% of South Korea’s exports, becoming one of the countries most influential chaebols. Other companies, particularly those from China, are naturally keen to know the secrets of their success. However, the model will be hard to emulate; “for all its modern technology, Samsung’s story is an old one writ new – the well-run family firm, with a strong culture and a focus on the long term” (The Economist, 1st October 2011). In other words, its corporate heritage is what makes Samsung unique.

Global brands with a heritage

Brands with a heritage …. Quick! ….. your top ten:

1. The Queen (there goes my knighthood)

2. Coca-Cola

3. Rolls-Royce

4. Guinness

5. Cunard

6. Swire

7. Burberry

8. James Bond

9. Hollywood

10. Savile Row (stretching it a bit here)

Top tens are of course nonsense. But what surprised me was that after number 4 I actually had to think. Which tells me that I am either stupid or there are not a hell of a lot of brands with heritage out there that spring quickly to mind.

About Brand Heritage News

Heritage (as so many Asian cities have discovered or are in the process of discovering) is not just about history. Essentially, it is about staying true to your values.

It is no coincidence that the best-known brands in the world also have the strongest sense of their own heritage. A well-articulated corporate story is a source of inspiration for stakeholders, staff and customers alike. It is hard to imitate, embodies the original, essential values of the company and promotes continuity through all corporate messaging.

A good understanding of one’s brand heritage also acts as a touchstone to which we can return when things go astray. Rather than immediately getting brand consultants in to offer a new slant on the company, we would do better to revisit our core values first.

So, the heritage of a brand needs to be cared for as much as the heritage of a nation; in some ways more so, because people who work in a company are generally too busy or lack the expertise to worry about preserving artefacts or symbols of a company’s history. They are too busy getting on with their jobs.

But heritage is one of a company’s greatest assets and, as Asia moves centre-stage in the world economy, there will be a focus as never before on the brand heritage of Asian companies. And Brand Heritage News intends to provide a forum for discussing those trends.

We do not intend to analyse branding per se, nor are we particularly focused on heritage brands (i.e. those brands which use heritage as part of their USP) but rather the evidence of a company’s attempt to preserve and communicate a brand. This could be through a variety of channels – archive creation, books, exhibitions, video, websites or events. It could be done just effectively by a company with a history of ten years, as one with a hundred years.

 

 

Heritage is not just about history. Essentially, it is about staying true to your values. The heritage of a brand needs to be cared for as much as the heritage of a nation; in some ways more so. But heritage is one of a company's greatest assets and Brand Heritage News intends to provide a forum for discussing these trends. We do not intend to analyse branding per se, nor are we particularly focused on heritage brands (i.e. those brands which use heritage as part of their USP) but rather the evidence of any company's (young or old) attempt to preserve and communicate its brand's heritage.