Presenting at a higher education conference in Boston last week on education branding, I was reminded of what I consider one of the best resources on brand development. A book written by Mary Jo Hatch and Majken Schultz entitled, Taking Brand Initiative. In the book the authors profile a number of recognized brands like British Airways and Lego. They also explain what they call the three waves of branding.
In wave one organizations develop a marketing mind-set around their brand. The primary focus is on an annual campaign approach. I believe many organizations, especially those in the United States have limited their view to this mind-set. They often get sucked up by wave one and never are heard from again. Once organizations realize that approach is not sustainable then they evolve to the corporate mind-set when other departments beyond the marketing department, like HR, get involved. The brand initiative starts gaining traction again.
Sustainable brands move into the third wave, the enterprise mind-set, where every internal and external stakeholder and touch point clearly understand the essence of the brand. A brand that is based on mission, core values and stakeholder engagement. To me the best examples of an enterprise mind-set brand are Red Bull, Southwest Airlines and Virgin Airlines.
Which wave is your organization experiencing now? Don't get sucked into thinking that there is only one wave. Most of your brand champions can be found swimming in waves two and three.