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“Brand strategy is what you want to be known for and aspire to be”: Erich Joachimsthaler

The spice mix for a strong brand architecture.

The last session of The Times of India Star FLOW fest dealt with ‘Brand Architecture: How Brands and New Business Models Create Sustainable New Growth’. The session was led by Erich Joachimsthaler, strategy, innovation and branding expert. Joachimsthaler is a combination of consultant, entrepreneur, academic, researcher, author and positive contrarian. He is the founder and CEO of Vivaldi Group, an independent strategy, brand, and innovation marketing consulting firm headquartered in New York City.

Joachimsthaler initiates the session by mentioning that branding is two pieces of work – Firstly, brand strategy - what you want to be known for and aspire to be. And then, brand architecture - all the things that come under strategy – the products, strategy among other things. “How is branding really evolving and how has it been changing?” he asks.

He pinpoints three eras saying that the buzz around technology started about 25 years ago. The first era was of the connection of information, say the search algorithm and e-commerce. Next came the wave of social media with Facebook, WeChat, etc. What followed is today’s era of hyperconnectivity – IoT, Blockchain, 5G, AI/ML.

But who is dominating the third era? It’s no one Joachimsthaler opines. There is not one company but ideas. These ideas create exponentiality of technology. He mentions that the yesteryear of branding was a ‘World of Walls’ where brands look at customers from the inside. Today it is the World of webs – where it is a lot more, about interactions and understanding consumers by getting them to participate.

He reveals the example of toys brand Lego which has ‘Joy of Building and Pride of Creation’ at its core. This is followed by Personality, Tone of voice, Symbols, Visual signatures and Rituals. The new brand Lego follows ‘AFOL’ or ‘Adult Friends Of Lego’. How the brand crowdsources ideas from users to create products for them while also rewarding them. “The brand never spent on advertising apart from a single failed campaign,” he says.

He asks next why Amazon grew suddenly after 2010. He explains that Amazon shifted to a marketplace format from being a retailer. That is third party sales providing wider product selection – low prices – fast delivery. Fifty per cent search of all products starts on Amazon, he adds.

Key takeaways:

Three ways of leveraging connectivity:

  • Network effects – brands become more valuable as more people contribute to it

  • Learning effects – As the company applies human knowledge and AI to great amounts of data they, understand consumers better

  • Viral effects – as consumers find value, they become advocates

Four things to look out for to build brands:

  • Make consumers active participants in value creation

  • Build an ecosystem not just a brand

  • Create interactivity that builds the brand

  • Personalize and integrate into people’s lives