World-class commercial brands such as BMW, Coke, Disney, General Electric, and IBM, and even not-for-profit institutions such as the Red Cross, are on the journey to "brandscendence." They have enduring reasons for being yet adapt to changing circumstances and evolve over time.
In Brandscendence, author Kevin Clark uses success stories and case studies to illustrate his theory on the 3 essential elements enduring brands must manage:
1. Relevance. The organization’s or product’s enduring relevance to the customer
2. Context. The context in which the brand must adapt to cultural shifts or changing economic needs of customers over time
3. Mutual benefit. The turbocharged customer relationships that result from stakeholders’ perceived mutual benefit, which create goodwill to nurture future interactions-crucial in times of crisis
Compare and contrast BMW and the Red Cross. BMW has a recognizable phrase that captures the essence of its brand-"The Ultimate Driving Machine"-an expression about innovative personal mobility and technology leadership. The Red Cross is known around the world for providing help in emergencies and disasters to people in need without regard to borders-you might say it’s "The Ultimate Disaster Relief Experience." Both brands endure because they manage the 3 essential elements so well.
Brandscendence studies the broader role of branding and, through what Clark dubs BrandNext™, its strategic applications for the future. Chapters include industry sector analysis with exciting collaborative input from some the country’s foremost experts in business and academia who study marketing and branding.
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Kevin A. Clark is program director for brand strategy and integrated marketing for IBM Personal Computing Devices. He is the brand steward for IBM ThinkPad notebook computers and IBM ThinkCentre desktop computers. He is also president of Content Evolution™, LLC, a content creation and strategic consulting company working with not-for-profit organizations. An established authority in his field, Clark is in demand as an international lecturer, having presented his ideas at conferences and some of the world’s foremost business schools.From Publishers Weekly:
This confused primer from IBM "brand steward" Clark insists that virtually everything, not just the commercial name of a product, is a brand. The Catholic Church is a brand. The generic category "ski resort" is a brand. Einstein, Gandhi and Mother Teresa are brands. Switzerland and the Middle East are brands, while New York City is "a web of brand holons." Clark's ideas about brands are no more focused than his definition. He relates Brandscendence (a trademarked word meaning a "brand ... that goes beyond ordinary limits") to the "elements" of Relevance, Context and Mutual benefit with the equation B = (R + C) X Mb. But rest assured that "this is not a mathematical formula or a numerical expression," just a lazy association of nebulous pseudo-concepts that Clark conflates with all manner of junk science. Brands, he theorizes, partake of wave-particle duality, tap into the Jungian collective unconscious, swirl in a "spiral dynamic" of memes and "wave-like meta-memes" and sometimes constitute a "McLuhan tetradic reversal." And if people are brands, brands are people, too; a brand goes through the stages of Piagetian child development, can suffer from depression and paranoia and may cease to "care about itself or others." Intellectual pretensions aside, Clark has little in the way of useful business lessons to impart beyond a few truisms ("creating meaningful and memorable names is one of the most important jobs ... in branding"), some disorganized anecdotes about favorite brands, and the ridiculous suggestion that the Red Cross "brand" ought to think of itself as "the ultimate humanitarian experience." Clark's premise that reality is essentially identical to its shallowest marketing representations yields few insights into either reality or marketing.
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