Brand Orientation: A Mindset for Building Brands into Strategic Resources
Learning to see intangible values and symbols as resources is the necessary step in brand orientation. At certain companies, this can mean a step into a new reality - brand reality. A new way of approaching brands within companies. This is the heart of the discussion that will be pursued in this article. In the research field that deals with strategic brand management, considerable steps forward have been taken through the development of such concepts as brand equity and brand identity. Nonetheless, there has as yet been no fundamental discussion about the way in which brands are mentally approached or about the overarching conceptual frameworks that are used by companies that compete primarily via their brands. Based on experiences from case companies, including Nestlé, DuPont, Tetra Pak, Volvo, and Pharmacia Upjohn Nicorette, the critical question will be examined of how an organization's approach is affected when its brands become to an ever greater degree the hub around which operations and strategies revolve. The organization's overall goals, values, and positions come to be expressed through brands, and thus acquire an identity. Does this changed mindset mean that we must begin to rethink the market concept and challenge the assumption that "the customer is always right"? Should the guiding light of brand development always be that of "unreservedly satisfying the customer's wants and needs", no matter what the price? Experiences from the above companies show that integrity and brand competence are required in order to create, develop, and protect brands that have an identity, and not just an image.