Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Brands and Ecosystems

When studying biology in high school and college, I understood ecosystems in the context of the natural world. A traditional dictionary definition might be "a system or a group of interconnected elements formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment." 

Ecosystem has become a buzzword in today's business world. In this context it means "any system or network of interconnecting and interacting parts." So, in manufacturing, each of these might be elements of the ecosystem: raw materials, component parts, energy supply, university and apprenticeship skills training programs, skilled labor, R&D, manufacturing process design, machine tooling, assembly, etc.

So, what are the most important components of a brand's ecosystem?

  • The brand management function
  • The marketing research function
  • Including a brand equity measurement system
  • Graphic designers trained in brand identity
  • Copywriters and editors
  • Other skilled professionals in a number of marketing functions - product development, product management, package design, advertising, promotion, social media, retail merchandising, brand licensing, CRM, etc.
  • Including marketing agency partners
  • The categories within which the brand is sold
  • The vehicles through which the brand is presented
  • Other products and brands with which the brand is presented or otherwise associated
  • The forums in which the brand is discussed
  • The venues where the brand is available for purchase
  • The organization's culture
  • Organization design elements that enhance the brand - recruiting criteria, organization structure, training programs, common measures, rewards and recognition, etc.
  • Internal systems and processes that support the brand's promise
  • The organization's salespeople
  • Customer service representatives
  • Technical support personnel
  • The brand's customers including its different customer segments
  • The brand's country of origin

While this is not a complete ecosystem list, I hope it points out that a brand and its perceptions and success rely on much more than the its identity and its marketing communications. Ideally, the brand manager must keep each of these in mind when managing the brand.

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