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 "
- 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.