Brand: A flower or a root?


Brand: A flower or a root?

Many believe that the purpose of a brand is to attract the customers and hence build more business. It is analogous to seeing the brand as a flower, that attracts the customers like pollen carriers (bees, not to ridicule either bees or customers, in any way). Or simplified as a fruit which lays the seeds of the parent organisation into different fertile minds. The problem with this analogy is that the flower is mostly not responsible in shaping the rest of the tree. Like in Indian Aviation industry so many strong brands came and faded. This tells us that some of these brands were able to bloom and attract eyeballs but they did not have any effect on the survival of the organisations they were a part of. What affects the growth of a company is many things that are untouched by the brand like the operations, employee satisfaction, leadership's visions etc.

In other analogy we might see the brand as the roots of a company. Whatever shape and size the company grows into is essentially owing to its roots. It comes to how strong, deep and wide the roots are. A typical example would be an org like Apple or Facebook. What these companies have achieved is a result of their mandates at the very root of the company. We might call it a vision, philosophy, Ikigai, Raison d'etre or brand purpose; it sprouts out of their branches, fruits, flowers and even the brown leaf that falls in autumn. It is a ‘soul’ of this tree that builds the connection with their customers and stakeholders.

What we would like to believe, is to see a brand not as flower, not its roots, but as a DNA of a company. The DNA that ‘designs’ every little part of an organisation, in a way so unique that no other org can be designed. Every unit of the organisation - HR, Leadership, Sales, Marketing Finance, Supply Chain, Operations etc. everything is mandated by a philosophy: an expression of its brand DNA or brand genes (or brand meme to be scientifically appropriate).

The brand meme continues to be a part of the organisation with every move they make: new product development, social media strategy, hiring and firing. This drives them, it manifests in their fears and hopes, in their sales strategy, how they negotiate and how they see the competition. Everything is an expression of this core DNA. It also gets mixed (M&A) in order to survive and thrive and then there are mutations that take place for them to adopt with changing environment.

A great example of a brand as a meme would be any religion. Observe how some of the religions have survived throughout the changes in cultures and civilisations in history and we can learn a lot about brand as a meme.