Meaningful Brands

Brand meaning is a hot topic right now. What is a ‘meaningful brand’, why is it important and how can you take it into account when building your own brand and business?

This month’s Havas media Meaningful Brands study follows hard on the heels of the BrandZ™ report from WPP.

Both are excellent studies and both place a big emphasis on the idea of ‘meaning’ in building strong brands. But why so much focus on brand meaning?

What is ‘meaning’?

The dictionary tells us that it’s about “the end, purpose, or significance of something”. But how can we measure that?

Havas measures ‘meaningful’ using 7 dimensions of personal well-being plus 5 dimensions of Collective well-being. Personal well-being includes physical, financial, organizational, intellectual, social, emotional and natural dimensions. Collective well-being encompasses ethics, environment, community, workplace and economic dimensions.

In contrast, BrandZ™ focuses on the idea that, in any category, meaningful brands ‘appeal more, generate greater “love” and meet the individual’s expectations and needs.’ It’s about making a difference to customers’ lives. There are also differences in category meaning too and BrandZ™ points to some archetypal associations with categories. Beers, for example, sharing ‘fun’ and ‘playful’ associations.

So, the two studies take slightly different approaches to measuring significance.

I’m happy to say that both are in line with opento’s approach to meaningfulness which emphasizes the emotional significance of meaning and the need to build the right bundle of conscious and non-conscious associations for your brand.

Why is it important to be meaningful?

Despite their slightly different approaches, both 'Meaningful Brands' and BrandZ™ emphasize two important aspects of meaningfulness -

        • Customer: there is a direct relationship with customer attachment (Havas) and the ability to generate desire and loyalty (BrandZ™)
        • $$$s: meaning builds financial value. BrandZ™’s top 100 outperforms the S&P500, rising twice as fast and Havas’ shows meaningful brands beat the stock market by 120%.


Where do I start to strengthen meaning for my own brand?

Both of these studies point to the importance of Purpose and making a difference in people’s lives on top of product performance.

So, start with your Brand Vision (a key building block of our Marquetypes™ approach) link it to both the underlying business model (BrandBases™) and to the type of world you aim to build with your brand (BrandWorlds™).

All three of these - business, brand and marketing - need to be in synergy. Your business model must help deliver the brand and your marketing must reflect the truth of the brand.

Meaning, value or both?

Different brands make the top 5 in each study.

BrandZ™’s top 5 brands (based on brand value) are Apple, Google, IBM, McDonalds’ and Coca-Cola whilst Havas’ top 5 meaningful brands are Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nestle and Sony.

Would you place your bets on meaningful brands or valuable brands?

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