a Branding Taxonomy
Zyman Institute of Brand Science is establishing a Taxonomy of
a Taxonomy of Branding
Taxonomies are hierarchical classification systems that organize
the world around us. By placing things into similar groupings
we can better understand them. Most anything can be classified
into a taxonomy, whether it's animate objects, inanimate objects,
places, events, and the like.
well known taxonomy is the Animal Kingdom, which includes more
than one million living species grouped into more than 30 phyla.
This Linnaean Taxonomy, named for its 18th century creator Carolus
Linnaeus, structures living organisms into the hierarchical categories
of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus, and Species.
For example, in the Linnaean Taxonomy, the common dog is classified
Kingdom: Animalia >
Phylum: Chordata >
Class: Mammalia >
Order: Carnivora >
Genus: Canis >
Brands management is a complex and multifarious beast. Not as
easily classified as canis familiaris.
Taxonomy of Branding
bring some order to the issues and to offer a method of retrieving
information on specific issues we, at ZIBS, are developing a Taxonomy
of Branding. In doing so, we wanted to make sure the organization
of the taxonomy was diverse enough to handle the multiplicity
of issues without being too overly elaborate. This requires striking
is a tree structured classification for a set of objects. At the
top of this tree is the single parent classifier, called a root
node, that covers all objects. Branches of the tree split off
into separate nodes, which represent subsets of the nodes above
them. Nodes which contain sub-nodes are called parent nodes. The
sub-node of a parent node is called a child node. A node that
is below the root node that contains a child node is called a
branch node. And a node without a child is a leaf node. Trees
can be complex, like the Family Tree of Greek Gods, with its interwoven
linking of relationships. However, for our purposes the taxonomy
for brand science should be parsimonious.
accomplish this objective we limited the breadth and depth of
the taxonomic structure. The nodes in the Taxonomy of Branding
do not extend beyond two child nodes from the root node. And the
number of branch nodes beneath the root node is limited to seven.
Things grouped in seven work well for remembering them. Do you
ever wonder why telephone numbers consist of seven digits? This
is because people generally can remember seven things at a time,
but have difficulty when the number exceeds seven. This phenomenon
is known as the rule of seven.
Perspectives on Branding
Our taxonomy's first branch node is Perspectives on Branding.
This category contains two child nodes; Branding History,
and Benefits of Branding. Branding History holds any content
relating to the history and pre-history of brand management. Studying
the past helps separate stories that are still relevant to the
practice from other simply colorful stories. The Benefits of Branding
leaf node is for content that generally covers why we brand. This
is the category where broad overviews of branding are accommodated.
Building Brand Assets
Under Building Brand Assets we have five child nodes. The first,
Brand Strategy, covers issues like choosing where and how
to develop brands. Issues involving competitive insights, segmentation,
targeting, and positioning fit here. The second, Resource Allocation,
covers both the financial and organizational issues in support
of brands. Global organization management issues would fit here.
The third, Brand Lifecycle Management, covers issues for
managing persistently profitable brands from inception to launch,
growth, maturing, decline, revitalization, and retirement. The
fourth, Marketing Programs, involves all the go-to-market
integrated marketing communications programs for the brand. This
includes both programs that focus on internal (employees, management)
and external audiences (consumers, channel). The fifth, Operations
Management and Brands, focuses on the issues relating to how
branding integrates with all the value creation components of
a firm's value chain, and its value net. The value chain includes
all the activities a firm performs in adding value to products
and services that it produces. Whereas, the value net expands
past firm's the value chain (internal activities) to cover the
orchestration of its network of partners in the supply chain and
Brand Strength Assessment
Brand strength is a measure of how a brand performs in the market.
It refers to the set of attitudes and behaviors on the part of
the brand's customers, channel members that enable the brand to
enjoy a sustainable and differentiated competitive advantage.
Under this classification there are two leaf nodes. The first,
Customer Focused Metrics, are measures of brand strength
amongst those responsible for purchasing the brand, those responsible
for influencing the purchase decision, and the end user who is
the ultimate consumer. The second, Channel Focused Metrics,
covers measurements of brand strength as they relate to channel
partners. We are using an expanded definition as this includes
both upstream (supply chain) and downstream (demand chain) partners.
There are three child nodes under Brand Performance. The first,
Market Place Performance, covers issues of measuring the
market results such as market share, channel share, profit share,
and share of customer. The second, Ability to Manage Price
Competition, covers issues on how and whether brands differentiate
offers saliently. In the world of competition there are two basic
forms of competing; price based competition and differentiated
competition. Brands are ultimately a form of differentiation and
therefore in essence should impact price competition. The third,
Brand Equity Metrics, cover the various methodologies for
measuring brand equity. In an ideal world there would be non-overlapping
nodes, but for this one there is some overlap here with the Brand
Strength Assessment category, and the following Brand Valuation
Brand valuation is the placement of a financial value on a brand.
The first leaf node, Brand Valuation Methods, focuses on
the various techniques that have been developed to measure the
financial value of a brand. The second, Impact of Brands on
Shareholder Value, covers issues specific to shareholders
and how they value, or should value brands.
Sector Specific Issues
Some branding issues are particular to specific industry sectors.
We have created five subcategories for this category. The first
two are for Business to Consumer (B2C), and Business
to Business (B2B) branding issues. We further breakout two
areas, due to the interest at the Institute in these particular
sectors. These are Technology Branding and Services
Branding. Of particular interest in the Services Branding
category are the sectors of financial services and health care.
The last category is Other. This is the catch-all for pertinent
branding issues that face public services (government), non-profit,
nations, and individuals.
Exemplars on Branding
It is always helpful to learn from our collective experience.
This keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel. The Exemplars
on Branding classifier contains three child nodes. The first,
Case Studies, covers published case studies as they relate
to branding. Case studies used in teaching often contain a variety
of useful information on issues facing a firm. The second child
node is Branding Mistakes. To learn from our mistakes we
must retain information about these missteps and hold them aloft.
And the third child node, Branding Best Practices, covers
the best of the best. At times a firm innovates to manage brands
better than anyone else and this is where those issues are retained.
Life of a Taxonomy
This Taxonomy of Branding is constructive in organizing information
about branding. The taxonomy contains meaningful categories. It
favors parsimony versus complexity. In general, a simpler scheme
is preferable as it makes using it accessible. However, as Einstein
reminds us "everything should be as simple as possible, but
not simpler." We do not want to over simplify and that is
where value-in-use will be our acid test. In essence, a taxonomy
has a life of its own. As science advances a taxonomy is designed
to change with it. For example, with the advent of genomics the
Linnaeus Taxonomy has adapted. In 1990, based on new discoveries
showing the relationships between species it was proposed that
the bipartite prokaryote-eukaryote view of life be replaced with
a tripartite super kingdom scheme of bacteria, archaea, and eucarya.
Similarly, it is quite possible that this Taxonomy of Branding
will transform as advances are made and as demands are placed
Thomas is the Director of Programs for the Zyman Institute
of Brand Science. He is passionate about driving innovation
in the practice of brand management. He has worked for Fortune
500 companies, consulted to a wide array of clients, and holds
an MBA from the University of Texas.