04 FEB 2016
The brand evolution in the era of perception.
The interview to Gaetano Grizzanti for the preface of the special "Brand Communication" of magazine NC.
by Mario Garaffa
Nowadays firms must be able to sell brands, other than offering products. The difference of value, as Univisual CEO Gaetano Grizzanti explains, is crated by acting on the perceptive sphere to evoke personality, coherence and credibility, therefore turning the offer into something unique.
What drives us to choose a product compared to another? What leads us to spend more to purchase a service rather than opting for a similar, more convenient one in terms of pricing?
In order to respond to these questions, we must focus on the changes that are characterizing the business sphere. And to do this, we interviewed Gaetano Grizzanti – brand advisor and expert of the Court of Milan – Italian reference point with 30 years of experience in the sector. «The brand is the first real product that each company should sell» states Grizzanti. Except for rare exceptions, the actual differences between competitor products and services available on the market are fairly limited.
Technological progress and the ability to diffuse ‘know-how’ lead to a remarkable technical reproducibility of practically any product or service on the market. The price war and fierce international competition lead everybody or almost, from multi-national companies to small enterprises, to occupy a specific sector proposing a different product or service, however very similar to those of direct competitors.
In this situation of substantial homologation, explains Univisual CEO, «the difference of value must be built not so much on tangible and concrete aspects of the offer, but rather by intervening on values and emotions». In a single word, attention must be paid to the ‘brand’, intended – as Grizzanti writes in his book “Brand Identikit” – as conceptual entity that by ruling the mental territory of an individual, evokes a series of pre-established values, defining the positioning of the company on the market.
This is the reason why, adds the expert, «we entered in the era of perception, in the widest meaning of the term»: an era in which perceptive variables make the difference, with regards to building the value assigned to a marketing proposal, which are not tangible, literally speaking, but are able to identify a way of being and associate ideals and emotions to a specific brand, regardless of the product or service sold. In light of the above, the unconscious carries out an essential role: «thanks to scientific surveys – specifies the professor- it was confirmed that 90% of our purchase decision processes are not guided by rational cognitive principles but a series of instinctive and unconscious reactions».
Your place in the world
In brief, if the object – whether product or service – boasts a limited and defined value, than importance is given to what contains it, i.e. the brand. The “brand changing”, meaning the «transformation process of a trademark into a brand» explains Grizzanti «is a complex and articulated path aimed at evolving the brand into a representation of a way of being and thinking».
In order to proceed along this evolving axis, it is essential to develop a strong, credible, coherent and distinctive brand identity. «In fact, brands – adds Grizzanti- feature characteristics that we usually associate to individuals, such as personality or reference values. This is why every company must first of all clarify – above all to itself and then to everybody else, from consumers to stakeholders - the reason for its existence, meaning its place in the world and social role that it intends to assign to its brand».
And this role cannot be certainly limited to the simple ‘profit’ as unquestionable scope, but rather have its own utility, continues Grizzanti: «the brand, which was extremely demonized, can assume a guarantee role for the community for the simple reason that - compared to yesterday- the operativity of brand enterprises is always under the spotlights, forcing them to act correctly from a legal and ethic point of view. The main step in this sense, consists in defining what the brand thinks on the world in which it’s living, expressing a “credo” and then confirming this Credo coherently in all communications, in the various touch-points through which it connects with people».
This concept, clarifies Grizzanti, can be put into practice with a business strategy when the brand stands on the market with an independent “personality”, able indeed to take a position on themes not necessarily linked to the product: «a past example is Benetton that perhaps with the only purpose to impress the public (author’s note: once referred to as ‘hitting’ the consumer), was focusing its communications on global ethic themes, raising social awareness on delicate topics such as racism, HIV, or war. Therefore, it was not focusing on the intrinsic characteristics of the product. It was something pioneering for those times: the company was proposing clothing articles, but was actually selling a brand. I think it's fair to state that Benetton was the first real Italian case of business strategy based on the brand».
A more recent example, along these lines – continues Grizzanti – is Virgin, which operates in multiple product areas: «the brand was in fact able to expand its market, perhaps as nobody ever did before, selling an idea that could be associated to hundreds of different business in a credible way, thanks to its ability to evoke a “way of being”, independently from the products or services sold».
In brief, we can state that a brand features personality when it declares and asserts, with no fears, its way to see or perceive a particular aspect of life.
This article is taken from "Brand Communication"
enclosed to magazine "NC" no. 57 / December - January 2016