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European Journal of Marketing 32,11/12

Modelling the components of the brand Leslie de Chernatony

1074 Received July 1997 Revised November 1997

Open University Business School, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK and

Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley Kingston University Business School, Kingston upon Thames, London, UK

European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 11/12, 1998, pp. 1074-1090, © MCB University Press, 0309-0566

Introduction With increasing recognition of the importance of brands, academics (e.g. Aaker, 1996) and practitioners (e.g. Stobart, 1994) have proposed ways of more effectively sustaining brands. Underlying such recommendations are assumptions about brand differentiation through superiority on particular aspects of the brands. As a consequence, models of the components of brands are gaining more attention among practitioners (e.g. Dyson et al., 1996) and academics (e.g. Kapferer, 1992), as a means of increasing managers’ understanding of brands and achieving sustainable differentiation. A strength of these models is that they simplify brand complexity into a small number of parts. A parallel can be seen in the literature on managerial sense making which shows how managers are able to manage complexity through developing mental models which simplify complex issues by reducing them into a smaller number of parts (Schwenk, 1988). However, consensus is lacking on the brand’s components and on their relative importance and, for commercial reasons, not all the details about practitioner models are published. A model of the components of a brand had earlier been proposed (de Chernatony, 1993a, 1993b), referred to as the “atomic model”. It has proved helpful in brand strategy workshops with managers and in MBA classes on branding but, while grounded in the branding literature, it has not been subjected to experts’ assessments. This paper reports on leading-edge brand consultants’ evaluations of this model and as a consequence proposes a revised model. We open by reviewing why managers have a tendency to develop mental models. An overview is then presented of the key published models of the components of brands. Undertaking depth interviews with 20 brand experts, we investigated their mental models of brands. We also evaluated their views about the “atomic model” and, following these interviews, we propose the more comprehensive “double vortex model” of the brand.

Rationale for mental models Mental models are assumptions or generalisations that help people understand their environment and aid decision making (Brown, 1994). They fulfil several roles, for example capturing and interpreting information (Day, 1992), filtering and organising information and predicting outcomes (Morecroft, 1992). Underpinning managers’ mental models are different frames of reference that they draw upon (Hill and Levenhagen, 1995). As a consequence, individual managers’ mental models may differ, being influenced by professional, functional, organizational, industrial and national factors (Hodgkinson and Johnson, 1994). This poses a challenge for a management team in the same organization as they strive to reconcile diverse individual mental models when working together (de Chernatony, 1996; Huff, 1990). Besides using mental models for sensemaking, managers need to communicate with others and gain their support. An important step when forming mental models for communication is the development of metaphors (Hill and Levenhagen, 1995). Metaphors enable managers in the same organisation to develop a common language, to understand their environment, and to help interpret events. Mental models are formed as a development and refinement of metaphors. Ambiguous language is replaced by more contextspecific language and the common understanding that is developed fosters more effective internal communication. As the mental models become increasingly detailed and formalized, problem solving becomes more efficient. However, models must be articulated and accepted within the organisation for them to be effective (Hill and Levenhagen, 1995). In spite of their claimed usefulness, authors have flagged potential weaknesses deriving from a too pragmatic use of mental models. For example, Barr et al. (1992) warn that models should be seen as dynamic entities: a model that fits the environment today may not be adequate tomorrow. The parsimonious nature of mental models that makes them useful as heuristics also limits their accuracy and precision (Daft and Weick, 1984; Hill and Levenhagen, 1995). Furthermore, since the actions managers take are constrained by their mental models, there is a bias in favour of actions consistent with the existing framework, encouraging incrementalism (North, 1991), and rejection of change (Day and Nedungadi, 1994). Our study was exploratory in nature, hence it would have been inappropiate to formulate hypotheses to be tested. On the other hand, from the literature regarding mental models, we had developed some expectations, or research propositions, about brand consultants having developed mental models of the elements which constitute a brand. In view of the complex nature of brands, we anticipated that brand consultants would have well-developed mental models to understand them. For example, we were aware of several consultancies having developed proprietary models of brands (see next section). As a consequence, the first research proposition we intended to investigate was:

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Proposition 1: Brand consultants have well-developed mental models to make sense of brands. From the literature review, it is unlikely that every brand consultant would have exactly the same mental model of brands. However, in view of the fact that brands are consultants’ common focus of interest, they might adhere to similar brand concepts. Therefore our study aimed to assess a second research proposition: Proposition 2: There are similarities between the components constituting brand consultants’ mental models of brands. Models of the elements constituting brands Both practitioners and academics have devised models of the elements constituting a brand. In practice, different consultancies have proprietary models which, for commercial reasons, they are reticent about fully revealing. While a more comprehensive review of the many definitions of brands can be found in de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley (1997), in Table I we give examples of some of the most recently published models. In selecting these examples, we adopted a broad definition of the term “model”, i.e. as a simplified Authors

Tangible and visual elements

Intangible elements

Aaker (1992)

Symbols and slogans

Identity, corporate brand, integrated communications, customer relationships

Bailey and Schechter (1994) Biggar and Selame (1992) DMB & B (1993)

Name, logo, colours, brand-mark, plus advertising slogan Name, trademark

de Chernatony (1993a and 1993b) (atomic model) de Chernatony and McWilliam (1989) Dyson et al. (1996) (Millward-Brown) Grossman (1994) Kapferer (1992)

Table I. Models of the brand

O’Malley (1991) Young and Rubicam (1994)

Product delivery

Positioning, brand communications

Functional capabilities, name, legal protection

User identification; opportunity to share a dream Symbolic value, service, sign of owenership, shorthand notation



Presence and performance

Relevance, advantage, bond

Distinctive name, logotype, graphics and physical design Physique Functional values Differentation

Personality, relationship, culture, refelction, self-image Social and personal values Relevance, esteem and familiarity

representation of reality, incorporating the sub-set of elements deemed to be the most critical (see Lunn, 1978). By doing so we aimed to give the reader a “feel” for the broad range of brand models in recent literature. However, to be truly so, a model should specify both the key elements in a system and the relationships between these elements (Lunn, 1978; Zaltman, 1977). The models in Table I vary widely due to: (1) the critical elements constituting brands; (2) the importance ascribed to either the tangible or intangible elements of the brand; (3) the weights attributed to specific elements within each model; and (4) the extent to which the authors discuss the relationship between the elements. For example, at one end of the spectrum, Bailey and Schechter’s (1994) and Grossman’s (1994) models are quite simplified representations of the brand. They refer solely to the tangible, visual elements of the name, logo, and product design as the components of a brand, without much discussion of deeper relationships in the structure of the brand system. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Kapferer (1992) predominately stresses emotional and representational components, noting that physique forms only the first stage in brand building. The intangible, or symbolic elements in his model refer to the beliefs and meanings created in the minds of consumers by the brand’s marketer through a mix of media and non-media elements. These symbolic elements include the brand’s personality, the way brands reinforce consumers’ self-images and brands’ abilities to represent consumers to others. In Kapferer’s categorisation, the various elements of the brand system interrelate to form a structured, integrated whole. The “atomic model” of the brand One of the models integrating both tangible and intangible elements and the relationships among them is the “atomic model” (de Chernatony, 1993a; 1993b). This conceptualises brands in terms of nine elements: (1) functional capability; (2) symbolic feature; (3) service; (4) distinctive name; (5) ownership; (6) shorthand notation; (7) legal protection; (8) risk reducer; and (9) strategic direction.

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Brands start life with distinctive names, possibly endorsed by the corporate reputation or sign of ownership. The brand’s functional capabilities become recognised and, to build a relationship with consumers, the service component becomes important. Legal protection is used to deter competitive infringement, but the symbolic feature gives the brand a personality, making it more difficult to copy. As consumer confidence increases, through skillful presentation as a risk reducer, the brand becomes associated with unique added values and becomes an effective shorthand notation representing a few high quality pieces of information facilitating rapid consumer choice. At the nucleus of the brand is strategic direction (Porter, 1985) which influences how these elements are bonded together. This model is grounded in the branding literature, but until now had not been evaluated by brand consultants. One of the aims of our research was to assess the extent to which the atomic model reflects brand consultants’ conceptions of brands. Our third research proposition was therefore that: Proposition 3: The atomic model of the brand represents a useful model and can reflect brand consultants’ conceptions of brands. Research aims and methodology In view of the way that leading-edge brand consultants are influencing tomorrow’s branding agenda, we wanted to explore how they make sense of brands and whether they have similar views about the components of brands. We were particularly concerned to gauge their views about the atomic model and to use their comments to develop an improved model, which adheres to Zaltman’s (1977) contention that it be a simplified but organised and meaningful reflection of the brand. The atomic model provides a basis for this developmental work, since it satisfies some of the criteria Lunn (1978) identified for an effective model, i.e. it provides an understanding of how brands influence behaviour, it integrates disparate concepts, and facilitates communication. In view of the exploratory nature of this research, and of the concern not to impose our preconceptions, we opted for qualitative research, which enabled us to fully explore and probe consultants’ models of brands, within their own frame of reference. While the exploratory nature and the richness of qualitative research usually entails small sample sizes (Sampson, 1986), we wanted to uncover as wide a perspective as possible. Therefore we followed Gordon and Langmaid’s (1988) suggestion about sample size and undertook 20 semistructured depth interviews with carefully selected brand consultants based in the UK. To qualify, consultants needed to specialise in advising clients about brands and had to be considered at the leading-edge of brand consultancy. Specifically, the sample was selected on the basis that they frequently present at management conferences on branding, or had written books or papers on branding, or be recommended by their peer group (only two were chosen this way). The 20 consultants were either chairmen, partners or directors in brand consultancies (9), advertising agencies (7), market research agencies (2) and

corporate communications agencies (2). Although based in the UK, all consultants worked on international projects on a regular basis. Owing to the nature of their work, the brand consultants we interviewed are exposed to a wide variety of brands and branding problems on a daily basis. Furthermore, many authors are critical of brand managers’ lack of vision about devising better branding principles (Freeling 1994; Low and Fullerton 1994; Mitchell 1994), and only a dearth of brand managers are ever cited in the management press as influential brand thinkers. This is one of the reasons why brand consultants, rather than managers, were selected at this exploratory stage of the research. However, we intend to evaluate brand managers’ opinions in future research. A topic guide was used to steer the overall interviewing process, whereby all respondents were asked several questions, including their views about the nature of brands and the elements that make up a brand, and their assessment of the atomic model of the brand. The experts’ answers to these two topics are the main thrust of this paper. Respondents were also asked other general topics on brands, such as their definitions of a “brand”, as we report in detail elsewhere (e.g. de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1997). The typical overall length of the interviews was around one hour. The interviews were taperecorded, then subsequently transcribed. Content analysis (Krippendorff, 1980) of the responses to particular questions was carried out independently by the two authors and then compared. The coefficient of agreements (i.e. the total number of agreements divided by the total number of coding decisions) was never lower than 85 percent. Experts’ views about the components of a brand Mental models of the elements of a brand The experts were asked to discuss at some length their views about the nature of brands and what elements they consider constitute a brand. From the transcripts, it was apparent that each expert was using his/her own mental model because they all found simplified ways of describing the complex nature of brands. Seventeen used models that could be described as being “category” type models, since they mentioned a few category descriptors which they then expanded into the constituting elements. For example “One has to have a core, intellectual property ... and usually that is a mixture of elements, usually a name, a slogan, signs registered or otherwise, bottle shapes, etc. ...” (brand consultant) and “There are the physical things like the name, the identity, the colour scheme and the type face ... And then there are the metaphysical things, I suppose, like the image and reputations” (brand consultant). Table II shows the mental models. Generally a low number of categories were used to describe the elements of a brand. The modal number of categories was three, and the maximum number was six. Three other consultants had different models. One brand consultant had a “cascade” type model, whereby one element caused another element, which in turn caused a further element. For example, “Behind every great brand lies a

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Table II. Experts’ models of elements constituting brand

Consultant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Mental model (Intellectual property) (product) (personality) (Tangibles) (intangibles) (Physical) (metaphysical) (brand platform) (Physical) (company behind brand) (interactive services) (Performance excellence) (ethics) (added services) Performance excellence → personality → people who care (Emotional) (rational) (Emotional) (product) (differentation) (price premium) (future vision) (renewal energy) (Product) (positioning) (Communicators about expectation) (Product) (ethics) (positioning) (Emotion) (Product image) (user image) (personality) (occasion image) (Personality) (Mechanical parts) (Name) (goodwill) (personality) (Functional) (psychological) (evaluative) (Functional) (image) (name) Metaphor of person (Functional) (emotion) (design) (price) Elements progressing through purchase/consumption chain (Functional) (identity) (place in market) (Functions) (performance) (personality) (source of authority)

great product ... 90 percent plus of a brand is the ‘What it does’, ... the nonfunctional values, the personality values, have to flow from what it is”. Another brand consultant formulated his view by building in elements as the brand proceeded through the purchasing and consumption chain, arguing that brands have to add value to consumers’ lives. An advertising consultant had a different model. He did not like the idea of conceiving a brand as a set of separate elements and drew a distinction between “the American school”, which he saw as adopting a scientific, deconstructionist perspective and “the French school”, which conceptualises brands in poetic terms, “not afraid to speak in metaphors”. Brands to him are illusions in consumers minds. By using the metaphor of the brand as a person, it can be managed, since from a particular person emanates a personality, a style of behaviour and scope for a particular relationship. These findings did not disprove our first research proposition that each brand consultant would use a particular mental model to make sense of the elements of brands. Similarities of component parts of experts’ models of brand’s elements Table III summarises the consultants’ mental models, by showing the frequency with which each element of the brand is specified.

Elements mentioned by expert

Frequency of mentions

Equivalent component in atomic model

Product functions Performance excellence Positioning/place in market Physical characteristics Design Product usage Tangibles Rational aspects

8 3 3 2 1 1 1 1

Personality Emotional values Intangibles/metaphysical Product image Occasion image User image Metaphor of person Psychological aspects

6 4 2 2 1 1 1 1

Company behind brand/source of authority Ethics Identity Vision

2 2 1 1


Name Differentation

2 1

Interactive services/services People who care

2 1

} }

} }

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Functional capabilities

Symbolic feature

Sign of ownership

Distintive name Service

Communication about expectations



Shorthand notation

Intellectual property



Legal protection

Price premium/price Brand platform Goodwill Renewal energy Mechanical parts Evaluative parts Elements in purchase/consumption chain

2 1 1 1 1 1 1


Elements not specified on the “atomic model”

Two elements receive almost universal mention, i.e.: (1) functional capabilities, relating to the brands’ tangible, rationally assessed, product performance; (2) symbolic features, such as intangible, emotionally assessed, emotional values of the brand’s personality. The next most frequently mentioned element (six experts) relates to the company behind the brand (sign of ownership). This encompasses its identity,

Table III. Experts’ unprompted views about elements constituting brands

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the authority it brings through its competencies and experience, its ethical stance, vision, employee policies and the staff. The other elements receive lower mentions. While there are commonalities within broad categories, there is no evidence of perfect similarity. There are several reasons for this. Earlier research (de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1997) reported no universally accepted definition of “the” brand among brand experts. Rather, there is a spectrum of brand definitions, which these results reflect. Second, individual consultancies have particular philosophies about brands, to which their staff adhere. Our second research proposition anticipated similarities between consultants’ conceptualisations of brands’ elements. This is partially confirmed by our findings, since while there are two elements common to virtually all consultants, there are other elements which are unique to individuals. Experts’ assessments of the atomic model of the brand Table III highlights that, with the exception of risk reducer, all of the elements of the atomic model were mentioned by the experts. However, as we later address, the experts also mentioned new elements not previously included. The atomic model was then explained and the experts were asked for their views. Of the 20 experts 17 were positive about the model, with comments such as, “it’s a very comprehensive model” (advertising consultant), “as a general model about brands it’s probably quite valuable” (brand consultant), “it sounds feasible and I think it’s a very neat way of focusing on all the different elements that are part of the branding equation” (corporate communications consultant), “as an academic model this will certainly do” (advertising consultant), “this actually reflects most brands today” (brand consultant) and “it seems to fit the fmcg [fast moving consumer goods] field” (corporate communications consultant). While being positive about this model, all these respondents expressed views about how they would fine tune the approach, as it is later considered. Of the three less positive experts, one consultant’s agency adhered to its own model, but he added “we do checklists and I recognise all these things you are talking about” (advertising consultant). Another advertising consultant explained the strengths of the metaphor model. The third brand consultant felt the model “is just taking one slice of the whole thing and describing something in a particular way”. In his opinion, brands are holistic, rather than atomistic entities which connect people’s lives with their needs. In view of the majority favourable view, our third research proposition that the atomic model is a useful model which can reflect brand consultants’ conceptualisations finds support. However, in view of the detailed probing, the model would benefit from revisions, as we next discuss. Missing elements Several consultants felt that some elements are missing. A brand consultant and an advertising consultant noted the absence of the brand’s vision and its

mission. The brand vision specifies the brand’s purpose, its philosophy and view on the world, from which evolves its mission, indicating what the brand needs to do to achieve its vision. The brand vision, argued these consultants, should excite employees, who can appreciate the role they play in brand building. As a consequence of their commitment, and ultimately pride in being associated with the brand, they take ownership of the vision and it acts as one of their motivating reasons for coming to work. A corporate communications consultant felt the sign of ownership element was not sufficiently explicit about the firm’s beliefs. Firms need a view about what is ethically important, and therefore how they expect their employees’ attitudes and behaviour to be projected through the brand. In an era of increasing brand similarity, this can provide a basis for effective brand differentiation, as seen by The Body Shop and the Co-op Bank. Two brand consultants commented that the model did not explicitly show the value systems underpinning the brand. There is an implicit notion of this through the functional, service, risk and symbolic elements. One brand consultant saw the brand’s values as “the glue to stick the vision and mission in your mind”. Another spoke about values reflecting consumers’ needs and identified functional, emotional and psychological categories of values. A further brand consultant noted that from a managerial perspective, brands are about enhancing shareholders’ value, and this is absent. The issue of the functional element was raised by a brand consultant. In his opinion, this evolved, in part, because of the firm’s heritage, giving rise to particular competencies which, while enabling the brand gain dominance, restricted brand extensions. Two experts made the point that the atomic model is static, unable to respond to market dynamics. Relevance of elements None felt that any of the elements in the model were irrelevant. Many worked their way through the elements giving their interpretation of them, for example “the shorthand notation could be the law of four syllables – any name more than four syllables gets contracted by the consumer” (brand consultant). Another criticism was the model incorrectly implied each element is equally important. A brand consultant commented that for conspicuously consumed brands, the symbolic element is particularly important. Several spoke about the importance of the elements changing as the brand develops. Others spoke about the importance of the elements varying according to the audience, in particular whether they are staff, the firm’s agencies or consumers. Relationship between the elements As Lunn (1978) observed, an effective model shows the relationship between its individual elements. There is, as some observed, a relationship between several of the elements due to the way they facilitate communication. As a brand consultant noted, the symbolic element feeds into the shorthand notation

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element. When a brand is enrobed with a personality, consumers can use it as a non-verbal communicator, portraying aspects about themselves such as mood, emotion and lifestyle. An advertising consultant spoke about the risk and shorthand elements feeding into each other, again facilitating communication. The risk reducing element interested several consultants, who felt this is a useful component which many organisations have not fully exploited. Phrased in its current form, risk reducer may, as a brand consultant discussed, be too negative a perspective, since this is not the way all consumers assess brands. The risk and symbolic elements were seen as inter-related, possibly describing the concept of life enhancement. An advertising consultant similarly felt there to be a symbiotic relationship between the risk and symbolic elements, since both relate to consumers’ emotional concerns. A market research consultant and a brand consultant took a more rational perspective on risk, talking about how the service element and the sign of ownership element reassure concerns over performance. A corporate communications consultant had a more integrated perspective on the risk element, talking about its addressing consumers’ rational and emotional concerns. Three consultants spoke about a supportive relationship between the functional and service elements, with one consultant viewing service as an extension of the functional element. Other instances where the experts identified relations between the elements are the interactions between the distinctive name, sign of ownership and shorthand notation, and the relationship between the sign of ownership and legal device. As an advertising consultant observed, “the ability of advertisers to afford to advertise their individual brands becomes more difficult and therefore the move towards pillar branding or umbrella branding becomes more attractive and moves into the shorthand notation”. Appropriateness of modelling the whole as parts Four experts raised the point that the atomic model looks at brands in terms of element parts, rather than the whole. While it may be helpful “to take it [the brand] apart to analyse it” (brand consultant), it needs to be appreciated that “all of that has to go back into just one simple box” (brand consultant) and the elements should not just be looked at in isolation, because “they must all create a gestalt, where everything supports everything else” (brand consultant). As an advertising consultant observed, these elements “can be components of a statement of brand strategy” and are “trying to define the brand in various dimensions”. A market research consultant felt the model provided a useful analysis checklist, but “you can’t paint by number. You can’t create a brand by starting at 12 o’clock and going around .... there’s a magic somewhere, there’s the alchemy that comes from combinations. Consumers relate to a brand as a whole and not these distinctive parts”. As she concluded, “I think it’s a good analytical tool, but as long as people remember that in the end it’s how these things work together that define what the brand is”. This theme was echoed by an

advertising consultant who spoke about “One is constantly trying to unlock that magic in a brand and exploit it ... There is something magical in a brand and consumers like that”. The focus of the model A final theme was whether this model centres around managers’ or consumers’ perceptions. As a brand consultant noted “all these things have an external reality, that the consumer may or may not perceive at all” due to the way their brain filters out some of the information. An advertising consultant also raised this, noting the model needs to distinguish “between what the consumer thinks it can do and what the laboratory or an independent financial adviser thinks it can do”.

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Revised model: “double vortex” brand model Taking heed of the experts’ comments led to a revised model, as shown in Figure 1. This incorporates the elements which the experts felt had been overlooked, specifically the brand vision, mission, values, the firm’s heritage and stakeholder value. Rather than the element, “sign of ownership”, this has been expanded into two components, i.e. naming policy and corporate culture. As earlier discussed, the sign of ownership element did originally cover these issues, but in view of the importance of the corporate culture as a basis for differentiation, this has been shown separately. A criticism of the original model was its static nature. This has been overcome by the analogy of the vortex. With the particles in a vortex spinning Time


Naming Functional Service Risk policy capability Reducer Crisp Legal Personality communicator


Rational Performance

Corporate Culture Heritage

Emotional Psycho-social match

Values Mission



Brand inside firm



Brand inside consumer’s mind: shorthand device

Figure 1. Double vortex brand model

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as they enter new environments, so their trajectories change. Likewise, as a firm’s brand strategy changes, and consumers gain more experience, so the importance of the various elements changes. The visual representation no longer implies that each of the seven resourcing elements (i.e. naming policy, functional capability, service, risk reducer, personality, legal device and crisp communicator) are equal. While they are all in the same plane when the vortex forms (as shown in the diagram), when different types of product field and consumer segments are encountered, the importance of each of these elements will vary, resulting in their being closer or further from each other. Several consultants felt that models become useful when they focus on specified perspectives. In view of the fact that brands are conceived inside organisations, but their success is decided by consumers’ perceptions, the left hand vortex of the revised model focuses on managers building brands and the right hand vortex is consumers’ perceptions of the brand. Inside the firm, managers craft their brand by deciding on its vision, mission and its associated values, blended with the firm’s culture and heritage which make employees proud of their roles. These strategic drivers are then implemented through a resourcing programme incorporating some, or all of the seven resourcing elements (naming policy through to crisp communicator). By having a good appreciation of the strategic drivers, and consumer behaviour, an appropriate balance of the resourcing elements can be identified. The left hand vortex is constructed on an atomistic basis. It is an analytical model which managers can use to identify the elements needed to develop their brand. However, consumers would be unlikely to deconstruct the vortex; they would consider it as a whole. Their assessment of the brand (right hand vortex) could be considered in terms of the confidence they have in the brand being right for them. The term “confidence” has been used since, as discussed in the interviews, while firms develop their brands as risk reducers, consumers may not adopt such negative perspectives. Instead, as benefit seekers, they may be more concerned about confidence in the brand enhancing an aspect of their life. Their confidence evaluation of the brand, drawing on the perceived risk literature, can be characterised by rational and emotional dimensions (Kaplan et al., 1974). The rational dimension describes the brand’s price-performance characteristics while the emotional dimension encompasses its psychological and social benefits. These consumer-based assessments relate to the brand’s positioning and personality objectives. Consumers’ rational and emotional evaluations interact with each other to influence their confidence. The importance of these dimensions would vary by product field, consumer segment and consumption situation. Furthermore, as consumers gain more experience, their confidence in these two dimensions is likely to increase. Over time, the brand becomes more entrenched in consumers’ minds. The more favourably consumers perceive the brand, the more likely it is for a trusting relationship to grow, further reinforcing positive attitudes. The overall

effect of this should enhance the value of the brand to all stakeholders, and the virtuous branding cycle in Figure 1 should self-perpetuate. Managerial implications The double vortex brand model is a useful model to help managers build and sustain their brands. Firstly, it indicates the sequential planning stages that need addressing, i.e. starting by working as a management team to formulate a vision then the brand mission, etc. Second, there is a strong linkage in terms of cause and effect between each of the stages, and if the sequential stages are followed through, it becomes easier to identify what the building blocks of the brand should be and how they are interlinked. Thirdly, because this model forces managers to consider the linkages between each stage, it should result in a more integrated brand. Fourth, this model encourages managers to adopt a more strategic approach to brand building, since if this process is followed, the tactical resourcing of the brand (i.e. the seven resources from naming policy to crisp communication) should tie in with the vision and mission. The model should encourage managers to take a more balanced approach to brand building, since once they have completed their brand plans using the left hand vortex, they then need to undertake market research to assess how their intentions are perceived by consumers. Through customer interviews, gaps between managers’ intentions for the brand and the way consumers perceive it in the right hand vortex can be identified then, if necessary, appropriate corrective action can be taken. When developing their brand plan, managers need to consider the type of relationship they want their brand to build with their customers. For example, if there is a strong emphasis on the emotional values of the brand, the relationship being sought may be one of the consumer saying to himself, “this brand helps communicate who I am”. If, though, there is an on-going investment to always be the technological leader, the relationship that might be sought could be one of “I don’t need to bother considering anything else as this brand will always be the best for my needs”. The strength of the relationship and the basis for it needs monitoring. If these do not reflect the desired relationship, thought needs to be given to adjusting the brand’s tactical resources and also fine tuning the brand’s personality. By auditing their competitors’ brands using this model, managers can better appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. From this analysis they can start to consider how their brand can better protect its market position and identify more appropriate strategies to gain more market share at their competitors’ expense. When communicating the nature of their brand to staff and to external agencies, this model facilitates communication. It can also help managers to identify any diversity in perceptions among key individuals in different departments who contribute to the brand building process.

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Conclusions It is evident that brand consultants make sense of brands using mental models. While these generally had a rational, performance element and an emotional element, the precise composition varied between experts. The atomic model of the brand was favourably received, and while it generally reflected aspects of each expert’s conceptualisation of brands, it benefited from further enhancements, resulting in the “double vortex” model. The attempt to model the elements of a complex construct such as the brand (de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley, 1997) from a manager’s perspective may appear deconstructionist, negating the holistic perspective. An analogy can be drawn with the attempts to differentiate between goods and services on the basis of deconstruction to identify the tangible and intangible elements. In the context of the goods versus services debate, Shostack (1977) objected to a demarcation between the two. Rather, she proposed a new structural definition, as combinations of discrete elements linked together in molecule-like wholes. In her own words: “Elements can be either tangibles or intangibles. The entity may have either a tangible or intangible nucleus. But the whole can only be described as having a certain dominance” (page 74). This enables the offering to be perceived in its totality, as partly tangible and partly intangible, without diminishing the importance of either characteristic. Through the concept of dominance, inferences can be drawn about the required priorities. The concept of dominance emerged from some consultants, stressing that different elements may assume different importance at different times, according to the stage of the brand’s development and depending on what side of the spectrum (i.e. manufacturer versus consumer) one was trying to model. At the same time, the concept of dominance allows the model to be stretched over different types of branding situations, ranging from umbrella to retail brands. This is because the vortex structure of the model allows different elements to take priority to suit different branding circumstances. These general considerations, along with experts’ evaluations of the atomic model have been incorporated into the more refined double vortex model. This represents an advance on the previous model in several respects. Not only does it incorporate the additional elements experts felt had been overlooked, but it also indicates the inter-related nature of variables. In particular, by addressing brands both from managers’ and consumers’ positions, the model shows the managerial building block approach to brand planning interacting with the gestalt perceptions of consumers. This is consistent with Corey (1974), who noted how consumers perceive products as configurations of interactive attributes. Furthermore, as noted earlier in the paper, the use of metaphors has been advocated by researchers as useful means for model development (e.g. Hill and Lavenhagen, 1995). Through the metaphor of the vortex, the new model provides a dynamic perspective on brands, implying that some parts of the gestalt may assume greater importance for the overall brand identity than others, depending on the stage of development of the brand strategy, and as expressed by the concept of dominance referred to above.

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