Saturday, February 23, 2008

Applying Aristotle's Philosophy to Branding!

"More than hard assets, branding has more to do with the soft assets of an entity (generally a product or a service)". This statement looks very obvious today. But this was not always this obvious.

Branding as a subject has evolved over the years and with time marketers have realised that more than the product attributes or functional benefits, a brand connects more with the consumers on the dimensions of Brand Value. This was conspicuously noted when there was a hue and cry in the USA over the replacement of their favourite Coke by New Coke. The issue was not just about a drink that now tasted differently, it was about the value system that the brand loyalists believed in!

But in the early days of branding, it was the hard assets that were given much more significance. And this approach traces its roots to the Aristotle way of thinking. The entire western way of thinking traces its roots to Aristotle.

Aristotle said that every entity has Four Causes: Material, Efficient, Formal and Final. Applying this to branding, Aristotle's Four Causes of Branding would be:
1. Material Cause: What is the brand physically?
2. Efficient Cause: Who makes the product/service?
3. Formal Cause: What makes it identifiable to the world?
4. Final Cause: Which is the ulimate reason for its being?

Applying this to the brand Diet Coke (as per the book 'The Philosophy of Branding' by Thom Braun)"

1. Material Cause: Carbonated Drink
2. Efficient Cause: Coca Cola
3. Formal Cause: Characteristic Pack Design
4. Final Cause: Cool Refreshment with no Sugar

As one can see from this, it is only the hard assets that are stressed upon. And imagine, it was this approach that marketers would have initially started with! Thankg God we have come a long way since then!

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