Brand Knowledge Basics

Why is creating brand-knowledge important?
The Coca-Cola brand was worth $68 billion in 2009, according to Interbrand. This amounted to more than 50% of the value of The Coca-Cola company. Creating valuable brands is extremely important to the company’s shareholders.

It is a knowledge economy. Brands are the currency of the knowledge economy. Brands are neither physical products nor actual services – brands are knowledge products.  Successfully creating brands is a knowledge creation process.

What is brand-knowledge? Where is brand-knowledge?
Kevin Keller defined brand knowledge as awareness of the brand name and belief about the brand image. Valuable beliefs are authentic beliefs – consistent and durable.  In addition to belief, consumer experience is an important part of brand knowledge. Consumer experience includes emotions, sensations, and activity. Using the terminology of philosophy, beliefs are “explicit” knowledge – meaning they can be put in words, and experience is “tacit” knowledge – meaning it cannot be put in words.

Brand-knowledge – both explicit and tacit brand-knowledge – primarily is created by both the consumers and the marketer. Other players in brand-knowledge creation include researchers, advertising agencies, marketing consultants, distribution channel partners, and others. Brand- knowledge is created and held both by individual people and by groups.

So, brand-knowledge includes two dimensions:
  • beliefs (explicit)  - experience (tacit) dimension
  • individual – group dimension

How to create brand-knowledge successfully?
Creating brand-knowledge is a process of transforming beliefs to experiences and experiences to beliefs. In addition, creating brand- knowledge requires that marketers exchange information with consumers and that brand-knowledge is transferred between individuals and groups within the organization.

Activating and guiding the brand-knowledge creation process requires five factors.

Context is the culture of the organization. It describes what is important to the brand-knowledge creating organization. This factor represents the purpose of the organization in creating brand-knowledge. An example of a broad context is “build brand equity”, and an example of a more specific context is adidas’ corporate mission of “help athletes achieve peak performance” (adidas, 2010).

Context must be shared by all the individuals and groups across the brand-creation process. Shared context provides a reason and a motivation to interact and advance the brand-knowledge creation process.

Vision defines the character of the brand-knowledge that the organization aims to create. Context is the energy that drives the brand-knowledge creation process, vision is the compass that keeps each brand-knowledge creation stage aligned.

Vision applies to both the beliefs and the experiences of brand-knowledge. To be an effective guide across both types of the brand-knowledge, vision includes both a literal element (for belief) and a metaphorical element (for experience). Examples of effective brand-knowledge visions that include literal and metaphorical elements are “human healthcare” (Eisai) and “the third place” (Starbucks).

Activists are the people who direct the brand-knowledge creation process. Activists interpret the overall context and vision in ways that are relevant for each group in the process in order to create vital links across groups. Activists maintain a focus on the brand-knowledge assets in order to control the scope of the brand-knowledge creation process.

Activists have a deep knowledge of their own group’s knowledge assets and capabilities. In addition, activists energetically and skillfully communicate with other groups in the process. Brand managers are important activists in brand-knowledge creation.

Assets are the brand-knowledge inputs and outputs of the brand-knowledge creation process. Assets include both beliefs (explicit) and experiences (tacit). The output from one stage of the process becomes the input for the next stage of the process. Activists manage these assets to ensure that they are appropriate in scope for the following stage.

It is obvious that assets include all the specifications that go into planning for a brand, as well as the creative output such as designs and advertising. However, assets also include the experiential brand-knowledge of all participants, such as their loyalty or engagement with the brand.

Media is the location where the brand-knowledge is created or the path by which the brand-knowledge is transferred.  It also includes the social rules that govern how the media is used.

Media includes places where participants meet as well as the social rules that govern the meetings. Media also includes the way knowledge is transferred, such as through an intranet .

See the Brand Knowledge Creation Process for more detail.