Transform Magazine: The Death of Equity: Disposable Branding – 2022

Gregg Lipman is the managing partner of CBX, based in New York. Here he discusses the use of the word “equity” in the brand world and describes how his agency simplifies the concept.

“Equity” is a very popular word these days. By definition, “the quality of being fair and impartial” is at the forefront of many of our social discussions. Other definition of equity is “the value of property, the value of shares issued by a company” plays out both in business and in the home.

Since we’re in the business of creativity (and the adage “good artists borrow, great artists steal” applies), marketers have “borrowed” the word equity and enhanced it by putting the “mark” in front. Brand equity is the commercial value that arises from the consumer’s perception of the brand assets of a particular product or service, rather than the product itself. In terms of being proactive, we spend billions of dollars a year in this pursuit of increasing brand value.

Or so we think.

At CBX, we aim to simplify fairness by separating marketing communications into two related but distinct disciplines: core branding and campaignable branding. Each has value and each is best used when complementary.

Fundamental brand assets include the brand name; identity and system; the package (for CPG); the design of the product itself; and a retail environment. These are things that stand the test of time, either because they are an integral part of the brand and/or because they are a logistical nightmare to change.

Campaignable brand assets have a different role. They are used to boost both awareness and sales. These are more transient in nature. There is more elasticity in how they are used; they often lose value over time.

So here’s a little truth: most founding branders don’t understand campaignable assets. They can provide the assets, but they don’t necessarily know how to apply that work to advertising and promotion.

The other side of the coin is also true. Often people campaigning don’t understand the importance of fundamental branding. Fundamental assets require discipline, in their use and application. To be part of the brand’s muscle memory, these assets must be nurtured and nurtured. Their use is intentional; they become shorthand for the brand. These assets also tend to ignore short-term market reactions.

But the campaign assets are… sexier. They are measurable. Their measuring stick is eyeballs reached or revenue generated, not the qualitative measure of a “brand I trust” or a “brand that is for me…”. The visceral impact on the business prompts focus and investment in this area.

This is why today we see so much brand noise in the market. TikTok and its predecessors are now steeped in brand commercialism. The short attention span we propagate with unruly marketing teaches us that ideas and images are fleeting. The “new” is omnipresent.

To counter this “disposable branding,” we have found that marketers who leverage both core and campaignable assets in complementary ways aim to build brand equity. Mark. They know their assets and know what to do with them. They balance long-term equity building with short-term market selling.

When looking at these core strengths, ask yourself:

1) What is recognizable? 2) What is identifiable? 3) What is the relevance?

Here’s to achieving positive equity, no matter the definition.

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