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What do the Burj Khalifa and strong brands have in common?

We often use architectural metaphors to explain branding and marketing. We build brands, we bridge gaps and we construct plans.

I have long held the belief that brands on the one hand need to be focused and true to their core benefits, but at the same time need supporting strategies to ensure the core remains solid, relevant and differentiated.

I call these supporting strategies “Brand Buttressing”, and I define this as “something providing additional strengthening support to your brand’s core values”. Simply put, as in architecture where buttresses* support cathedrals or the 830m high Burj Khalifa, buttressed brands are supported by strong and relevant lateral strategies.

Essentially brand buttressing strategies fall into one of 3 groups:

1: Value for society: today sustainable supply and production are becoming increasingly important to both consumer and authorities. For example the consumer wants to know that the coffee farmer is being fairly treated, but they still want a great cup of coffee. So sustainability might not be core to the brand but without it the brand may falter.

2: Direct added value: An example I have spoken about before is functional foods: like Nestlé adding iron to Maggi bouillon cubes in West and Central Africa to counter a known iron deficiency in the population; real value being added, this time health benefits, a classic brand buttressing strategy.

3: Indirect added value: Adding services essentially can add value by supporting the brand’s central proposition. Kia cars’ ground-breaking 7 year warranty both overcomes first time Kia buyers’ fears of the unknown, but also cements (here we go again with our architectural metaphors), the cars position as reliable; they wouldn’t give the warranty if it wasn’t.

New businesses and start-ups need to consider buttressing strategies early on. Of course they need to nail their core brand essence first, but thinking early of what relevant support strategies the brand needs will help them reinforce their core values and avoid the need to retrofit later on.

Think about your brand buttressing strategies; do they support your central proposition? Is your central brand proposition strong enough in today’s world? If you would like to talk, please contact me for a no –obligation chat.

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