Thinking about the brand as a reputation can help us understand more clearly how to build, design, shape and protect it. A reflection born from reading Marty Neumeier’s books.

While personal reputation is a matter of its own and, as such, can be managed, commercial reputation (asset) requires the coordinated effort of multiple people with different visions and capabilities. . Today, in a rapidly changing and accelerating world, brands and branding find a lucid and interesting analysis and interpretation in Marty Neumeier’s three books “The brand gap“, “The brand flip“, “Zag“. In particular, Neumeier questions the risk/opportunity that fake news offers to the brand’s reputation.
Having control over the spread of news and therefore over the perception of the brand is rather difficult, particularly nowadays where words such as virality, connectivity, smartphone, transparency, selfie, social media, inclusiveness, disruption have become in daily use.

The central problem therefore concerns the alignment of the business strategy with the experience of consumers who, thanks to technology, have extraordinarily increased their power of judgement, criticism and choice. Brands find themselves having to relate to the external context and think of strategies to attract the attention of a heterogeneous, constantly evolving consumer.

It is a completely new, integrated, courageous and coherent marketing that must be able to listen and understand the latent needs of consumers, almost the opposite, says Neumeier, compared to the classic traditional models: customers require control over the products/services/companies they choose . We therefore move from a company-brand – consumer-company model to a company-consumer – brand – company model
Today we necessarily have to define, if not actually draw, the profile of our customers not for what they are but for what they would like to be. Just think of the perception of Google and Apple products: “Google is to make people a little smarter, Apple is to make people more creative.” .” But also to the claim of the luxury hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton which reads “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

Modern customers welcome brand communications with greater distrust, relying instead on the “F factor” or friends, family, fans, followers (Kotler).
People’s attitude towards the companies and products they come into contact with has changed: they are interested but skeptical, they want to dig deeper. . At the same time, however, companies are becoming increasingly larger, global, distant, sometimes even incomprehensible. It seems like a paradox.
Certainly the key to being successful and creating value for shareholders is, today more than ever, putting your consumers first.
To generate trust again, the brand must be authentic and express its value transparently. In this case the data helps to create a relationship with consumers, involving them, listening to them, talking to them and discussing them, making them become their fans.

Unlike the brand, branding is more manageable and controllable and includes all those marketing techniques (primarily design) that contribute to creating a single, consistently strong brand perception among the public. This control, as Neumeier says, can and must be had, to create the so-called Brand Experience, through points of contact with the consumer that are coordinated, coherent and that help express mental images and feelings.