Brands – internal v external focus

A lot of the discussions regarding branding is actually focused on the external elements, the brand communications. These are of course distinct from what the brand actually ‘is’. One often hears the media confusing, logos, liveries and packaging with the brand. But although the external dimensions are distinct from the internal properties and values of the brand they are, of course, interlinked and interdependent. Let’s consider the matrix below:

The horizontal axis represents the internal properties and values of the brand, where the vertical axis represents the external brand communications. In box ‘C’, the brand is basically weak internally, but also the brand communications are weak so it may take a while before everybody, including the brand stewards, realise the problems.

In box ‘A’ however, the brand fundamentals are still weak, but the communications are strong – we are shouting to the world about a flawed brand. Disaster is just around the corner.

Box ‘B’ is the dream ticket of course: an internally strong brand with good, sound external communication properties.

In box ‘C’, even though the externals may be weak, the brand is still fundamentally strong. Even without the sound external trappings the brand has all it needs to survive. This is the area where a makeover, or a strong communications strategy can move the brand into box ‘B’. But brands in boxes ‘A’ and ‘C’ cannot be rescued with a lick of paint – forget the externals and focus on the internals.


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