When writing or talking about brands, I often find myself using the term ‘brand steward’, which I admit some folks find puzzling. The reason is that I feel uncomfortable with the phrase ‘brand owner’.
When a ‘brand’ is sold, for example, what is actually transferred? It may be the business in terms of premises, or means of production or delivery, but most usually it is the intellectual property – the brand name and all that goes along with it.
There are a lot of intangibles associated with the IPR including reputation, customer expectations and a brand promise. But I suggest these intangible assets are not owned. Nobody created the emotional values and connections – they emerged from the interaction between the public and the brand.
If the company does not own the brand, then who does? Well, if we accept that the brand, the intangible assets emerge from this interaction, then the public has as much claim to ownership of the brand. Without either of these two parties – the public or the company – the brand would not exist.
It’s up to all the brand stewards to ensure the brand flourishes and that is by being sensitive and authentic to your partners in ownership – the public.