I had learnt a few years back that the word ‘brand’ is derived from an old Norse word ‘brandr’, which means ‘to burn’. This was used to denote the act of burning the names or symbols of people on their products or possessions. Livestock being branded with a red hot ‘brand spear’ is a classic example that endures till this day.
To burn a brand onto a product or possession.
To burn. A brand.
Symbolically stating that the brand is a ‘wasting asset’.
An asset, as it is definitely a thing of value. It can be readily converted into cash. And also beyond mere cash (which is an asset by itself). It is an expression of a certain value system, a set of promises, a desired experience. But wasting nevertheless. The moment the brand comes into contact with its desired target consumer, it starts depreciating. Both in value as well as in content. It throws up unwanted promises or unusable materials that are no longer relevant to the social, economic and technological developments in human life. Almost like one of those classic Greek tragedies, it walks towards its own nemesis.
Every brand on this earth has a lifespan. No brand lives forever in its original form and promise. Sometimes it can be recycled, once correctly recovered in terms of its core promise and values. That is what we call brand re-infusion or re-juvenation. That is how it keeps adding value to its stakeholders.
But it is all an attempt only to slow down the inevitable. It may happen in just 10 months. Or take 10 years. Or live for a 100. The longer the inevitable is postponed, the brand claims as being more successful.
It is up to the gatekeepers of the brand to decide whether it walks towards its nemesis head held high in passion and respect, or low in defeat.The brand of today will definitely wither away. And a new one will take its place.
(Avik Chattopadhyay is CEO - India, Saffron Brand Consultants.)