New marketing calls for a new brand model – that is built on a social understanding of brands (click on images to enlarge).

This defines a brand as the subconscious beliefs held about anything.

It suggests that brands evolve through a continuous process, where the brain evaluates its beliefs against the instantaneous sensory input it’s receiving.

These inputs can be anything at all. Each media and message has its own characteristics affecting how much attention the person pays, how much reflection they expend on it, how likely they are to trust it etc. but the basic dynamic remains the same.

This is almost never just one-to-one, we are deeply social and the biggest influencers on brand beliefs are in herd or group conversations.

We should assume a very broad understanding of ‘conversation’ including any sensory interaction even internal dialogue.

Out of all these conversations, individual beliefs are formed – and shared group beliefs too.

A brand manager should be listening to all the conversations that relate to their brand, understanding the shared beliefs that are informing them, and looking for those ambitious, inspiring beliefs that with substantiation and effort could come to be believed by everyone.

Thinking of positioning as a shared belief has many advantages –

  • a very natural, human way to express what’s special about a brand
  • Ladders up from communication ideas, creating a platform which can inspire ideas for product design, experience, interaction etc.
  • Reflects the natural way in which brands are actually built.
  • Assumes that brands are simply another voice in the many conversations that make up everyday life.