B2B International
B2B International

December 3, 2007

Are Brands Like Caricatures?

Recent research has suggested that police may be better served by issuing comic-like caricatures of wanted suspects, rather than traditional photo-fits. A team at the University of Central Lancashire found that over-emphasising certain facial characteristics doubled the rate of correct identification.

Seth Godin speculates that the world’s most recognisable brands, like faces, may be similarly interpreted in terms of their most salient features. He writes:

The best brands are caricatures of their true selves. Yes, they must have exceptional ‘features’… but then, over time, those features become a caricature. During the formative days of Fedex, the caricature was that their drivers would even rent a helicopter to get just one package delivered on time. It’s easy to turn Starbucks’ variety and focus on your needs into a caricature as well, "half-caf, extra hot, short macchiato, extra foam, with soy, in a ceramic mug…."

This “caricatureâ€? analysis of brands may, however, just be a sub-part of a much larger influence on the value of a brand – that is, people’s general perceptions of them. Moreover, just as caricatures are abstractions of reality, so too are perceptions of brands – they’re necessarily intangible. With that in mind, here are some of Paul Hague’s thoughts on the value of brands:

Brands are vulnerable in being dependent on such intangibles as people’s perceptions of them. Building these perceptions can take many years as reputations are earned by repeated proof that a brand justifies its position. The perceptions can, however, be destroyed overnight. Perrier’s reputation took an embarrassing blow in 1990 when a North Carolina study reported having found benzene in the water. Source Perrier shifted from explanation to explanation on the issue, finally stating that it was an isolated incident of a worker having made a mistake in the filtering procedure and that the spring itself was completely unpolluted. The incident was the cause of the recall of 160 million bottles of Perrier. Imagine that you were in the process of buying Perrier at the time; it would surely have caused you to want to knock a few pounds off its price.

The above is taken from one of our white papers: Brands – How Much Are They Worth? This is just one of the many useful materials that can be found in our resources library.