Five-level Brand Leadership Model

The BBDO’s five-level brand leadership model provides a systematic approach to developing brands. This model comprises five development stages that function as building blocks for brands to reach or be elevated to.

Level 1 – Proprietary goods

At this level, the functional aspects of a product are in the foreground. Typical of a proprietary good is the fact that, though it literally has been “branded” with a label (in the physical sense), no advertising efforts is expended for it. In this context, the product is branded to indicate its provenance and affix a “seal of quality” that comes from its manufacturer. This quality pledge allows consumers to clearly associate any deviation from the expected quality with a specific manufacturer. The supplier commits itself to a pledge on which consumers can call the company at any time and which they expect – if not demand – that company to deliver.

Level 2 – Branded products

In addition to the characteristics of a proprietary good as outlined above, this level also includes success factors as yardsticks of “major brands.” Besides bearing the basic manufacturer’s mark, a branded item fulfills certain criteria such as constant, above-average quality, above-average price level and a high level of awareness created by way of advertising pressure. A branded item is characterized by the fact that it is widely distributed and enjoys major recognition on the market. One characteristic of brands at this level is the fact that, while their consumers have access to additional information, the quality of this information has achieved neither mind share nor heart share. In other words, these brands have not yet succeeded in forging emotional bonds with consumers.

Level 3 – Positioned brands

The brands clustered here are set apart by their emotional and cognitive impact on consumers in addition to their functional utility.

At this level of development, consumer attitudes and associations are extremely important. Expertise about preferences and purchase patterns, coupled with cognitive and emotive positioning efforts, is used to evoke certain associations among consumers. To this end, the consumer must, however, also interpret the message conveyed by the brand. To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality.

To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality. The result of these measures can then be seen in a product’s ability to capture a certain position on the market and hold its own against the competition.

Level 4 – Identity-building brands

This identity is the product of interplay between producer and consumer to create a suitable brand environment. The brand is integrated into the consumer’s personality.At this level of brand leadership, consumers define themselves via the brand (and the brand via its loyal customers), relying on it for self-expression and identity formation.

The suitable drivers at this level are communication tools with specific attributes – for instance, emotionality, interactivity or virtuality – that support the process of building brand identity particularly well.

Level 5 – Mythological brand

As with the level of identity-building, a “mystique brand” helps provide customers with a social orientation, and most of all with a metaphysical orientation. Increasingly, such a brand assumes the function of a guide or mentor offering insight into the meaning of life, helping consumers better process the social and the existential, and offering them support when it comes to finding their place within the “collective self.”

No drivers can be identified for this level because the timeframe for brand development is extremely long and special societal factors are indispensable. This brand status is not desirable for all brands and can only be achieved in isolated cases. A brand at this level, virtually having attained a cult or “religious” status, is difficult to manage; the danger of falling down to earth is extremely high due to the risk of disappointing followers or alienating a portion of them. In addition, such a brand is vulnerable to potential value shifts within a society that are completely beyond a company’s control.

One thought on “Five-level Brand Leadership Model

  1. Interesting reading. What is your position on proprietary brands in the U.S. currently and where do you see proprietary brands in 10 years.

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