Few are the brands that have true staying power.  Some keep on thanks to favorable market conditions (Standard Oil, but then woe betide the authorities!), an ongoing ability to pivot when necessary (IBM, Peugeot), or state protection (Boeing, Airbus…).  Others still survive because of a lack of strong competition (e.g very narrow niche business).  Some very unique brands seem to manage magically to perpetuate boundless love.  The forces that enable a brand to live on through the ages are a thing of mystery in that it is neither easy to predict or replicate.   There are many books written on the topic and this post is not designed to address what makes a brand endure.  The aspect I am curious to explore is the notion of momentum or latency.

The Burberry Renaissance

Some brands actually manage to live on despite themselves.  A good example might be Burberry.  After years of fatigue during the 1980s and 1990s, the brand experienced a renaissance.  Not to take anything away from the creativity and ingenuity of the parties responsible for the rebranding, the brand clearly had a latent power.  This got me to thinking about a new form of brand measurement: brand latency or perhaps better yet brand love latency.  [See here how Burberry is doing a nice job on Pinterest.]

What is brand latency?

Brand [Love] Latency would be the time it takes for a loyal user to wake up and switch to newer and better products by the competitors.  Even if Burberry had an underground following in the 80’s and 90’s, surviving thanks to its iconic macintosh, I would argue that it had a strong underlying brand latency in the collective memory.   What characterizes and/or helps perpetuate brand latency obviously depends on the category and the competitive offer.  Some categories are much more cyclical, prone to competitive incursions and rampant innovation.  Others have high barriers to entry or heavily guarded access (e.g. aeronautics).  Whatever the reasons, I was thinking it would be awfully interesting to evaluate brands according to a brand latency index.  Nielsen, it appears, has explored the space, stating in this “Media Mix Modeling” article that brand “[l]atency measures the degree to which the content sticks or how it appears in search results or other critical places in the online consumer purchase funnel.”  I also found the term used by Sam Swaminathan in a 2008 Slideshare presentation, “Leadership in the Retail Industry“.

I have two questions for you:

  1. Have you ever seen anything similar to a Brand Latency Index?  What do you think of such a concept?
  2. Which brands do you see around you today that have an evident high brand latency?

Please do leave me your thoughts or comments!

Post Scriptum (14 Sept 2012):

Ironic that right after publishing this post, Burberry Group warns about lower than expected 2Q results and the stock plummets (-20%).  It appears the problem is China’s new government will no longer encourage Burberry buying, but I am going to have suggest that there is more beneath the plaid veneer.   This will surely put Burberry’s brand latency to the test!

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