Brand as genetic program

A brand is both the memory and the future of its products.
The analogy with genetic memory is central to understand how brands function and should be managed.
Indeed, the continuously developing brand memory contains the program for all future evolution, the characteristic of upcoming models and their common traits, as well as the family resemblances transcending their diverse personality.
By understanding a brand’s program, we can not only trace its legitimate territory but also the area in which it will be able to grow beyond the products that initially gave birth to it.
Observed in comparison to a living entity, the genetic program can be discovered by analysing the brand DNA, which is the essence of the brand, the seat where all the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of the brand are summarised. The main role of the brand DNA is the storage of all the information.
Brand DNA is a set of blueprints or a recipe or a code, it contains the instructions needed to construct or support the brand and its image.
It ensures stability of fundamental dispositions, attributing internal and external coherence to all the expressions and manifestations of the brand.

The brand DNA segments that carry this genetic information are known as genes. On the basis of our interpretative model of genetics, we can pinpoint and identify in the brand:

Genotype features: genotypes indicate the combination of hereditary traits, the components a brand can transmit to its offspring which do not always correspond to its visible/external attributes.

Phenotypes features: phenotypes are secondary physical attributes determined both by its genetic patrimony and by environmental influence, consequently adaptable to the extent that needs for adaptability are context-driven.

Of the two, the former represents the predominant features of the brand, permanent and unchanging, reflecting its genetic structure.
The core of the brand, constantly fuel by its progenitor, lies however in the essence that determines its distinction.
The feature or features that distinguish it from others, locus of brand value transferable over time, constitute its personality or, more specifically, its character, in terms of permanent traits.
The essence, presents an original and congenital, not easily modifiable structure.
Essence in effect, refers to how the brand functions in user scenarios and determines manifestations of personality,
conferring continuity to market experience. (In addition: in its evolutionary process, the brand’s uniqueness ends up representing a kind of objective limit, intrinsic and insurmountable save for the modification of its essential nature.
However, during the process, by means of its genotype attributes/features the progenitor can transfer its own meaning and values.)

On the contrary, phenotype attributes mainly have a temporary value; their essence is less stable and their structure precarious and transitory, socio-cultural dependent.
Examples of phenotype attributes are slogans or jingles accompanying the communications that characterise brands in the eyes/minds of the user, making them readily identifiable, engendering affection and contributing to brand recall; however, in the long-term they are subject to a semantic usury, and need restyling to update them to current taste and appeal. Phenotypes, therefore, make up the elements of brand which, in an evolutionary phase, can yield as a consequence of predetermined demands.
To correspond or to support the capacity of adaptability of these recessive features, the dispositions of which in conceptual terms are “semi external” , as regards brand DNA, the ecotype attributes come into play.
These aspects of the brand depend essentially on the different environments of development (like the adaptation of packaging on the basis of different intercultural interpretations or, the selection of testimonials or personality icons that contribute to the representation of the brand).
Treating the brand as an ecotype means to take into consideration attributes (essentially transitory) that emerge by virtue of their adaptation to the external environment and whose permanence remains functional while the brand relates to a specific community of consumers, ceasing their charge when interaction with the context ceases. Of the categories of attributes present, the ecotype features are those with less cognitive and affective persistence, in terms of “attitudes” in brands of practical utility for capturing/entertaining their clients.


From “Brand Morphology”

Simona De Rosa