The idea is to create a brand before it has a product attached. The consultancy brings it along and then sells it to a corporation.
In this case, the brand consists of the following things:
an industry vector
a demographic vector
a cultural vector
some preliminary research
some preliminary marketing
Let’s take an example for the tech industry. The consultancy creates a brand called "plates." It has all of the things noted above. It is actually already launched. "Early adopting" consumers in the tech world know the name "plates" and it looks interesting.
Two things are true of "plates." It is sufficiently vague, at this point, that it could be used for a PDA, cell phone, even a laptop. It is sufficiently defined that it gives Motorola momentum, allowing it to remove 6 months from time to market.
Pricing should be easy. The closer the brand idea is to fully formed, the more it costs. So the corporation is buying the early work and adding their own value, or they are buying brands that are close to "turn key" ready.
But doesn’t the corporation want to define its own brands? Well, in a perfect world, yes. But with things moving as quickly as they do these days, a batton model is "indicated" as the medical people say. You don’t want to get the batton and then start running. You want someone to pull up beside you when you’re in full stride, and give it to you.
I like the idea of marketing people visiting the brand consultancy, in our factory space in Brooklyn, and say, "yeah, I will take one of those and one of those. I will put down a reserve bid on that and that. Call me when you’ve brought it along a little further. This one looks interesting, but we have to see more before we commit."
For those who believe there is or must be an organic connection between the product and its brand, this notion is a bad one. But the rest of us know that brands have their own origins, logics, and etiologies as surely as product ideas do. The connection can be made relatively late in the game without damage to either one.
Clearly this is all about cultural, branding and marketing architecture. What is the idea that is most compelling, legible, and opportune? This is a test of real marketing, because this is, mostly, exactly what marketing brings to the party, the enveloping idea that makes a technological package make irresistible sense to the consumer.