Driving Long-Term Growth: The Value of Brand Strategy in 2018

What is a brand? 

Answering this question — whether conceptually or focused to a specific company — can be extraordinarily daunting. A brand isn’t a logo, a set of visual guidelines, an advertising campaign, or the name of a business. It’s a vague entity that sits somewhere above all of these things. It’s a gut feeling, an affinity — an idea someone, somewhere, wants to be part of.

This intangibility means it can be particularly challenging for some marketers to rationalize an investment in brand. Many businesses understand how to effectively market their product or services: publicity, effective communications, and other tried-and-true methods. Companies tend to appreciate the ROI of paid search and media, specific types of promotions, and even the value of a streamlined customer experience. But all of these initiatives are short-sighted if they aren’t drive by a larger brand strategy.

A study conducted by Millward Brown and BrandZ looked at 10 years of valuation data from the world’s top 100 brands. Brands that had good advertising but weaker branding grew just 27% in ten years. In stark contrast, brands that had both strong advertising and strong branding grew by 168%. What does that look like in practice? Coke’s market cap is $120 billion bigger than it would be if the same product had a different label because of its brand.

While promotional activities such as those listed above are effective ways to drive revenue, sales and even temporary awareness, any company that isn’t investing in their brand is missing an extraordinary opportunity for greater value. When it comes to long-term growth, there is no argument that investment in brand is crucial.¹

But what does investment in brand actually mean?

What it looks like: The Four Phases of Brand Building

1. Differentiate

You can’t have strong branding without strong understanding of your brand. Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter? Position yourself to clearly stand out from the landscape by knowing and showing who you are.

What that means:

  • Develop a Brand Strategy that looks at industry trends/best practices, company heritage, product/offering, consumer insights, competitive landscape and more.
  • Use these findings to build a concise, clear, and impactful Brand Platform that differentiates your offering and outlines your reason for being and promise to your customers.

2. Codify

Once you have deep understanding of your brand, the next step is thinking through how it actually comes to life from a customer’s perspective; put careful thought into an overall look-and-feel for your brand and then develop guidelines so that you offer unity and cohesion everywhere you exist.

What that means:

  • Develop a Visual and Verbal Identity that serves as a manifestation of your positioning.
  • Partner with a great team to create Brand Guidelines that offer clear guidance for how your brand comes to life in the world.

3. Generate

Having guidelines doesn’t mean anything until you implement them across your touch-points. Ensure every single one of your initiatives serves, on some level, as a proof point of your overall brand.

What that means:

  • Update your touch-points to reflect your positioning and brand guidelines. From website, to campaigns, to collateral to point of sale, everything should come from the same look-and-feel.
  • Evaluate your initiatives and activities to ensure they live up to your brand promise.

4. Cultivate

Continuous brand management means delivering on your brand on an ongoing basis. Branding isn’t a one-stop effort; continual reinforcement of positioning and guidelines will set you on a sure-fire path to growing a passionate group of brand advocates.

What that means:

  • Dedicating individuals within your organization to brand management
  • Ensuring future initiatives and touch-points take brand into account
  • Ongoing effort into campaigns, CRM, partnerships and beyond

 


Footnotes:
  1. Due Credence to The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier
Image Sources:
1: https://www.throwbacks.com/cindy-crawford-pepsi/
2: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/70s-soft-drink-slogans-benjamin-yeager.html?product=art-print
3: http://blog.medialabs.in/2015/08/20/components-that-build-a-strong-brand-strategy/
4: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/vintage-coca-cola-bottle-advertisements
5: http://jordansdaily.com/2016/05/19/vintage-gear-michael-jordan-mcdonalds-fry-fuel-ad-1985/