Your brand: it’s your company’s identity; it’s who you are. It’s the thing that marks you out from the crowd and helps people spot your products. It’s a platform to tell your story and set out your stance on matters such as ESG. Plus, it builds customer (and employee) trust and loyalty. And crucially, it builds sales.
It’s true: a strong brand translates into cold, hard ROI. And although some organisations may claim otherwise, maximising revenue is what most of them are about. Have a poke around the web and you’ll find more stats about the financial power of brands than you can fit in the average marketing blog. We’ve narrowed them down to some of the most eye-opening.
- Revenue growth of the most relevant brands has outperformed the S&P 500 average revenue growth by 230% and EBIT growth by 1,040% over the past 10 years.
- Brands contribute on average 19.5% and in many cases well over 50% of enterprise value when the impact of brand on firm cash flow, profits and firm value are properly measured.
- Analysis by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board found a direct linkage between brand preference and market shareacross 120 brands and 12 categories.
How do you create a strong brand?
So, strong brands create strong financial performance – in short, they’re worth nurturing. The next question is how do you create a strong brand?
While logos and graphic design are important, it’s authenticity that’s key. Consumers will quickly spot and reject a brand that doesn’t speak from the heart. That means looking below the surface to find your brand’s true identity. What does your business stand for? What are its vision and goals? How does it want to be seen? When you’ve taken a good hard look into your organisation’s soul, you can start to build a brand strategy and identify a ‘voice’. This is how your business talks about itself to its people, its customers and the wider world. The best brand strategies are those that everyone understands, so make sure it’s straightforward. Keeping it Simple and honest always win the day.
Having said all that, you may have existing brand values and a brand identity that you’re perfectly happy with. In which case, you need to consider whether you need a full rebrand or simply a refresh. In other words, do you need a radical overhaul – a rethink of your organisation’s whole identity, image and values – or a lighter, more cosmetic change? As the word suggests, a refresh is simply a new look; perhaps a new colour palette, font, tagline or logo, whereas a rebrand is more drastic. If rebrands are plastic surgery, refreshes are a new lipstick.
Whatever the answer, you’ll need to build your brand strategy around your business’s needs and objectives. You can read all about successful strategic planning on our previous blog, but in the meantime, here’s a rundown of the most important tips:
- Commit to your strategy and nurture it
- Track and measure progress
- Communicate your strategy within your organisation – build awareness and support
Taking your brand to market
Once you’ve got your shiny new brand strategy, it’s time to put it into action. Apply your look, feel and message across all your collateral. Clear brand guidelines will ensure consistency from both a design and tone of voice perspective, whether you’re re-working an exhibition stand or an internal PowerPoint template.
Where you really need to think about bringing your brand to life is through your advertising. It’s vital that your assets – whether it’s digital, radio or press ads – accurately express the brand message that you’ve so carefully crafted, as well as your visual identity. This collateral should be instantly recognisable as belonging to your business. Think about it. You can probably identify an Apple ad without even seeing the logo. That’s brand equity in action (more about that in a moment).
Content marketing is another area where you can (and should) deploy your brand – but far less overtly. Because content marketing isn’t about shouting about your business, product or service; it’s about creating content for your customer. You’re unlikely to expand or develop your customer base if you pump out brand-heavy, 100% marketing-focused blogs or videos. Your content should be the start of the conversation – giving the customer something they want or would find valuable (for instance, a how-to guide or an e-book). Once you’ve built trust and a connection, you can start to introduce sales messages that draw them into the marketing funnel. Put the needs of the customer above the brand, and boom – you’ve got conversions.
Brand value and why it’s important
You’ve developed a brand strategy and launched it successfully. Your lovingly crafted brand is now out there for all to see. Ok, great… so when does it start generating that all-important ROI? The answer is from day one – but you won’t hear a ‘ker-ching!’ straight away.
From the moment your brand is launched, it’s building awareness of your products, services and organisation. Over time, this will grow, as more and more people become familiar with your brand and have positive experiences. This results in something the Marketing industry has dubbed ‘brand equity’ – in other words, the presence and value a brand name has in the minds of consumers. This is where things get interesting, because brand equity translates into ROI in a multitude of ways.
Brand equity generates revenue because:
- Customers are prepared to spend more. People are more willing to put their hands in their pockets when they believe the products they’re buying are of a better quality and offer some cachet. Even though those products may cost the same to produce as a competitor’s products, the brand can charge more. A study of 220 consumer products by the Marketing Science Institute (MSI)found that a superior brand preference or reputation commanded price premiums of 26% on average, even when brand quality was the same.
- You spend less on advertising. When your brand’s reputation is good, customers come to you. Good branding helps you save money on advertising and launching new products.
- It creates loyal customers. When customers love your brand they’re likely to buy more from you. For Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), brand equity is a must.
- Customers only buy from brands they trust. According to Gartner, 81% of customers refuse to do business with or buy from a brand that they don’t trust. So, if consumers are coming to you, congratulations, you’ve built a hugely valuable bridge. But don’t get complacent, because then things can end in tears. The same research says that nearly 90% of customers will disengage from a brand that breaches their trust. To preserve brand loyalty, maintain good quality services and keep your standards high.
- It boosts your stock price. Strong brands perform well on the stock market. On average, brands account for more than one-third of shareholder value. (BusinessWeek, Interbrand/JP Morgan)
How to build brand value
The case for building brand value is watertight, so how do you go about it?
- It all begins with understanding your target audience – what do they want? What’s important to them? These are questions you should have addressed in your branding strategy, but they’re worth revisiting. Your brand will only succeed if it can connect with potential consumers.
- Get that logo looking good, because that’s your calling card. It’s got to be modern and recognisable and tell a story on its own. In short, your logo does a lot of work so it’s worth taking the time to get right. You don’t want to end up with logo design disaster such as Gap’s.
- As we mentioned above, you need to keep your standards high if you want to keep customers loyal to your brand. That means taking care over your service, the quality of your offering and the way you present your organisation. For example, a single tone-deaf social media post can do tremendous damage. Don’t follow the example of these offenders…
- Finally, to build brand value, you need to be where your audience is. Promoting yourself on Snapchat for example, won’t net you many new customers if your target audience is the over 50 demographic.
Building employer brand value
Although customers are understandably a prime focus for a brand, employees should never be forgotten. They have the potential to be your biggest advocates, so it pays to get them on-side. To create fans and ambassadors, take time to think about how you’ll apply your brand internally. How will you engage and inspire employees? How will you make them feel proud to work for your brand? By creating employer brand value, you’ll get the best people wanting to work for you. Meanwhile, existing employees will be united by your goals and work as one towards your aims.
DHL Express’s Employee Cultural Program is a textbook example of successful employer branding. Through a ten-year People Strategy, they aimed to make the business a Great Place to Work on a global scale. Through various programmes based around the principle of ‘Motivated People’, DHL Express achieved a cultural transformation. People loved where they worked and what the business stood for.
The Result? The best financial performance in the business’s 50-year history.
Apple, Coca-Cola, Google, Amazon – we instantly know who these brands are and what they stand for. This gives them an incredible advantage in their markets: better brand recognition equals better sales. Brand awareness also creates brand equity, which boosts ROI in all sorts of ways. And with a strong brand (and employer brand) strategy, everyone’s motivated and on the same page. The key is to make sure that your company branding is translated consistently over every touchpoint, whether it’s point of sale displays, internal newsletters, eCommerce sites or TV adverts. If you’d like a hand with your branding marketing, we’ve got the expertise: get in touch.