How to create lasting brand value
Whether new or existing, when talking about the process of brand value creation, I frequently cite examples of where a tension-resolving great idea has led to a unique identity, that has then resulted in impactful, meaningful and measurable experiences. Or, as others commonly refer to, a promise delivered!
Marketing, while a valuable constituent within an organisation's eco-system, is primarily concerned with the distribution of a message. And, in order to be most effective, requires clear prescription in the form of brand strategy, to be able to connect in relevant and valuable ways. Although the process of branding offers the necessary direction, it does so by defining a lot more than just the right message.
As a key business asset, inextricably connected with any organisation’s reason-for-being, your brand drives all value delivered to stakeholders — whether a customer, employee, investor, partner or supplier. However, there still remains a serious misalignment between the purpose and perception of branding, even in today’s more sophisticated markets. I believe: this is for two main reasons. The first is that branding as a function within the marketing department continues to cause confusion as to its role within the business context. The second is the accepted process of (re)branding has evolved to adapt to this misunderstanding — where both fall short in addressing business strategy challenges and brand value creation.
A recent analysis inspired my team to revisit the way we create brands, as well as the necessary assets and tools clients need — tying-in closely with our proven definition and philosophy of what we believe makes a brand truly sustainable. In so doing, we have created an industry-changing methodology that gives justice to the role of brand within any organisation — a revised process to build strong and compelling platforms to create a seamless identity, across all touchpoints, and ultimately inspire the design of outstanding branded experiences, products and service innovations.
By treating brand as a decision-making “lens” organisations are able to collaboratively align to a common-good — merging the self-interests of each business function to stakeholder requirements, ensuring each-and-every interaction between the two is mutually beneficial and consistent. Thus, connecting brand with the wider socioeconomic contexts in which it exists.
Great brands create a more positive future for people, business and society, by perfectly balancing the tension between what people want now and need tomorrow. The value we create for our clients fundamentally revolves around this philosophy, and will involve one of three courses of action: creating an entirely new brand; refreshing an existing brand; or better connecting brands and customers through measured brand experience.
All of these initiatives, when appropriately selected and rightly executed, creates sustainable and measurable value. However, value is only realised if a brand is implemented with clarity, focus, and commitment. As such, this requires the brand value creation process to be hinged on the idea of “co-creation” — a process involving the alignment of all elements of the client organisation to the brand strategy during the creation process and after launch. More specifically, when leadership, strategy, goal setting, processes, responsibilities and communications are properly aligned, can organisations truly realise future potential.
On top of championing our co-creation model to manage brand transformation and change, our newly defined methodology anchors a revised brand value creation process via the following key elements:
- Understanding the Brand DNA — this means a review of the corporate strategy and operations; the existing brand portfolio and architecture; and benchmarking the existing expressions and experiences to align brand with business strategy;
- Gaining Insights — this step aims to capture employee, customer and stakeholder insights, with in-depth profiling of the target audience to ultimately reveal wants, needs and beliefs;
- Uncovering Foresight — foresight works to harness market dynamics, competition and future influences by analysing in-category competition, benchmarking out-of- category best practices and assessing the impact of relevant trends and other influences;
- Universal Idea — a transformational thought that moves the brand FROM present TO future. It is a powerful and succinct articulation that captures long-term brand intentions, ambitions and aspirations. In essence, a unifying idea to creatively inspire, influence and align all future brand expressions behaviours, experiences and innovations.
Together, these four components enable the creation of a truly memorable experience — merging a sophisticated, in-depth understanding of the existing systems, audience needs, key industry and societal trends with a flexible process. One that adapts to the unique business requirements, accommodating and making sense of a far greater amount of information than is typically utilised. Complete with co-created criteria for performance evaluation, the process of brand value creation is codified and demystified, leading to more efficient engagement, collaboration and a significantly higher and more sustainable outcome.
In the long-run, there is very little value in a generic approach to brand development. As business and brand continues to converge, it is our job, as expert practitioners, to not only define a believable future for our client’s businesses and brands, but to also take responsibility for realising potential and promise delivery.