Is your brand delivering value to your business? How can you tell and how do you measure this? These are questions that can be aimed at the marketing department but to find the true answer this is a discussion for the boardroom.
I’ve worked in marketing for over 15 years and in that time I’ve written countless articles and blogs about brand strategy and delivered many presentations at seminars and conferences. I’m really passionate about brand, but in my opinion it remains one of the most misunderstood elements of business. Brand is about so much more than marketing, which is something that’s driven by your brand. More pertinently, brand strategy itself is a key servant of corporate and business strategy.
This isn’t another blog that will preach about your brand being more than a logo and being about every interaction you ever have with people. That’s all very true, but I’m talking about viewing your brand as a strategic asset for your business.
The key thing about your brand is that it absolutely must be aligned to your business strategy, even if that may be at the expense of short-term commercial success. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, if you are a start up brand in the convenience food sector, you may find that people flock to buy your products on the back of a marketing campaign that positions supermarkets as money grabbing profiteers. But if your long term corporate aim is to sell your business to one of these supermarkets then you are not building a brand which they will be willing to pay a premium price for.
It may seem strange, but sometimes the most sensible and valuable brand strategy to pursue is one that does not build brand awareness at all. In the software industry, for example, it is commonplace to build a product and then sell it to a well-known business that then brings it under their existing brand as an enhancement. If you’ve already built a consumer brand for your product then this won’t have a value to these potential purchasers. And in some ways it may present them with a problem, as they need to manage the migration to their own brand, which will carry a cost and involve time delays which may even put them off the purchase all together.
It’s a fine balance to find between positioning your brand for short-term commercial success (which is what your marketing and sales teams will be driven towards) and thinking about the long-term goal of the business (which is where the board and shareholders minds will be).
The reality is that everyone tends to be drawn to the short-term goals. It’s the age-old issue of focusing on what is urgent rather than what is important. It’s also why business leaders often turn to external advisers to help them with their strategic thinking and help work with their board towards maximising value and commercial clarity.