The brand makes up an average of 18% of an organisation’s value, yet this is often the least organised discipline within a company. How is it possible that companies are prepared to lose focus on such an important area? I spoke to Laurens Hoeskstra, co-founder of VIM Group and co-author of the book Future-Proof Your Brand, who shared his vision and gave six tips to get maximum results from your brand.

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Is ‘brand measurement’ the new marketing?

The value that the brand provides to an organisation is difficult to provide insight into. While the results of marketing initiatives (email marketing, advertising, etc.) are often tangible, it means that in many organisations, the focus is therefore on marketing activities that provide direct conversion and leads for sales. But is this not limiting ourselves to short-term results? Laurens Hoekstra: “Branding, and ensuring that there is a strong brand in everything that is visible, strengthens the position and the value of the organisation. And that may be worth much more in the long run.”

Organising the complexity of brands

If something is of value, it must be organised well. Why does this not happen in many companies? “Firstly, organisations do not always realise the importance of good brand organisation. Additionally, and from the results of our recent Brand Performance Study, we know that brand performance improves when the brand is well organised internally – so it is certainly important.

The proper organisation of brands is complex for many companies. Through digitisation, everything is becoming more and more transparent. More is communicated to the outside world from all corners of the organisation. Think of corporate communication, marketing, HR, IT, facilities and other operational departments: the brand has become an organisation’s broad responsibility and that requires more coordination, commitment and direction from the top down.”

So, you need strong brand organisation. How do you do that?

Organising your brand well will add value to your business. Here are 6 tips to help you on your way:

1. Link your brand strategy to your business strategy

The first tip is actually also the most important one, says Hoekstra: “The brand strategy must support the business strategy and that belongs to the boardroom. This is not yet the case in many businesses. Only when there is involvement with the brand in the top layers of an organisation, can good brand management have a chance of succeeding and you can plan work on improving your brand performance.”

2. Pay attention to the execution

According to Hoekstra, we have to make a switch in our way of working. “Often a lot is invested in brand strategy and design (‘why’ and ‘what’). My advice is to also pay attention to the ‘how’ question: the execution phase. How do you make a brand agile and sustainable, and how do you ensure that there is coherence, that the brand is well propagated and is performing across all departments? You can have a good idea, but the execution is key, else you will have have invested in something that does not translate to the outside world and therefore has no effect on the value of your organisation.”

3. Do not enforce consistency, but encourage coherence

Hoekstra mentions the importance of flexibility in brand management: “The world around us is changing so fast. Thanks to digitisation, there is more and more interaction with brands; by employees, customers and users, alike. The corporate identity ‘police’ that existed before, no longer works in the current era. You do not want to slow down interactions with your brand. Brand management must therefore be more dynamic. Above all, try to encourage coherency, instead of enforcing consistency.”

4. Collaboration: make the brand negotiable

Collaboration and good communication are also crucial when it comes to brand organisation. “You often see a gap between marketing and the brand: marketing does not always strengthen the brand and the brand does not always strengthen marketing. Departments that have a lot of involvement with the brand hardly cooperate. This needs to improve. Keep communication open and make sure that the brand remains a topic of conversation across all departments.”

5. Utilise the right in-house expertise and define responsibilities

It is important that you have the right expertise in-house and that the role’s responsibilities are clearly defined: “Within most organisations, the corporate communication manager is responsible for the brand. Agencies are hired when it comes to brand strategy and design. But what is the right choice when it comes to the implementation and organisation of your brand? My advice: appoint a brand manager or seek assistance from an external party. In any case, it is important that it is clear who is ultimately responsible from both a central and decentral level: what activities are required from a strategic, tactical and operational level?”

6. Brand Analytics: make your brand performance measurable

How do you gain insight into the performance of your brand? And what exactly does the brand contribute to the results of the organisation? Hoekstra: “The boardroom expects hard data, especially when investments have to be made in the brand. If you want to organise your brand well, you need to get started with brand analytics. You should know how the various channels and brand carriers perform and what they contribute to total brand performance and, ultimately, company performance. These insights help you to optimise your brand strategy and convince important stakeholders in your company of the value of the brand. A Brand Dashboard is an excellent tool for that.”

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