The Grand Marketing Survey 2018 shows that brand awareness is the most important KPI for 51% of marketers. The same research, conducted in 2017 found that successful companies focus on brand value. In short, brand is high on the agenda. But how do you build a strong brand? To succeed with your brand in the outside world, you have to start inside, in your own organisation. Below – based on insights from our own Brand Performance Study – is a step-by-step guide to achieve a strong brand with an optimised brand organisation.
1. Convince management that the brand is important
We have seen that management increasingly recognises the importance of a brand, but does not always invest in it. Without management involvement and investments in the brand, the brand will never achieve its full potential and brand building might just be limited to marketing communications. Therefore, it is essential to convince your management of the importance of the brand.
Numerous scientific studies prove that it pays to focus on brands within an organisation (e.g. Gromark & Melin, 2011). Work with management to find out which KPIs are crucial to them and monitor these continuously (see tip 9). Fluctuations in their scores may be a justification to provide the brand with the right funding. Create a ‘Wall of Shame’ to visualize KPI underperformance. Revealing shortcomings in the customer journey might show brand importance.
2. Create a strong brand promise
Define a relevant, credible and distinctive brand positioning to establish what the brand is and what it promises. This can be implemented using brand values, brand promises and/or a brand personality. Many organisations tend to promise too much. You need to be selective in what you promise and be honest. Consumers are critical and quickly detect insincerity. Our Brand Performance Study, for example, shows that organisations with three brand promises are more able to deliver on their promises than organisations with four or five brand promises. These promises are best when there is a combination of emotional and functional values.
3. Focus organisational strategy on brand
Our Brand Performance Study shows that strong brands are not just used in marketing communications, but are the main focus for the organisational strategy; from product development processes to employee behaviour. Strong brands are seen and treated as important organisational assets and are also used to distinguish from competitors. In order to prevent the marketing communications department from seeing the brand as their property it’s better to not use the word ‘brand’. Words like ‘purpose’, ‘identity’, ‘mission’ or ‘DNA’ generally perform better as justification for everything the company does.
4. Set up a brand steering committee
Setting up a brand steering committee helps to ensure that the brand is central to all activities of the organisational departments. Make sure managers from all relevant departments are represented in the committee. Monitor together (under the leadership of the brand manager) how the brand delivers on its promises based of concrete goals (KPIs) and determine what needs to be done to improve the brand performance. This way each department gets responsibility for implementing and building the brand.