In most organisations, brand – its health, its architecture and even its tracking results – are still viewed solely as a marketing function. The common belief remains that marketing departments are considered the only custodians of a business’ successful brand health.
I argue this on two levels:
1) Powerful brands significantly outperform the market
The world’s 40 strongest brands returned twice as much to shareholders compared to an investment in a Morgan Stanley Capital International World index.
As such, to limit ‘brand’ solely to the marketing division and not to the broader business, could result in limiting a business’ future potential/success.
2) Brand isn’t just a logo or pretty pictures
It’s how we look, speak, behave, and interact with our customers. Much like a personality, brands need to create and reinforce trust, familiarity, and positive associations. Doing so will drive a level of ‘stickiness’ that keeps customers coming back for more.
Having worked on large-scale business transformations for clients including Toyota, Ampol, Jetstar and UTS — I’ve seen what strong brands can do to a business’ bottom line.
In my experience, the most successful brand tracking results come from those who empower all their staff, divisions & functions with a responsibility to ensure Brand is considered in all that they do. Every staff member, from the CEO through to the frontline salesperson, should view themselves as a ‘brand champion’, and bear the responsibility of ensuring this ‘intangible’ thing called brand — which now contributes to 90 percent of the intangible value of a company – is embedded, lived and breathed throughout the business.
In recent years – particularly through COVID – many businesses have seen ‘cost cutting’ measures and ‘efficiencies’ result in a downward trend in marketing head count and dollars spent. This has resulted in time-poor staff and over stretched resources, throwing what reduced budget they have at fragmented, ad-hoc initiatives— with no north star, framework or anchor point to align decision making and investment.
This seems counterintuitive to me.
Every consumer facing brand has a range of touch points or ‘interaction’ moments that shape a customer’s experience. Over time, these ‘moments’ either improve or detract from a brand’s strength. Companies who invest in CX are said to be three times more resilient than CX laggards.
The decisions that led to a touch point’s creation most likely hailed from a range of cross-disciplines in an organisation. From a website’s UX, to the friendly voice of a customer service representative, to the unboxing moment of an online delivery— every touch point should offer an experience that is shaped by a decision that someone or several have made.
So, it stands to reason that everyone in an organisation needs to think about brand and how it’s embedded in everyday life, to increase the company’s value. This cross functional understanding of the importance of brand will often see an organisation’s brand tracking soar.
Between 2016 to 2019, Toyota Australia undertook a major brand transformation project that saw staff across the business ensure ‘brand’ was deeply embedded throughout the organisation. This involved re-calibrating how its teams were briefed on the business, it’s ambition and values and took an ‘inside-out’ approach – effectively delivering a rebrand internally two years before any external change was made. In doing so, Toyota experienced record breaking results including— Most Trusted Automotive Brand in Australia 2020 and the highest ever result for brand satisfaction for Toyota dealers.
With all of this in mind it might just be time to think about the future of Brand within your organisation a little more deeply.
You never know, your actions and investment in brand might just see those tracking results soar… to all-time record highs.
Kyle De Raedt is an account director at Houston Group.