A company’s brand is its most valuable asset and one of the soundest investments it can make. As the crux of an organisation’s reputation with customers and employees, shaping brand image is vital for growth.
Brand investment might be triggered by a number of factors: a merger or acquisition, international expansion or a disruptive new competitor. Investment could take the form of an updated content marketing strategy or a multinational rebrand that impacts everything from digital assets to office stationery.
Brand investment is vital for any organisation to remain competitive. Whether it’s a one-off rebrand or a scheme of continuous development, here are five steps to help organisations maximise return on investment.
Assess brand perception
Up-to-date quantitative and qualitative data is invaluable and should be collected across all company departments via desk research, online questionnaires and stakeholder interviews.
Strong brands make credible and consistent promises to their stakeholders; changes to this identity can be jarring for consumers
Internal research should look at brand perception among stakeholders and assess whether those perceptions are consistent with the company’s mission. It’s also useful to understand which brand experiences have influenced consumers’ perceptions and whether they have done so positively or negatively.
This data should be used alongside market research about brand perception. It’s important to gain an understanding of how consumers prioritise brand touchpoints – the interactions brands have with their customers – and the extent to which those touchpoints convey the business’s identity and pave the way for a consistent and positive brand experience.
When combined, internal and external data will help to paint a picture of how the organisation is perceived.
Evolution or revolution
It’s essential to strike the right balance between spending and impact; more ambitious and rapid changes will cost more, so financial risks and rewards must be considered.
A long-term ‘evolution’ approach to brand investment can bring real financial benefits. For example, longer lead times will help teams deliver their work with minimal disruption. If changes to branded materials are implemented as part of regular replacement cycles, the change will be even more cost-effective and less disruptive.
A ‘revolution’ style of rebranding can be more disruptive, though this may be an unavoidable but necessary inconvenience for a business that urgently needs to address stagnation. A revolutionary rebrand can have a greater impact as customers and employees are immersed in the change from day one.
Define improvement areas
Small changes to the brand can affect multiple parts of the organisation. If these butterfly effects aren’t planned for, the costs, both in terms of time and money, can be significant. To reduce costs, businesses should rationalise the number of brand touchpoints in use so there is less to build, print or develop. They can also streamline their supplier base and negotiate on purchase prices.
Throughout the implementation phase, the brand’s mission should be clearly defined and kept in focus. Strong brands make credible and consistent promises to their stakeholders; changes to this identity can be jarring for consumers, particularly when internal challenges become visible externally. Companies should place equal importance on internal and external changes to their brand.
Implementing a brand promise is much harder and more complex than defining it. Simply reiterating a brand position is not enough; the strongest brands live and breathe their values. Smart planning and preparation will ensure brand investment is implemented in a way that remains true to the organisation’s mission.
Setting targets and monitoring performance will help to ensure the long-term success of the investment. Inversely, a lack of measurement and vague objectives are likely to lead to badly spent budgets and missed opportunities.
By carefully monitoring performance, small adjustments can be made to optimise the experience for customers and colleagues alike. The process of investment, monitoring and refinement is the bedrock of a strong brand and a successful organisation. This will also help an organisation prepare for more revolutionary changes if the time comes.
The implementation of investment is not a snapshot moment but a continuous process of adaptation and improvement. This requires continued monitoring, flexibility and determination.