Leading businesses invest a lot in branding as it unquestionably supports business performance. How to best allocate that investment? Are you missing opportunities to profitably build your brand?
The failure of some kind of corporate change is often followed by the observation, “we could have communicated better”
Most leaders appreciate the impact of branding on sales. Less top-of-mind is the value branding can add to major change initiatives leaders must sometimes introduce.
Great brand building opportunities can be easy to spot in hindsight.
For example, the failure of some kind of corporate change is often followed by the observation, “we could have communicated better”.
Of course it could be said that effective communication is a key success factor in any enterprise.
The development and presentation of messages designed to persuade is a factor you can completely control. As a bonus, the creative process often reveals additional dimensions to your plans that can be addressed before hitting ignition.
Fortune favours the prepared
Whether you’re accelerating digital transformation, steering the corporate ship towards new golden shores, launching a daring moonshot, it’s essential to persuade key stakeholders to sign up for the ride.
And although your aim might be X business objective, very often a smart brand building initiative will also support Y and Z business objectives.
Which is why it’s worthwhile to bear this list in mind to get more milage from your communications budget:
Organisational brand building opportunities
When merging two organisations it’s important to develop a narrative to facilitate the process. If you don’t, a narrative will emerge spontaneously from affected stakeholders that may undermine the process. Presenting this narrative in a polished, engaging way signals commitment and enhances credibility. It also opens opportunities like changing perceptions or culture.
Everyone in the C-suite may understand the logic and potential of a dramatic change in business direction. How the change is communicated to other stakeholders should be managed carefully. For example, in recent years we have seen many businesses suddenly make a much stronger commitment to digital. But some stakeholders see this as a threat. People need clarity. They need to understand how a strategic shift will positively affect them, and how they can support the change.
IPOs and raising capital
You need to make a good first impression on investors. They are also influenced by a compelling story. Sure, decisions are made after due diligence and strategic considerations. Making your business more presentable before reaching out to investors requires a relatively modest investment that can give you significant leverage in dealmaking.
Many creatures shed their skin during a growth spurt and emerge shiny and new, ready for action. A business should similarly leave something behind when pumping up for a growth phase. Reskinning the corporate ID or rethinking the brand sends an unmistakable message to stakeholders.... We are serious about this growth. We are investing in it. We are committed to it. Let’s go!
You can celebrate your business’ birthday every five years. An anniversary is a great opportunity for introducing change and building your brand because you can plan it well in advance. It’s also a platform from which you can launch other brand building initiatives that address specific business objectives. Best of all, it cultivates a positive vibe of celebration and achievement.
It’s cheaper, and much more pleasant for everyone, to consciously develop a genuine culture of care
Operational brand building opportunities
To maximise impact and cost effectiveness, mix and match these with the above.
Design your brand before developing your product. The low budget movie studio AIP found success in 1950’s Hollywood by producing films in this order:
AIP successfully competed against big budget movies because they tested their ideas. Any new offering can be tested like this through storytelling, design and research.
Most sales drives are supported by advertising, sales collaterals, online campaigns and similar brand building components. What are you missing? What else could you achieve? A distributor-targeted campaign? How about a video explainer for that customer-facing retail worker? A message to investors? A thank you event for employees? The earlier you consider more disparate audiences, the better you can plan to reach them.
Businesses today compete hard for human resources as well as customers. A great company is built by great people. Great people are like everyone else – they will recoil from a poor presentation. You know your company is great. Potential recruits don’t. If your branding or website looks shabby, they will likely look elsewhere.
Cultures are either cultivated, or they emerge spontaneously. Yes, a toxic culture driven by monetary considerations and fear can be sustained by high salaries. Toxic cultures breed workplaces that are dysfunctional, opaque and undermined by the politics of mediocrity. It’s cheaper, and much more pleasant for everyone, to consciously develop a genuine culture of care built on a strong ethical foundation. Through the brand building process you can define your organisation positively, with imagination in a way that sticks in the mind. Employees will find genuine meaning in their work when you can share a clear vision.
Spot opportunity + catch opportunity = win
Our previous article introduces four factors leaders should consider when making brand-building decisions: opportunity, timing, ROI and risk. Check it out for insights on how to capture these opportunities.