What to consider when brewing a strong brand

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Branding is a powerful tool that can support many business objectives. Sooner or later, many business leaders need to make important decisions about their brand. This can be daunting because along with high costs, there’s often a high degree of subjectivity. The leader who can make effective decisions and skilfully manage their brands enjoy a significant competitive advantage. How should a leader approach brand building for better outcomes?

Like beer, there are four main ingredients for a leader to consider in a branding initiative. Whether you get a fresh, sparkling success or a flat, dull failure depends largely on how the brewmaster – brand decision maker – blends these ingredients. 

The four ingredients are opportunity, timing, potential ROI and risk.

Of course the brewery and the people who run it are crucial to the process. But ultimately they too follow a recipe that has been decided by the brewmaster.

Four ingredients leaders should consider in a brand building initiative

  1. Opportunity 

    Brand building can powerfully influence business performance beyond sales and marketing.

    Every organisation faces change. Brand initiatives facilitate many kinds of change, from M&A, new leadership, recruiting and retaining talent, raising capital, new market entry, digital transformation and more.

    Some brand building opportunities are obvious. For example, product launches, anniversaries and expansion into new markets. Other opportunities, less so. As brand builders, time and time again we have embarked on a brand development project to achieve one business goal, only to discover many other ways the process can be leveraged to add value to simultaneously address other opportunities and challenges.

 

Brand building can powerfully influence business performance...

  1. Timing 

    You may have heard the phrase: “There never seems time to do it properly but there’s always time to do it twice”. This is particularly applicable to branding projects. It’s cheaper to get it right first time, especially considering the lost opportunity cost.

    Timing is closely related to opportunity. There is often an ideal time or season to enter a market or launch a new product. Many leaders underestimate the time it takes to develop an effective branding initiative. Ensuring there is sufficient lead time enables your brand to be strategically aligned to your business plan at a given point in time.

    As a brand building project gets underway, an expert team will find additional opportunities to address business issues that are beyond the initial scope. As a leader, you can offer leeway to explore and capture those opportunities for outsized returns. Which brings us to:    

  2. ROI

    Brand building should never be a cost centre. When deciding on what budget to allocate, focus on the value of the outcomes. If the tangible future value is less than 10x of your brand building investment, the project should be reconsidered.

    Projecting the potential value of a branding project means focusing on what needle you can realistically move – what is the opportunity?

    For example, let’s say your organisation has a recruitment problem. It is also about to celebrate an anniversary. The anniversary budget covers a logo design, an advertising campaign showcasing the milestone and perhaps an event. By going a little further, the anniversary can become an inflection point for changing corporate culture, employee perceptions, and also drive associated operational changes.

    The ROI you get from recruiting and retaining great talent is therefore weighed against the more nebulous value of an anniversary.

    ROI is about effective resource allocation. It may make sense to develop the foundations of your brand with a specialist then recruit a team to develop sustained sales and marketing campaigns in-house.

  3. Risk

    Brand building has a highly subjective dimension to it. Risk is difficult to quantify during the development stage. Risky creative campaigns may get noticed, but they are risky. Once launched, communication errors are very visible, can have a big impact and may not be easy to wind back. On the other hand, safe, conventional messages are easy to ignore. Finding the sweet spot requires effort.  

    Brand building failures are almost always errors in human judgement. That suggests they can be largely mitigated by human experience.

    A leader must ask, “Do I have that experience?” Self-knowledge is essential for effective brand building decision-making.

    Leaders who lack confidence or experience in branding decisions may miss opportunity because they don’t recognise it, or know how to capture it.

    This is understandable because the skills needed to lead a large and successful business may not include aesthetic taste or creative assessment.

    The solution? Work with experienced people and trust their judgement. They could be on your team already, or you may need to engage outsiders. Your potential brand building partners can be evaluated by what they have previously accomplished. Ask them about their strategies and methodology. They should be able to explain their decisions and offer a clear path forward.

Keep these four ingredients in mind and you’ll brew an effective brand and toast the success of your strategic change.

Key takeaway: Consider opportunity, timing, ROI and risk when evaluating branding initiatives

Stepworks supports leaders during pivotal times of change with brand strategy, messaging frameworks, design, campaigns and digital. Looking to bring about change in your organisation? Ask us how we can help.

Stepworks supports leaders during pivotal times of change with brand strategy, messaging frameworks, design, campaigns and digital. Looking to bring about change in your organisation? Ask us how we can help.