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Issue Date: March 2005

10 branding insights and opportunities

March 2005

Leading South African brand consultancy, Interbrand Sampson, uses global insight from parent, Interbrand, to bring 10 branding insights and opportunities to the local market.

10 branding insights and opportunities
Leading South African brand consultancy, Interbrand Sampson, uses global insight from parent, Interbrand, to bring 10 branding insights and opportunities to the local market.
1. Clarity
In practice, clarity of vision, values and positioning overall, are often given insufficient attention. The majority of corporate and brand visions are interchangeable, bland and viewed with cynicism. In an over-communicated world, lack of clarity will substantially reduce effectiveness and efficiency; and complex brand and sub-brand structures without a real audience rationale will reduce this still further. Torture test your brand positioning... how different is it really from your competitors - not only your current competitors, but 'stretch' future competition and best in class?
2. Brand as central organising principle
There are still too many organisations and opinion formers that just look at
brands as names, logos, advertising campaigns. The world's most valuable brands use their brand as the central organising principle for all products and services, corporate organisation, structure and behaviour, environments and communications. They are brand centric. In this way, organisations... ensure that the thing that is going to generate long term sustainable value - their promise to and relationship with the customer - is constantly delivered and refreshed through everything the organisation does... Audit how your brand, or brands, really show up in all the operations and decision-making structures of the business. If brands have passed their 'sell by' date, take action.
3. Brand as a total experience
The success of experience-based brands at building deeper customer
relationships at the expense of solely product-based brands argues strongly
for every brand to think about its total 'chain of experience' - from visual
identity to advertising, product, packaging, PR, in-store environment - and
increasingly round-the-clock presence and availability online. Is your brand being brought to life as effectively as it might through the experience chain - whether real or virtual? How well are you controlling that experience - whether directly or indirectly? Are there any further areas of customer touch points that you could exploit? Or indeed, is your brand using all the senses to create the most powerful impacts? And are you measuring the effectiveness of all touch points?
4. More compelling and imaginative expressions of brand identity
Senior executives may not feel entirely comfortable in this area, but the ability
to break through brand proliferation and communications clutter depends on
imaginative and innovative creative expression. In the developed world,
audiences are knowledgeable and savvy about marketing, and will increasingly
'edit out' communications that they find boring or irritating. Product placements in editorial and appropriate sponsorship of events, programmes and computer games will become more important. Every opportunity to communicate counts, and every channel, from marque to distinctive corporate communications, from the office environment to the person answering the phone... What is your brand's central driving creative idea behind all these?
5. The brand as platform for innovation
In the constant battle to stay ahead of current and future competitors, it is
becoming increasingly difficult to get sustainable competitive advantage
through product development alone. Using a distinctive brand platform as
a starting point for innovation in all areas of operation and experience can
release more distinctive results - as well as being more effective and cost
efficient. Use the brand platform as a springboard to look at growth categories for the future and in the context of consumer trends - and examine what your brand
could distinctively bring... it is important to look at wider areas like
distribution and service development to deepen and extend a unique brand
experience. Apple is pushing the envelope all the time.
6. Brands need profound protection
It is estimated that 9% of the world trade is counterfeited. Brand owners must
use the full weight of the law, quickly and publicly, to prevent value loss and
degradation. Legally 'ring-fencing' your brand should be a never ending process.
7. Understanding the value of your brand
Samsung is a great example of a company that transformed their fortunes by
using their brand as new focus right across their business. A critical part of
this was to use brand value as a core measure of people's performance, which
both built momentum and created sustainable premium growth. Brand value
is also crucial management information for mergers, acquisitions and
divestments, which will continue in the future as markets shake out and
consolidate. Do your people across the business fully understand the value of your brand as the most important and sustainable corporate asset? Does everyone understand how they could add more value - and are your reward and
appraisal systems geared towards this? Could the value and value drivers of
the brand be used for better management information for future profitable
8. Effective and efficient brand monitoring and measurement
It can be tempting for organisations to 'do a brand programme', and not put
in proper monitoring and measurement - and indeed support - systems to
maintain them properly. The most successful organisations integrate these systems into their day to day operations and plans. They continually review and update them. Is your brand a key part of the 'scorecard' by which your people are
measured? Are you consistently reviewing all aspects of brand performance
to look for areas to improve?
9. CSR as core social responsibility
In an all-seeing digital world, and in a sharper business environment where
employees at all levels can be ambassadors or saboteurs for the company's
reputation, there really will be no hiding places any more. Organisations will
have no choice but to be transparent in their dealings and fulfil their promises,
or to have transparency forced on them. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to be an overused buzz term in
too many organisations today, and a whole new industry has grown up around
it. Although good intentions may be there, all too often organisations look at
CSR as an insurance policy, or a more sophisticated form of cause-related
marketing, rather than as core to their operations. Are you reflecting and integrating people's quality of life needs and concerns into your brand vision and mission? Do you have enough safeguards to measure sustainable development impacts, and involve your people in the issue? And, are you thinking ahead to how to lead in the critical areas of ethical consumption?
10. Always act like a leader brand
From more than 3000 studies of brands around the world, leadership is the
characteristic most closely correlated with the strongest long term value.
What can be termed a 'leader brand' today is not a brand leader in the old
fashioned sense, reflecting scale and muscle alone. Rather, it reflects a newer,
restless and agenda-setting leadership across all areas of philosophy and
operations, inside and out. Leader brands also need to take it upon themselves
to explain the wider benefits of branding, and increasingly show sensitivity to
local cultures, so that they continue to have licence to operate (and hopefully
be welcomed) in even the most difficult parts of the world. Brands can be
uniting influences, and powerful social and economic developers. Whether brand leader in size and scale or not, are you setting the agenda in product, service, creative and value terms? And increasingly, in terms of leadership thinking? Are you contributing to the success of your country?

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