Return on investment is key to moving forward, for any brand. Why invest if you’re not going to make the most of it? Below Jo Davies, Managing Director of brand implementation specialists VIM Group, guides us through the key questions and challenges to be considered before, during and after any brand investment.
In today’s market, simply reiterating your organisation’s brand position through communication channels is not enough – consumers expect to see a consistent and coherent vision fulfilled in all interactions with the brand.
Strong brands make credible, relevant and distinctive brand promises, while the strongest brands live and breathe those promises every day. With that in mind, your company’s brand is its most valuable intangible asset and strategic brand investment will be vital for company growth.
New investment might be triggered by a merger or acquisition, a reputational challenge or a competitor’s disruptive activity. And that investment could range from an updated content marketing strategy to a multinational rebrand that impacts everything from digital assets to vehicle liveries.
At VIM Group we work with some of the world’s biggest brands such as Deloitte, ING and IKEA, helping them to ensure their brand investment is maximised. In my experience, it can be easy to underestimate the ‘butterfly effect’ of even a minor change to your brand, so I would recommend that your organisation carefully considers these points throughout the investment process.
Know your audience
Gathering quantitative and qualitative data should be your first step – this will be invaluable when translating suggestions from ideas on paper into actionable initiatives.
Through consumer market research, internal surveys, desk research and stakeholder interviews, you should establish how your brand is perceived, whether it’s consistent in fulfilling the brand promise, and how brand touchpoints can be more consistent. When combined, this information will help to paint a picture of the role your brand plays across the organisation.
At this stage it’s also important to consider the financial risks and rewards of ‘evolution or revolution’. In simple terms, rapid and revolutionary changes will be more disruptive and can increase costs exponentially, but this approach can also have a greater impact by immersing employees and customers from the outset.
In comparison, a long-term evolution of your brand can be more cost effective, for example you may be able to refresh branded materials through regular replacement cycles. This will also allow internal teams to deliver their day-to-day work with minimal disruption.
Depending on the financial and reputational status of your organisation, it’s essential to establish the right balance of incremental spend versus impact.
Planning and execution
Clearly scoping your project from the outset will save time and money. Your data will also make it easier to draw up a comprehensive roadmap of organisational change.
Throughout the implementation phase, your brand promise should be clearly defined and kept in focus. This is best achieved by giving the internal and external journeys equal weight, because your employees will be the original and most passionate advocates for any changes to your brand.
As brand investment often involves internal challenges, make sure your employees’ journey is as smooth and carefully considered as the consumer’s journey. This should be led by senior management. If consumers catch a glimpse of internal problems, this can colour their overall perception of your brand.
Remember that implementing your brand promise is actually much harder and more complex than defining it!
Secure long-term impact
Securing the long-term impact of your investment is vital, and this is best achieved by setting clear KPIs and continuously monitoring the impact of your investment. Best practice techniques in monitoring, flexibility of ideas, employee advocacy and determined management will all be essential for a long-term impact.
On the flipside, a lack of measurement and vague objectives can easily result in mismanaged budgets and missed opportunities for cost savings.
Finally, it’s always important to consider your brand investment as a continuous process of improvement, rather than a snapshot moment that comes and goes.