Driving brand equity – making the case for undertaking a brand refresh
A brand identity is so much more than the logo. The branding process followed by a brand refresh helps businesses reinvigorate and reposition their brands for a modern, constantly evolving world. Here are some handy motivating points to help build a case for a rebrand.
This article is particularly helpful if you are in a marketing team and want to motivate the leadership within your company. Or if you have a client that isn’t quite convinced on the economical merits of undergoing a brand refresh.
There is a clear cut case for a brand refresh. Successful brands build equity which is closely aligned to business net worth. The following themes communicate the values of thoughtful branding and are followed by a few white papers from big business. Here we go!
Help differentiate from the competition
Brands operate not on their own, but within a competitive marketplace. A rebranding process allows a business the opportunity to further differentiate it’s offer from the competition.
Because, put simply, the business will be able to make more money. It’s one of the reasons why Apple has been continuously voted the most valuable global brand over recent years. Apple is famously obsessive about their branding and image.
They have always controlled the perception and user experience. For example, they have created a “closed” ecosystem in their app store, with a brutal set of standards. This positively elevates the perception of quality and differentiates them from their competitors (Such as the murky world of Google Play’s comparable offering). And the net result is that Apple has the ability to price their devices higher than their competitors.
We’ve run countless workshops where we have asked stakeholders: “Which brands would you strive to imitate?” – And almost all have said “Apple”.
Not only will a solid brand be able to charge more than their competitors, they will be able to decrease buyer resistance and post purchase remorse. Again, with Apple, they have famously been able to tell their audiences what they need – rather than hesitantly pander to perceived desires.
And as a result of Apple’s brand power, they have built a legion of loyal, committed fans who have forgiven their often maligned profit making innovations. The reason? In the mind of a consumer, Apple is so adequately differentiated, that there is no competitor.
Articulate your key positioning
A massive part of a comprehensive rebrand effort focuses on words and not imagery. A Firedog strategic framework is an example of this positioning effort.
A rebrand allows a business to accurately define their purpose, what they sell, what they stand for, why people should care – along with a host of many other reasons for their clients and customers to buy into their offer. This reduces confusion as well as aids in conveying meaning; which ultimately creates more customer resonance and hence sales.
Articulation is about reducing sales friction by creating a clearer narrative.
A brand narrative created via strategic foundations carries greater authenticity. A positioning must be built on a “brand truth”. This is not a mere positive spin, but integral to the culture and values of the brand. For example, using Apple again, the brand truth might colloquially read “It’s expensive, but it’s so gorgeous, you want it”
Resonate with your consumers
A host of businesses make the grievous error of applying a “template” to their positioning. This is telling a story of what they believe people want to hear versus telling the truth of how they are different.
The brand experience needs to mirror the brand promise.
This means that your marketing effort is built upon falsehood and there is a perception gap between what you say and how you behave. And because brand perceptions are based on consumer experiences, the actual understanding of the consumer jars with your story. This erodes truthfulness and authenticity. The result is that audiences switch off and are less likely to offer positive referrals.
Focus with your audience
There is a particular audience that is most likely going to buy into your proposition. A branding process builds focus on the narrative that these audiences want to hear. Sales performance increases when there is a simple transactional relationship with as little superfluous clutter as possible. A brand should always focus on its unique strengths which are defined and made clear both internally and externally. These unique strengths are in turn most appropriate for a key audience. Focus is about addressing your key audience with the exact message which motivates them to buy into your product or service.
If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.
Define Culture & Purpose
A client, a prospective employee or a business associate aligns themselves with an associated culture and value set. In recent times, emotional authenticity and consciousness has become a huge metric for both employees and clients.
66% of consumers claim to be willing to pay more for products from more socially responsible companies.
Quite often a brand which has not evolved with the times displays a distinct lack of cultural evidence. The branding process by its nature looks to define purpose and higher meaning.
What is more, purpose is a key human motivational catalyst which drives all people – both inside and outside the organisation. Branding raises a standard for staff to rally behind. It builds morale and it invigorates ambition and drive.
According to a Deloittes Cultural survey from 2014, 82% of employees and executives have more confidence in companies with a strong sense of purpose.
A clear sign a business is on the wane, comes from the emotional clues from staff. They become disengaged and unmotivated. This bleeds into business and client relationships and becomes a closed door for growth.
A rebrand allows the business the opportunity to refresh its ideology and cement this belief system within the minds of its staff and clients. People naturally align themselves to driven, passionate and meaningful causes. A brand needs to clearly stand for something, and then needs to convey the narrative meaningfully and succinctly, nurturing shared ambitions along the way.
Often you will hear a successful business explain that it’s strength is derived from the talent and skills of its people. In order to secure the finest talent (without necessarily buying their loyalty) a brand needs to portray a meaningful cause. A part of this is naturally defined by leadership – yet a good brand clarifies and amplifies this sentiment through design.
It is well known that humans align themselves to strong leaders. A branding exercise allows the business to portray an enhanced level of assurance and poise. This is important for the buyer as it encourages feelings of security. They perceive that there is a vested interest from the stakeholders behind the brand, due to the care and attention invested into the brand. This self care creates a sense of pride which again builds confidence and trust in the mind of the client and potential consumer.
At a subconscious level – the brand needs to assure that it is established. It needs to inspire faith and communicate a permanence. That it is here to stay, that it is a legitimate concern. Big brands continually jostle, investing in this perceived equity, in order to appear more rooted than their competition.
Finally in summary, brand equity must be seen as a line item on a business’s balance sheet. Like bricks and mortar, brand equity has value and is leveraged like any asset within the estimation of business value. Therefore a branding exercise is a long term business investment which manifests as a short term cost.
Bibliography, references and further reading
Selling the Brand Inside – Harvard Business Review
The power of branding – The Design Council
The essentials of branding – Landor associates
The EQ of branding – Lippencott
Building brand equity – Forbes
Keller’s brand equity model – Mindtools
What Is the Value of a Brand? – Huffington Post