Whether you are launching a new brand or already have an established brand, here are the five best ways to improve the odds of your future brand success:
1. Recognize your brand as an important financial asset
Starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s businesses began to recognize intangible assets (most notably brands) with more rigor on balance sheets. And for good reason: Brand typically accounts for a substantial percentage of a company’s market value (e.g., 24% for Coca-Cola and 18% for Cisco). This is true of local or regional brands just as much as it is for multinational and global brands. Brand is an asset that needs to be managed well over time. Far from being a task relegated to the marketing department, smart companies realize it is everyone’s responsibility to build and maintain a strong brand, starting with executive leadership. Make sure you have a defined brand strategy and use it as a lens through which to view all future business decisions.
2. Develop and live a purpose for your brand
Today’s consumers, both B2C and B2B, increasingly prefer to do business with brands that serve a broader purpose rather than just staying in the narrow lane(s) defined by the product or service (see our post on brand purpose here). Your brand purpose is a competitive differentiator for both customer and talent acquisition. Take a good look at your vision/mission and see if you are motivated/driven by, or stand for something beyond happy customers, satisfied employees and traditional business success (which are table stakes).
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3. Always be innovating and evolving your brand to stay relevant
The market is ever-changing. New offerings and competitors are always around the corner. Customers may well get bored if what you offer remains static. And broader, society-level changes like the rise of the internet/digital, the covid pandemic, and wars can come out of seemingly nowhere. Brands that are adaptable and willing to make changes are more likely to survive and grow.
4. Internalize your brand to be authentic and consistent in communications and behavior
As mentioned in #1, brand should be the responsibility of everyone in the organization. In order to make that happen, everyone in the organization (including key external partners) needs to know and live the brand. To achieve this, it is vital to “cascade” the brand strategy and its importance for business success throughout the organization and to engage employees to identify ways in which they can live the brand in their areas of responsibility. The most effective companies go beyond that, adding “realizing brand values” to annual performance reviews.
5. Optimize each brand in the portfolio
Finally, if your organization has more than one brand (even if it is a “house of brands”), it is important to manage those brands as a portfolio. This involves minimizing overlap between brands while maximizing synergies. Developing a brand portfolio “playbook” is an invaluable tool in this regard. It will help guide mergers and acquisitions and determine the most effective relationships between your brands from the get-go, while helping you avoid the need to clean up a messy and confusing brand portfolio later.