As we look out at the new year ahead of us, many businesses are facing the same budgeting balancing act.
Do you focus on building and improving your team? Enhancing your relationships with customers? Finding quick wins for your shareholders? All are valid responses. But there is one act that can go some way to meeting all three of the above objectives, and more down the line – investing in your brand.
Brand building is a project that offers both short and long term benefits. The immediate impact is a new lease of life, and a fresh sense of vigour for your business. Then there are the lasting advantages – statistics show that customers are more likely to choose distinctive brands over competitors, that strong brands outperform the average business in terms of shareholder returns, and that internal branding can help attract and retain the right people to propel your business forwards.
Don’t just take our word for it though – take a look at what past and present practitioners across our industry have said about the value of brand.
This quote, from one of advertising’s giants, articulates a challenge many CMOs face: their C-Suite peers view brand and marketing as a cost to be minimised rather than an engine of growth and profitability to invest in.
So how to convince them otherwise? Not by focusing on emotion or digging into data, but by showing the wider value that brand – and the process of defining your brand – offers. Delivering clarity for businesses on where to go next. Unearthing opportunities and finding new ways to solve problems. Pinpointing what’s a trend and what will endure. Making a brand feel real to the audiences that matter the most.
There are many components to brand strategy, but as Nick Liddell notes, positioning – how a brand is perceived in the minds of its target audience – can be one of the most important tools for making a business ambition real.
The most impactful brands are those that wager on what the future will look like, and a good positioning balances the realities of today with a vision for tomorrow. It should set a direction and inspire people to forge a path ahead. When viewed with the mindsets of visionaries, inventors and entrepreneurs – the types of clients we often work with – a brand becomes a powerful, guiding force that influences every action you take as you inch towards the future.
Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm, understands that when used correctly, a brand isn’t only about inspiration – it can be used as a tool to drive a business in the right direction, and ensure the decisions it makes are true to its purpose and ambitions. Put simply, it defines how a business sees the world. What it will support and what it will not tolerate. It helps people – from the C-Suite to frontline employees – make decisions on the ground.
Yes, it’s a provocative statement. But reading it, as part of a broader piece by Adjelic on the ‘aspiration economy’, prompted us to think about the work we do with clients who target niche or ‘mass-niche’ audiences.
Typically, the larger the business, the more generic it becomes. But scale doesn’t have to equal dilution. Our sister company, Monocle, is a brand that has real conviction in who it targets, which correlates to the strength of its audience of affluent, informed and entrepreneurial decision-makers. This has enabled it to build a loyal following as it expanded from newsstands into books, podcast and radio, cafés, retail, events and more. It’s a great example of the value of brand: providing clarity around who you are for, and a blueprint for how to connect with them.
Curious to find out what a crafted, strategically developed brand can do for your business? We have the tools, creativity and global know-how to shape brands that engage audiences, transform perceptions and make ambitions real. Get in touch with [email protected].