“How do we know if we’ve been successful?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions surrounding work in branding. Shareholders, board members, leadership, and the broader staff impacted by a brand change need to know that the investment of time, energy, and dollars is really paying off in the performance of the brand over time. The most successful brand-related initiatives focus on the answers to five questions when measuring program performance, which represent both internal and external examples of brand success. As go-forward assessments of the brand take place, focus in on these areas so that story of success can be built across the enterprise.
1. Has your senior management team made brand part of your everyday business life?
We call this Management Commitment. The brand must become the foundation and filter for business strategy and strategic planning decisions. Look at the way that internal meetings are handled; brand should be integrated into the agenda even at the highest levels. Assessing the content of externally facing touchpoints (speeches, quarterly analyst calls, shareholder reports) also indicates the depth and commitment that leadership has made to living the brand as a part of everyday life. Brand should be considered and deployed as a strategic asset rather than a marketing initiative if it is to create value over the long term.
2. Are brand elements becoming stronger across the experience?
We call this Experience Integration. In order to create distinction, the brand’s priorities as well as its attributes must become integrated into product and service experiences. For manufacturers, the focus is often on how brand is expressed in the physical or digital environments in which people shop. In healthcare, brand is infused in the approach that staff takes when interacting with and serving patients. By assessing the performance of specific touchpoints on the functional and brand-derived attributes that matter, a view to successful Experience Integration emerges.
3. Have your employees become advocates?
We call this Advocacy Creation. Brand change has the potential to turn any employee across the organization into someone fiercely advocating on behalf of the organization, brand, and role in the world. A brand program can activate existing goodwill that employees feel for the organization while working to transform negative feelings into positive ones. Measuring engagement and the intensity of advocacy is a first step, but it is also important to go further. Dig into the messaging that employees are delivering out in the field in situations where they interact directly with customers. It’s not enough to simply advocate; the message has to be brand right.
4. Are your Marketing/Communications efforts building the brand consistently across all forms of media?
We call this Marketing Effectiveness. In its most traditional sense, brand drives Marketing and Communications. But knowing if you are successful is a multi-faceted endeavor. First, ask those that are consuming your marketing to play back the tone of voice and messages that you are delivering. It is critical to know whether the style and the content is making an impact. Second, measure the traditional marketing metrics like awareness, favorability, and attribute associations. This combination helps to ensure that the brand program is delivering both content and process to your most important audiences.
5. Is the brand building business value for the organization?
We call this Value Creation. A hard working brand is actively building business value for the organization on both sides of the P&L. Brand makes it easier for people to choose and creates loyalty so that they are more likely to return. Each of these drive topline growth. A strong brand program also enables a more effective and efficient deployment of the brand as dollars can be invested in a more focused and more compelling way. This drives bottom line improvements. Along with measuring traditional business metrics, brand valuation is also a relevant; demonstrate the financial value that brand is delivering in order to demonstrate the true ROI of all of the energy and effort that went into bringing brand work to life.
Once a brand strategy is defined, then the hard work truly begins. In order to build the commitment of the organization to brand, this hard work has to have a real payoff tied closely to metrics and measures that stakeholders of all types can feel good about. Focus on Management Commitment, Experience Integration, Advocacy Creation, Marketing Effectiveness, and Value Creation in order to build your business case for brand.