The brands that transcend are those that achieve a dynamic balance between long and short term, rationality and creativity. Is your brand on this path?
brand Archivos | Allegro 234
Politicians are still trying to understand the crisis, some big companies are launching innocuous campaigns, bankers are crying because they didn’t deserve this situation… Should I continue the list? Probably I could, but that’s not the point.
In this social network we use to talk about branding, about brand experiences… about us!… We could isolate branding issues from our current situation, however, it would look at certain point, something between naÃ¯f and unconscious.
Reality, which is neither the Big Brother nor Code Lyoko, is showing us that to overcome the crisis, we do need as individuals certain specific behaviours (remember what Dr. Utterson said when he talked about the online and offline worlds… both are real).
Going back to the first sentence of this post:
- Today’s politicians (from the left, center or right) learned how to manage a country as if sea captains had learnt to sail in calm waters
- Some big companies used to be managed under the SYA (Save Your Ass) policies. So, everything coming from them seems to be decaffeinated
- Bankers follow the patterns designed by the Chicago’s boys or the ones that are fashionable, and teach how to overcome a crisis produced by others
All that I mentioned above have something in common…. All the people involved behave as bureaucrats. This is not bad, however, it is not enough to overcome a crisis.
Both bureaucrats as well as employees are needed to make the world work, and probably, they are better prepared to manage stable situations than other kind of people.
Today’s crisis is a point of inflection. It cannot be solved with old formulas because, probably, we are not going to go back to same old habits…. And they have no idea of what to do.
What is the connection of this with brand experiences?
During a long period of time I was thinking of differentiating between big brands from those ones that we finally fall in love with (it’s a way of saying):
- Big brands belong to big companies, they have deep coverage, and we are aware of their existence. e.g.: GE (one of the brands with highest economic value worldwide)
- Brands that we finally fall in love with could belong to big companies… or not. They are focused on their tribe. We are aware of their existence if we are familiar with the tribe… and we would love them if we live deeply their experience one time after another
And here comes the point… The brands that are loved have another key characteristic: they were created by an entrepreneur and his/her soul is still alive in the company.
Entrepreneurs think about brand positioning because they want to give strategic intention to their promises. However, before that, they bring to the brand experience two other things:
- A call to action idea that is permanent, based on their value agendas and make the difference over time
- They are the story behind the scene that personalizes that brand experience
We can love or hate those people… Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and/or Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). But for sure, they do not go unnoticed.
These people are not complaining about limitations, regulations,… They are creating new rules. They rule their way of living!
Still looks that there is no connection… Hmmmm
The message in the bottle
Let’s merge both ideas, crisis and entrepreneurs…
- Entrepreneurs are people who have a dream and the ability to make it come true
- Entrepreneurs are not afraid of crisis because they live in an eternal one
- Entreprenuers are inflexible with their ideas and flexible with their implementation
- Entrepreneurs never surrender
- Crisis forces to change habits
- Crisis are solved by braves (a politically correct way of saying ‘crazies’)
- Crisis requires flexibility and speed
- Crisis usually keeps in our minds (self-fulfilling prophecy)
To overcome this crisis that we are “enjoying” now, we do need to create new kinds of experiences. Those experiences must be aligned with new behaviours, with new value agendas. Brands are not going to be what they were because we are not going to live the way that we were living up to now.
Only somebody with a soul of an entreprenuer (also if he/she is an employee) is able to understand this and do something… Actually, they are doing it!
Finally, perhaps it’s time to pay attention to the entrepreneurs and the brand experiences that they are creating because they are the ones who are going to change the world.
Create and maintain a relevant brand experience makes the difference
The companies face a world that, day by day is becoming more complex and paradigmatic. The range of products and services is growing exponentially, competition has overcome geographic barriers and what still worse there are similar offers in excess.
For their part, customers are better informed, they seek for offers that are unique and differential to help them on building their self-expression, a proposal financially attractive, and as if that were not enough, they have less time to decide what to buy and use.
These facts establish the need for an excellent and innovative offer that considers a new dimension useful to distinguish it from other products and services that meet the same needs. This new dimension is what is known as a brand experience.
As such, a relevant and effective brand experience has to be seductive and sedative, or an element which triggers the deepest desires of the person and simultaneously reduce their level of uncertainty, thus driving to action and streamline the processes of thought and decision.
The brand experience goes beyond the name, symbol, sound and/or any combination of these aspects, although, of course, included. It considers aspects such as:
- The place where the supply is submitted, whether real or virtual
- Associated services before, during and after the sale
- The availability of the product or service
- The value that is given to the offer, beyond the price
- The intrinsic value of the product or service
- The communication of the offer in all its possible aspects
- The brand as a synthesis of the value proposition of the company
This is the way of how it was transformed into a strategic asset of the company, which must be managed and monitored, both at the level of assumptions (efficacy) as well as at the accomplishment of the defined goals (efficiency).
Managing the brand experience is an imperative for the company
In one way or another, the entire organization is committed to the success:
- Employees, in or out the moment of truth, are those that convey the values that make the company unique
- The product or service is the final element which verifies compliance with the value proposition
- Communication builds the image, which honestly, represents the identity of the company and manages the call to action idea that differentiates the company from competition
To ensure coherency and consistency in the brand experience there must be a deliberate planning and strategic alignment with the company definitions at the highest level, to ensure their proper execution and observation, considering all the key business audiences, be they consumers, customers, channel , Employees, shareholders, and so on.
In this sense, and considering the need to act fast, short-term imperatives of managing the brand experience must be aligned with the strategic decisions that address the creation of long-term value.
This makes the need for an effective control system that is not limited to performance metrics, but it’s useful to take decisions based on relations of the type of cause and effect linking the objectives outlined in the strategy with the day-to-day brand experience execution.
Observe what is executed and decide central issues belongs to top management
The Marketing & Branding Balanced Scorecard (MBBS) is a system for strategic management of the brand experience, which translates the strategy into tangible and verifiable goals. It is the balance between past results and the measures that will guide future performance:
- Clarifies and translates the brand strategy
- Communicates and correlates strategic objectives of the brand experience with the metrics that measure their performance
- Plans, sets goals and aligns strategic initiatives
- Aligns the goals of the business units to give substance to the value proposition of the company
- Improves the strategic response and knowledge
- Uses a limited number of indicators (usually no more than 20) that allows a quick understanding of the business strategy and brand experience
The MBBS helps to link facts that build the brand experience ““often uncoordinated, the company and its key audiences, by integrating metrics derived from the strategy to streamline its management, prioritizing what matters and promoting organizational learning.
The brand strategy is built from the values that convey the company’s strategic objectives pursued by the business, brand assets, functionality (to create awareness and consideration) and emotional elements that differentiate the offer (to create preference and sales).
These values are recognized differently by each key audience:
- Towards the customers, reputation
- Towards employees, internal alignment
- Toward shareholders, creating value from the brand experience as an asset of the business
The MBBS links these interests from different perspectives by bringing together the cause and effect relationships. The most visible result so will the financial perspective.
The truth is that those results expressed in Euros/US$/Pounds”¦ will depend on the success that the company and its products and services have to make its audiences live the value proposition of the company, what ultimately depend on the ability to change and innovate which has the organization.
For the shareholder may be important, among other metrics, recognizing the value of the brand. But at this point it must be made several clarifications and “topples a myth.”
Let us start with the latter, tear down the myth that “the brand is the most important asset of the business.” The brand experience is a key asset, however, is not necessarily the most important. Let us see an example:
- General Electric-GE, is the fourth largest brand value according to the rankings produced by Interbrand. But when we compare this value to the business, the brand represents less than 7% of the value of it. In this case the brand is not the most important asset of the company. This does not diminish the importance, however, when making business decisions, the brand will have a subsidiary role
- GAP, is in the ranked 40. The Gap brand is worth almost six times lower than GE, however, regarding the business value, it represents more than half of it. In this case, the brand itself is the most important asset of the company. Any act that harms the brand experience will have a profound impact on the value of the business. And possibly in relative terms, is more complex strategically manage the GAP brand that the GE one
The clarifications relate to the indicator in itself and with the way it is calculated:
- The calculation of brand value is a subjective and controversial subject. It is partly a science and partly an art
- Among the various models for valuing brands, the “valuation for its use” may be the most suitable for marketing and the one that is better associated with other variables of the MBBS
- The decisions that can be taken with the value of the brand are few and are related to merger and acquisition, licensing and franchising, indirectly fund raising to presentations to analysts
- What is true is that it is almost impossible to reduce the richness of the brand experience to a single metric
The metric related to the financial perspective, properly orchestrated, will depend on those that relate to the customer in a given competitive environment.
There are two main sections that make up this part of the MBBS:
- The customer – consumer, either potential or actual
- The competitive environment in which the brand experience lives
Within the metrics used in the market perspective, there are some that measure the image and others that measure the identity of the company
- Measures Image: Metrics associated with the recognition, familiarity and consideration
- Measures of identity: Metrics associated with the purchase decision and customer loyalty
Following the logic of cause and effect of MBBS within the variables that are in the hands of the company and can help to make substantial improvements, there are those that cater to the internal objectives and ensure that the brand experience is consistent across the organization, including, in some cases, their marketing channels (and support the value proposition that is communicated to the market).
This is not a minor issue. Cooperation and coordination. It goes beyond choosing the employee of the month. Generally, the metrics used internally do not measure the impact on the brand experience, or worse, they go against the brand experience.
Consider for a moment in the systems of rewards and compensation of personnel that are linked to the outcome of your business unit. The same system of control could lead people to compete against another of the same company, harming the overall results and confuse the client who perceives misalignment between the values and real brand experience.
The creation of value from the internal perspective is the foundation of the company, its level in more strategic and more intangible. This is its ability to innovate, grow and learn.
Change and innovation perspective
To grow healthily and steadily create value, companies have to innovate. To innovate must be managed properly capitalizing knowledge (structurally). Brand experience must be part of this process.
In this regard, it is not only to innovate in products and services, it also must consider the models of management and control, and at this point, the MBBS can become part of the innovation processes of the company.
MBBS as a management system is the key
The key is to transform the control panel in a management tool that even serve to generate new habits within the organization.
Linking the processes of innovation, with the internal brand experience, this with the experience in the market and finally, with the performance of the business, allows the organization as a whole to manage the brand experience in a way that creates real and measurable value.
Use a MBBS prioritizes what is important
To implement a MBBS it is required at least 10 points to consider:
- Ensure that there is determination and support of the top management
- Define, structure and translate the brand strategy consistently with the business strategy
- Define the critical strategic objectives for each perspective and establish their links ““create the brand experience strategic map
- Select the metrics to measure each of the defined objectives, accomplishing the rule of effectiveness ““there are all the metrics needed and only the metrics required
- Establish satisfaction and measurement policies, and goals to be achieved
- Set times and responsible for meeting each goal considering a multi-functional and decentralized team (some actions go beyond the role of marketing)
- Establish sources of information and frequency for updating the model
- Link the goals and targets with action plans, initiatives and projects
- Link the system of incentives to MBBS metrics
- Develop the ability to simulate future results to improve the quality of decisions
The MBBS is a model for managing the brand experience that balances long-term vision with immediate imperatives, strategy with day-to-day activities.
The reward is not in the mere fact of creating brand value, but to generate value for shareholders, and this brings the role of marketing to the highest levels within the organization. Marketing, as a knight, become part of the round table.
It looks like a Canadian question” and actually, it is!… The reason why is because I’m using two great examples of Canadian ads. Both are from Molson beer, both are based on belonging values”¦ both are empowering self-expression.
This could be consider as a dichotomy. By definition, there are two main families (allow me to say this in this manner) of values, belonging and self-expression ones.
If you see the first ad, you’ll discover clearly values related to the nation, the key values and behaviours of its people”¦
If you see this second one, they show by contraposition, values they have and make them different from Americans”¦ They are Canadians or as Joe said, I am Canadian”¦
So the table is served”¦ Sense and sensibility is present”¦ A strong identity is behind the scene”¦ the brand image is there only for a second”¦ Molson”¦
Could we consider that in FMCG ““Fast Moving Consumer Goods, the tribes are based on this exquisite relation between belonging and self-expression values?
Ronald Inglehart’s research began (almost) 20 years ago. In certain way, the upshot of this attitude research was that as societies grew prosperous, they were able to focus on “post-material” values.
The cultural value maps, that he and his team developed, show where each country is in terms of relation to authority and relative well-being. The interesting issue is that during the last years each country dramatically changed from one position to other.
It looks like people value agendas are changing. Plausibly, those values which are more associated with self-expression are becoming more important (it sounds logical if we accept that we are moving from a structural society to a network one – Zygmunt Bauman (2007): Liquid Times / Modus Vivendi).
If so, thinking about brand experience, it looks like we choose a brand (against others) because we are sharing values through our behaviours (people and company ones). Going deeper, it doesn’t matter the size of the company, each one has its value agenda and customers, employees and shareholders are people who should belong to the same tribe.