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Business Strategy

Optimizing The Brand Asset

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Optimizing The Brand Asset

It’s nearly impossible to escape the pervasive influence that brands have on our lives. In the broadest sense, brands constitute organizing mechanisms to help us navigate through each consumer day. What we drink, eat, or drive, what products we use at home and at work, where we play or vacation, where we live, what we watch, what we read, and even who we interact with, and how, are often choices informed by or shaped by branding. That is, they are a function of the set of values and perceptions we have about companies, products, services, or even TV shows, people, and places that form in our minds.

You’ve formed an impression, sometimes a strong one, sometimes weak, about all of the above. That perception is based on whatever mix of inputs have been pushed to you, whether intended or not – previous interactions, something you read, heard or observed, and yes, formal marketing communications such as advertising.

We all develop our perceptions of brands based on this full range of direct and indirect stimuli, yet many businesses – even large, global, sophisticated ones, often seem satisfied to address only a narrow portion of these stimuli, and then typically using only the traditional marketing tools of advertising, promotion, and packaging. It’s not surprising to hear boardroom conversation and cocktail chatter about the latest retail promotion or a favorite TV spot, but it’s far less common to hear how a consumer’s interaction with a salesperson has been engineered to ensure that it reinforces the intended meaning of the brand.

Brand Optimization

Despite the ubiquity of branding and the overwhelming number of companies and executives who engage in brand marketing, not many companies have fully utilized their brand effectively as an asset.

But for a select few companies, brand optimization has become a foundational element of their overall business strategy, creating key competitive leverage points at every turn, and directly enhancing revenue, profits, goodwill, and market capitalization.

They know that the true value of their brands is not just about clever ads or billboards, although advertising is certainly an important component. It’s not just about packaging, the website, or social media, although these are certainly important too. Instead …

A great brand is a set of consistent, positive associations and values that have been created through the sum total of customer interactions with a company, its products and services, and all the messages through all media that the company and its people put out into the environment.

Delivery of this consistent set of values and messages creates consumer expectations, and strong brand perceptions create an unspoken brand promise, an expectation of future value.

Thus, customer experience is at the core of every brand. Research shows time and again that people reward companies whose products and services meet or exceed their expectations, and they punish those that fall short. Rewards come in the form of brand preference and customer loyalty that translates into revenue; punishment comes in declining sales and eroded reputation.

Customer Interactions And Desired Experiences

Yet many companies don’t seem to recognize how fundamental it is for all customer interactions to be seamlessly and effortlessly aligned toward a mutually desired set of experiences.

Those that understand the true meaning of their brands will use their brands to influence and drive their entire organization toward highly satisfying and mutually rewarding interactions. This is how Southwest Airlines became one of the most respected carriers, and how Coca-Cola has delivered a consistently refreshing experience for millions of consumers throughout the world for more than 100 years.

Behind every great brand is a history of effort and commitment, and it’s not easy to deliver a consistent brand experience. It takes strong leadership and a clear vision, combined with employees who share the vision and work every day to make it a reality for every customer. It also takes constant monitoring to make sure that things stay on track.

As your goal is to create compelling and actionable brand strategies that can be effectively delivered, you’ll need to develop a planning process that enables your company to identify and adopt behaviors that will lead to enhanced customer experiences and revenue growth.

Most companies begin by asking four simple brand development questions:

1. What is the state of our brand today?

2. What is the desired state for the brand tomorrow?

3. What must be done to activate the brand throughout the company?

4. What ongoing measures are needed to ensure that the brand promise is being experienced consistently?

Who’s responsible for asking these questions?

It’s the Brand Guardians, of course.

Honest and robust answers to these questions are essential points for learning and inspiration along the journey to building the strong and enduring bridge to your customers and a bigger future for your brand.

These core ideas and others can be found in my latest book The Brand Bridge – How to Build a Profound Connection Between Your Company, Your Brand, and Your Customers.

At The Blake Project we are helping clients from around the world, in all stages of development, redefine and articulate what makes them competitive at critical moments of change. Please email us for more.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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