It’s not as much about perfecting your tag line as it is about enhancing your bottom line.
by Allan Gorman
Business valuation practices and transaction prices have changed so dramatically over the past 25 years that, for many companies, the intangible known as ‘the brand’ is arguably the firm’s most important real asset.
The influence that brand perception has over the choices of consumers, employees, investors and referrers is so strong that it can dramatically impact the economic value of the entity that owns it.
A 2002 study by Interbrand® and JP Morgan concluded that, on average, the brand can account for more than a third of shareholder value—in some cases much, much more. The brand known as McDonald’s accounts for more than 70%, and the idea called Coca-Cola adds more than 50% to their market value. (See table)
We’d reason that — especially in a tough economic climate — a committed and ongoing investment in brand rejuvenation and maintenance is absolutely essential to the lifeblood and economic health of your business. Brand better and you’ll do better – in good times and bad.
So how do you invest to make your brand worth more? Look at the following handful of crucial areas — which have almost nothing to do with new logos and tag lines, and everything to do with building a stronger brand.
Invest in vision development. The CEO needs to take the responsibility and lead the ownership and stewardship of the brand. To create real value, the idea of brand development needs to step out from the shadows of the marketing department to embrace anything and everything the company does by everything and everyone associated with it. HR, Finance, Operations, Marketing, Sales, Production, Logistics, Customer Service—they all need to be in alignment and own the brand idea that’s driven from the top.
Invest in customer experience. Effective branding stems from delighting your customers at each touch point. Develop a single voice and style that permeates each and every experience he or she has. From the first time the phone is answered to follow-up after the sale. Consistency is key—with support from every representative each and every step of the way. Only hire people who will happily support the brand vision so that the brand’s promise is delivered each time in the way your loyal customers will come to expect.
Invest in more effective communications. Your marketing communications need to go beyond merely providing information, but must also tell a story that will create demand. The value you provide must be clear and distinct, and compelling enough to make the right customers want your products and services over and over again—and want to tell others to use them as well. It’s not just about communication. It’s about creating a cherished emotional connection.
Invest in changing the world. To become valuable to your stakeholders, your vision and direction must clearly show and be awesomely inspirational. Look at the issues in the world that you might—in some small way—be able to solve. Innovative problem solving is an on-going process that needs to be cultivated and worked on. The world is constantly changing and leaders are always one step ahead of that change.
Invest in streamlining and simplification. Instead of being all things to all, the strongest brands keep on refining and abstracting their focus to a singular idea. Resist the temptation to extend yourself too far beyond your core competencies and diluting your brand with expenditures and offerings that don’t make long-term sense. Simplicity is always the most elegant solution and, done well, is almost always likely to command a premium.
Want to thrive and survive and increase your intangible assets? Focus on developing an attitude and culture that’s committed to understanding, excellent service and continuous improvement.
Then once you feel confident that you’re doing your best, the tagline can be perfected to serve as a reminder of how wonderful your brand really is.
Allan Gorman is owner of Brandspa, LLC a brand-marketing company that helps mid-sized firms increase their economic value by growing their intangible value. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.