10 Branding Insights and Opportunities

Leading South African brand consultancy, Interbrand Sampson, uses global insight from parent, Interbrand, to bring 10 branding insights and opportunities to the local market:

1. Clarity

In practice, clarity of vision, values and positioning overall, are often given insufficient attention. The majority of corporate and brand visions are interchangeable, bland and viewed with cynicism. In an over-communicated world, lack of clarity will substantially reduce effectiveness and efficiency; and complex brand and sub-brand structures without a real audience rationale will reduce this still further.

2. Brand as central organizing principle

The world’s most valuable brands use their brand as the central organising principle for all products and services, corporate organisation, structure and behaviour, environments and communications. They are brand centric. In this way, they ensure that their promise to and relationship with the customer is constantly delivered and refreshed.

(Well I tend to agree more with Douglas Rushkoff, author of the provocative new book Get Back in the Box, who urges companies to focus on products, not branding. But well this should be the number one advice coming from a branding agency, wouldn’t it? at&t bought it.)

3. Brand as a total experience

The success of experience-based brands at building deeper customer relationships at the expense of solely product-based brands argues strongly for every brand to think about its total chain of experience – from visual identity to advertising, product, packaging, PR, in-store environment – and increasingly round-the-clock presence and availability online.

4. More compelling and imaginative expressions of brand identity

The ability to break through brand proliferation and communications clutter depends on imaginative and innovative creative expression. Every opportunity to communicate counts, and every channel, from marque to distinctive corporate communications, from the office environment to the person answering the phone.

5. The brand as platform for innovation

In the constant battle to stay ahead of current and future competitors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get sustainable competitive advantage through product development alone. Using a distinctive brand platform as a starting point for innovation in all areas of operation and experience can release more distinctive results – as well as being more effective and cost efficient. Use the brand platform as a springboard to look at growth categories for the future and in the context of consumer trends – and examine what your brand could distinctively bring.

6. Brands need profound protection

It is estimated that 9% of the world trade is counterfeited. Brand owners must use the full weight of the law, quickly and publicly, to prevent value loss and degradation. Legally ‘ring-fencing’ your brand should be a never ending process.

7. Understanding the value of your brand

Use brand value as a core measure of people’s performance, which both built momentum and created sustainable premium growth. Brand values also crucial management information for mergers, acquisitions and divestments, which will continue in the future as markets shake out and consolidate.

8. Effective and efficient brand monitoring and measurement

It can be tempting for organisations to do a brand programme, and not put in proper monitoring and measurement – and indeed support – systems to maintain them properly. The most successful organisations integrate these systems into their day to day operations and plans.

9. CSR as core social responsibility

In an all-seeing digital world, and in a sharper business environment where employees at all levels can be ambassadors or saboteurs for the company’s reputation, there really will be no hiding places any more. Organisations will have no choice but to be transparent in their dealings and fulfil their promises, or to have transparency forced on them. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to be an overused buzz term in too many organisations today, and a whole new industry has grown up around it. Although good intentions may be there, all too often organisations look at
CSR as an insurance policy, or a more sophisticated form of cause-related marketing, rather than as core to their operations.

10. Always act like a leader brand

What can be termed a ‘leader brand’ today is not a brand leader in the old fashioned sense, reflecting scale and muscle alone. Rather, it reflects a newer, restless and agenda-setting leadership across all areas of philosophy and operations, inside and out.

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