A recent report by WPP’s The Partners in conjunction with Lambie-Nairn, Millward Brown and BrandZ analysed how brand-building impacts brand value growth – and the findings make interesting reading.
‘Branding Is the Driver of Brand Value’
Brand value growth is at its highest ‘when brands deliver the full combination of a unique and compelling core proposition, a distinctive brand identity, and great advertising’ states the report, which estimates that brands that can perform well against all these criteria have seen average brand value growth of 168% in the past ten years.
Think great advertising is the key? Think again. Although a great advertising campaign is important, brands not considered to produce great advertising still do well if they have a strong proposition and core identity, achieving an average brand value growth of 76% over the past ten years.
Positioning and Identity are Key
Where companies were considered to have great advertising campaigns but lacked strong identities, brand value growth over the decade was only 27% – just slightly higher than the 21% growth achieved by companies failing to deliver a powerful proposition, strong identity or great advertising.
The findings ‘prove that investing in brand positioning and identity produces markedly greater returns in brand value when compared to, or used in conjunction with strong advertising,’ concludes the report.
Jim Prior, CEO of The Partners, says: “The data clearly demonstrates that great advertising is, by itself, insufficient and inefficient – it needs to be underpinned by broader, deeper strategic and creative definitions. While brand consultancies have long argued this point in principle, this data clearly shows it.”
Branding Takeaways for Small Businesses
Jason Hartley, Head of Strategy at The Partners, says that while large companies often need help to identify something that makes them special, SMEs tend to already know this: “Brand is so much more powerful to an SME… Take the tech sector, the idea of what your business does in tech is never enough. If it’s a good idea you can bet that a number of people are going to be on your back. So you differentiate through your brand,” he says. He also urges businesses to embed branding in the company culture. “You need to be sure that everyone knows this is what we stand for,” he advises, adding that your brand should be “everything you are and the sort of people you want to be… the sooner you get people aligned to that, the easier it is.”
Uri Baruchin, Strategy Director at The Partners, stresses that you need a strong brand identity from the start, and shouldn’t be tempted to wait for time and money to improve on a weak one. It also needs to work across all channels. “Many young businesses still approach their branding as if it’s going to live mostly offline and tell their story in a linear way (such as simply through text and TV, radio),” he says. “Digital means so much more for your branding: it can move even within static moments. It demands non-linear storytelling and customer participation. It needs to be brutally simple and yet look differentiated.”
Learn from Branding Successes
Innocent Drinks is a great example of a branding success story, says Baruchin. “Innocent was driven by its brand from day one. This simple, direct approach is consistent with nearly any action or aspect of their business, whether packaging, adverts, the charity activity or new product development. Everything is tied up by a unified sense of purpose driven by a clearly defined brand with a consistent design and tone of voice.”
The report’s authors point out that building a strong proposition and identity generally costs less than a strong advertising campaign. “Any brand owners not currently investing in brand proposition or identity should be encouraged to make an urgent redistribution of budgets,” it concludes.