Opinion: How does brand implementation impact on the bottom line?
At most branding events, there is a creative buzz in the air. The creative brand agencies are the ones that are celebrated for the development of strong visual identities and inspiring values. However, It was interesting to attend a brand finance conference recently, where I suddenly realise there is a totally different branding world, running parallel to the marketers and brand practitioners, with people speaking in a different language about brands: the language of financial brand value and the bottom line.
Brands are business assets and are being recognised increasingly as valuable ones. Brand Finance published its Global 500 flagship brand league table recently and the brand community eagerly awaits Interbrand’s 2016 annual Best Global Brands report.
Strong brands contribute as much as 30% of total ‘enterprise value,’ sometimes considerably more, to a company. Brands can be bought, sold and licensed, and with the current M&A boom, this is taking place with increasing frequency. It is not surprising therefore that the financial value of the brand is a topic that is here to stay.
Strong brands offer a host of advantages: allowing greater margins, being less vulnerable to aggressive pricing and less prone to suffer in times of crisis – as the VW scandal has recently shown.
An important point when thinking about brand value in financial terms is that strong brands also offer improved employee retention. The topic of the employer brand is taking an increasingly important role in the boardroom. The essence of the discussions is that a stronger brand is able to pay less remuneration to its employees and also retain employee loyalty because they strongly identify with the brand.
As global brand manager at Nokia Siemens Networks, I was acutely aware of the importance of the brand to all stakeholders, not just from an external commercial point of view. I am therefore pleased to witness that specialist brand implementation companies such as GLIMMA also recognise the important role they have to play in creating brand value, an attribute that is often not readily associated with brand rollout programs.
All the more reason to celebrate Transform for its inclusion of brand implementation categories in this year’s Transform Awards. GLIMMA was delighted to win the gold award for our work with Paris-based Suez Environnment, for 'Best brand implementation across multiple markets.'
In my current role, I am fortunate to work for and with many of the leading and most recognised global brands. These companies are acutely aware that the creation of a strong visual identity and brand values are critical to success; they also recognise that this is just the start of the brand journey and that value is created over time.
Long term brand value is achieved by ensuring a consistent quality of brand experience at every touchpoint and over the lifetime of the relationship. For both customers and employees it is essential to maintain the brand and allow it to grow over time.
The complexity of delivering global branding programs is not to be underestimated – a team of experts will work to exacting specifications: this includes materials specialists, technical designers, supply and procurement managers, as well as global production and installers.
When bringing a brand design to life, in addition to practical considerations, every member of the implementation team should also understand how they are paying directly into the value of the brand. Every physical manifestation of the brand, whether it’s architectural, signage, fleet or point of sale, contributes to the more ethereal financial brand value. With this in mind, I firmly believe that brand implementation is a direct contributor to brand equity.
Next year, the Transform Awards should take a bold step and introduce a ‘Best brand development project that has most contributed to the bottom line’ category!
Dr Julie Schoenfelder is the brand implementation director at Global Image Management (GLIMMA).