Opinion: How can a brand navigate the challenges of gaining buy-in?
Gaining buy-in to invest in your brand is challenging. The path to great results is as much about navigating these challenges as it is about the brand work itself. Here are a handful of those we hear most often, with our top tips for addressing them
“But how can I prove it’s worth doing?:” By holding up a mirror.
Sometimes you only need to take the first step. There’s no need to commission the full rebrand from day one. And you may not need to. Instead, consider securing a more achievable budget to review how well your brand is performing. It’s hard to argue against the value of doing this and you might be pleasantly surprised. If not, you have compelling evidence for how and where you need to invest.
“But the CEO thinks brand is all about re-arranging the cushions:” Link it back to the demands of the strategic plan.
Your brand strategy and business strategy should be intrinsically linked. Be clear about the relationship between the two – and the advantage the investment will help you achieve. If the link is not made clear, don’t blame CEOs for being skeptical or giving a subjective response to any ensuing work.
“But my budgets are allocated elsewhere:” Then let’s build it bottom up rather than top down.
Consider developing your brand expression on ‘live’ communications where budget has been allocated. Corporate brochures, annual reports and websites all provide high profile channels for developing your messaging, tone of voice and visual language. Or focus on improving your sales tools and bid documents. With direct commercial value, it’s easier to make the business case for improving these and making them work harder for you.
“But we can’t change the logo:” You probably don’t need to.
Your brand is about more than your visual identity. Improving your brand might not involve anything visual at all. And if a visual refresh is needed, much can be done without touching the logo, but instead refreshing the visual language that sits around it. The key is defining what you’re trying to achieve, the parameters that are fixed and building the creative brief around this.
“But brand isn’t taken seriously here:” Explain what brand is and what it means to them.
Brand and good business sense are not mutually exclusive. To get people on board, you need to demystify the word ‘brand. Explain why it’s important for the business and therefore why it’s important for them. Link it clearly back to their role – how it will benefit them, what’s expected of them and how it will ultimately help them and make their life easier. And engage them in the process so they feel part of it from the beginning.
“But brand is managed out of the US:” Build something that works within the parameters of the guidelines.
Cultural nuance is a part of day-to-day business for global firms. It’s a cliché́, but you can’t be global without being local – you have to understand what resonates with your audiences in different places. The brand may be managed out of the US, but to make it work in Europe or the Middle East, the messaging, tone and execution may need to be nuanced. And there’s always a way of doing that, somehow, within the existing guidelines.
Alison Sato is client services director at Frank, Bright & Abel