• Transform magazine
  • July 01, 2022

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Brand-led decision making

Tom Warden 2 (1)

Tom Warden, strategy director at Landor & Fitch, believes that brand can drive the future success of businesses if properly utilised. He argues that if businesses are willing to make trade-offs to strengthen the brand, they will stand a better chance of cutting through the competition in the long run.

A brand, as we know, is much more than the logo that symbolises it. Brand, if it’s used right, becomes a tool for making strategically driven decisions to align, and to drive brand-led business transformation. 

A few years ago, Danone looked to become an overarching corporate brand, encompassing its portfolio of food nutrition product brands. However, within its product portfolio it also had several high sugar drinks, which got in the way of that ambition. So it divested itself of these products and doubled down on building a portfolio of nutritious products. 

Why was this important? Because it became a trust-mark for consumers, the brand became synonymous for good nutrition, and positioning it still holds today. This brand-led decision making became a tangible promise, a promise that the business must keep, or risk losing its credibility. By using brand as a filter for business decision-making, Danone repositioned itself and is currently the third most valuable food brand. 

Trade-offs help brands trade up

In the GCC, many FMCG brands tend to straddle multiple categories that have little in common. This means that such brands have to develop a position that transcends more than one category, such as nutrition, sustainability, or simply a strong sense of morality. Businesses are often unwilling to make the type of trade-offs that a brand like Danone has, leaving them with a mismatched portfolio of offerings that aren’t really connected by any brand-led strategic theme. If businesses start to look at their product portfolio through the lens of brand, they will start to understand that their master brand can stand for so much more than generic tropes such as ‘quality’ or ‘national pride’. A brand-led focus for key offerings can better address unmet needs for consumers, helping to create a defined positioning and break through the clutter of the competition.

A lofty purpose serves little purpose

The key to any good brand purpose is measurement of performance. One of Landor & Fitch’s clients, Kellogg’s has taken this to heart. Its purpose is about “Creating better days and a place at the table for everyone, through our trusted food brands.” The ‘place at the table’ refers to diversity and inclusion, which is also a key strategy for the company. Aside from third party recognition of their achievements, there are several metrics and indicators that can tell how far Kellogg’s are on their journey of achieving a diverse and inclusive business.

Not only does Kellogg’s purpose mention the impact they are looking to make, but the language is grounded in who they are. As a brand in the business of breakfast, they are ‘a brand you start the day with’.

Brand should be used as a North Star for a business, providing long term direction and inspiring those moments when leaders - with the brand’s best interests at heart - can make decisions that are authentic to who the brand is and who they want to be in the future.