Corporate brand building process by bhawani nandan prasad mba, iim calcutta
Corporate brand building process by Bhawani Nandan Prasad - MBA, IIM CalcuttaCorporate branding involves highlighting factors such as Heritage Assets/Capabilities People Skill Values/Priorities Local/Global dominance Country of origin Superior PerformanceCorporations around the world are increasingly becoming aware of the enhanced value that corporatebranding strategies can provide for an organization. Branding in the classic sense is all about creatingunique identities and positions for products and services, hence distinguishing the offerings fromcompetitors. Corporate branding employs the same methodology and toolbox used in product branding,but it also elevates the approach a step further into the board room, where additional issues aroundstakeholder relations (shareholders, media, competitors, governments and many others) can help thecorporation benefit from a strong and well-managed corporate branding strategy. Not surprisingly, astrong and comprehensive corporate branding strategy requires a high level of personal attention andcommitment from the CEO and the senior management to become fully effective and meet the objectives.Corporate branding is often, but wrongly, referred to as an exercise where the company logo, the designstyle and color scheme are changed. Naturally, these are important elements to evaluate and potentiallychange at a later stage once the strategy has been decided upon. It is often accompanied with a newcorporate slogan, and then everyone expects results to occur during the project. Corporate branding is aserious undertaking that entails more skills and activities than just an updated glossy marketing facadewith empty jargon.Composition of a corporate brand :- A rich Heritage .- Assets & capabilities.- People – strong leaders.- Values and priorities- A global and local framework.- Citizenship program- A proven performance record.Corporate Branding Strategy:A strong corporate branding strategy can add significant value in terms of helping the entire corporationand the management team to implement the long-term vision, create unique positions in the market placeof the company and its brands, and not the least to unlock the leadership potential within the organization.Hence a corporate branding strategy can enable the corporation to further leverage on its tangible andnon-tangible assets leading to branding excellence throughout the corporation.IMPORTANT STEPS:Corporate branding is a potentially strong tool for re-aligning a corporate strategy and ensures that thecorporation – big or small – is leveraging adequately on the un-tapped internal and external resources.
There are10 crucial steps on the way to a successful corporate branding strategy, and they can serve asa useful guide for any corporate branding project.1. The CEO needs to lead the brand strategy workThe starting point for corporate branding must be the board room, which is also serving as the mostimportant check-point during the project. The CEO must be personally involved in the brand strategywork, and he/she must be passionate and fully buy into the idea of branding. To ensure success despitethe daily and stressful routine with many duties at the same time, the CEO must be backed by a strongbrand management team of senior contributors, who can facilitate a continuous development andintegration of the new strategy.2. Build your own model as not every model suits allAll companies have their own specific requirements, own sets of business values and a unique way ofdoing things. Therefore, even the best and most comprehensive branding models have to be tailored tothese needs and requirements. Often, only a few but important adjustments are needed to align them withother similar business models and strategies in the company to create a simplified toolbox. Rememberthat branding is the face of a business strategy so these two areas must go hand in hand.3. Involve your stakeholders including the customersWho knows more about your company than the customers, the employees and many other stakeholders?This is common sense, but many companies forget these simple and easily accessible sources ofvaluable information for the branding strategy. A simple rule is to use 5% of the marketing budget onresearch and at least obtain a fair picture of the current business landscape including the current brandimage among stakeholders, brand positioning and also any critical paths ahead. Simply do not forget thevaluable voice of your customers in this process.4. Advance the corporate visionThe corporate branding strategy is an excellent channel for advancing the corporate vision throughout thecompany. It allows the management to involve, educate and align everyone around the corporateobjectives, values and future pathway. It provides a guiding star and leads everyone in the samedirection. The internal efforts are at least 50% of making a corporate branding strategy successful.5. Exploit new technologyModern technology should play a part of a successful corporate branding strategy. Technology helps togain effectiveness and improve the competitive edge of the corporation. A well-designed and fullyupdated Intranet is a must in todays working environment which has become increasingly virtual withemployees working from home, from other locations and traveling across the globe to name only a fewfactors. An Extranet can facilitate a much more seem less integration with strategic partners, suppliersand customers, avoid time consuming paper work and manual handling of many issues. A companywebsite is not only a must, but rather a crucial channel for any modern corporation regardless of size. Ifthe corporation is not accessible on the Internet, it does not exist! The more professional the website, thebetter the perception among the Internet savvy modern customer. Gone are the days where corporationscould get along with a business card portrayed on the Internet.6. Empower people to become brand ambassadorsThe most important asset in a corporation is its people. They do interact every day with colleagues,customers, suppliers, competitors and industry experts to name a few. But they also interact with animpressive number of people totally disconnected to the corporation in form of family members, friends,former colleagues and many others. Hence they serve as the corporations most important brandambassadors as the word-of-mouth can be extremely valuable and have great impact on the overallimage of the corporate brand image. The most effective way to turn employees into brand ambassadorsis to train everyone adequately in the corporate brand strategy (vision, values and personality etc.) andmaking sure they fully understand – and believe! – what exactly the corporation aims at being in theminds of its customers and stakeholders. Nike is a brand which is known for their efforts into educatingand empowering everyone employed by the company to be strong brand ambassadors.
7. Create the right delivery systemThe corporate brand is the face of the business strategy and basically it promises what all stakeholdersshould expect from the corporation. Therefore, the delivery of the right products and services with all theimplications this entail should be carefully scrutinized and evaluated on performance before anycorporation starts a corporate branding project. Think of the cradle to grave concept of a lifelong customerand the value he/she will provide in such a time span. Make sure he/she is handled with outstanding careaccording to internal specifications and outside expectations. The moment of truth is when the corporatebrand promise is delivered well – and it does not hurt if the corporation exceeds the customerexpectation. Singapore Airlines runs a very rigid, detailed and in-depth description of any customer touchpoints with the corporation, and several resources are spend on making sure it actually does happenevery time to every customer. All employees regardless of title and rank from Singapore Airlines spend anot insignificant amount of workdays being trained every year.8. Communicate!Bring the corporate brand to life through a range of well-planned, well-executed marketing activities, andmake sure the overall messages are consistent, clear and relevant to the target audiences. Make sure thevarious messages are concise and easy to comprehend. Do not try to communicate every single pointfrom the corporate branding strategy. Instead, a selective approach will make much more impact usingthe same resources.9. Measure the brand performanceA brand is accountable and so should a corporate brand be. How much value does it provide to thecorporation and how instrumental is the brand in securing competitiveness? These are some of thequestions which need to be answered and which the CEO will automatically seek as part of his/hercommitment to run the strategy successfully. The brand equity consists of various individually tailor-madekey performance indicators (including the financial brand value) and needs to be tracked regularly. Abrand score card can help facilitating an overview of the brand equity and the progression as the strategyis implemented.10. Adjust relentlessly and be ready to raise your own bar all the timesThe business landscape is changing almost every day in every industry. Hence the corporation needs toevaluate and possibly adjust the corporate branding strategy on a regular basis. Obviously, a corporatebrand should stay relevant, differentiated and consistent throughout time, so it is a crucial balance. Thebasic parts of the corporate branding strategy like vision, identity, personality and values are not to bechanged often as they are the basic components. The changes are rather small and involve thethousands of daily actions and interpersonal behaviors, which the corporations employ as part of thebrand marketing efforts. But make sure complacency does not take root in the organisation and affectsthe goal setting. The strong brands are the ones which are driven forward by owners whom never gettired of raising their own bars. They become their own change agents – and brand champions for greatbrands.Corporate Brand Building : ( Two situations)Strong corporate brand is no less or more than the face of the business strategy, portraying whatthe corporation aims at doing and what it wants to be known for in the market place. The corporate brandis the overall umbrella for the corporations’ activities and encapsulates its vision, values, personality,positioning and image among many other dimensions.HSBC, which has successfully implemented a stringent corporate branding strategy. HSBCemploys the same common expression throughout the globe with a simple advertising strategy
based on the slogan “The world’s local bank.” This creative platform enables the corporation tobridge between many cultural differences, and to portray many faces of the same strategy.A corporate branding strategy creates simplicity; it stands on top of the brand portfolio as the ultimateidentifier of the corporation.P&G has notoriously been known for a multi-brand strategy, and yet again, the corporate brandP&G is still what encapsulates all activities by the company. Depending on the business strategyand the potential need for more than a one-brand architecture in the case of P&G, which marketsmany different brands under its umbrella, a corporate brand can very often assist the corporationand the management to focus in on the core vision and values.Once this overall platform has been established and implemented, it serves as a great stepping stone forrevisiting any other brands in the corporations’ portfolio -- to have a new approach to and look at itsvarious brand identities. This ultimately will lead to the final brand architecture of the corporation and setthe strategy for how branding and brands will play an important role to achieve the corporate objectives.Cost efficiencies can often be achieved as opposed to a large multi-brand architecture where thecorporate brand plays a smaller or insignificant role. Today, there is a general requirement for high levelof investments to maintain efficient production capabilities and scale in many industries (for exampletechnology and pharmaceutical), and to stay competitive in R&D for new products and services. Productlife cycles are getting shorter and shorter for many industries and products, and corporations have toseek solutions to recover their development and marketing costs within the shorter life cycles. Thesefactors combined are forcing corporations to evaluate their cost structure, and a corporate brandingstrategy can help management achieve its goals by bridging across product categories and services asopposed to a multi-brand strategy.Reduced Marketing & Advertising spending as the corporate brand replaces budgets for individualproduct marketing efforts. Even a combined corporate and product branding strategy can often enablemanagement to reduce costs and exploit synergies from a new and more focused brand architecture.”TheApple brand has established a very strong position of being a design-driven and innovative companyoffering many types of products and services. Its corporate brand encapsulates the body and soul of thecompany, and the main messages use the corporate Apple brand. Various sub-brands then help toidentify the individual product lines”But one should carefully avoid the potential trip of streamlining the brand portfolio just based on a rawcost perspective as secondary effects can play a significant impact of the overall revenue stream and onthe stakeholders image of the corporation. The basic guideline is based on revenue contribution of thevarious brands. If profit contribution can be enhanced by reducing the number of brands, the portfolio istoo big. Reversely, if the overall profit contribution can be enhanced by adding new brands, the portfolio istoo small. Hence an individual wish for strong corporate branding must be evaluated carefully and allfactors taken into consideration.In the last couple of years, corporate brands have become very strong drivers of financial value forcorporations. Corporate brands by themselves have become valuable assets on the company balancesheet with market values very often much beyond book value.The founder of Sony, Akio Morita, once said: “I have always believed that the company name isthe life of an enterprise. It carries responsibility and guarantees the quality of the product.” Astrong and well-balanced corporate brand orchestrated throughout the corporation by apassionate CEO and his team can lead to very successful and sustainable financial results.
Challenges in Managing Corporate brand :Maintaining Relevance : Heritage associated with brand will effect its ability to adapt.Creation of value proposition : it can only work best when delivers the functional benefits for eg. Dell withits direct model.Visible Negatives : Anything that goes wrong which endangers the life or health should be avoided –Coke – pesticide.Managing Brad in different context : One brand in different fields – GE for jet engines & financial service.