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Branding. More. Effective


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Strong brands possess credible, relevant and distinctive brand promises. Even more
importantly, they fulfil these every day. Developments in social media changed the world
of brands. It has become a zillion-channel place where anyone can express their opinion
about your brand and where that opinion will be heard. So, how can you deal with this?
The answer is simple: with trust. The execution, however, is far more complex.

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Branding. More. Effective

  1. 1. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 1 van 11BRANDING. MORE. EFFECTIVE.Marc Cloosterman & Jim KrokkéIntroductionStrong brands possess credible, relevant and distinctive brand promises. Even moreimportantly, they fulfil these every day. Developments in social media changed the worldof brands. It has become a zillion-channel place where anyone can express their opinionabout your brand and where that opinion will be heard. So, how can you deal with this?The answer is simple: with trust. The execution, however, is far more complex.People need to be able to trust your brand. This requires a shift in marketing. The dayswhen marketers screamed “Proof first, Promise later” are over. We have learned it isimportant to “Promise and Prove” at the same time. Trust is the lever here. Your markethas to trust your brand. Who would you trust more than your own family and friends whohave just told you how amazing an experience was that they had at Starbucks, forinstance? Within the zillion-channel world in which we live, an “objectively” positivemessage is easily spread. And a negative message probably spreads even more easily.So, keep in mind what your brand promise is and whether your brand delivers the prooffor this promise…Taking this as our starting point, we will set out our definition of a brand promise andpresent the Brand Performance Model, which you can use to determine the extent towhich you exploit your brand promise at different brand touchpoints, online and offline.After that, we will focus on the lifecycle of a brand and how you can keep your brandconsistent and manageable over time.Brand promiseThe brand promise clarifies what the brand stands for and is also the most important 3-12-2012
  2. 2. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 2 van 11reason for stakeholders to choose a particular brand. Often this promise is communicatedexplicitly through a slogan or pay-off, but it can also be conveyed implicitly viacommunication with and behaviour towards stakeholders.Brand success is a relevant brand promise that is proven throughout the organisation.Every single day it is visible as the DNA of the organisation. This was spelt out back in1997 by Steve Jobs: “To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world,it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remembermuch about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them toknow about us.” So, what it boils down to is that for every moment your brand is in contactwith stakeholders you want to give them the correct look and feel of your brand. Thismeans that you have to be consistent.Brand proof pointsThe least a customer should expect from a brand is that the experience with the brandlives up to the promise made. The brand proof should at least be equal to the brandpromise to avoid disappointing the customer (Smith, 2011). To prove the brand promiseeverything has to be in place. Customers have to experience the brand promise throughall the different channels: via the telephone, in all the stores/locations, on the website andin face-to-face contact, etc. Social and technological developments make it necessarynowadays to prove what you promise in your (marketing) communication. Consumers arebecoming more assertive and, with the launch of Twitter and Facebook, they are able toforward their opinions to many followers and friends. If a brand promise is not in harmonywith the brand proof, this can be communicated in an instant to large groups of peoplelocated all over the world, with the result that the credibility of the brand is eroded. Formany years, a brand was supposed to have an attractive exterior. These days, the brandpromise is regarded as key to communication and behaviour as a whole. The externalfocus of the brand – supported by attractive television commercials and eye-catching adcampaigns – has given way to seeing the brand as the ‘guiding principle’ for the entireorganisation. A brand touchpoint is every moment a brand interacts with customers,employees, partners and other stakeholders. When brand touchpoints demonstrate thebrand promise, we refer to them as brand proof points.One example: StarbucksA good example of a brand with a consistent brand promise and brand proof is Starbucks.They are coffee lovers who enjoy spending time with quality products. Employees arefriendly and quick, and the atmosphere is inviting with modern furniture, relaxed music 3-12-2012
  3. 3. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 3 van 11and pleasant aromas. Furthermore, their range is the same all over the world. In addition,they are likely to behave responsibly towards people and the environment. And, mostnotably, they communicate their brand promise everywhere in exactly the same manner –not just in the stores, but also on Twitter, Facebook, the corporate website, everywhere.They are welcoming, provide a fast service and are passionate about coffee.Brand Performance ModelThe Brand Performance Model (Figure 1) enables you to determine the extent to whichbrand proof points are exploited. This model consists of four dimensions, which togetherdetermine the performance of the brand. The top half represents the exterior part of theorganisation that is visible to stakeholders. The bottom half constitutes the internalorganisation.‘Presence’ is the presentation of the brand in all expressions. This refers not only towhere the brand is visually active, but also to the extent to which communication,resources and products are consistent with the brand promise. When the presence fitswith the brand, this helps prove the brand promise.‘People’ are the people who represent the brand, usually the employees with whomcustomers communicate. Employees are the key when it comes to proving the promise ofthe brand to customers. The extent to which the knowledge, attitude and behaviour ofemployees fits with the brand determines how the brand is experienced by customers.‘Processes’ are the procedures within the organisation that contribute to the appliedconsistency of the brand. These include approval processes for (communication) 3-12-2012
  4. 4. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 4 van 11resources, but also complaints processes and other processes that contribute tocustomer satisfaction.‘Programmes & Tools’ are all the resources that are used to provide employees with theopportunity to apply the brand consistently through their knowledge as well as theirattitude and behaviour towards customers. The brand is activated with the aid of trainingand internal branding programmes. These provide employees with the chance to pass onthe values of the brand. Tools, like office automation software, help employees to applythe brand correctly, both visually and textually. This results in a brand experience for allstakeholders that is just as intended.The four dimensions of the Brand Performance Model interrelate. This means that whenorganisations have problems with their internal organisation, these will be noticed andexperienced by people outside the organisation. Even if you are visually excellent, if youremployees do not communicate your brand promise this will have a big impact on theextent to which the consumer perceives that the organisation has proven its promise. So,you need to score highly on all four dimensions.As mentioned earlier, to communicate the correct brand promise (implicitly and explicitly)at all times you have to be consistent. It is not just the brand promise that has to beconsistent, the visual identity of your brand has to be, too. The way your brand looks alsoimplicitly promises something. A Fiat car makes an implicit promise with its visual identitythat is different to, for instance, a Ferrari. Therefore, we will now present to you the BrandLife Cycle, which will help you develop a brand that is consistent and manageable. Thiswill eventually improve your brand promise and also your business.Brand Life CycleWith the brand as an incentive for the entire organisation, the importance of getting thebrand into shape and keeping it that way has increased. This requires constant attention.The Brand Life Cycle (Figure 2) sets out the steps for developing and managing a brand.Five phases can be distinguished: 1) evaluation and analysis, 2) strategy, 3) developmentand creation, 4) implementation and activation and 5) management. 3-12-2012
  5. 5. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 5 van 11 Figure 2: Brand Life CycleEvaluation and analysisPart of managing a brand is monitoring how the brand performs, both internally andexternally. Reputation research, stakeholder analysis, brand proof point evaluations, netpromoter scores, client and employee satisfaction analyses and online brand monitors willhelp the brand manager to evaluate and monitor the brand constantly, enabling timelyadjustments when needed.However, the evaluation of a brand also focuses on the extent to which the brand promiseis proven each day – in the presentation of the brand in all forms and in the behaviour ofemployees. The analysis should therefore be supplemented with an internal evaluation todetermine the extent to which processes, tools and programmes contribute to proving thebrand promise.Back to the example: StarbucksStarbucks has been around for forty years now, but it is still a modern brand. It haschanged with the times but has kept its brand consistent all over the world. The Siren has 3-12-2012
  6. 6. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 6 van 11been retained as its logo through all these years. In 2011, they announced a newrebranding because, as Howard Schultz stated, “…the world has changed and Starbuckshas changed. The new interpretation of Starbucks at its core is the exact same essenceof the Starbucks experience. That is the love we have for our coffee, the relationship wehave with our partners and the connection we built with our customers.” So, Starbuckskeeps on adjusting to the world and the market to stay ahead of the competition andkeeps on working on its brand promise and proof. That is why it has now removed thebrand name from the logo and set the mermaid free. Figure 3: StarbucksStrategyThe results of the aforementioned analysis will generally result in minor adjustments tospecific areas, and will not, therefore, require major strategic adjustments. However,some evaluations might also lead to significant changes within the brand, resulting in achange to the corporate visual identity and/or brand name. This is called a rebranding. Inthese circumstances, the brand evaluation acts as a platform for the development of anew or adjusted organisational strategy, positioning of the brand or brand promise. 3-12-2012
  7. 7. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 7 van 11In the strategy phase for a brand, the organisational strategy is translated into a brandstrategy: here, the mission, vision and core values are transformed into a clear andrelevant positioning of the brand. This brand positioning can be seen as the place thebrand occupies among all other brands. The focus is on what distinguishes a brand fromits competitors, and attention is drawn to its most important characteristics.The brand promise is the actual effect of this positioning on the stakeholders. It indicateswhat the brand does for the customer and thereby communicates the relationshipbetween the product’s characteristics and the benefits promised by the brand. This turnsthe brand promise into a tool for making the organisational strategy a reality, bothinternally and externally. The brand promise can be used to attract consumer attentionand also to instil enthusiasm. It is vital that an organisation only chooses brand promisesthat it can actually keep. A beautiful brand promise is worthless if it is not fulfilled.Development and creationIn order to make the brand visible for all stakeholders, the brand must be reflected in allaspects of the organisation. During the development and creation phase, the brandpromise is translated for the brand proof points. Programmes must be developed toinvolve both employees and external stakeholders in the creation of a new brand strategy.All forms of communication (including the tone of voice) should be tailored to the newpromise, and the visual identity must be adjusted or developed.Furthermore, the products and services provided by the organisation must be adapted tothe new brand promise. This means that those that no longer fit the new promise shouldbe abandoned.During the development and creation phase, different departments and agencies have towork together (Communication, HR, Facility Management, etc.). This increases the risk ofthe brand promise becoming diffuse and of creating an ambiguous brand image. Forminga brand team can prevent this problem. The team monitors the brand promise and makessure that it is correctly translated for all the brand proof points. The brand team alsoselects and guides all the institutions involved in translating the brand promise. Using abrand briefing created by the brand team, the same starting point can be established forall the departments and institutions involved. In this capacity, the brand team isresponsible for the overall development of the brand and can act as a producer, soundingboard and checkpoint for all brand expressions. 3-12-2012
  8. 8. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 8 van 11Implementation and activationDuring this phase, the design and programmes developed are implemented at each of thebrand proof points. This means that the new corporate visual identity is applied to allbrand carriers and, in addition, the internal change programmes and external campaignsare launched. This might also mean that a new way of working is initiated.The introduction of a new or adjusted brand often brings a lot of tension and uncertaintyto an organisation. Employees are not always enthusiastic when a new brand isintroduced. Internal acceptance of the new brand is, therefore, one of the biggestchallenges during a rebranding (Figure 4). The greater the change, the larger the impactwill be on internal resistance (Krokké, Bolhuis & Van Vuuren, 2011). Since this can havenegative consequences for the way in which employees pass on the new brand it isimportant to pay attention to this part. Adequate communication before, during and afterthe rebranding is crucial to the success of the brand. The moment that a forthcomingchange is presented, it is imperative that not just the background to the new brand isexplained but also the reasons behind the change. This ought to be done by topmanagement. The commitment of top management is one of the most important pre-conditions. Clearly visible support for the rebranding by top management highlights thenecessity for the change, and employees will be more inclined to cooperate. After thisstep has been taken, it is important to get the most important stakeholder enthusiasticabout the new brand. A pre-established communication plan is essential here (Bolhuis,Van den Bosch, De Jonge & Heuvelman, 2007). Internal acceptance 30% Implementation 21% Budget 19% Time 15% Early completion 7% 3-12-2012
  9. 9. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 9 van 11 Relationship with design agency 7% Figure 4: Biggest challenges during rebranding operations (Paulmann, 2010)ManagementProving the brand promise every day demands organisational skills and coordinationbetween the front (presence and people) and the back (processes and programmes) ofan organisation. The management phase is therefore a continuous one in which thebrand is carefully managed at all the brand proof points. This requires that the processesin an organisation connect perfectly with the brand promise.Even programmes for training new employees contribute to the performance of the brand.If the importance of the brand is accentuated from the start, the employee will be able toact accordingly. Organisations can take this one step further by only hiring newemployees who are a good fit for the brand.In addition, tools can be used to apply the brand consistently. Starbucks has an onlineshop portal with an advanced tool that enables facility managers at Starbucks to createdifferent types of Starbucks Stores (interior and exterior) in just a few clicks. The order issent to the different suppliers and delivered to the address specified on the dateindicated. This means that the brand promise within stores will always be consistent allover the world but, at the same time, can also be created quickly.Furthermore, a brand support office can be established (either within the organisationitself or outsourced) where all questions regarding the brand can be answered and brandcarriers can be developed quickly. Facilitating employees and institutions is crucial tomaintaining and improving brand consistency (Van den Bosch, 2005). A helpdesk thatacts quickly and adequately will be more attractive to use. It will also enable employees tolearn so they can make the right branding decisions sooner without having to consult thebrand support office.ConclusionThe Brand Life Cycle is a proven model for a modern brand management approach,across all channels. The Brand Performance Model is the perfect model for checking 3-12-2012
  10. 10. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 10 van 11annually whether you are still on or off track with your brand management. The successof a brand does not rest solely with the credibility, relevance and distinctiveness of thebrand promise, but also, and even more so, with the way in which this promise isembedded in the entire organisation. If this is done from top management to the shopfloor, from products to their advertisements and throughout each and every department,this will lead to consistency at all brand proof points – in turn proving the brand promiseand enabling the brand to realise what it promises!The authors Marc Cloosterman Marc Cloosterman is CEO of VIM Group, an independent global network of companies specialising in brand implementation and management. He is passionate about the impact achieved by consistently implemented and managed brands that thus contribute to sound reputation management. He is a regular speaker for both practitioners and academics, and has written a number of articles on brand implementation & management. Jim Krokké Jim Krokké graduated in Communication Studies with his research into the readiness of internal stakeholders to accept rebrandings. He combines his work as a researcher examining consistency in corporate visual identities at the University of Twente with his work as a consultant at VIM Group, and is an advisor on brands and visual identities for various organisations.Literature ■ Bolhuis, W., Van den Bosch, A., De Jong, M. & Heuvelman, A. (2007). Changing looks. Internal and external effects of a corporate visual identity change. Afstudeeronderzoek, University of Twente, The Netherlands. ■ Jobs, S. (1997). Retrieved from Youtube feature=player_embedded&v=dRZT8mhfJ4 3-12-2012
  11. 11. Branding. More. Effective. | M.M.E. pagina 11 van 11 ■ Krokké, J., Bolhuis, W. & Van Vuuren, M. (2011). Visual Identity Change? Yes we can! Graduation thesis, University of Twente, The Netherlands. ■ Paulmann, R. (2010). Corporate Identity: Status Quo 2010. Corporate Identity Institute, Mainz, Germany. ■ Schultz, H. (2011) Retrieved from: ■ Smith, J.R. (2011). Proving the promise, de bewijskracht van het merk. Amsterdam: NykampNyboer. ■ Van den Bosch, A.L.M. (2005). Corporate visual identity management. Doctoral dissertation, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. 12:33 06. Jul 2012 3-12-2012