Art of building brand equity

The less experienced someone is in the field of branding, the more likely he or she is to hold a strong opinion on the subject at hand. No more so than when it comes to the topic of brand engagement: the art of building brand equity inside the organisation, where poorly conceived and executed campaigns are the equivalent of corporate kryptonite “ able to reduce the once strong and powerful organisation to the reputational status of an Enron.
Often the most powerful lessons one learns in one™s career is observing lessons in what not to do. Negative reinforcement is far more powerful and suggestive than positive reinforcement. Thus, if one is broadminded enough to scrutinise, document and accept observed failures in one’s organisation than one is not likely to repeat the mistake again.

However, like the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot sightings of this kind of behavior are rare amongst South African corporations. Who are often victims of “drinking too much of their own coolaid?.

Inversely proportioned

And especially when it comes to branding, a topic that few in the organisation have expertise on, but where everyone an opinion. Worse still, there is usually an inversely proportioned relationship between the level of expertise and the nature of the opinion.

Why so? Well, there are rumors afoot in the traditional marketing and advertising circles that employees may? play an important role in generating and sustaining brand equity. The idea that anything but a cleverly well conceived above-the-line (ATL) campaign is a contributing factor towards the development and sustainability of brand equity is difficult for many of today™s brand owners and lead agency partners to get their minds around.

Understandably so, if one was to redirect consistent funding towards building brand equity across the board, how then would we be able to afford those much talked-about Moet-drenched twelve hour lunches at the Saxon?!

Consistency is key

Consistency is the key to success across all mediums of brand building and conversely inconsistency is the key to failure. Building the appropriate brand leadership, brand behavior and brand discipline internally has become an essential part of sustaining brand equity but becomes undermined when the organisation takes a short term and jaundice view of its internal brand.

If, horror of horrors, the executives of an organisation such as Vodacom were to suggest that they only advertise their services inconsistently for three months of the year, than it is likely that the marketing director would seek remedy in the high court to have his peers committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

It simply doesn’t make sense to take those kinds of risks. Therein lies the reason that many of the companies we talk to are simply not succeeding in their need to build sustainable brands. They don’t take a long term view, or even if they do, their associates on the executive don’t share their enthusiasm. So why is this?

Sporadic approach

Well, while South Africa has had much success in removing the legacy of apartheid, marketers are still trying to shake off a 1960’s FMCG view of brand development and an over-reliance of the ATL campaign to build brand equity, treating experiential brands in the same way they would washing detergent. Which has given rise to a sporadic and tactical approach to brand engagement where a lack of know how about the basics of branding at board and customer interfacing level alike are creating a disingenuous effect on the brand.

This further creates confusion and mistrust among employees and managers alike, who see large sums of money being plowed into ATL and sponsorship campaigns that create a successful and worthwhile call to action that they either know nothing about or are ill-equipped to support when the target audience responds.

Or worse still, the employee has no knowledge of the brand values being subliminally sold to the external market and responds in a completely off brand ? manner when dealing with the customer.

Macro economic level

This affects us in more ways than we think – at a macro economic level, we cannot afford to have a breakdown between what our brands are promising to the market and what they deliver internally. Overseas investors look past the clever advertising and look for consistency of experience. Thus we are obliged, more so, than many of our global trading partners to deliver on our brand promises.

If one is to develop a robust and holistic approach to brand development, then a long term view across all the mediums of communication at your disposal is essential. Otherwise you may as well dress up your chief executive in red and blue spandex and hang some kryptonite around his neck.Taken From Biz-community


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