Sunday, June 27, 2010

7 Tips to Improve Your Brand Strategy

In a brilliant 2009 article by John Gerzema, he sites that “today, the 250 most valuable global brands are worth 2.197 trillion US dollars, which is larger than the GDP of France”, (p.8).

Gerzema’s study of brands found that while ‘brand valuations’ have risen, customer perceptions, over the same period, had declined. They found, for example, that “brand awareness was down 20 percent, perceptions of brand quality had declined 24 percent, and trust in brands had eroded by almost 50 percent,” (p.8). Gerzema’s research used data collected through BrandAsset Valuator, (the world’s largest and most recognised database on brands) and included interviews with 500,000 customers, from 44 countries, across 40,000 brands.

The clear message is that branding as a concept is changing and that many organisations may not be recognising and adapting to the changes taking place. The customer is more aware and knowledgeable than ever before, mainly due to the access and the transparency of ‘brand’ information, including service delivery, product/service quality and cost benefit comparisons.

Branding, as a business principle, creates a visual perception of excellence (in the customers mind), and then the organisation must constantly deliver the ‘brand promise’ to the customer, time and time again - in the process, creating brand loyalty.

In the past, as Tosti and Stotz (2001) mention, “organisations had time to figure out how to constantly deliver on their brand promise, adjust to changes in the marketplace, or correct errors;” but the global market place has evolved and constant change is now the rule, rather than the exception.

In today’s global economy, organisations must take the following steps to ensure the sustainability of their brand;

1) Ensure that the ‘brand’ and its ‘promise’ are an integral part of the company culture, owned and understood by the total organisation, (your employees are also your potential customers. If you can’t sell the ‘brand promise’ to them, how do you expect to sell the brand to the external customer);

2) Constantly review your ‘brand promise’ and the brands image in the market place – don’t promise what you can’t deliver;

3) Ensure that all your ‘accountable’ personnel (at all levels) fully understand your customer’s perceptions, expectations and requirements through transparent ‘customer engagement’ on a regular basis;

4) Regularly review competitor and non-competitor ‘brands’; identifying potential threats to your brand, as well as potential opportunities;

5) Constantly review your marketing channels, identifying the most effective ways to ‘engage’ with your existing and potential customer, (too many organisations are ‘blindly’ following marketing channels that may be totally inappropriate for their specific ‘brand’ and ‘customer’);

6) Be unique – a successful ‘brand’ has unique qualities that are attractive to your customers compared to all the competitor offerings – (make sure you know what your unique qualities are through the development of customer value propositions);

7) Never become complacent – with brands, you can be successful today and gone tomorrow – (if you don’t follow the basic guidelines above).

Gerzema’s study found that “consumers now trust each other more than they trust brands. Media Edge/CIA found that 76 percent of people rely on what others say verses 15 percent on advertising,” and a Universal McCann study in 2007, found that “92 percent of customers now cite word of mouth as the best source of product and brand information,” which is up a staggering 67 percent from comparable figures in 1977, (Gerzema, 2009, p.9).

The customer is no longer fooled by fancy brand promises that don’t deliver – if you want to develop and sustain the successful brand of tomorrow, you must continually engage with your customers – giving them the ‘unique’ brand qualities that they are looking for. As these change and develop over time, so must your brand promise.


Gerzema, J. (2009). The Brand BUBBLE. Marketing Research, Vol 21, Issue 1, p.6-11.

Tosti, D.T. and Stotz, R.D. (2001). Building Your Brand from the Inside Out. Marketing Management, Vol. 10, Issue 2, p.27-33.

No comments:

Post a Comment