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Brand Building Needs a New Model

shutterstock_5292454361876-6166-EditShort-termist thinking is undermining sustainable brand building and growth, writes Kay MCarthy.

The challenge – short-termism has become today’s norm

Recently released research from the IPA in  the UK claims that 47% of communications budgets are devoted to short term activation strategies including digital. This compares with 31% in 2014. This coupled with the fact that consumers are subjected to 6,500 brand messages daily – but  only 27% of what brands do is relevant to them, means that brands are contributing to a mountain of clutter that is ineffective. Where is the value to ‘always being on’? – there isn’t,  it could well harm your brand.

When brand objectives and performance indicators are short-term,  they kill the objective of creating long term sustainable growth. This may be driven by the fact that the majority of marketing management change roles every 18 months making agendas based on the small-picture as they are under pressure to deliver an immediate return and not empowered to plan for the long-term health of the brand.

Brand building fundamentals are being forgotten

In a rush to engage to the ‘connected’ consumer, many communication agencies have managed to distract marketers towards sexy new digital applications and production conversations so brand building often gets over-looked. The neglect of having a clearly defined brand strategy upfront and a compelling positioning that can guide and inspire the use of channels, is a risk to both equity building and sustainable growth and the over absorption of marketing spend on ineffective clutter.

Brand building needs a new model

Whilst the over-focus on short term activity is costly, it could remain  a reality for many as waves of uncertainly continue to crash growth cycles. The old model of brand building however needs remodelling.

What this means is: brands are no longer just logos; they are the basis for a relationship in a new context with your consumer but also the wider organisation. They are fast becoming the short-hand to the business strategy, they have value that needs to be leveraged over and above communications. This is both an opportunity and challenge for marketers. Marketers need to find their authenticity and express it, to transform the category or what they stand for to create a new trajectory of growth that is long term not just a (costly) blip.

MCCP conducted a survey of over 1000 adults in Ireland creating a Authentic Brand Index for some of Ireland’s leading brands; one of the significant findings being that brands that are deemed to be authentic are 50% more likely to be recommended, demonstrating its power as a driver of growth.

The survey revealed many drivers of authenticity and it varied by category but it includes shared values with the consumer, delivering respect and sincerity and creating a sense of coherence as well as having a purpose that is true to the brand but relevant to culture (defined not just by the consumer but also the organisational culture it resides in).

Creating authentic brand strategies takes rigour and involved brand expertise. Delivering it takes strategic marketing excellence and  involves leadership from the top as it delivers to the bottom line not just in the short term but over the longer term too.

At MCCP we use an Authentic Brand Transformation Programme that helps discover a brands authenticity and in turn create a strategy that achieves long term growth. This has become a proven way for brands to create disruptive and sustainable growth and connect to the people that matter to them. Based on research and a number of strategies we have found that an authentic brand is one that aligns an organisation by being true to itself and its consumers. In today’s business landscape, authentic brands are creating true competitive advantage by focusing on establishing true value for consumers and long-term, sustainable success.

Case in point, Orchard Thieves was not just another brand, it’s positioning was created through MCCP’s discovery and strategy process in order to connect with a new generation with the result disrupting the powerhouse of the cider category. Brands that have undergone the Authentic brand approach are proving to be more effective, as it creates a new mind-set around the brand that fosters new energy and focus away from undifferentiated activity and creates a path to real growth for the business.

 Kay McCarthy, Founder and MD of MCCP – The Authentic Brand People

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ November Issue 2016)© to order back issues please call 016611660

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