Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Christina, a VP of Marketing in Boston, Massachusetts who has this question about measuring the value of brand assets.
“We have an established consumer packaged goods brand and are trying to determine which of its brand assets are most valuable. As we begin to explore this what should we consider?”
Thanks for your question Christina. A full understanding of the power of the assets within your brand’s identity is essential for accelerating growth and creating competitive advantage today.
A brand’s identity comprises many different elements, but not all of them have the same value. There are elements within your brand’s identity that are brand assets and they are the key to evolving your brand to create breakthrough, while ensuring you do so in a relentlessly consistent manner.
There are two qualities of a brand element that distinguish it as an asset.
First, a brand asset must be distinctive or ‘owned’ by the brand. This means that consumers unmistakably link that asset with your brand. The impact of a distinctive brand asset is that it attracts attention and drives recognition amidst the flurry of competing messages in communications or variants on shelf. Consumers see the asset and use it as a ‘mental shortcut’ to identify your brand.
Second, a brand asset must be relevant or ‘on-brand’. This means that the asset reinforces and amplifies your brand’s promise. As the asset is iterated consistently across multiple touch points, it reinforces the mental structures that consumers have associated to the rational and emotional benefits that your brand promises to deliver. This creates another ‘mental shortcut’ – one that reminds consumers of how your brand makes them feel and thus they are more likely to add it to their consideration set, pick it up off shelf, and possibly buy it.
So you should know which of the elements within your brand identity are both distinctive and relevant. Further, know which of your brand elements are assets.
How Brand Assets Drive Brand Growth
For example, can you name the sixteen brands these assets belong to? What comes to mind when you think of these brands? Do you sense the multitude of emotions one brand asset can evoke?
How is it that a simple brand element can cue you to recognize a brand so easily? How is it that just one brand asset can immediately recall your experiences with that brand through previous usage or media you’ve been exposed to? You are able to recall stories and experiences with the brand instantaneously, without any mention of the brand itself, and this activates mental structures that are critical to driving behavior.
This process of mental availability is leveraged by the most iconic and successful brands, as they utilize sensory cues to create mental memory structures. These mental shortcuts make it easy for consumers to recognize the brand, feel a certain way, and hopefully trigger memories about the brand’s promise, that lead to the intended consumer behaviors that drive growth.
These brand elements can trigger brand recognition and emotion better than most 30 second commercials and you don’t have to spend millions of dollars in advertising.
The impact is consumers are more likely to see your brand, recognize it, pick it up, and buy it. Successful and iconic brands execute their brand assets with relentless consistency to drive brand growth.
(Answers: 1. BP 2. GE 3. Nike 4. McDonald’s 5. T-Mobile 6. Coca-Cola 7. Skype 8. Orange 9. HP 10. Cadburys 11. Heineken 12. Caterpillar 13. Harrods 14. Virgin 15. Puma 16. BMW)
Know What Your Brand Should Say And Convey
While constantly learning, growing, and evolving your brand Christina, you should identify what the brand stands for and what are consumers’ emotional associations with the brand and its equities. Ultimately, you should identify which brand assets work (and should be kept and activated) and which assets don’t work (and should be evolved or dropped). Knowing this, will help you establish what your brand should say and convey through its messaging and communications.
You will find Brand Identity and Distinctive Brand Asset Research exceptionally useful for accomplishing this.
Identities are comprised of many different types of elements, including colors, shapes, scents, sounds, textures, taste, taglines, tone of voice, brand characters and spokespeople, endorsers, packaging, product, logo, font, and claims.
With brand identity and distinctive brand asset research, you can answer these questions:
1. Which of my brand elements are driving my brand’s distinctiveness?
2. Are all of my brand elements working together to drive brand coherency across all touchpoints?
3. When should I evolve or remove brand elements from my brand identity?
The Brand Identity And Brand Asset Learning Journey
There are more benefits of a brand identity and brand asset learning journey that you should know about. They ensure that all of your stakeholders and partners, including communication, design, and digital agencies recognize which of your assets are sacred and must not be tampered with. Further to which, these assets should be iterated across all communications, activations, and touch points with relentless consistency.
However, another important aspect of conducting brand identity learning is that it helps you uncover which brand elements are not adding value to the brand, or worse, holding it back. This provides your agency partners with clear direction on which brand elements can and should be evolved or removed to make more space for your distinctive and relevant assets. It creates freedom within a framework.
Accelerating Brand Growth Through Your Brand Assets
Marketers have two very important goals. To drive short-term business results, while also building long-term brand equity.
To drive growth, remain relevant to their consumers, and create breakthrough, marketers need to push the boundaries of their brand promise and identity. At the same time, we know that true long-term brand growth comes from a brand promise that is brought to life by remarkable ideas executed with relentless consistency. As brands evolve to create breakthrough, they need to stay true to their roots – the associations and emotions that built their brand in the first place.
Your brand is multifaceted; it impacts thousands of stakeholders across the spectrum from creatives to consumers, from marketers to media buys, from retailers to retweets. Having a well understood and remarkably consistent brand across the spectrum ensures that every touch point is maximized.
So when pushing the boundaries of brand promise and identity, how much of a push is too much? Mastering this tension is what separates true brand builders from the rest and it’s not easy, especially since every brand, its competitors, and the category itself have specific nuances.
Phil Duncan, the Chief Design Officer at P&G positioned this challenge perfectly when he said,
“I tell my colleagues that it is the responsibility of brand teams to write the next chapter for the P&G book, not to write a new book. The goal is always to keep the story interesting and moving forward.”
While this is far easier said than done, deepening your understanding of how hard the assets within your brand’s identity are working for your brand is the first step on this journey.
At The Blake Project we have helped brands in all stages of development discover new pathways to growth. Simply email me, Derrick Daye for more about how we can help you uncover the most important assets within your brand and competing brands.
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education