Dream: A Breathtaking Brand.
Nightmare: Getting Your Company to Understand The Need, The Costs and The Timelines.
The Catch-22 of Financing Brand Strategy Initiatives
For innovative, progressive companies, it’s a relative no-brainer. The competitive need for curiosity, discovery and the path of exploration (R&D) are already in the bloodstream. And certainly, no business area presents as much potential than engineering the entire company to be a stronger engine of customer creation. But in an era of tactical, today-only thinking and historic corporate myopia (wherein CMO and agency tenure average under 4 years), what gets eighty-sixed or left in the dust? Strategy and planning. Shame, too, because these are the very things that would enable these companies to get off the incremental performance crack.
(Did you know that almost 40% of clients cite a lack of strategic direction as the primary reason they can their agencies? Doesn’t happen here. Not ever.)
Worse yet, how can you get a line-item approved for a brand assessment, brand discovery or brand strategy and brand development when it’s really only after commencing that we begin to realize both the true need and the enormity of the benefits? Tough nut.
Begin Before You’ve Begun!
Because genuine branding is something that benefits each and every department but its costs are typically borne by Marketing alone, it’s important for environmental leaders to do (at least) three things:
- You’ve got to make sure the organization isn’t still hanging onto old-school notions of branding as logos and other cosmetics… as if it didn’t strike directly at the heart of all of your company’s other business development opportunities and challenges.
- Beyond the cumulative impact, there are tangible benefits for every stakeholder – opening up a broader conversation about how the organization has come to define strategy, planning and branding helps create “lightbulb moments” even before you’ve begun the process. Go boldly, but don’t go it alone. Just as branding’s victories will be shared throughout the organization, the onus of making the sale needn’t rest on your shoulders alone. You can turn to your peers throughout the organization (and me!) to help you make the case. Beginning with a formal brand assessment (health check) can often be the best way to increase the entire organization’s understanding of its own brand, helping you create greater team buy-in.
- You may not be able to quantify missed opportunity costs (we are only human, after all), but you can certainly use brand strategy as both a catalyst to improved tactical results and a hedge against ineffective marketing spend. If your organization is slow to move or embrace new thinking, start with what you’re already doing and show them how working without a defined brand strategy in place is like working with one arm tied behind your back.
Brand is simply too important a thing, to the organization as a whole and to your marketing effectiveness, to be ignored. You may be wary of the costs and fees associated with genuine brand strategy. You may be nervous about treading into uncharted waters. You may have questions. You may be concerned about obtaining full buy-in. At the very least, the topic deserves a conversation. I invite you to have that conversation… with me. No commitment. No joke. (Okay, maybe one or two jokes, but then I’m drawing a line.)