You’ll no doubt have heard that ‘brand is everything’. In fact, the impact of a strong brand on a business’s profitability is well documented, with some research suggesting that branding could contribute to more than 50% of enterprise value in some cases.
However, the best brands don’t just use their voice and story to turn a profit in the short term, but harness branding’s power to fuel long-term growth and profitability. So, how do the best brands do this and how can you use this to make your own branding more powerful?
What does a healthy, profitable brand look like?
It might not surprise you to know that the best, most effective brands, are also some of the world’s most profitable. Amazon, Google and Facebook are some of the world’s most valuable brands, owing a great portion of this profitability to the strength of their brand recognition.
Anyone who has seen Disneyland Paris’ recently launched 30th Anniversary identity will understand why. In one simple line graphic, the logo hints at the brand’s iconic mascot – encapsulating the magic and fantasy that’s at the heart of their brand. Instantly recognisable, Disney’s branding has helped them to build a globally recognised, customer-experience led, highly successful business.
Another great example of the strength of brand engagement is Apple’s Shot On iPhone campaign. By turning their entire Instagram content over to their customers, they showed off the phone’s camera features while re-emphasising their commitment to creativity and freedom of expression.
Both of these examples show that the most successful and profitable brands express their own identity by connecting with their customers, no matter how many times they reinvent it.
Our experts explain how the biggest brands do this and what insights you can take from them.
Connect with your customers.
Engaging with your customers is the fine line between success and failure. At the end of the day, if your target market doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do with your brand, then you will struggle to achieve the success you hope for.
The effect of this fine line can be clearly seen in the differences in audience growth for Channel 4 and BBC Three. Both are targeting 16 to 34-year-olds, however, Channel 4 has seen their audience share grow and BBC Three has seen theirs cut dramatically.
This is because Channel 4 has connected to their target audience more effectively by:
• Talking in their language: brave, bold and unafraid, Channel 4 are unashamed about their brand and what it stands for. This is seen most clearly in their Complaints Welcome campaign, where they re-voiced genuine customer complaints to show that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, nor are they trying to be.
• Caring about the same causes: Channel 4’s purpose is clear – to create change through entertainment. By representing unheard voices in their programmes and marketing (as you can see in their Paralympic Games Ad below), they chime with the same values and causes as their target customers.
• Being where they are: Channel 4 are continuously adapting their brand to suit the digital world where their target audience lives. However, unlike BBC Three, they haven’t gone 100% online, a decision which led to a significant drop in their viewing figures.
Find your voice.
Whether it’s in your copy or visual identity, having your own distinctive voice is key to standing out. Your competitors might sell the same product, but it’ll be the way you communicate that will get the customers’ attention.
Oatly has had a stand-out brand identity from its launch. They’re completely transparent about their business and their thoughts on sustainability and aren’t afraid to call out others or themselves. This can be seen in their recent post where they apologised to customers for not adopting paper straws faster. Their bold and quirky communication style is central to their stand out brand identity.
In contrast, Waitrose let images rather than copy do the talking. With all-natural light and sound, their most recent campaign puts customers in the viewpoint of suppliers and is full of delicious close-ups. This no-filter approach emphasises Waitrose’s commitment to a high-quality food experience. Sometimes you really can say it best when you say nothing at all.
Don’t be afraid to iterate.
The key to brand longevity is its flexibility and versatility. A strong message or visual identity can still work when it’s reiterated many years after it was first created. M&S and Asda have recently taken this approach to give their brands a refresh without moving too far away from their key identity.
In 2019, M&S relaunched its ‘This is not just…’ food campaign. Originally running from 2004 to 2007, M&S re-energised the campaign by making it more playful and communicating its message through the voices of everyday people rather than a sexy voice over. This didn’t just modernise the brand, but aimed to make it more accessible to more shoppers while continuing to prioritise product quality.
After bringing back its ‘That’s Asda Price’ slogan, Asda have launched a new campaign ‘Get that Asda Price Feeling’ to try and emphasise their customer experience over their product value. By being unafraid to iterate, Asda has stayed true to its brand identity while updating it to the changing values of the modern customer.
The strength in both of these reiterations is the fact that they’ve stayed consistent with their brand identity. This consistency is key and can increase revenue by around a third if done correctly.
First steps to a better brand.
You might find these learnings interesting but might also wonder how you can work to make your brand healthier and more profitable. As a starting point, we’d recommend asking yourself these questions:
• Do you truly understand your customers? If not, how can you find out exactly what they want from your brand?
• Do you have your own distinctive voice and do you communicate this effectively through your marketing?
• Is your brand flexible enough to be refreshed and reiterated again and again? In short, does it have the legs to drive your business forward?
By answering these questions and getting advice from branding experts, like us, you can start to move your brand forward and ensure it helps your business to grow and become more profitable.
If you’re interested in discussing your brand, get in touch with our friendly and experienced team today.