2008 marks the death of “fact free” brand decision making and branding programs as business looks for return on investment. Business will start to get that brand value needs to be understood, measured and acted on. Australian businesses are under increasing pressure to understand and evaluate how their brands impact their bottom lines. Responsibility will start to shift out of marketing departments and into corporate strategy. We will see a move away from a reliance on traditional empiric and historical research models to the use of brand analytics that are forward looking and provide prescriptions for responsible corporate action.
Here’s how we see this shift happening:
Any brand activity can now be subjected to massive and organised digital surveillance. Companies will soon get the idea that their brands and reputations need to be both guarded and monitored. BRAND MONITORING has exploded in the US, particularly amongst digital brands and within the online activity of all brands, and in turn companies will look for more sophisticated ways to measure and understand brand effects in the market.
To do this they’ll need to ratify brand value using BRAND ANALYTICS. It might better be called Brand Valuation 2.0 but it goes well beyond the balance sheet. Analytics creates predictive models around how to build brand value, and how to provide better and more insightful answers to business questions around demand, brand and performance.
Once they get a handle on both brand activity and value they will see that traditional BRAND POSITIONING IS DEAD and move to the new DYNAMIC POSITIONING models. Defining brands to capture a point in a marketplace presupposes that markets and customers are static and clearly defined. It’s a machine age view. We’ll need to throw out the USP along with the single fixed brand idea. Today’s brands need to be dynamic entities, given both direction and momentum, and allowed to change within markets.
While no one says brand identity guidelines are about to be abandoned (after all someone has to define physical and functional attributes of the brand), there will be more reliance placed on BRAND PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT approaches using BRAND ENGAGEMENT across all stakeholders. It’s not enough to know the touch point, you need to know how to manage the interaction to ensure the integrity of the response and consequent action. This is going to even be even more important as stakeholders push for more meaningful corporate social responsibility programs.
Challenging old notions that corporations own themselves, the concept of the SOCIAL OWNERSHIP OF CORPORATIONS will become a marker for a much larger trend. CSR will increasingly become an element of brand vision and strategy. Business will have no choice but to become more transparent, more comfortable in its own skin, less inclined to communicate through stage managed campaigns and communications and ultimately begin to acknowledge their part in the fabric of the world.
image copyright Keith Haring