Brand alignment: the meaning and measurement behind the buzzword

Brand alignment: A new perspective

Previously, we wrote about aligning brand to the market, against competitors, and for employees. Here, we’ll cover the intangibles of brand alignment.

Recently, we completed a research project with 50 brand leaders and their teams. These brands were selected because they operated, at scale, over $1B in sales, most have global reach, and they had undergone a rebranding. We discovered the following insights:

  • There are five dynamics at work that create alignment
  • The risks of brand management failing are cause for reconsidering approaches
  • Best-in-class brand managers have a range of tools available to them

Brand management indicators

The five dynamics of alignment

Our research indicates that a new diagnostic and forward-looking framework has emerged. This new approach has grown out of the decentralization and agility that brand teams now operate in. Team size has stayed the same, but the demands have become numerous. To deliver in these times, brand teams must determine where their organizations exist on five concepts:

      1. Resources: Is our team working with minimum tools and resources? Are we fully equipped, or does our team fall somewhere in between?
      2. Mentality: Where is our management style? Is it closer to cop or evolved into a concierge-like approach?
      3. Structure: Are we disjointed as an organization, or do we have cohesion on our brand objectives?
      4. Accountability: Do our employees and partners operate with impunity to our brand guidelines, or do they show the requisite commitment to consistency?
      5. Executives: Are our senior leaders indifferent to the importance of brand, or are they reinforcing the principles that make our brand stronger?

Rarely does any company rate themselves as best-in-class on all dimensions. The key is to have a candid appraisal of where a company sits on a continuum. Strengths and weaknesses are then turned into an action plan fueled by value and risk.

The risk of brand failure

From the survey, we identified three ways in which a brand fails:

  • Strategic: Missed opportunities to drive meaningful transformation, broken promises to customers and market stakeholders, failure to change experiences in tangible ways
  • Operational: Lost efficiencies, duplicative efforts, disjointed delivery creating reputational risk, confusing “wild west” work environments that create unintended consequences
  • Culture: Lost credibility for future initiatives, perception that brand is an expensive logo, decreased employee engagement on multiple initiatives.

It does not take a long look at today’s headlines to see brands that fail and observe the resulting economic losses the brand suffers, or the deterioration it experiences in its share price.

Best-in class brand management

When reviewing the solutions that brand managers deploy, we identified seven ways to attack the challenges. The diagram below shows the jobs to be done and ways to evaluate how well any brand is performing on these tasks. It’s a framework that serves as a diagnostic as well as a way to set future priorities

Brand Management Wheel

 

Brands are ever-evolving organisms, and just like plants that depend on healthy soil to grow, brand leaders must find the strategic imperatives required to sustain momentum.

Interested in learning more about aligning your brand? Reach out to us, we’d love to have a conversation.