Linking brand to results: How, when and what

We all know in business that results matter. But we often see that brand professionals struggle or resist drawing the red line between brand investments and in-market results. This connection is hard to quantify for both the observable impacts brand has and the unobservable.

We have documented a link between observable outcomes in previous blogs and detail how to make a case from brand investments that affect internal results as well as some measures of market impact through primary research.

In this blog, we will discuss how to think about making the connection on the intangibles:

  • How brand delivers business results
  • When to tie brand to results
  • What investments to tie to brand investments

How brand delivers

Ultimately, brand delivers sales. It’s the most obvious outcome. However, it is the most complex to find causality or correlations. Brand also impacts perceptions, word of mouth, and margins relative to competitors. Often these are easier measures to correlate to brand investments. Brand also can make a difference in human measures such as Net Promoter scores or Employee Acquisition and Retention. Finding the measures of all the outcomes below is easier and harder depending on the company’s maturity level in analytics and the evolution of brand importance to the firm.

When to tie brand to results

There are two major considerations in making the brand results question. One is a personal decision for a brand leader and the other is an organizational readiness one. On a personal level, any brand leader who tries to connect brand to business outcomes will most likely need tenured equity or a recent remit to do so. The risks are not only relevant to career success but also to project success. Building a framework for connection takes time, organizational support and resources. Many brand managers avoid the question because they understand that they may not have the personal resources to attempt it. It’s a binary answer – I can, or I cannot. Without a belief in I can, please skip to the next section.

If you are ready to embark on the connection, organizational readiness is a key factor. Our experience is that organizations look for brand and business connections under these circumstances:

  1. A leadership change in the C-suite especially with a new CEO and CFO
  2. A business strategy shift where control is moving to or away from central controls
  3. Tougher economic times where all investments are under scrutiny.

Surprisingly, linking brand to outcomes is likely to occur right after a rebrand as organizational fatigue with the changes tends to make the effort to hard. However, we suggest this is the best time to make the leap as it provides the best possible long-term brand guidance.

Learn more: Your Brand Scorecard – Part 1: A two-dimensional concept

What investments should be tied to results

The broad buckets of investment include executive, planning, or operational investments. We define each as:

Executive – the efforts tied to developing an executable brand package that includes elements such as logos, marketing materials, brand standards, visual and verbal, messaging, and digital toolkits. Costs such as research and competitive analysis should be included in this category as well.

Planning – the on-going costs tied to brand governance for the organization. Typical costs would be DAM costs, brand team staffs, workflow tools, collateral systems, training, education, compliance programs, and other administrative functions to deliver the brand consistently to employees

Operational – the investments made in marketing and advertising across multiple channels. This would include all costs for online, offline, owned, shared, and corporate communications.

For the brand teams, we recommend that the planning investments are the focus. Executive efforts are small and often episodic. Operational investments are complex and follow different measures of scrutiny like ROAS and attribution modeling.

Learn more: Why brand is your best recession-proof investment

Interested in learning more about how brand delivers business results? Contact me at abolding@monigle.com.

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