Your brand is your organization’s largest intangible asset, making up 20% of its market capitalization value (Brand Finance 2018). However, organizations often focus more on looking after their tangible assets like buildings and equipment (which contribute 45% less to the total company value than they did 25 years ago), and neglect to nurture and grow their brand. So how can you prove the importance of investment in the brand to the Board?
Strong brands positively affect company success by influencing customers, employees and investors (82% of investors believe brand strength and name recognition are becoming more important in guiding them in their investment decisions (Reuters)).
To ensure you receive the necessary approval from your Board to keep your brand alive, evolving and relevant to the business strategy, you will need to speak to them in financial language to help them understand how a strong brand positively affects the bottom line.
Through research to obtain the necessary performance data from a range of internal departments, to simplifying processes, providing a benchmark of your brands success against your competitors and analyzing your brands effect on culture – there are a variety of ways to provide the evidence which will help you have a successful conversation with your Board.
Leverage Factual Performance Data
Different departments within your organization hold a vast amount of data about how brand impacts the bottom line. It’s your task to turn these insights into something tangible which you can present to the Board.
Find out who holds data sources which you can tap into, for example, your digital marketing team might hold strong proof points around online presence, or your HR department might hold information about what attracts high-quality candidates to your company.
You also need to influence the criteria of what ‘good’ brand performance looks like for your company and find an easy way to collate this data (brand dashboards are great for this!)
Streamline And Simplify Processes
Within your brand organization, simplify how you communicate and manage your branded assets.
There are a variety of technology tools to help with streamlining or simplifying; these also have benefits for coherency. For example, a brand portal allows all team members to access the same information at any single point in time for global organization in multiple time zones. This is not only smart for empowerment and making tasks quicker to complete, but could also result in less reliance on external support (through agencies for example). These alone have direct bottom line effect in terms of greater productivity, and lower resource needs and expenditure.
Looking at how you co-ordinate the purchasing of high-level spend branded assets, often 3D items like building signage and interiors, could find immediate saving opportunities. Typically we find there are a number of areas in brand organization which can be simplified or streamlined to release annual budget savings and these can provide helpful data when informing the Board on how investment in the brand can be beneficial to the company as a whole.
Benchmark Your Brand
When putting together your business proposal, provide your Board with a comparison of your brand value against that of your competitors. The Board needs to understand how your brand can help grow the business, and to do this you need to understand, and help them understand, where it stands in the market place.
You will also need to keep up to date with tools, technology, news and competitor activity insights. Financial statistics associated with these will help you validate your business case.
A Strong Brand Changes Your Company Culture For The Better
A strong brand attracts the best talent and decreases recruitment costs, with research showing that organizations which have an incorporated brand strategy have seen a 28% decrease in overall employee turnover (Forbes 2017).
A brand has the power to unite employees under a shared company culture and break down silo-working, which in turn leads to an increase in employee satisfaction and motivation. This will create company advocates whilst saving marketing budget and increasing the spread of your marketing messages (did you know they reach 561% more people when shared by employees rather than the brand itself? (Forbes 2017)
When putting together your business case, ensure you keep it short, to the point, fact based, evidence based and not emotional. Board leadership teams have limited time and essentially want to know what benefit investing in the brand will have on the bottom line.
A lot has changed in the past 25 years, and it’s your job to ensure that your board realizes the increasing importance of intangible assets, like brand, to total company value. Preparing a finance and data-focused proposition for brand investment can help you do just that.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Jo Davies, MD, VIM Group.
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education