Branding and ROI. Age old debate of how investment in branding impacts the bottomline. Need $10 million for that next big brand campaign? What is the ROI? Will the campaign generate revenue of at least $10 million or more? Sounds familiar? Well it’s a question that every marketer is challenged with in the C-suite everyday. Is this the role of branding? Do you measure revenue impact at a campaign level? Does that spend have to directly contribute revenue? I am afraid not. Your CMO know this but your CEO doesn’t. So what is the role of branding? How do you pitch your next big campaign idea that is supposedly going to transform your brand and hopefully move the needle. I can’t say I have won the war on Branding ROI but have certainly won a few battles! Here is a perspective that your CEO could use from time to time. What’s my pitch? It’s about emotional relevance. It’s not the only thing that can make all the difference but it is crucial in this world of choice overload. Let’s face it. Your company is not Google. Everything you do is not game changing. It’s me too at best. You were not even first to market that service which the whole world came to know of a long time ago but somehow you managed to put it out there finally! Shame on you for being so late! The ability to put a product that is relevant and useful comes first. No excuses! But s**t happens! Lucky for you relevant products and services are crucial but not the only aspect that drives revenue in the long run.
The role of branding is to ensure the brand stays emotionally relevant through the turbulence of business reality. Your product pipeline sucks. Your supply chain is just not sorted. Your sales force is abysmal. Your retail experience is outdated. Your customer care is understaffed and demotivated to deliver WOW!. That’s life. You will go nowhere unless you fix your s**t! But while you do you can still engage your customers. You can still be emotionally relevant. Because once all is said and done you will be putting out average products that are at par with competition. You are not big enough to have an R&D department of your own that can change the game for you. If you have a customer base then you are in business. They matter. Keep them happy. Keep them engaged. And that’s the role of branding.
A great example of a brand that has sorted every aspect of it’s brand experience is Nike. Are they trying to sell you their USP? Not really. Do they have a USP? Not quite sure if they do. Do they have the perfect running shoe that is far superior to what the competition offers? Definitely not. But they are doing one thing right. Continuing to be emotionally relevant. The latest brand film by Nike is for China. It’s power is the insight that drives the campaign. The insight of a “winning moment.” That one moment when everything changes and everything else that follows is simply a consequence of that one epic moment. How did they discover this moment? Through an insight into their target audience. That’s the other aspect of ensuring emotional relevance. Communication has to be built on a powerful insights and that’s exactly what they have done. Check out the film below:
Did they sell you their shoe? No. But they definitely engaged you wherever you are. The Nike attitude rings true. But if you are from China the subtlety of the promise moved you even more. Why? Because the youth in China are not loud and overtly expressive. They are more reserved than their western counterparts and that is why this winning moment is more relevant to them emotionally than any other moment in their journey to victory. That’s what Nike has done and keeps doing. That’s what brands need to do. Find the trigger that can enable you to emotionally engage and be relevant to your target audience. If you are able to deliver a cohesive brand experience that can deliver on the bottomline then there is nothing like it. For everyone else, keep building your brand one experience at a time!
Disclaimer: This post reeks of silo thinking where the world of branding is broken down and isolated from the world of business. Clearly a world where branding is not king and is unable to deliver on the brand promise through every touchpoint the way it should. It’s merely surviving through brand communications. For those of you who are delivering on the textbook definition of branding. Lucky you! This post is not meant for you. It is for meant for YOU and you know who you are 🙂