Four ways to build strong brands
There are four elements that strong, successful and valuable brands have in common: they focus on purpose, innovation, experience and drive love. Not all of them achieve all of these things in equal measure, and some excel in just one or two areas. But all of these four attributes have a strong correlation with brand value and value growth.
This is something that drives a brand beyond what its products literally do for the people who buy them. A sense of purpose is becoming increasingly important, particularly to younger consumers, who are looking to associate themselves with brands they feel are doing good for the world. For other consumers, a sense of purpose can be comforting in times of uncertainty. People choose a mobile network, a bank or a tea brand in part because of the practical benefits they see, but it’s also about how that brand makes them feel, and purpose has a lot to do with that. Purpose is what a brand sets out to achieve, beyond making money. It is the way a brand makes people’s lives better.
BrandZ™ research tracking the Top 100 Global Brands shows that brands with a clear purpose grew in value at three times the rate of other brands, on average, over the past 12 years. In Indonesia, the difference is even more clearly marked.
Innovative brands are seen as doing something new, and as such, they tend to get talked about and tried. When trial goes well, that can lead to a longer-term relationship and, ultimately love, which correlates strongly with innovation. Often, innovation is associated with technology brands, but innovation is something that all brands and all categories can achieve, whether it’s innovation in the actual product that they sell, or an innovative approach to customer service. It could even be a fresh take on a category, or extension into a new category. Some of the most innovative challenger brands we have seen in recent years have shaken up a category with little experience of it; being an outsider with a fresh pair of eyes has helped them breathe new life into a sector. Innovation doesn’t just get a brand talked about – it pays off . It is a key ingredient in brand contribution, and that is linked to a strong growth trajectory for brand value.
Experience refers to the way a person interacts with a brand, so to deliver a good experience, food has to taste good, an appliance has to work, and a retailer has to have in stock the things a shopper is looking for. But experience extends beyond the moment of consumption, and beyond the moment in which a purchase decision is made. It means every interaction that a person has with a brand, so that’s the way they feel when they see an ad, their experience navigating a web site, how long they have to wait when they call customer service, and how they dispose of their product packaging. A brand not only has to deliver a great experience at every point of interaction, and help consumers all along the way, it also has to remind consumers, through effective communications, that it is focused on doing this well.
The BrandZ™ measure of love doesn’t just acknowledge how caring a brand seems to be, though giving consumers the feeling that they’re cared for is no bad thing. Love in this instance is the emotional affinity of a brand, and it’s something that can’t be bought or manufactured. That said, if brands take the time and care to invest in promoting a higher purpose, innovating, and delivering a consistently great experience, then love tends to happen naturally. In fact the link between innovation and love is particularly strong, and some of the most loved brands in the world – names like Nike, for instance – are also among the most innovative. And in the times between innovation, love is often what sustains the consumer relationship with a brand.