Millward Brown has unique insight into what drives financial value growth for brands. Clearly defining what makes a brand meaningfully different is the foundation of any successful brand. Brand Premium: How Smart Brands Make More Money, by Nigel Hollis, is based on the Millward Brown ValueDrivers Framework. In the book, Hollis demonstrates how good marketing creates strong brands to add sustainable financial value to a business.
Millward Brown’s ValueDrivers Framework includes two key actions every brand owner should take.
- Define what makes a brand meaningfully different from its competitors.
- Amplify that meaningful difference to enhance and exploit the brand experience for the commercial benefit of the business.
A brand must have a Purpose. It must make a difference in people’s lives. Otherwise, why will people buy it? Purpose is the foundation of a strong brand. To justify existing in today’s crowded categories, a brand needs a purpose that sets it apart. What does the brand offer that others don’t?
A brand can satisfy emotional or practical needs, or both, when it triggers associations related to things like self-worth, pride, caring, or security.
Some brands are able to elevate their purpose to the level of a brand ideal that goes far beyond the functional delivery of its product or service to address higher-order needs such as self-fulfillment, identity, affiliation, and societal or environmental good.
A brand is everything – from purpose to calls to action, from customer service to pricing, from communication to warranties. Every single interaction with customers contributes to the brand experience. Defined in this way, Delivery, crucial to a brand’s long-term success, is simply how well the company walks its talk.
The way a brand presents itself to the target audience may shape the brand experience, but it won’t turn a bad experience into a good one. If there are weaknesses in the brand experience, they should be identified and addressed immediately. Strong brands might be forgiven a bad experience – but they can’t count on forgiveness.
Strong brands are built on more than satisfied customers; they strike an emotional chord with consumers and resonate. The most powerful type of Resonance occurs when strong emotional bonds connect consumers with brands. These connections are formed when people feel that brands are not only useful, but also emotionally rewarding. This is where the intrinsic and extrinsic elements of Delivery combine to make the brand significant to people.
Differentiation is the essence of strategy.
If a brand is intended to create a sustainable competitive advantage, it better be well differentiated, and marketing should reflect and enhance that differentiation. Think about the brands typically cited by marketers as ones they admire – Apple, Virgin, Facebook, Disney, Coke, Audi, and Jack Daniels come to mind. Each is well-differentiated; sets or transcends the trends for their category, and stands out from the competition. Most of these brands are differentiated on both a tangible and an intangible basis. Whether the brand differentiation is functional, physical, visual or based in persona, tonality, or viewpoint, these brands are not going to be mistaken for another. In relatively undifferentiated categories, marketing/how the brand communicates becomes the primary source of differentiation.
The Meaningfully Different Experience
Purpose, delivery, resonance, and differentiation are not a sequential process. They combine to create a brand’s meaningfully different experience. The fusion of the four key factors is what determines whether or not a brand is meaningfully different.
Once a brand’s meaningful difference has been identified, amplification becomes much easier. All actions help reinforce what the brand stands for and ensure it is salient in the mind of prospective purchasers.
Findability is all about ensuring that your brand is available and can easily be found — when and where people want it.
This should never be overlooked. A brand needs to be easily searchable — both digitally and physically. Don’t forget to ask these simple questions:
- How can I make my brand more readily available?
- Can I gain new buyers by identifying new purchase occasions and situations that are not served by the competition?
- How can I make my brand the most obvious choice?
Once you have identified what makes your brand meaningfully different for consumers, all actions should align to build and enhance the brand experience. This alignment builds brand Credibility.
A brand’s meaningful differentiation should be enhanced through innovation and association with brands, people, and events. New product launches and line extensions should benefit from, and feed back into, that difference.
If your brand is often found in association with other organizations, brands, or people, then ideally they should share the same purpose or meaning as your brand. The association should boost your brand’s credibility.
Brand Vitality is also critical to success. Strong brands must be seen as contemporary and thriving. Consumers are drawn to brands that are popular and talked about.
One of the most important qualities that people look for in a brand is popularity. A good social media strategy can help a brand seem contemporary, and encourage people to talk about it. Vitality is served by maintaining a modern look and feel to packaging, logo design, and communications. Keep in mind that innovation in these areas should be balanced by the need to maintain clarity and identity.
Aside from the quality of a product or service, brand Affordability is the most important variable in the marketing mix. Making it easier for people to purchase your brand will help entice new buyers, but, if the balance between price and value perceptions is off, the brand will end up losing margin and could enter a death spiral. To avoid this, you need to make the brand more affordable – not simply cheaper. A savvy marketer will be able to manipulate peoples’ perceptions of value to maximize the income stream from a brand at a specific price point – or find ways to make the brand more affordable without lowering margins.
Extendability is the way to reap the true benefits of your investment in growing a strong brand. Once a brand is strong, meaningful, and different, extension into new categories and markets offers a way to maximize the brand’s value.
A meaningfully different brand can extend to new usage occasions, product categories, and geographies – without every step of the process needing to be worked through from first principles. Adaptation will be necessary, but knowing what the brand stands for already resonates in one category will make adaptation easier.
The quicker a mental representation of a brand forms, and the more vivid and complete it is, the more likely the brand will be considered for purchase. This speed to mind is known as Salience.
Saliency impacts a brand in two ways. First, there is a strong, positive relationship between salience and purchase in every category. Just being the brand that comes to mind first can be a tremendous advantage, particularly for brands that are purchased on impulse. This advantage continues throughout the purchase process.
Second, saliency helps explain why people are behaviorally loyal to a brand. Consumers are more likely to bond with brands that are salient on attributes that are important to them. Amplification plays an important role in ensuring that a brand’s meaningful differenence is kept salient to prospective purchasers.
GROW | Financial Value Growth
Growing a brand in today’s competitive marketplace is hard. All the evidence suggests that the deck is stacked against growing market share. The few brands that do grow market share substantially year to year do so because they offer a meaningfully different brand experience and amplify it effectively.
By creating the perception with individual consumers that a brand is meaningful, different, and salient, strong brands:
- Capture three times more volume than the average brand
- Command a price premium six percent above the average
- Are two times more likely to grow value share over the next 12 months
The end result is that strong brands generate higher profits and grow faster than their competition.