By Cyndi Fifield
Many brands have a brand strategy with measurable initiatives that support the brand’s key performance indicators (KPI). However, the majority of brands, large or small, have a brand strategy that is not measurable, nor correlated with their KPIs. Research suggests that many brands apply marketing and branding fads, such as the trend-du-jour, to position their products or services. Traditionally, branding trends and fads are outdated at the time the author published their marketing best-seller.
When visiting your family physician, you are likely to explain your symptoms, followed by the doctor’s diagnosis and recommendations. More than likely, the physician continuously familiars themself with recent, peer-reviewed life science research. Upon your return for a follow-up appointment, the physician will likely share the results of treatment with life science researchers at an academic institution. In turn, the researchers will analyze the data and republish the results: the closed-loop of life science research (Figure 1).
Marketing science experiences an open journey, which does not have a closed-loop (Figure 2). The trend-du-jour is likely founded in a book many years following its peer-reviewed publication. The practitioner-academic feedback loop rarely exists in practice in marketing science. In marketing and social sciences, peer-reviewed research often decreases in reliability and replicability 60-months following its initial publish date. Clicksuasion’s Closed Loop (Figure 3) displays the real-time lifecycle between research and application: data is analyzed upon receipt, then campaigns are revised for a positive and significant effect.
During the two years between 2018 to 2020, studies suggest a significant mistake made by brands was the compartmentalization of marketing and branding teams within the organization. The separation of teams contributed to mutually exclusive objectives. Often, these actions were followed by short term gameplans, which included marketing fads, while simultaneously excluding peer-reviewed frameworks, collaboration, and oversight.
Further investigation suggests that a brand strategy is limited by the leadership’s decision process. In North America, the COVID-19 pandemic was a period of uncertainty for many leaders. Following a year of uncertainty for brand equity, logistics, and sales, many brands are experiencing ‘revenge spending’, and continue to struggle with satisfying consumer demand. Revenge Spending is the rush to spend money following an unprecedented event as people seek to reclaim control and a sense of normalcy. Some seek to spend more on experiences and travel, while others are keen to buy new clothes and products that were missed during the previous period. Revenge Spending is grounded in the scarcity principle and the fear of missing out and could contribute to the price a consumer is willing to pay.
A strategic business plan can have multiple formats and structures with measurable objectives and team initiatives with an actionable, relevant, and sustainable method for execution. Similar to a strategic business plan, a brand strategy is a living document that encompasses the brand’s purpose and values, visual identity, message framing, talking points, consumer personas and journeys, communication channels, and their respective KPIs. The brand strategy is grounded in processes and outcomes. Without measurable and actionable brand objectives, many brands struggle to sustain a clear, concise, and consistent marketing campaign.
When an organization conceptualizes brand strategy as equity or a strategic investment, the strategy is likely to become the blueprint for maintaining and enhancing communication with stakeholders. When a brand is accustomed to following the latest trends and fads, research suggests that committing to a long-term strategy is considered overwhelming. This quick leap of faith into the marketing trend of the month could be financially intensive and taxing on resources.
Brand strategies are likely to experience positive results when combined with marketing frameworks and their measurable objectives. The Clicksuasion ACCAL Journey Map guides brand and marketing leaders through five phases of marketing engagement, (1) Awareness, (2) Consideration, (3) Conversion, (4) Action, and (5) Loyalty.
Touchpoints are likely to differentiate between industry, organization, and consumer behavior.
The value of a strong brand strategy can be measured with brand awareness, loyalty and referrals, customer retention, sentiment, social mentions, brand recall, the share of voice, net promoter score, customer lifetime value, and Clicksuasion’s reTRUST methodology. The application of measurable KPIs provides a focus for the marketing and branding teams regarding positioning and performance. The brand strategy is crafted to be reevaluated and revised on a recurring basis by marketing and brand directors. Additionally, measuring the impact of brand initiatives provides the organization the ability to pivot and react, as appropriate.
While there might be popular marketing trends, measuring their relevance to KPIs will likely assist with the decision-making process for executing marketing initiatives. Brands are living, breathing creatures that require attention and care. When in doubt, be actionable, measurable, and relevant, then be bold, be brief, and be gone.