Branding ROI and the Costs of Branding
By Tom Dougherty
Undertaking a smart branding initiative is not a task that should be taken lightly. It is an extremely time-consuming and difficult process and often can be expensive. In addition to these “physical” costs, there are also the “emotional” ones.
For many organizations, passions run deep concerning the company, its culture, its history, and its direction. And all too often, this emotional investment prevents the organization from having the ability to move forward in a meaningful way. Simply put, many organizations are afraid to take an honest look at their brands for the single reason that the emotional “investment” is too high.
The Emotional Investment
The problem here is not that there is an emotional investment. Directors, managers, and employees who are emotionally vested in their organizations are typically passionate and have a strong desire to see the organization succeed. The problem is that these emotional investments can get in the way of a truly dispassionate and honest look at the organization.
Brand, at its very core, is emotional and emotion is incredibly powerful. The success or failure of a brand is dependent on its emotional ties to the market. Those ties, though, should arrive through careful examination and alignment with the core values and belief sets of that market.
The Power of Perception
This is exactly why it is difficult for some organizations to change. There is an emotional “investment” in the organization that comes from certain belief sets of that organization. And the funny and powerful thing about beliefs is that they do not have to actually be true to be believed – they just have to be BELIEVED to be powerful.
Most all of the decisions we make are emotional. We often kid ourselves into believing that we make rational choices but, in fact, choices are truly emotional and we back fill the rational reasons after we have made a decision.
In organizations, this is especially true. There is a huge emotional dynamic in the decision-making processes in organizations. Sure, there are spreadsheets and reports that track every metric, trend, and market research statistic but often these “rational” elements get lost in emotion – the politics of the organization, the fear of change or failure, and the inability to truly examine a decision dispassionately – that can ultimately cause stagnation or even failure in an organization.
Don’t Let Emotion Rule the Day
The best and most successful organizations have the ability to check their emotions in the decision-making process. This is not to say that there is no room to “go with your gut.” Guts have helped many entrepreneurs be successful. But too often emotion can cloud even the simplest of decisions.
The biggest emotional hurdle managers must overcome is the fear of change. This fear can manifest itself in a number of ways, but typically it appears in “CYA” behaviors or simply making excuses as to why something should or should not be done. Fear of change is normal but managers should not be slaves to it.
The execution and implementation of a smart branding process – one that affects the core culture of everything an organization does – requires change. Brand is never about the company itself, rather it is about the customers – current and prospective – that a company looks to serve. If an organization is happy where it is and where it is going then perhaps the physical and emotional investment of a branding initiative is probably not the right choice. Smart branding returns a high ROI.
However, if an organization is truly passionate about winning and serving their markets better, then perhaps a dispassionate examination of the organization and its brand is warranted. Good brands tell the market where your products or services fit. Great brands create preference and increase margins. For organizations wanting to do this, branding is an expense you cannot live without. (Read how our process finds the emotional intensity here)