Here’s a postulate or a thought.
What if the ultimate success of a brand was not purely economic or even behavioural? What if the role and purpose of branding was a much deeper and important concept? A concept that still has its purpose centered on the building of long-term shareholder value.
For all of my time in a wide variety of marketing organisations and agencies (and it’s a considerable amount of time), the focus of the marketing brief has been mostly economic – growing sales, increasing market share, retaining customers, growing loyalty… the list goes on. And of course behavioural strategies have been the way to achieve many of these objectives.
For me, the test of brand success is longevity and the legacy that marketers leave. Achieving sustained economic viability over the long term, building shareholder wealth and not simply executive bonuses – that should be the goal of every brand manager.
To achieve this, I believe a brand needs a triple bottom line focus and thus should consider a cohesive approach to its economic, social and environmental goals. Some of these considerations will naturally already be a part of an organisation’s overall goals. However, bringing this focus to brand planning is a way to ensure the organisation’s goals get ‘off the planning pages’. This is because brand goals are linked to operational or economic outcomes and therefore, more likely to be actioned as a result.
So how can economic, social and environmental goals materialize as a cohesive brand strategy? At its essence a brand needs to stand for something or have a purpose. Once this is identified, it’s a process of using the lens of the brand to build out your economic, social and environmental strategies.
Below is my suggested way to expand out the brand essence for social and environmental considerations.
At this point, I’m guessing that most marketers will be fairly familiar in the development of purely economic brand strategies, so I’ll take a deeper look on how social and environmental brand strategies might execute.
Taking a conscious approach brand’s social contribution to society should deliver economic outcomes as well as build long term value alignment with end customers or consumers. Whether this is executed via your sponsorships, your well being programs, your advocacy and support of causes or establishing social ambassadorial roles, these strategies esteem the brand in truly emotional ways, illustrating that your brand has soul. A great example of this is the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service.
Tangible environmental actions of the brand can also have direct economic outcomes. The brand can execute environmental strategies ranging from packaging initiatives through to support of research and development for new, better environmental technologies. All of these actions can either improve profitability now or increase the likelihood of customer acquisition. A great example of this is Saltwater Brewery who have developed edible six pack rings.
Through the lens of the brand, the social and environmental brand strategies can not only embellish the economic outcomes but also provide end users with a multi faceted brand experience and purpose driven brand. This triple bottom-line approach to branding is not likely to be easy in an era of limited marketing resources, however even the process of conscious planning will improve long term brand health and shareholder value.
Thanks for indulging in my postulate. I would love your feedback, so don’t be shy!