We get asked this question a lot – “tell me how you measure ROI on brand strategy?” We don’t. That’s because it’s the wrong metric to be asking from brand.
Marketing gets you an ROI. You buy media, influence, or eyeballs at a certain dollar amount, and you want to get back in sales an amount that’s higher than what you spent. Good marketing should give you a yield on the investment made.
So does brand not offer a return? While there is not a yield on the direct investment made, brand offers tremendous financial impact. But you have to ask the right questions. Start by asking if the brand strategy work you’re doing is making an impact on increasing topline gross revenue (volume), widening bottom line net revenue (margin), and lowering operating expenses. Those returns are not a direct correlation of the spend you make on brand or brand strategy, but are directly related to how inspiring, meaningful and compelling your brand is.
Think of it this way:
- With your Revenue Team – Product, Sales, Marketing. This is the team that is likely used to thinking about brand and often tasked with brand-related activities.
- They drive topline revenue – more customers, buying more products and services.
- They are connected through the purchase funnel/customer journey.
- This team doesn’t make for a business on its own – it needs operations to execute effectively, otherwise you have immiserating growth, or growth that has to be undone.
- With your Operations Team – HR, Finance, Procurement, Administration, IT, etc. This team may not have brand on their radar, or they may think it’s the responsibility of the folks on the revenue team. However, brand can be the kindling that makes this team innovate faster, collaborate better, and deliver services in a more aligned, efficient manner for the business.
- They turn topline revenue into a viable, growing business, optimizing how we operate.
- They connect through the shared identity of their employer/workplace/org.
- This team can’t grow on its own – it needs topline growth to optimize (i.e. you can’t cut your way to growth).
Brand has to be accessible to both teams – your revenue team and your operations team. Yet, these folks are wired very differently. What do brand related goals and KPIs look like for each?
Your revenue team
This is where there is some cross over, and even some competition between brand and marketing, making it easy to conflate your expectations of each.
- Brand should contribute to a LOWER investment required in paid marketing. Word of mouth and product design and experience should help dampen the need for marketing investment.
- Brand should contribute to a higher rate and faster time to close/conversation:
- INCREASE number of new leads attracted
- SPEED time from qualification to lead to prospect (nurture)
- SPEED movement of prospects through nurture flow
- SPEED conversion to sale
- INCREASE conversion to repurchase
- INCREASE conversion to advocacy
- DECREASE customer churn
- Brand should increase relevance, creation, and adoption of new product innovations:
- INCREASE THE RELEVANCE of new product introductions
- INCREASE THE PACE of innovation by your team(s)
- INCREASE the amount of IP generated by your organization
- INCREASE perceptions of your brand as a thought leader
Your operations team
While brand can’t help with taxes, it can still impact your bottom line when it comes to the affinity and fidelity your operations team shares.
- Brand should help you communicate the who/what/why of your business to current and prospective employees, making you a preferred destination for the people that fit your culture and talent needs, and serving as a guide for employee actions on the job.
- Brand should be an inimitable advantage in the battle for top talent:
- DECREASE cost to attract talent as preferred employer
- DECREASE cost to retain talent by aligning the culture and performance levels
- DECREASE time to train talent by setting clear expectations for the experience the brand delivers
- DECREASE rate of employee churn due to poor fit with the culture and product capability
- Brand should also reduce the amount of thrash in decision making as well, not by turning every leader into a drone, but by focusing collaborative, productive discussion on the areas that matter most for success. This can be observed as a:
- DECREASE in decision making time required to select and pursue a strategy
- INCREASE in individual commitment to the brand and business strategy
- INCREASE of consistency of leadership styles and execution across the organization
- DECREASE of disruption caused by changes in leadership as organizations become brand-driven rather than personality-driven
Just like real estate versus a money market account, brand and marketing are very different kinds of investment, and you should be asking for very different kinds of returns from each. Similarly, marketing isn’t the only lever to pull if you want to build your brand, and marketers aren’t the only stakeholders accountable for upholding it. If you’re asking for a percentage yield on your brand, then you’re frankly not asking enough. Is your brand working across your teams to drive the right kind of return?
If you’d like to chat about building your brand – and driving the right kind of return – please feel free to reach out. We’d love to hear from you.
Samantha Temple Neukom | Founding Partner, Chief Brand Officer
Dan Cabacungan | Strategy Director