In a data-driven world, marketers are increasingly focused on measuring the impact of their efforts. The rise of marketing technology, or “martech,” has further enabled this emphasis on metrics — with the industry spending roughly $100 billion in 2018, according to the marketing intelligence firm WARC. From Hootsuite to Hubspot, Mailchimp to Moz, the field of martech is booming, providing marketing leaders with software that can help them access, automate, and, most importantly, analyze. Web traffic can be monitored. Click rates can be quantified. SEO can be calculated. And with this information by their side, marketers can more clearly understand the connection between their various programs and their ROI.
But even with so many quantitative tools out there, some elements of good marketing remain frustratingly challenging to measure. One of those is brand — the ownable, authentic story that conveys who you are and what sets your business apart from competitors. The foundation upon which all marketing is based, brand informs everything from print campaigns and digital media to pop-up engagements and physical environments. But brand does more than just influence marketing; it also helps bring in top talent, attract prospective clients, and keep old ones coming back. So, while brand’s short-term ROI can be difficult to assess, the importance of a well-defined brand is undeniable — and should not be underestimated.
To help CMOs and other marketing leaders demonstrate brand value, we’ve identified four ways branding delivers marketing ROI: by engaging purpose-driven employees, by attracting customers with genuine passion, by creating consistency, and by guiding customer experience.
1. Brand attracts purpose-driven employees
An essential component of brand, purpose describes why a business exists and the main benefit it delivers. A great purpose acts as a rallying cry across the entire company. But it’s far more than just marketing speak — purpose can have a real impact on an organization’s outcomes, helping it to grow, earn, and thrive.
First and foremost, aligning a company around a clear intent can help it cultivate better relationships with internal audiences. Brand purpose and culture go hand-in-hand. Current employees and future hires feel more pride working for an organization that explains its reasons for existing beyond just building shareholder value. This is especially true for millennials; 78 percent report that it’s important for them to work at a company with whom their values align. This can help attract top talent and reduce turnover — all of which make the business more successful and profitable.
2. Brand purpose engages new customers
Explicitly defining your purpose will give prospective clients a better understanding of who you are, helping you stand out in what can often be a murky and crowded marketplace. Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, said it well: “Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”
“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”
Though defining purpose and being a purpose-driven organization are different things, the latter can also play a key role in attracting customers and adding value. While this is certainly the case in the B2C space — with socially conscious brands like Patagonia, Warby Parker, and Toms gaining prominence — having a higher-order purpose can also resonate in the B2B space. This is especially critical as millennials, who are more likely to make decisions based on personal values, step into B2B buyer positions.
Purpose can help the bottom line of even the most quotidian services. When CEO Lyell Clarke shifted the purpose of Clarke — his residential and commercial mosquito control and aquatic company—from eliminating bugs and cleaning ponds to “making communities around the world more livable, safe, and comfortable,” he saw a noticeable increase in his partnerships and revenue. Focusing on the public health aspect of Clarke’s work ultimately had a positive impact on the business overall.
Purpose is equally vital for major B2B corporations. Maersk is a good example. You may not think of shipping lines as an especially purpose-driven or values-led industry. However, the company takes its purpose—going “all the way” to empower global commerce—seriously. This means delivering far more than logistics; it means partnering with IBM on new technologies, cleaning up the oceans, and creating unparalleled transparency for the general public. As such, B2B companies are proud to partner with Maersk for their shipping, assured that their collaboration will have only a positive halo effect on their brand.
2. Brand consistency builds equity
In an age of globalization, many of the world’s most well-known brands succeed largely through the simple act of repetition. Think about it: when you’re searching for coffee, you’ll instantly think of the green Starbucks seal. And it’s easy to understand why: Starbucks looks and sounds the same everywhere. You can visit any store, from Minneapolis to Madrid, and count on it to deliver the same products, ambiance, and experience as the one in your own neighborhood — which is one of the reasons why it’s always top of mind.
Brand drives this consistency, which is a fundamental benefit that helps build equity for a business. Uniformly applying one visual and verbal identity throughout all your communications makes it clear what your company stands for. Because when clients constantly hear a similar message — instead of disparate ideas — they’ll begin to associate that distinct concept with you. This helps reduce confusion in the marketplace, creates a stronger impression with customers, and builds trust among your target audience — which inevitably drives conversion.
3. Brand experience drives loyalty
In today’s world, clients are expecting more from their B2B partners. They’re influenced by the B2C brands they use every day — companies like Lyft and Hulu, which prioritize personalization and convenience to provide exceptional experiences for users. With these consumer companies shaping the way clients think about their B2B interactions, it’s more important than ever for businesses to elevate their experiences through brand.
“73 percent of business leaders believed that investing in customer experience helped them increase business performance.”
And recently, leadership has started to agree, too: in a Harvard Business Review research report, research report, 73 percent of business leaders believed that investing in customer experience played a critical role in helping them increase business performance. From office environments to customer service processes to digital interactions, designing brand-led experiences can help you enrich relationships with your customers and encourage word-of-mouth referrals, both of which strengthen sales. Plus, the process of reviewing the customer journey — which is a critical component to understanding and enhancing the customer experience — can reveal opportunities to optimize your supply chain and drive operational efficiencies. And over time, this reduces costs, enabling your business to become more profitable.
Purpose, authenticity, consistency, and experience: these ingredients are all linked to brand. And they’re all benefits of brand … even though that value can sometimes be hard to quantify. But with these four areas of impact in mind, you can start to select the metrics that help you communicate marketing ROI to executives. From these factors to key marketing initiatives and beyond, brand affects so many important business aspects — which means getting it wrong can often have far-reaching and financial consequences. So, the question shouldn’t be, “Can we afford to invest in our brand?” but rather, “Can we afford not to?”
To learn more about the benefits of B2B branding, contact us.
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