Are Your Brand Values On The Money? They’re Critical to Your Profitability

The last five years has seen a massive shift in the fundamentals that shape the corporate operating environment. Technological advances and economic influences have led to fundamental changes in global business practices and customer behaviour.


These changes demand businesses to alter and adapt their business models in order to maintain relevancy and profitability, but it also challenges companies to reinvent their strategies while maintaining the company’s vision and staying true to their core brand values.


 Brand Values Chalk


What Are Core Brand Values?

Core values are essential to the integrity of every brand while also underpinning every organisation’s culture and priorities. They provide a framework through which all decisions surrounding the brand are made.


Explicit core values empower employees and provide them with information they need to understand the brand. Strong brand values help employees articulate what makes their brand different compared to their competitors and enables them to communicate its message effectively to their customers, thereby making them far more effective brand champions and sales agents for your business.


In times of market turmoil and change the temptation exists for business leaders to abandon or compromise their brand values in an attempt to capture market share or adapt to new customer demands. A high quality brand that changes their core values and lowers prices in an effort to capture market share only confuses both customers and employees alike, which in turn undermines the brand, the very heart and life blood of their business. 


While every business must keep profits front of mind, with ongoing plans for increasing sales, failing to act with an authentic representation of the values and beliefs of the brand leads to loss of credibility for the company and brand erosion or devaluation and eventually loss of market share.


 Starbucks Beijing China


Remain True to Your Core Brand Values

Starbucks is a global brand but their commitment to their core values is evident in every market in which they operate. Their success in the Chinese market, a market where many American branding giants have failed, was due to their ability to adapt their strategy to meet the dynamics of the Chinese market while staying true to Starbuck’s core brand values.


Understanding the difference in the Chinese consumer tastes and expectations, Starbuck’s altered their product to include flavours preferred by the Asian consumer. Unlike their western peers, Chinese customers preferred to sit in rather than take out and so Starbucks encouraged this element of the customer service experience. They could have adopted a low price strategy more in keeping with the purchasing power of the average Chinese customer. They could have changed their entire business model to match that to other tea and coffee houses in China.


What Starbucks refused to alter was their dedication to the highest level of customer service and a high quality product. Their commitment to their core brand values paid off.


While many of their Chinese customers claimed they actually preferred the taste of rival brands, they continued to go to Starbucks because of the level of customer service they received. By maintaining their core values Starbucks captured the market of the higher-spending middle class Chinese consumer while also becoming a status symbol along the way.



Flexible in Strategy, Firm in Core Values

A brand strategy should be flexible and capable of adapting to changing market demands, but solid core brand values are essential to provide structure and direction for the brand to evolve and grow profitably. 


Customers need brands to adapt to their changing demands and brands must alter their offering and communication in order to stay relevant. A brand that tries to offer everything to the customer without remaining true to the underpinning direction of their brand values will fail. 


Customers are quick to recognize a brand that is acting disingenuously and without substance. Customers develop brand loyalty based on identifying and aligning themselves with the values of that brand. In order to capture and deliver value to your customers you must first identify and commit to the values that are core to your brand and your business, in order to meet your customers’ needs authentically.


Brand Values Text


4 Elements of Brand Strategy That Allow More Flexibility:


1. Location:

In most cases the ability to transfer the brand from one market to another is not something that is fundamental to the brand, unless the brand is built around a specific location. Las Vegas’s Sin City brand is intrinsic to that one location.


2. Communication:

New communication channels can and should be adopted in order to maximize customer value. Even television, radio and print brands expand their communication channels to include a mix of appropriate online communication channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, web sites and appropriate blogs to name a few.


3. Product Features:

While the core product should be consistent across markets, strong brands can adapt some features to suit changing local market demands.


4. Message Creation:

Brands are learning that they need to relinquish some control of the brand message and embrace customer-created content. If the communication of the core value is strong then the message created by the customer will more than likely still fit within the core brand strategy too.



When it comes to brand strategy there is no one-size-fits-all model. There are countless channels available and it is about selecting the most relevant to the brand at that current time. However having concrete core brand values is key to your success.


Core values are the focal point from which the brand message is shaped and communicated to and through customers. Remaining true to your core brand values ensures that no matter what turn the markets take, your brand will have a clear vision of what the brand strives to achieve, your brand promise and the direction on how to achieve those values through re-shaping your business strategies.



Volvo Safety Video Image


Volvo is a brand that has steadfastly remained true to their core value across the various markets in which they operate. Volvo state that “safety is a fundamental core value… safety is and must be the basic principle in all design work”.  They consistently offer value to their customers through their commitment to safety.  


Your brand strategy should be flexible and capable of adapting to changing market dynamics, integrating new methods of communication, satisfying new customer tastes, even entering new product markets, but your core brand values must remain true and underline everything you do.


• Does your brand have clear brand values?


• Does you brand strategy allow your brand to adapt to changing market dynamics?


• Do you need to redefine what values are core to your business?


• Do you need to engage in a Brand Discovery Programme™ to re-evaluate your brand values and revitalize your offering to keep it relevant and profitable?


 Brand Discovery Blog Ad


7 Steps to Branding Your Way Out of Recession and Into Profitable Growth

There are few companies in existence that have not felt the affects of the current recession impacting on their business and profit margins. As many of us know, uneasiness in the market fostered by fears of job losses and reduction in wages has consumer spending at an all time low.


Many business leaders feeling the pressure on their profit margins often react by applying cuts to their budgets, with marketing spend often first on the chopping block.


Brands Busting Recession


However, as history has shown us, savvy business leaders can recognize that cuts to budget spend alone are not the answer and that changes in the market demand adaptation to current marketing practices.


Recessions create huge challenges to businesses but why try and weather the storm when the opportunity exists to capitalize on your brand equity to strengthen your market position, and even develop profitable growth.


Opportunity Everywhere Crop



7 Steps to Brand your Way out of Recession


1. Adapt Your Brand to Customer Needs and Wants

How have consumers lives been changed by the recession? How have their needs changed? Your brand needs to be managed in a way that adjusts its marketing strategy to meet these changing consumer patterns. Revamp your brand packaging to be more relevant or user friendly, develop and up-sell new service products; analyze the new needs of the market and adjust your brand accordingly.



2. Brand Your Way to Market Growth

“You can’t save your way out of a recession – you have to invest your way out. You can’t just invest in the good times and then forget about them in the bad times and hope to get any results” Craig Barrett. Chairperson Intel  


A reduction in branding investment will have a knock on effect on the entire business. Reduced visibility or weakened brand equity leads to a reduction in demand leading to negative effects on profitability.


History has shown us that brands that increased or even maintained their investment in the brand during a recession actually saw an increase in marketing share. If your competitors are making cuts to their marketing budget than by maintaining your spend you are gaining an instant competitive edge.  



3. Review and Remove

Review and analyze your current brand activity. Cuts to marketing budgets without focused brand strategy have detrimental effects on the overall profitably of a company.


However, removing any lower value marketing costs can actually improve efficiency and effectiveness of your brand strategy. Being more selective in where and how you market your brand can actually bolster profitability. Track the ROI of brand investment and re-allocated funds to marketing activities to monitor what results in increased revenue for your business.


Brand Power 


4. Maintain Consumer Brand Relationships

During a recession remember your current customers. Experts agree there is no better time to focus on clients who are brand advocates. It is far cheaper to keep current customers than to attract new ones. Your current customers understand your brand. They have an affinity with it.



5. Increase Consumer Confidence

Reduction in sales corresponds to increases in consumer wariness. With cuts to wages and uncertainty in their future, consumers have become increasingly cautious in their spending habits.


Now is the time to use the strength of your brand to reassure customers. Convince your customers that they are making the right decision by purchasing your brand. Investing in building strong brand equity can lead to increased sales with customers developing a clear understanding as to the value of your brand. This information gives them the confidence they need to make the decision to purchase.



6. Remember Your Brand Values

Focusing on brand values can refocus the business itself and reignite the passion that drove the business in its early years. In a time where the negatives of the recession weigh heavy on consumer’s minds, being faced with a brand that is driven by passion, determination, inspiration, with clear values and purpose will stand out in the market and can inspire sales.



7. Customer Added Value

Consumer needs change in a recession. Purchasing decisions are often based less on convenience and more on price and value. Adding perceived value to a customer is far easier and has less of a direct affect on profitability than changing pricing structures.

Wow your clients at the various brand touch points and they feel they are getting more for their money than competing brands. Contribute good will, service during hard times and develop customer loyalty that will be stronger than ever when recession ends.


Brand Growth 


Abraham Lincoln once said “Give me six hours to cut down a three and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Business leaders need to start sharpening their marketing practices, not cut them.



• Have you analyzed the changes to your market?


• How have you adapted your brand strategy to changing consumer needs?


• Can you streamline your branding to get a better return on investment?


What have you been doing to brand your way out of the recession? Leave a comment or drop us a line. We’d love to hear your success stories.


Brand Awareness or Audience Annoyance? Context is King!

One of the biggest brand marketing challenges for companies is to try and increase consumer recognition and recall of their brand.


The ability of a brand to capture the audiences’ attention, and quickly communicate its message is key to shaping the brand’s identity within its  target market.


We talked about reducing consumer confusion to ease the purchasing decision making process. A brand that has a strong identity makes it easy for a consumer to understand where the brand fits within its market, and why they should choose it over its competitors.



Don’t Confuse Your Audience, Help Them Choose: Why Context is Important

The ‘how’ and ‘where’ of communicating with your target audience should not just be dictated by maximum reach but by selecting what would best help the consumer develop a greater understanding of your brand identity.


In other words, the channels you choose should be congruent with your brands positioning strategy. A consumer who understands the brand’s identity is far more likely to recall the brand and recognize it during the decision making process.


Context is important for the brand and consumer alike. The choice of where to place your brand should help to convince your audience to choose your brand above competitors, not confuse them. Brand familiarity is key to strong sales, increased market share and growing brand profitability.


Jumping on the Live Brand Wagon

The explosion of product placement in film and television is a testament to the difficulty of grabbing audiences’ attention through traditional advertising. With multiple channels available to an audience, as well as the ability to record and skip over advertisements, big brands have started looking elsewhere to gain brand exposure to a captive audience.  Live broadcasts are the latest space being targeted in an effort to get the attention of a focused audience.


Inappropriate Exposure: Where Brands Go Wrong

Live broadcasts of sporting occasions or awards shows have typically been top of the highest TV viewing figure polls. The 2012 Superbowl attracted a staggering 111 million viewers. This year’s Oscars was viewed by 39.3 million people, and In Ireland over 2 million Irish fans tuned in to cheer on the boys in green in their clash against Spain during Euro 2012, that’s nearly half the population of the country!


While advertising around these types of events has always attracted huge brand buy-ins, a new trend is emerging which see’s brands targeting the live shows themselves. While live events offer the potential of huge exposure for brands, exposure without context begs the question are these brand attention seekers creating awareness or just annoyance?


The Tony Awards 2012

The biggest award night for the world of theatre took place last week in New York with the live broadcast of the show attracting a TV audience of over 6 million.


Not content with just a 30 second slot during the ad break, Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner also paid for a 4 minute infomercial during the ceremony, featuring singers and dancers from their cruise line entertainment, performing songs from the musical Hairspray, with explicit mentions of the brand by the award presenter.


Audiences of the show were certainly made aware of the brand, but this attempt of such an obvious sell in the middle of what is deemed a prestigious award ceremony might lead to more annoyance than awareness.


For a brand that is trying to attract an audience and strengthen brand identity, annoying audiences can lead to negative brand associations and ultimately do more harm than good.



AMA 2011

Even more bizarre than Royal Caribbean cruise’s Tony appearance, was the use of a FIAT 500 on stage at last year’s American Music Awards during Jennifer Lopez’s performance.


Although the singer was paid to endorse the brand, it’s lack of relevance in the setting of the AMA stage made the brand stand out but not necessarily for the right reasons.



Irish Brand’s Stunt Gets it Right with Relevancy at Euro 2012

It may have been cheeky but at least Irish brand Paddy Power picked a relevant event for their latest branding stunt that saw them send branded boxers to various players in Euro 2012.


The stunt paid off with millions around the world getting a glimpse of the brand when a Danish player lifted his shirt as part of his goal celebrations. While the player may be penalized for the stunt that infringed on the strict brand restrictions in place for Euro 2012, Paddy Power received valuable brand exposure with their target audience.



Use Relevant Channels to Help Your Audience Understand Your Brand

Integrating a brand into a live broadcast is not just about gaining brand exposure but should be treated as another congruent touch point in which you can reinforce the brand identity with your target audience. 


The ability for a consumer to recall a brand is influenced by all their interactions with that brand. The context in which the audience sees the brand helps them to understand the brand’s message, arming them with the information they need during a purchasing decision process.


For a company, this means that you should be looking to create a synergy within your brand marketing strategy where by each brand communication strengthens and reinforces the message of the others.


Remember, your brand is looking to convince, not confuse, and build strong relationships.  Strengthen your brand identity by picking the channel that best suits your brand and your audience. 


• Are you picking the communication channels most relevant to your audience?


• Where are you marketing your brand?


• Is this strengthening your brand identity or just causing confusion?


What do you think of the contexts of the brand placements mentioned?


15 Reasons Why You Need a Brand Audit to Increase Your Revenue

Fact: Strong brands make more money, are more profitable and increase company value. They enable you to command a premium, ensure customer preference in buying decisions and build customer loyalty which reduces cost of sales and fends off competition


If your profits are falling and sales are not performing a “Brand Audit” will help give you insights into your brand’s impact and performance in the marketplace and, most importantly, why it’s not delivering.  


Fact: All brands, global or national or regional, need a health check. Brands are like living entities with life cycles. They start with much excitement and promise, grow and then eventually plateau. 


It’s at this mature stage of evolvement, when they potentially start to loose relevance as the market evolves and customers move on to the latest hot new thing, that you need to conduct a Brand Audit. 


A Brand Audit helps you monitor this cycle so you keep your brand fresh and relevant and know when to reinvigorate or revitalise before sales start to slip.


Brand Audit Team


Need some more reasons to use a Brand Audit to increase your bottom line ? Here’s 15 more to chew on . . .


1. Use it to grow your bottom line, your money’s in your brand. 

    N.B.: Products can be copied, brands can’t.

2. Get clarity with your marketing activities and step up a gear.

3. Know what your core customers think of your brand NOW and re-evaluate.

4. Create sharp focus in your bullseye customers mind.

5. Revitalise with multi-channel emotional connections with your customers.

6. Re-energise what your brand stands for and make it hit home.

7. Leverage it to be seen as an innovative trail blazer and increase your visability.

8. Get distinct and memorable competitive advantage.

9. Attract and develop more effective raving brand advocates.

10. Enhance your brand credibility and generate more buzz.

11. Differentiate your brand more strongly to become a money making magnet.

12. Enhance your internal sense of proud brand ownership with both the board and employees. It massively impacts on how everybody engages and interacts with the brand and your customers.

13. Leverage growth by using external professional validation

14. Discover new ideas, insights, tactics and strategies for your brand.

15. Get an outside experts point of view. You are too close to your brand and invariably can’t see your own brand shortcomings to address the problems objectively.


Brand Audit Girl


These are just some reasons to engage in a Brand Audit. Do you really know how your brand is performing and where it could be improved ?


Is it coasting along but in need of re-evaluation before the competition catches up ? Or is it disconnected, out of touch, caught up in price discounting and endless promotions with a shrinking market and failing sales that will ultimately put you out of business ?

Now is the time for an audit to reinvigorate your brand to stay on top or, more critically, provide a life saver to identify and address the problem areas so you can turn things around and grow your bottom line


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To find out more about what’s involved in our proprietary brand audit process, and how you can use our Persona Brand Audit to greatly increase your performance, drop us a line or give us call today. 

We’re here to help you address your brand challenges and support you in growing your business/brand.

T: +353 1 8322724

E: [email protected]


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Top 10 Reasons For Rebranding To Grow Your Business

Brands are constantly evolving to ensure they keep abreast of changing needs in the market place. Even some of the greatest brands in the world need rejuvenation.

Brands like Guinness, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Kellogg’s are iconic, global in their status. Yet when you look at their market leadership over the decades, they have all changed even if it has been in a more evolutionary sense over time, rather then radical overhauls. However some branding does require an extensive change in order for the business to achieve the required regeneration for growth and profitable returns.


Guinness Word Device


Guinness Logo


Revitalisation maintains and celebrates the history and heritage of the brand but shows its target audience (current and future) that you are adaptive to change. Change is necessary to stay relevant to the times in which a brand exists and to ensure its future success.


Starbucks Logo Evolution


Some of the reasons for rebranding, relaunching and revitalising a brand include the following: 


1. Relevance:

Brands need to stay relevant to their target market, to keep up with the times and keep pace with changing customer needs (e.g. services, accessibility, convenience, choice, changing trends, technology). A brand that has become old-fashioned in the eyes of its audience is in danger of stagnation if not already in a state of erosion and loss of market share.


2. Competition:

In a fast moving environment with aggressive competition, rebranding may be required to change the offering to the market in order to create a more compelling reason to buy, in the minds of the target audience. Rebranding can be used as a means of blocking or outmanoeuvring competitors or a way of handling increased price competitiveness.


3. Globalisation:

Sometimes rebranding is required because of globalisation where the same product sold across multiple markets is inconsistent or different e.g. Marathon’s change to Snickers, Opal Fruits change to Starburst, Jif’s change to Cif. 


Starburst Opalfruits Rebrand


4. Mergers & Acquisitions:

When two entities combine there are typically two unique audiences left to communicate with. Sometimes this can require a rebrand or relaunch in a way that will appeal to both. In other cases one of the brands may be more dominant requiring more of a revitalisation or refresh with it becoming the sole dominant player. 


5. Innovation:

Technology is constantly evolving and the rate of change often exponential. If a brand is technology related e.g. internet, software, hardware and the product offering constantly innovating then a rebrand frequently follows the natural and fast rate of change. Rebranding or revitalisation becomes an outward expression of the companies evolution and ensures the brand’s change hungry customers keep coming back to see “what’s new”.


Apple Logo Old And New


6. Repositioning:

Taking a brand to a new position is an involved process e.g. from an economy price fighter to a premium position, and invariably requires a rebrand to signal a change in direction, focus, attitude or strategy to its target market. Also again used as a means of blocking or outmanoeuvring competitors or a way of handling increased price competitiveness.


7. Rationalisation:

Rebranding can be used to decrease business development and operational costs, or a way of countering declining profitability or consumer confidence. It can also be used where there are complex and sometimes confusing mixes of product portfolios which frequently undermine the brands impact, (along with considerable advertising, branding clutter and media proliferation) all of which causes brand incongruence and audience fragmentation and consequently badly needs consolidation through rebranding to achieve brand impact and strong growth again


Mcconnells Old And New Logo


8. Outgrowth:

When small companies grow into bigger entities they and/or their products frequently require a rebrand or revitalisation to meet the needs of the bigger business. Typically smaller companies start with more modest brand offering, due to budget restrictions, which are inadequate to meet the needs of a bigger more sophisticated business and a rebrand is required.


9. Legal Requirements:

Occasionally legal issues may arise that require a company to make changes to their branding such as copyright issues or bankruptcy e.g. similarities between naming and designs e.g. The Jelly Bean Factory became The Jelly Bean Planet in Ireland to ensure differentiation from the USA brand Jelly Belly.


10. Morale & Reputation:

If a company brand has demoralised employees or confused customers then a rebrand may required. A thorough rebrand process will work to unearth the issues that need addressing and could be solved through key changes, including a completely new look and feel to the organisation. A rebrand in this instance can improve a brand’s competitiveness by creating a common sense of purpose and unified identity, building staff morale and pride, as well as a way of attracting new customers, enhancing relationships with existing customers and attracting the best talent to the business.


In the case of compromised or damaged reputations rebranding becomes a more pressing requirement. Obvious examples in the current market include certain aspects of the financial sector and banking institutions with damaged reputations which in time will need rebranding. BP is another example and its handling of the Gulf spill which may also require a rebrand in the US the help rebuild its reputation.


If you’re considering a rebrand to grow your business and would like to know more, give us a call. We’d love to talk T: +353 1 8322724