Branding ROI

How Four Marketing Giants Evaluate their Branding ROI, Return on Investment

For a lot of people, even with marketing experience, the money spent on branding can feel like a bit of a black box. They know that it is important to invest in building an attractive brand with a strong brand strategy and effective brand architecture but aren’t always sure on their branding ROI. 

Intuitively and from their own experience, they feel that time, money and effort invested in building a brand will build their business and help improve its results. However it can sometimes be challenging to measure this in concrete ways. 

Related: Brand Hierarchy Fundamentals for Multiple Brands To Avoid Confused Customers or Stagnant Sales

The challenge of evaluating branding ROI faces companies of all sizes. In fact, it is perhaps even more of an issue for sophisticated big brand giants with enormous marketing budgets, precisely because they have so much riding on the effectiveness of their branding strategy. That means that there is a lot for us all to learn in understanding how the marketing experts measure branding ROI. 

Here we look at what four leading brand giants do to evaluate the return on investment they get on their branding expenditure – their branding ROI.

Branding, Design, and Marketing: What’s the Difference?

For people who are working hard to build their business, it can sometimes feel a bit challenging to get embroiled in deeper substance of branding strategy, and how it differs from marketing and indeed design. 

However, these words in fact relate to different business activities. Understanding how they vary from each other can help you ensure that you focus on exactly what you need to help your business achieve consistent return on investment.

Related: Why Do I Need A Brand? I’ve Got A Great Product and a Logo

We have shared elsewhere on the blog how marketing is like the “push”, while branding is more like the“pull”. Design is a way of bringing branding to life visually. Getting the right thinking and user understanding helps you optimize your branding, which you can bring to life in visual communications — design.

Related: How Branding Strategy is Different to Marketing

These three activities, although different, are clearly closely related. That means that when assessing branding ROI, it can be difficult to evaluate exactly what is the return on investment in your branding activity, as opposed for example to marketing or design. Is it Apple’s consistent design that brings their advertisements impact, or it is the brand architecture that sits behind the design? 

Related: How Apple Does It; Five Tips for Getting Your $1Tn Brand Personality Right

Admittedly, it can be difficult to isolate completely the impact of branding alone. However, it can still be measured to a large extent. Moreover, it’s important to measure branding ROI, separately to general marketing ROI. Even if the measurement is by nature imprecise at times, a strong brand strategy is more useful when allocating your budget than no clear brand strategy at all. 

Additionally, for most businesses, branding is a must have activity. Even if they struggle to know how much to invest in it, they know that they need a brand and need to invest some resources in optimizing it for their target market.

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:

  1. Build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials. Ask about our Personal and Corporate Leadership Brand Alignment Masterclass or the Persona 7-Figure Business Building & Brand Strategy Mastermind
  3. Want a DIY solution? check out our how to build a brand eprogramme here and our how to audit your brand yourself eprogramme here

Discover How Four Marketing Giants Evaluate Branding ROI so You Can Apply Similar Strategies to Your Business

1. BT – Learning While Doing to Assess Branding ROI

British telecoms provider BT provides an interesting case study of multiple different branding challenges. For example, they have both a B2B and a B2C consumer business, all under the same brand. A brand which works for consumers often does not work as well for business customers who perceive the need for something more professional. That is why consumer food brands such as Heinz often have “foodservice solutions” sub-branding for their restaurant customers.

Related: The Magic Words, 7 Ways to Appreciate Your Customers

For large as well as small companies, it can be tempting to unintentionally neglect the prioritisation required for assessing the return on investment from branding strategy. It may seem worth waiting until there is a clearer methodology around it, or till other urgent marketing tasks have been completed. Rather than spend time on it today, it can seem attractive to simply move forward without analysis activity on the basis of gut feel. But that can be a costly mistake. It is important to evaluate what part of your branding activity is paying you a return on your investment so you know where to focus your resources.

Branding ROI

Image via BT

BT’s approach is a pragmatic response to these pressures. They do recognize the importance of measuring ROI and are trying to optimize the tools they use to do it. But they are not waiting until they are perfect, and instead try to learn while doing [1] – through iteration. As this video shows, this enables a wide range of innovative activities to proceed without first waiting to confirm the details of branding ROI in every case.

Related: The Impact of Company Brand Culture On Driving Performance and Increasing Sales

2. Sky – Make It Simple to Measure Branding ROI

One of the challenges of measuring branding ROI is that there are so many variables. The brand, the marketing channels, the communication used, the targeting and much more can all have a significant impact on effectiveness. Identifying the role of branding strategy in doing this can be difficult and often with so much data it is hard to see the wood for the trees if you don’t have much experience in evaluating data.

Related: Brand Strategy, 6 Tips for Building Your Profit Growth Plan

Branding ROI

Image via Campaign Live

Sky is the U.K.’s biggest advertiser and have used their brand across multiple European markets. That means that measuring the value the brand and brand activity brings is obviously important to the success of their business. Like BT – and many large brands – they also rely on the brand both for their consumer business and their B2B business, selling television packages to pubs and entertainment venues. Their approach to measuring ROI is to focus on a few key metrics, which are simpler to measure and understand.[2]

This approach could potentially work well for smaller businesses which have limited time or analytical resources to apply to marketing effectiveness. By defining a small number of criteria, they can judge their brand effectiveness more efficiently. 

Typical criteria could include things such as brand awareness (measured through simple surveys), role of brand in sales conversion (an A/B test in online marketing campaigns using the brand in one not the other can establish this) and brand recall (measurement can be as simple as raising this as a question in sales calls). 

As seen in the discussion on this video, Sky’s approach demonstrates the virtue of reducing a potentially confusing data set to a series of metrics which empowering management to make more informed decisions one way or the other, even if it does sometimes come at the cost of simplification.

Are you a business leader, manager or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate or build your brand strategy so you can maximize your branding ROI to increase your sales? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding workshops because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value so you can command a premium. 

In fact, the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the agile brand building, brand strategy process using big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results so you can grow your business faster and more effectively. 

If you want a tailor-made solution specifically for your brand then we also provide inhouse bespoke Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Intensives working with you and your team so you can grow your business faster and more profitably. Contact us to discover more [email protected] or +353 1 8322724

3. Unilever – Views and Conversions in the Digital Space as an Example of Branding ROI Measurement

A classic approach to measuring branding effectiveness and its ROI is to look at the results that branding brings in converting and retaining customers, as well as the effect on underpinning more premium pricing

The digital space enables this more clearly than before, because there is a high level of detail available in user data and it is possible to test variants of what people experience to see how it changes their behaviour. This can help isolate the power of the brand positioning and brand name to influence outcomes, as opposed to other elements such as the product or service itself, pricing, sales channels and so on. 

Related: Profitable Lessons from Luxury Brand Leaders, Brand Positioning for Premium Pricing 

Consumer goods giant Unilever owns brands such as Surf and Axe. Unilever is charging ahead with a lot of work in measuring the role of brands in attracting views and conversions in digital media, which in some leading markets is now the main type of advertising spend.[3]

Related: Digital Brand Identity Essentials – How to Build, Resonate and Grow 

Branding ROI

Image via Surf © Unilever

If you don’t have the digital resources of Unilever, want to see what happens in non-digital communication or want a simpler approach, you can still learn valuable lessons by evaluating branding effectiveness from the marketing giant’s approach. 

Map out what you think is the path to purchase for your customers, and indicate the role you think branding plays at different stages, both for you and your competitors. Then have an open one-on-one conversation with a handful of your customers and some target customers who don’t buy from you. 

Ask them for their input and reaction, using open questions and perhaps showing them parts of the path to purchase as a springboard for discussion. You’ll get qualitative input which helps you become clearer on where branding is working well for you and where it isn’t having the effect you would expect for what you spend. It works for Unilever, as discussed in this video about their marketing approach – and it could work for you too.

4. Diageo – Consistent Branding ROI Measurement and Focus on Opportunities

The Guinness brewer and spirits maker has a wide range of brands and so has to make a lot of choices about where to invest. It sets out clear criteria for how it makes such choices.

First, Diageo is constantly measuring the impact its spend has on the various brands in its portfolio. This is a valuable lesson for all brand owners – measurement is an important part of understanding effectiveness. [4] Spending on cult brands like Guinness makes little sense with no business return.

Branding ROI

Image via © Diageo

Related: Brand Newsjacking, Seasonality and Trends – How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Secondly, assessing the size of future opportunities based on further spend can help to determine whether  a brand needs to spend on its brand to grow or whether it can draw down some of its long-term brand legacy without having to spend any new money to sustain it. Some of Diageo’s thinking is explained in this video.

If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a profit powerhouse.

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)

Lorraine Carter is a professional speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy solutions that solve problems so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind.

Final Thoughts

Measuring the branding ROI of what you spend on branding helps you get the most for your money and effort. It can be a difficult task to do perfectly, which is why companies like BT have a learn while doing approach. Keeping things simple, like Sky, can help make branding ROI a more useful business tool, while focusing on specific metrics, as Unilever does, can help you zoom in on branding activities which you feel are most relevant to your business. Whatever you do, as Diageo shows, some sort of measurement is key to your success.

Questions to Consider

  1. What would be a good branding ROI for your business in your opinion?
  2. What metrics would you measure to understand your branding ROI?
  3. What are the most important things you want branding to achieve for your business?
  4. Is there anything stopping you measuring branding ROI at present?
  5. When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?
  6. What tools can you use to measure your branding ROI?

Your Persona Client Satisfaction Guarantee

  1. When you work with us, we’ll create a customised brand building plan and strategy with clear investment for you tailored to your specific requirements and preferences
  2. You’ll know each step of your brand building journey before we start because we’ll discuss it, document it and agree on it with you before work commences
  3. You’ll have timelines, key milestones and deliverables to evaluate and approve for each stage and part of your brand building process
  4. Because we know the unexpected sometimes happens we can make adjustments along the way if you need it and if something extra is requested we’ll ensure you’re fully appraised about what that entails before committing
  5. As we achieve pre-agreed objectives you’ll be able to evaluate your brand building work and strategy in progress, coupled with the outcomes to ensure return on investment

Get in touch today because we’d love to get started helping you build your standout, powerhouse brand so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind. 

Email us [email protected] or ring us +35318322724 (GMT 9:00-17:30) and ask about the Persona 7-Figure Business Building & Brand Strategy Mastermind.