Brand strategy today resembles popular music in the 1960s: “The times they are a-changin’.” Consumers now jump from brand to brand, product to product, and site to site at a flick of their wrists. At the same time, brand relevance remains high. Brands are beacons of trust. The more choices consumers have, the more important these beacons become. – McKinsey & Company
Most Valuable Global Brands 2021
Three Sources of Strength
1. Science: Data-driven brand-equity management
To protect and enhance brand equity in the omnichannel age, marketers must embrace new methods and new data sources:
Sentiment – To keep track of how a brand is perceived online, companies must go beyond counting clicks and followers. They must also capture user sentiment, particularly as expressed in social media, and do it quickly. Brand equity built over decades can evaporate in a heartbeat when bad news goes viral.
Agility – Qualitative research used to be costly and cumbersome. This is why a lot of researchers focus on observations of consumer behavior at scale and, as a result, often neglect underlying consumer needs. Web-based and mobile applications, such as AI-supported digital diaries and online ethnography, enable brands to connect with consumers’ intrinsic motivations at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional focus groups.
Personalization – Personalization is a key driver of top-line growth. It enables brands to cultivate better relationships with customers and drive incremental revenue as well as incremental loyalty.5 In the past, most brand-related activities and KPIs were based on a fictitious “average customer.” Now, thanks to advances in data quality and analytics, messages and metrics can be tailored to ever-smaller target groups or micro-need states and occasions.
2. Art: Creativity with a conscience
Creativity drives brand success:
- 67 percent achieve above-average organic revenue growth
- 70 percent had above-average TRS
- 74 percent had an above-average net enterprise value
More specifically, we find that successful brand campaigns embed their messages in stories that touch, thrill, or amuse their target audience. Increasingly, consumers also expect their favorite brands to create value beyond product benefits.
3. Craft: Rallying around purpose
Finding purpose is important, but it’s not enough for brands to prosper. As consumer advocates, brand leaders know how important it is to keep a promise at all touchpoints. Break the promise, and you break the brand. Brand strategy based on purpose is too big an opportunity and too comprehensive a challenge for any one function to tackle by itself. To create a consistent narrative and succeed in a purpose-driven transformation, all functions and all members of the top team must cooperate closely.
Purpose needs to be translated into a set of values and goals that guide communications, operations, and people and product development.
To bring purpose and brand activities more generally to life, brand strategists, creative directors, data scientists, designers, and agencies increasingly come together to work in more coordinated and agile ways.
In an ever-changing environment, where there’s unlimited choice and a rapid evolution of consumer needs, brands matter more than ever. Strong ones take full advantage of data science and agile ways of working to refine targeting, send more compelling messages, and ensure consistent brand delivery. This is brand strategy raised to a new level.
Mckinsey & Company, (2020) ‘The future of brand strategy: It’s time to ‘go electric’’ Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-future-of-brand-strategy-its-time-to-go-electric [Accessed 9 July 2021]
DeJarnette, W., (2017) ‘Top 5 Examples of Marketing Strategies’ Available at: https://www.thekingsmarketing.com/examples-of-marketing-strategies/ [Accessed 9 July 2021]
Kantar, (2021) ‘Kantar BrandZ Global 2021 Infographic’ Available at: https://www.kantar.com/campaigns/brandz/global [Accessed 9 July 2021]