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March 6, 2019

Branding and ROI

“So, how will our return on investment be measured for this rebrand?” That’s a question we sometimes get when a client is contemplating a rebrand. The advancement of digital technology has certainly changed the marketing world, especially those advancements that have enabled marketers to track and more easily measure marketing results. Utilizing a variety of metrics, returns on investment (ROI) can now be more accurately assessed. Clients are savvy to these capabilities and expect to see this information, thus, the ROI on a rebrand question.

It’s clearly a legitimate question. Despite technological advancements, however, measuring ROI of a rebrand can be murky. Certainly, the ROI for a branded marketing campaign can be readily measured but, because brands are based on a number of intangibles, it is much more difficult to assess ROI for a rebrand, and some would argue it can’t truly be fully assessed. That said, a rebrand is not inexpensive and companies need to be confident that they have a way of determining that they are using their resources wisely. So, what’s a company to do? We think the better focus is on the “holistic value” of the rebrand to the company and not just the return on the investment made. This may sound like semantics but, at least in our minds, ROI is too much about dollars and cents and better suited for analyzing marketing efforts, while “holistic value” takes into account intangible, as well as tangible benefits. The first step in assessing that value though is to do your homework.

Do it right–do your due diligence up front.

In connection with any rebrand, it is critical that you conduct the due diligence and critical analysis first to pinpoint who you are, who you want to be, where you want to go and who are your target audiences. This sort of information is not only important in defining your brand and developing your brand identity, but it also helps ensure that you have something to measure to begin with. In other words, having this clarity around your brand enables you to efficiently focus your marketing efforts on the targets you want and, thus, helps assure that there will be value added from your branding investment. Plus, a crucial part of this process is to identify the goals you want to achieve and/or problems you want to solve. In doing so, you are then able to develop the metrics and baseline information necessary to measure the success of achieving the defined goals and/or solving the identified problems.

In doing our due diligence, our research typically entails:

  • Interviews with key stakeholders (internal and external, especially members of your target audiences);
  • Depending on the size of the company and the variety of stakeholders, conduct surveys of the broader group of stakeholders;
  • Research regarding competitors, company industry and even related industries;
  • Review of governance documents (e.g. mission and vision statements), marketing materials, strategic business and marketing plans, and other internal documents; and
  • Analysis of any other information deemed pertinent to the exploration.

Once we have all of the information we need, our process includes:

  • Identifying goals of the rebrand, which, as stated above, will then be used to establish baseline information and develop metrics to measure against.
  • Strategic exploration, collaboration and analysis to identify the elements of a company’s brand, including, among other things, its values, points of differentiation, brand positioning, brand personality, brand essence and brand promise
  • Revisiting and refining company focus, core offerings, ideal customers/clients, internal culture, etc.

The conclusions derived from this process then drive messaging, brand identity (i.e. look and feel of website, sales materials, etc.), communication plans and marketing campaigns. By doing this upfront work, you will be well positioned to ensure that there is value gained from your investment, and you will have a clearer sense of how to measure it.

What is the holistic value of a rebrand?

As mentioned above, a rebrand provides both intangible and tangible benefits, both of which should be considered when assessing its holistic value.

It’s not just about the money.
Normally, ROI is measured by hard numbers, and that is why it is difficult to measure in the branding environment. A brand is dependent upon audience perception and is comprised of a number of intangibles (identity, positioning, voice, personality, values, etc.). But, there are many other aspects of a rebrand other than dollars that return real value to the company.

Often, a rebrand is contemplated to solve a problem of some sort. Of course, one way or another, directly or indirectly, a rebrand is intended to improve the bottom line. There are often other issues, however, that need to be addressed that don’t necessarily have direct monetary return but still provide value, such as attracting more of the right customers and talent, narrowing focus/positioning of services or products, aligning internal values/beliefs that have evolved over time with external messaging, and more.

A rebrand also serves as an agent of change. In identifying who you are, what you stand for and where you want to go, a rebrand will have a galvanizing effect on your people and culture. Establishing clarity around your brand will unite and focus your employees’ efforts, making them brand ambassadors and accelerating your company’s growth.

But, as is often the case in life, a large part of the holistic value of a rebrand is the journey. Certainly, the ultimate deliverables (name, logo, brand assessment, brand guide, communications plan, website, other collateral, etc.) are crucial but the process in getting to these deliverables is critical because it requires leadership of the company to take a hard look at their business and strategies, making the adjustments necessary to align with the company’s brand (e.g. ideal clients, core offerings and positioning, messaging, etc.). In a way, going through a rebrand is kind of like going to therapy, as through the rebrand process, businesses understand who they are, where they want to go and whom they want to target. And, once the process is completed, you will have a roadmap that will help guide you towards achieving your overall business strategies.

Or is it?
Despite its intangibleness, a company’s brand is an asset that has tangible value. Research shows, on average, a brand can represent a 1/3rd of a company’s value. Further, brand-driven companies also tend to be more profitable than those that are not. This is, in part, because a rebrand can improve efficiencies by:

  • The company becoming more focused about its offerings and target audiences;
  • Wasteful spending on non-brand centric services or products being reduced and, over time, eliminated;
  • Making inbound marketing efforts and the sales process quicker and easier; and
  • More clients coming to you based on your brand, rather than you having to chase them.

These improved efficiencies result in less needing to be spent on marketing, the sales process and even product or service development.

And, what if you don’t rebrand?
One last thing to consider – what if you don’t rebrand? Businesses evolve, consumer preferences change, and competitors keep coming at you. If you don’t stay relevant, then you lose and that can show up in a variety of ways, including not attracting the right customers, losing market share, downward pricing pressure to get work, and revenues falling flat or even declining. So, in some instances, the real value of a rebrand is avoiding the pitfalls of doing nothing.

What can be measured.

While measuring the ROI on a rebrand can be difficult because of its intangible nature and indirect impact, there are steps you can take. But, the most important step is to define what success means up front. By establishing your goals for a rebrand at the beginning of the process, you are then able to fashion specific metrics that are tied to achieving your rebranding goals. Once the metrics are established, the next step is to get the benchmark numbers for these metrics so you have something to measure against (e.g. website visits pre- and post-launch). Some common metrics to consider in connection with a rebrand are:

  • Word of mouth (have referrals increased?)
  • Loyalty (conduct client satisfaction surveys and analyze client retention)
  • Online reviews (are there more reviews, generally, and have the quality of the reviews improved?)
  • Customer lifetime value (has it grown post launch?)
  • Reputation measurement
  • Price premium (are you able to charge more for your offerings?)
  • Increased market share and/or revenue
  • Length of sales timing and conversion ratios
  • Website traffic increases
  • Social media followers increase
  • Recruitment response
  • Asset valuation

The holistic value of a rebrand is multi-faceted and not easily equated to dollars and cents. But, by doing the heavy lifting up front, being clear about your goals and objectives and factoring in both tangible and intangible benefits, the holistic value of a rebrand can be realized.

If you are interested in or have questions about rebranding, contact me at crow@tenthcrowcreative.com and check out some of our rebranding work at tenthcrowcreative.com.

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Branding, Marketing