In my previous posts, I made the case that corporate branding is out of step with the reality of the market. Why, when given the ability of companies to adapt quickly to technological change, would corporate brands be out of step?
To some degree, I think companies have been forced to adapt their operations and product marketing to technology because it has hit them over the head like a sledgehammer. The market quickly makes winners and losers, but the corporate brand doesn't cry out in the same way. It is harder to diagnose the harm a brand suffers from being left behind, making it less likely to get attention.
There is, however, very tangible science available that documents the value of the corporate brand and its ability to predict things like sales, customer and employee loyalty, and even market capitalization. I think we have all gained a greater appreciation in recent years for the use of data analytics to uncover non-obvious connections that create behavior. But there are some obvious connections in the value of the corporate branding staring us in the face that have not been fully mined by companies. Corporations that look at the impact their reputation has on all their product brands have a much greater potential to benefit from the synergies created by strong product and corporate brands.
I think one thing is clear: there is no going back. We've only seen the beginning of transparency, of globalization, and of individuals informing and empowering themselves to interact with both public and private institutions.
At APCO, we've seen a trend when we've looked at our data over more than a decade in dozens of countries. Corporate brands are increasingly defined by their ability to add value to the society in which they operate, and the most powerful of those brands are those seen not only to meet expectations but to actually become champions for the interests of those they serve.
It is a tall order, but one that brings great rewards for the companies that get there.
Robert Schooling is president for the Americas at APCO Worldwide. He is also chief evangelist for the agency's Champion Brand. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.