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Like It Or Not, You Are ALWAYS Branding Jim Huebner

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several years ago, CEOs from around the world reported that the equity in their brand represented about 40% of their total market capitalization. More recently, Brand Channel stated that 70% of McDonald's shareholder value was generated by the brand alone.

It's pretty simple. A strategic, brand-building plan is critical to creating value in a company and its products and services. That's why I found it so frustrating yesterday morning to hear my colleague talk about a CEO he knows personally who just announced that his commodity-based company was going to "drop the emphasis on this branding stuff and just focus on search."

Now, if we give this CEO the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant to say he's going to quit handing out koozies with their logo on it and start bolstering their search efforts, then it might make a little more sense. If not, here's the primary reason I say it's frustrating:

You can't be in business and "drop" branding. It's not possible.

It would be like saying that customers and prospective customers will no longer be exposed to your company and its products. No website. No phone calls taken. No sales people. No communication. No packaging. No dealers. No signage. No stated values. You get the picture. Like it or not, you're ALWAYS branding. Because branding isn't just putting a logo on an envelope. It's the complete experience a customer has as they interact with your company and your products or services. Every click on your website. Every phone conversation. Every email you send. Every advertisement. Every dealer salesperson. Those "touches" are ALWAYS branding your company and molding into some sort of perceived value either positive or negative in the minds of your customers and prospects.

So, there it is. Branding is important to the overall value of your company. Now, if only doing it was as easy as realizing you need to do it. Well, check out these five questions posed by brand consultant Chuck Pettis in his article written for Morgan Stanley titled The Relationship of Corporate Brand Strategy and Stock Price for companies wanting to rate their "brand strategy IQ." They just might help get the wheels turning...

  • Does your company have a logical process for making brand extension decisions?
  • Is there a written plan for raising perceived quality?
  • Is there a written definition of what the brand stands for (brand identity manual) that includes a positioning statement, brand associations, brand personality and other brand messages and images?
  • Does your company track the level of brand awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty for itself and its primary competitors?
  • Do you track your level of esteem and customer attitudes toward the brand?

Jim Huebner is President of HuebnerPetersen Integrated Marketing. The firm was established in 1989 and specializes in making companies heroes to their distribution channels through strategic brand positioning, integrated marketing, and front lines marketing services. You can each Jim at jimh@HuebnerPetersen.com or on LinkedIn.