The Holy Trinity

Brand, marketing, and measurement

Successful marketing starts with strong brands. Holistic marketing measurement proves it. Strong brands underpin all marketing success. They’re more successful in media and advertising over the long term, as well as in launching new products and services; and are better at optimising the customer experience (CX) by delivering their brand promise. How you incorporate brand into all areas of marketing is central and critical to long-term marketing success. And analytics not only proves this, it can also inform how to optimise it. So, let’s break down how brand brings success to three key marketing areas: media, CX, and innovation.

How long-term brand impact affects media investment ROI
Analytics helps identify the most efficient way to spend your media budget at any given time. Three decades ago, models proved the direct impact of media on sales. But media doesn’t just drive sales directly, it also changes the way people think about brands in the longer term – and the brand choices they later make.

Today, if you optimise your investment focused only on the direct returns, you’ll likely invest in media renowned for generating short-term impact. However, if you incorporate the brand equity effect, then you’ll rebalance your spend to include channels that drive long-term ROI, too. For example, digital banners and short online video do a great job at generating short-term ROI, likely because you’re reaching many people who are already on the path to purchase.

Compare that to television, where you connect with longer ads, full audio and visual, building brand stories over a series. These ads do much better at generating long-term brand equity returns. Since not everybody who sees the ad is necessarily interested in your category (or at least not right now), it may be less efficient at delivering
short- term sales returns. But you’re investing in the long-term awareness of your brand and changes of perception. So, when people are ready to buy, your brand has a stronger presence, generating returns on that media investment over the longer-term. Models that include both effects will generate better recommendations of media mix and better long-term ROI.

A branded experience will always perform better than a generic customer experience
When building good customer experiences, you can think generically about ‘what a good experience looks like’.And while this will avoid major pitfalls, and may lead to satisfaction, it is unlikely to generate delight. This is because customer experience is predicated on expectation. If the experience falls short of expectations, customers are disappointed. But if it exceeds expectations, then they’re not only satisfied, but potentially delighted.

And this is where brand comes in, because fundamentally, expectations are a result of brand. For example, if Red Bull were to launch an airline, when you visit the Red Bull lounge you’ll expect a very different experience from, say, a Qantas lounge. Holistic marketing measurement frameworks show that when you integrate your brand into your CX, you build an experience aligned with customer expectations. And in doing so, you have greater opportunities to delight.

Innovations that fit the brand are also proven to be more successful
We have long known that innovations are more successful when they leverage, and fit, brand strengths. But the fundamental tension with innovation is that you’re trying to do something different. How much can your brand stretch to accommodate an innovation? Or how much of your brand’s strengths can transfer into a new space? Understanding your brand composition is crucial to answer these questions – what’s strong within it, what’s weak within it, where are the opportunities? How do you take these core elements that make your brand and have an innovation that adds to them? Or are there gaps in the market with opportunities into which your brand can stretch further?

Take the Virgin brand. It plays in a range of categories (Virgin Money, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Active, Virgin Mobile, etc.) but is united in a core set of values: Virgin is young, fun, and a challenger to category leaders. Which is great! But if you’re going to be operating in credit cards, for example, security, respectability, and financial credentials are paramount. To succeed, Virgin ensures its core values are intact and aligned, while stretching in new ways that are not just right for the brand but that also drive success in new categories.

This is where analytics models come into play: showing your brand’s core values, the category needs, and where these align for innovation opportunities. Analytics ensures development of the best brand evolution for an innovation, or the best innovation for your brand.

The core framework of Kantar BrandZ is Meaningful Difference, and you could argue that innovation, fundamentally, is about difference. For example, you can choose innovations that will help you dial up difference from the norm. But you can also look at what drives meaning and identify opportunities to attach more of that meaning to these innovations.

Holistic marketing measurement frameworks prove brand is essential to each marketing component
Every business has different data, and businesses in different categories will have different KPIs of success; holistic marketing measurement frameworks connect those dots. And while the models will be unique for every business, the core commonality is brand.

Brand is the foundation of efficient media planning, the core of delighting through the customer experience, and is essential to successful innovation. The models prove it: understanding brand is crucial to succeeding at everything marketers do.


John Cucka portrait

John Cucka
Head of Analytics,
Australia, Kantar

This was first published in the Kantar BrandZ 2023 Most Valuable Brands Report – download it here