Corporate brand building process by bhawani nandan prasad mba, iim calcutta
Corporate brand building process by Bhawani Nandan Prasad - MBA, IIM Calcutta
Corporate branding involves highlighting factors such as
Country of origin
Corporations around the world are increasingly becoming aware of the enhanced value that corporate
branding strategies can provide for an organization. Branding in the classic sense is all about creating
unique identities and positions for products and services, hence distinguishing the offerings from
competitors. Corporate branding employs the same methodology and toolbox used in product branding,
but it also elevates the approach a step further into the board room, where additional issues around
stakeholder relations (shareholders, media, competitors, governments and many others) can help the
corporation benefit from a strong and well-managed corporate branding strategy. Not surprisingly, a
strong and comprehensive corporate branding strategy requires a high level of personal attention and
commitment from the CEO and the senior management to become fully effective and meet the objectives.
Corporate branding is often, but wrongly, referred to as an exercise where the company logo, the design
style and color scheme are changed. Naturally, these are important elements to evaluate and potentially
change at a later stage once the strategy has been decided upon. It is often accompanied with a new
corporate slogan, and then everyone expects results to occur during the project. Corporate branding is a
serious undertaking that entails more skills and activities than just an updated glossy marketing facade
with empty jargon.
Composition of a corporate brand :
- A rich Heritage .
- Assets & capabilities.
- People – strong leaders.
- Values and priorities
- A global and local framework.
- Citizenship program
- A proven performance record.
Corporate Branding Strategy:
A strong corporate branding strategy can add significant value in terms of helping the entire corporation
and the management team to implement the long-term vision, create unique positions in the market place
of the company and its brands, and not the least to unlock the leadership potential within the organization.
Hence a corporate branding strategy can enable the corporation to further leverage on its tangible and
non-tangible assets leading to branding excellence throughout the corporation.
Corporate branding is a potentially strong tool for re-aligning a corporate strategy and ensures that the
corporation – big or small – is leveraging adequately on the un-tapped internal and external resources.
There are10 crucial steps on the way to a successful corporate branding strategy, and they can serve as
a useful guide for any corporate branding project.
1. The CEO needs to lead the brand strategy work
The starting point for corporate branding must be the board room, which is also serving as the most
important check-point during the project. The CEO must be personally involved in the brand strategy
work, and he/she must be passionate and fully buy into the idea of branding. To ensure success despite
the daily and stressful routine with many duties at the same time, the CEO must be backed by a strong
brand management team of senior contributors, who can facilitate a continuous development and
integration of the new strategy.
2. Build your own model as not every model suits all
All companies have their own specific requirements, own sets of business values and a unique way of
doing things. Therefore, even the best and most comprehensive branding models have to be tailored to
these needs and requirements. Often, only a few but important adjustments are needed to align them with
other similar business models and strategies in the company to create a simplified toolbox. Remember
that branding is the face of a business strategy so these two areas must go hand in hand.
3. Involve your stakeholders including the customers
Who knows more about your company than the customers, the employees and many other stakeholders?
This is common sense, but many companies forget these simple and easily accessible sources of
valuable information for the branding strategy. A simple rule is to use 5% of the marketing budget on
research and at least obtain a fair picture of the current business landscape including the current brand
image among stakeholders, brand positioning and also any critical paths ahead. Simply do not forget the
valuable voice of your customers in this process.
4. Advance the corporate vision
The corporate branding strategy is an excellent channel for advancing the corporate vision throughout the
company. It allows the management to involve, educate and align everyone around the corporate
objectives, values and future pathway. It provides a guiding star and leads everyone in the same
direction. The internal efforts are at least 50% of making a corporate branding strategy successful.
5. Exploit new technology
Modern technology should play a part of a successful corporate branding strategy. Technology helps to
gain effectiveness and improve the competitive edge of the corporation. A well-designed and fully
updated Intranet is a must in today's working environment which has become increasingly virtual with
employees working from home, from other locations and traveling across the globe to name only a few
factors. An Extranet can facilitate a much more seem less integration with strategic partners, suppliers
and customers, avoid time consuming paper work and manual handling of many issues. A company
website is not only a must, but rather a crucial channel for any modern corporation regardless of size. If
the corporation is not accessible on the Internet, it does not exist! The more professional the website, the
better the perception among the Internet savvy modern customer. Gone are the days where corporations
could get along with a business card portrayed on the Internet.
6. Empower people to become brand ambassadors
The most important asset in a corporation is its people. They do interact every day with colleagues,
customers, suppliers, competitors and industry experts to name a few. But they also interact with an
impressive number of people totally disconnected to the corporation in form of family members, friends,
former colleagues and many others. Hence they serve as the corporations most important brand
ambassadors as the word-of-mouth can be extremely valuable and have great impact on the overall
image of the corporate brand image. The most effective way to turn employees into brand ambassadors
is to train everyone adequately in the corporate brand strategy (vision, values and personality etc.) and
making sure they fully understand – and believe! – what exactly the corporation aims at being in the
minds of its customers and stakeholders. Nike is a brand which is known for their efforts into educating
and empowering everyone employed by the company to be strong brand ambassadors.
7. Create the right delivery system
The corporate brand is the face of the business strategy and basically it promises what all stakeholders
should expect from the corporation. Therefore, the delivery of the right products and services with all the
implications this entail should be carefully scrutinized and evaluated on performance before any
corporation starts a corporate branding project. Think of the cradle to grave concept of a lifelong customer
and the value he/she will provide in such a time span. Make sure he/she is handled with outstanding care
according to internal specifications and outside expectations. The moment of truth is when the corporate
brand promise is delivered well – and it does not hurt if the corporation exceeds the customer
expectation. Singapore Airlines runs a very rigid, detailed and in-depth description of any customer touch
points with the corporation, and several resources are spend on making sure it actually does happen
every time to every customer. All employees regardless of title and rank from Singapore Airlines spend a
not insignificant amount of workdays being trained every year.
Bring the corporate brand to life through a range of well-planned, well-executed marketing activities, and
make sure the overall messages are consistent, clear and relevant to the target audiences. Make sure the
various messages are concise and easy to comprehend. Do not try to communicate every single point
from the corporate branding strategy. Instead, a selective approach will make much more impact using
the same resources.
9. Measure the brand performance
A brand is accountable and so should a corporate brand be. How much value does it provide to the
corporation and how instrumental is the brand in securing competitiveness? These are some of the
questions which need to be answered and which the CEO will automatically seek as part of his/her
commitment to run the strategy successfully. The brand equity consists of various individually tailor-made
key performance indicators (including the financial brand value) and needs to be tracked regularly. A
brand score card can help facilitating an overview of the brand equity and the progression as the strategy
10. Adjust relentlessly and be ready to raise your own bar all the times
The business landscape is changing almost every day in every industry. Hence the corporation needs to
evaluate and possibly adjust the corporate branding strategy on a regular basis. Obviously, a corporate
brand should stay relevant, differentiated and consistent throughout time, so it is a crucial balance. The
basic parts of the corporate branding strategy like vision, identity, personality and values are not to be
changed often as they are the basic components. The changes are rather small and involve the
thousands of daily actions and interpersonal behaviors, which the corporations employ as part of the
brand marketing efforts. But make sure complacency does not take root in the organisation and affects
the goal setting. The strong brands are the ones which are driven forward by owners whom never get
tired of raising their own bars. They become their own change agents – and brand champions for great
Corporate Brand Building : ( Two situations)
Strong corporate brand is no less or more than the face of the business strategy, portraying what
the corporation aims at doing and what it wants to be known for in the market place. The corporate brand
is the overall umbrella for the corporations’ activities and encapsulates its vision, values, personality,
positioning and image among many other dimensions.
HSBC, which has successfully implemented a stringent corporate branding strategy. HSBC
employs the same common expression throughout the globe with a simple advertising strategy
based on the slogan “The world’s local bank.” This creative platform enables the corporation to
bridge between many cultural differences, and to portray many faces of the same strategy.
A corporate branding strategy creates simplicity; it stands on top of the brand portfolio as the ultimate
identifier of the corporation.
P&G has notoriously been known for a multi-brand strategy, and yet again, the corporate brand
P&G is still what encapsulates all activities by the company. Depending on the business strategy
and the potential need for more than a one-brand architecture in the case of P&G, which markets
many different brands under its umbrella, a corporate brand can very often assist the corporation
and the management to focus in on the core vision and values.
Once this overall platform has been established and implemented, it serves as a great stepping stone for
revisiting any other brands in the corporations’ portfolio -- to have a new approach to and look at its
various brand identities. This ultimately will lead to the final brand architecture of the corporation and set
the strategy for how branding and brands will play an important role to achieve the corporate objectives.
Cost efficiencies can often be achieved as opposed to a large multi-brand architecture where the
corporate brand plays a smaller or insignificant role. Today, there is a general requirement for high level
of investments to maintain efficient production capabilities and scale in many industries (for example
technology and pharmaceutical), and to stay competitive in R&D for new products and services. Product
life cycles are getting shorter and shorter for many industries and products, and corporations have to
seek solutions to recover their development and marketing costs within the shorter life cycles. These
factors combined are forcing corporations to evaluate their cost structure, and a corporate branding
strategy can help management achieve its goals by bridging across product categories and services as
opposed to a multi-brand strategy.
Reduced Marketing & Advertising spending as the corporate brand replaces budgets for individual
product marketing efforts. Even a combined corporate and product branding strategy can often enable
management to reduce costs and exploit synergies from a new and more focused brand architecture.”The
Apple brand has established a very strong position of being a design-driven and innovative company
offering many types of products and services. Its corporate brand encapsulates the body and soul of the
company, and the main messages use the corporate Apple brand. Various sub-brands then help to
identify the individual product lines”
But one should carefully avoid the potential trip of streamlining the brand portfolio just based on a raw
cost perspective as secondary effects can play a significant impact of the overall revenue stream and on
the stakeholders image of the corporation. The basic guideline is based on revenue contribution of the
various brands. If profit contribution can be enhanced by reducing the number of brands, the portfolio is
too big. Reversely, if the overall profit contribution can be enhanced by adding new brands, the portfolio is
too small. Hence an individual wish for strong corporate branding must be evaluated carefully and all
factors taken into consideration.
In the last couple of years, corporate brands have become very strong drivers of financial value for
corporations. Corporate brands by themselves have become valuable assets on the company balance
sheet with market values very often much beyond book value.
The founder of Sony, Akio Morita, once said: “I have always believed that the company name is
the life of an enterprise. It carries responsibility and guarantees the quality of the product.” A
strong and well-balanced corporate brand orchestrated throughout the corporation by a
passionate CEO and his team can lead to very successful and sustainable financial results.
Challenges in Managing Corporate brand :
Maintaining Relevance : Heritage associated with brand will effect its ability to adapt.
Creation of value proposition : it can only work best when delivers the functional benefits for eg. Dell with
its direct model.
Visible Negatives : Anything that goes wrong which endangers the life or health should be avoided –
Coke – pesticide.
Managing Brad in different context : One brand in different fields – GE for jet engines & financial service.
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