With past and current clients on Interbrand’s top 100 list of Most Valuable Global Brands, we find it remarkable that just a few decades ago, most of the value attributed to an average company was in its physical assets (i.e. land, plant, equipment), but now according to Thompson Reuters and Interbrand an average corporation derives 75% of its value from intangible elements like goodwill, its reputation and its brand value.
Strangely though, many companies spend far more to maintain, insure and protect the value of their physical assets, versus their brand. It’s not uncommon for companies to spend 10-15% of the value of their physical assets to protect and maintain them…while those same companies spend a tiny fraction on protecting their brands.
What can happen to a brand? Why can’t it just protect itself? There are numerous examples of injuries to a brand. Here are three that we see time and again:
Outside environmental factors can harm a brand
On the morning of September 11th, 2001 terrorists attacked New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a failed attempt which crashed in Shanksville, PA. More than 3,000 lives were lost in a terror disaster of epic proportions. Our ad-builder client, IBM and its ad agency Ogilvy, were sensitive to the use of a common IT term “disaster recovery” in its marketing material in the days that followed. In a matter of hours after the request, we had scrubbed all IBM co-branded marketing material for this IT term and intercepted any orders in-process from final delivery. Although thousands of Value Added Resellers used the Campaign Designer system globally, IBM avoided any potential insensitivity associated with its brand marketing materials.
Internal marketing errors can harm a brand
As much as we don’t want to admit it, sometimes mistakes happen in the marketing department… The wrong ad ran, or product data or legal terms are out of date. Critical mistakes are broadcast to the field and sales organization and soon your in-bound call center is taking calls from dealers who need this fixed. In a worst case scenario, upset dealers and injury to the brand are likely the result if not corrected quickly.
We had one of those recently with a client. Frantic calls and “red exclamation point” emails were flying. Our client stated: “It’s a big legal issue if we don’t stop these ads. What can we do NOW?” Just like in the example earlier, the ad-builder team swung into action. In a matter of a few hours:
- the original artwork was pulled down
- all ads created were identified by number, author, date/timestamp and publication
- ads were located at print publications and recalled
- new ads were posted
- new ads were sent to print publications to meet original materials deadlines
It was some amazing teamwork facilitated by a well-designed online system. Thankfully everything worked out well and was back to normal within hours.
For more insight on this topic: https://jgsullivan.wpengine.com/2013/12/06/do-you-have-uber-control-over-your-advertising-2/
Channel partners can harm a brand
Sometimes well-intentioned channel partners (dealers, agents, resellers, distributors, franchisees) can take liberties with your brand, materials, and trademark giving you heartburn when they surface.
These channel partners see themselves as having their own brand of creativity and sense of humor and can create some provocative advertising. The only problem comes when they combine the manufacturers’ brand together with theirs – typically to qualify for co-op reimbursement offsetting the cost of the ad placement.
The flip-side of channel partners and your brand in their advertising is when they take your branded materials and modify or alter them to localize them. This is typically done in the absence of a capable ad-builder system that is designed to help them customize materials and make them suitable for local distribution. The illustration below is from the local affiliate of a national lawn care company. Both sides of the door hanger were blacked out with a sharpie marker in the places that listed the brand’s #800 number. Obviously, local affiliates don’t want to increase the chance that consumers will be directed to anyone else, but the entire effort at professional presentation of the brand is lost.
For more insight on this topic: https://jgsullivan.wpengine.com/2014/05/19/dealers-static-marketing-materials
Obviously, the three factors explored here are not an exhaustive list. With the tremendous growth of social media and online tools, there are more chances to both help and hurt a brand’s image. Even marketers who tightly control their own national social media posts can have a breakdown in the process – typically when social media posters working for a client mistakenly posts under the client’s account versus their own.
We recommend that clients protect their brand and make it easy for channel partners to distribute high-quality social media content by managing that in their digital asset management and ad-builder program. This makes sense, as all other marketing materials are present and up-to-date in the ad-builder system. It’s a one-stop shop that makes it easy for channel partners to do the right thing.