On Tuesday, we launched our new webinar series on strategic planning issues, which we will be hosting with our partner orange green & water in the upcoming months. The topic of the webinar, which was held in English language and attended by participants from the United States and Europe, was „strategic brand management." In addition to Alexander Zimmermann, CEO of SOLYP Informatik GmbH, and Carsten Sambraus, managing partner of orange, green & water, we are very excited to welcome Anne Greer as a speaker. Anne is the founder of Greer Enterprises and former Chief Brand Officer at 3M where she successfully launched a number of new brands, including the Post-it® Notes.
How to Create Brand Equity?
Branding, said Carsten Sambraus in his introductory presentation, is all about the customer’s perceived value of the product. If a product is considered useful and unique in the marketplace, this may positively influence purchasing decisions, increase willingness to pay higher prices, contribute to long-term customer loyalty, and leverage trade. Therefore, brands are one of the most valuable assets of a company and of strategic importance.
Branding should not be left to chance; rather brands should be developed and positioned in a systematic fashion to maximize equity. The goal should be to create a unique and authentic brand identity which speaks right to the hearts of the customers and builds an emotional connection between the customers and the brand. As a good example of this type of emotional branding, Sambraus cited the motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson has been very successful in creating a culture of freedom and independence around its brand which lots of people can personally relate to.
Brand Activation and Reinvigoration – The Example of 3M
The development of an authentic brand identity which excites, inspires, and touches stakeholders at an emotional level was also at the center of a major initiative to reinvigorate the 3M brand a couple of years ago, as Anne Greer told the webinar participants. At the time, the global multi-technology corporation headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, was struggling with a declining level of awareness of the 3M brand especially among younger generations of customers. In addition, the company faced a lack of understanding of and appreciation for the exceptional breadth and depth of its intellectual expertise and product portfolio.
After a thorough analysis of a variety of internal and external sources, the conclusion was reached that the brand story needed to be re-defined, since the old story simply “wasn’t getting through.” So far, the focus had been placed on what the brand had to offer to the customer, that is on the physical characteristics and rational benefits of the products. Instead, the new brand story was to focus on who the brand was and why and how the brand did what it did. What does the brand stand for and what makes it different from others? This question needed to be given a clear and convincing answer.
As a result, the unique innovation approach of 3M was made the center of the new brand story. 3M has always followed a continuous innovation approach in all of its very diverse business areas, ranging from home and leisure over transportation to health care. At the same time, it has put great effort in fostering a culture of close collaboration between the various areas as well as between the company and the customers. This has led to what 3M calls “an innovation ecosystem—where new ideas are constantly exchanged and build upon across an unmatched diversity of people, capabilities and applications. It’s a never-ending chain reaction in which each innovative product or solution leads to the next.” So, 3M’s new brand essence, which answers the question of who the brand is, goes as follows: “Harnessing the chain reaction of ideas.” The brand’s goal, that is the reason why it does what it does, is “to make progress possible."
Strategic Brand Management with SOLYP3
Under the motto „Eliminating Routine Work – More Time for Thinking,“ Alexander Zimmermann explained the webinar participants how intelligent software solutions can support the strategic brand management process.
Using a case example, he first stressed the great complexity of the brand management process in large multinational corporations. Multinationals tend to have hundreds of different brands, all of which need to be strategically planned, coordinated, and monitored for performance. Without proper software support, doing this would require enormous amounts of work and effort. SOLYP3 can help to reduce the routine work associated with the process significantly allowing managers to focus more on substantive issues. The goal of a SOLYP3 supported brand management process is the creation of so-called Brand ID Cards, the ensuring of efficient workflow, and the automated creation of a brand portfolio.
A full-length video of Zimmermann’s talk is available on YouTube.
We would like to thank the speakers and participants and hope to welcome you in one of our next webinars!