Corporate Brands: Our Services

What we do:

1. Assess/”audit” the current corporate brand, e.g.:

  • What message(s) is it intended to convey?
  • Are the messages being transmitted actually those intended?
  • Are they understood consistently across all audiences, territories, and even within audiences?
  • Does the brand truly represent corporate culture? (or is there a danger of the company “breaking its brand promise”?)
  • Does it need any adjustment? And, if it does, how can this change be minimized, and how should it be undertaken to minimize disruption?

Following an acquisition, corporate brand change  is usually necessary. In most cases, the acquired company is subsumed by the acquirer, so changes are all related to the acquired corporate brand; but in some circumstances it can be preferable to bring the two corporate brands closer – i.e. both require change, to converge on a “new” corporate brand.  The audit here may be of one or both brands, e.g.:

  • What is the gap between the values of the acquired and acquiring company brands?
  • Is it (a) desirable and (b) feasible to subsume the acquire brand – and how great are the risks in doing this
  • Or is it preferable to create a ‘new’ corporate brand and align both companies under this?
  • What are the implications of not integrating the brands?

2. Work with top management to define and establish core brand values.

3. Ensure these values are properly aligned with (i) the culture of the company and (ii) its market positioning – and if necessary, design corrective actions.

4. Install brand management mechanisms, policies and procedures.

5. Develop monitoring and measurement mechanisms for brand performance.

Key Points About Corporate Brands

1. Every brand must carry and convey a message. If it does not, it is just a name, a label.

This means that, when people hear or see the brand, they must subconsciously and automatically recall something. This ‘something’ is the ‘message’ that the brand carries.

2. The Corporate Brand carries a message about the company as a whole (not specifically about its products): it encapsulates ‘the sort of company we are’ and/or ‘what is most important to us’. Therefore this message, often called ‘brand values’, essentially reflects the culture of the company.

3. However a brand cannot capture every aspect of culture, so it must represent the core, most fundamental element(s) of it. In effect, the brand stands for the cornerstone values of the company’s culture.

4. The Corporate Brand reaches all ‘audiences’. The message can be tweaked to a certain extent, but fundamentally must be consistent (because audiences overlap, and it is impossible to communicate with one audience in isolation). Furthermore, the message must be understood by and be attractive to customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, specifiers and influencers, industry commentators, official bodies and local communities – which means that it cannot be too specific.

5. Many corporate brands are ‘loaded up’ with 4, 5, 6 messages, and the messages are frequently changed. What the brand represents then becomes blurred, and often indistinguishable from competitors’.

  • Everyone has much on their minds, has little free ‘disc space’. Even the best customers and the company’s own employees can only be relied on to remember one message, in exceptional circumstances, possibly two.
  • In order to recall the message, people have to learn it in the first place. This can be achieved in various ways – but the key communication rules are repetition and consistency. Change the message too much or too often, and it will not be remembered.

The strongest corporate brands are built over decades, with brand values that remain basically unchanged. Therefore when it really is necessary to rethink the corporate brand, it should be done thoroughly and carefully, and in the knowledge that the time-horizon is far greater than any 5-year business plan. Moreover, the guardians of the corporate brand should be wary of recommendations that a ‘refresh’ should be undertaken; it often is not necessary, and it risks undoing years of brand building – and the only beneficiaries are the agencies undertaking the redesign and the inevitable subsequent promotional campaign.

See also: Product Branding