At the 2016 Integrated Marketing Forum, Chrysanne Lowe, Vice President Corporate Brand for Elsevier, a research technology company specializing in science and health, will share how the 400 year-old publishing brand recently underwent a brand and business evaluation exercise to ensure its relevance, to strengthen relationships with existing customers and leverage opportunities to appeal to new customers, and attract more digitally-savvy talent.
How would a brand or company know when it is time to embark on a digital brand transformation journey?
Periodically brands need to assess whether their corporate brand is aligned with their company strategy. The irony about branding is that to be truly effective, you need consistency. But the danger comes when a brand is on autopilot and finds that the course of their strategy has evolved. For more than two decades at Elsevier we’ve been investing in digital technology and structured data; and more recently in building sophisticated analytics and tools on top of quality content and data. While we had invested in products and technology, a few years ago we realized that we hadn’t brought our brand along in the journey and that we were still perceived only as a publisher.
How does a brand get started on a brand transformation journey?
It starts with understanding your company strategy. Understanding your purpose, your mission and values. With that clarity as your reference point, you then can audit your brand and gauge whether the brand actually reflects what it is you are trying to do.
What tips do you have a for a brand to prepare for this journey?
- Begin With The Corporate Strategy
You need to know what the company is trying to achieve before you can assess whether your brand is helping or hurting you achieve those strategic objectives.
- Get Support From Senior Leadership
At the beginning, your leadership many not be completely sold on how brand plays a part in the strategy, but they need to be willing to explore the question. We started our exercise as a brand architecture and research project in a go-to-market context and from there it grew in to the creation of an integrated brand strategy.
- Establish Your Baseline
Establishing metrics to gauge progress is critical to steer your program. Branding is not a short-term endeavor. Establish your strategy and key objectives for your brand and outline key metrics. Do research and document your methodology and results and be transparent. Don’t worry if your “awareness score” is low or your “sentiment metric” is negative. This just helps you justify the need and gives you a baseline from which to progress.
- Branding Is Emotional
That is precisely what makes brands so powerful. So be prepared for internal skepticism and convince the naysayers first with strategy and then with the metrics. Alongside the skeptics, you’ll quickly find as many willing volunteers anxious to get involved and support the corporate brand.
- Branding Is A Movement
Take advantage of the enthusiasm and build teams and coalitions. Your brand needs to be adopted and internalized throughout your organization in order to be effective externally. We created a governance structure by establishing a VP-level Marketing Council and a Brand Implementation Taskforce to help guide and implement the work. The larger your organization the greater the challenge, so create an inclusive structure and take everyone who wants to join along for the ride.
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