Creating impact through a new model of brand building

Impact through brand building

A desirable brand. Surely the dream for any marketer? Yet not all desirable brands convert their desire into real commercial returns. So who are the brands actually impacting the bottom line, and what are they doing to achieve this?

By analysing three years of data from 60,000 consumers across multiple categories and brands, we uncovered three principles for converting desire into commercial success: energy, substance and connection. In what we’ve termed the ‘Triangle of Impact’ is a surprisingly simple formula which gives marketers an effective way of thinking about building their brand:

Brand Impact = Energy + Substance + Connection

  1. Energy is all about your purpose and reason for being. To be successful in this area, brands need to have an ambition that fuels their internal audience, customer and wider society. This ambition also needs to be genuine - a vision that is rooted in the realities of the business. Innocent is a brand with great energy. Their raison d’etre is to help people ‘live well and die old’.  Innocent is the most desirable food and drinks brand in the study and has seen sales rocketing by 35% in 2012. Similarly, Nike has strong energy with an ambition to help us ‘unleash our inner athlete’ supporting this with all their communications and innovations such as Fuelband. Nike has 16% global growth in the last year.
  2. Substance is the tangible proof of that energy. It isn’t solely about producing a great product or service, but continuously re-evaluating and innovating to ensure the brand has a real role in people’s lives. Dyson came out as one of the highest performing brands in this area - known for its game-changing innovations, products like Airblade and ball vacuum cleaners. Dyson was the 10th most desirable UK brand in our study. Dyson’s turnover was £1.05bn in 2012, up from £887m in 2010. Ikea and Amazon are also brands with strong substance, putting meaningful innovation at the heart of their businesses and reaping the commercial rewards.
  3. Connection is the final factor in the Impact Triangle. People want to build relationships with brands in the same way they do with real people. Some people want friends that reflect who they are, whilst others feel drawn to people who they’d like to be. So, as in real life, the clearer you are about who you are and the more coherent you are across touchpoints, the more memorable and desirable your brand will be – so long as it’s a personality your audience wants to connect with.

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have both managed to craft strong personalities in the airline sector. British Airways supports its energetic purpose ‘To Fly. To Serve.’ with a clear focus on service excellence to set itself apart from low cost competitors. However, as reassurance and status are personality tablestakes in this category, it takes more marketing investment to cut through from the likes of an especially reassuring Lufthansa and status-driven Emirates.

Virgin Atlantic on the other hand, has managed to break away from category norms by pulling off a very cool, sexy, fun yet sophisticated personality. This personality has enabled them to stand out from a relatively bland category and scoop the number one desirable airline spot, as well as being able to reduce marketing spend whilst increasing revenue.

We’ve proven that not only can desirability deliver commercial success, but that the opportunity is there for any brand from any category to raise their desire and use it to yield commercial return, so long as they focus on the principles of energy, substance and connection.

Simon Clough is a partner at Clear Ideas. Read their blog here and more on brand in our Clubhouse.