Branding needs an intelligent rethink, says new study

Image credit: iStockphoto by Getty Images

It is time for CMOs to give the idea of branding a rethink.

According to a recent Forrester report, “The Rise of Intelligent Branding – Landscape: The Brand Experience Playbook”, CMOs see brands as monolithic, rational and difficult to measure. They are not, according to the analyst firm.

The monolithic idea of a brand comes from the traditional idea created when P&G created an organizational structure that was driven by brand managers. The report noted that this idea still holds true today.

“You build a product, price it, place it for sale, and promote it to induce purchase. That’s conventional marketing wisdom — and an important part of creating relevance. But it’s not about branding because the brand is not a monolithic thing to be managed; it is an idea, a perception,” said the report.

Also, brand strategies assumed a rational consumer at the beginning of the marketing funnel. So many CMOs designed their branding initiatives for “eliciting rational responses.” The analyst firm’s own research showed that “half of the brand energy” comes from emotional activation, which can be irrational.

Lastly, many CMOs automatically think that branding, being emotive and gut-driven, are difficult to measure. However, the problem is not the branding effort but the measure itself, which is largely based on recall.

Forrester see recall error-prone and highly suggestive. For example, the report noted that 30-40% of respondents recalled shaking the hands of Bugs Bunny in Disneyland, although the famous cartoon character is not a Disney property.

Instead, Forrester urges CMOs to think about Intelligent Branding. The concept builds on advances in psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience, and technology to provide a new worldview on brand. It follows how humans make decisions, connect brands to customer experience and use neuroscience measures.

The firm offers four suggestions to transform current branding initiatives to be more intelligent: Build strategies based on context and maturity, optimize marketing stimuli, merge intelligent branding measures, such as data from neuromarketing applications and multimodal measurements, and build intelligent branding skills within marketing teams.

Further reading:

How social selling helped Lenovo reap dividends

The art and science of growing your brand

Global CMOs: Brand experience vital for marketing success