New Years Resolutions & Brand Stewardship

About 2/3’s of us make New Year’s Resolutions. Only 8% are kept. Lose weight, get organized, spend less, help others, more time with family… The reason most of us fail most of the time is simple. We’re instant gratification junkies. Doing something we don’t really want to do, something hard, for the promise of long-term gain eludes us.  

The same applies to Brands. We constantly face temptation to achieve short-term reward at a long-term cost. This risks devaluing a coveted asset. Temptations abound: move money from equity-building to price promo, muck up package with violators, reduce product efficacy to hit a price point, proliferate flavors losing focus, off equity promotion (“Buy Ariel Detergent get a FREE turkey”!). That really happened.

In our personal lives, there are principles we can follow to beat the odds. A simple one is “Implementation Intention”. The more specific we are about what we will change, the more likely that we will succeed. “Changing for Good” by Dr. James Prochaska is a wonderful book about habit change, with ‘how to’ guidance.

Same with Brand building. There are principles we can follow to increase the odds. Of course, this needs to be done as an AND to delivering the P/L. But just as the craving for a sweet often trumps the resolution to diet, the short-term often trumps the long-term in Brand land. To counteract this bias, leaders can institute practices that better balance long-term Brand Building and short-term results. My Top 10 that work:

  1. Appoint a Brand Steward with veto power on all marketing executions.  
  2. Have a clear and simple statement of the desired long-term Brand equity with buy-in from lead team.   
  3. Use robust briefing documents as a bridge between Equity statement and in-market executions (advertising, packaging, in-store promotion, etc.)
  4. Educate the organization broadly, early, and often on the desired equity and what it means for them. You must…, you can…, you can never…
  5. Have a clear Brand Portfolio or Brand Hierarchy that ensures everything in a Brand family borrows from and pays rent to the Brand equity, and clarifies how that will work.
  6. Have an Annual Brand Health Check, a high level, strategic meeting where Brand Equity choices are confirmed or refined, and where marketing executions are reviewed for consistency with desired equity.
  7. Visibly reward people and organizations that consistently honor the Brand equity. Make them heroes!
  8. Institute consequences for people / organizations that mortgage a Brand’s future for short-term gain. Put them in roles where they can’t harm the Brand.
  9. Enlist internal ‘early adopters’ and Agency Leaders as ambassadors of the Brand Stewardship agenda.
  10. Measure and reward long-term Brand health – tie to compensation and promotion.

What are you doing to save your Brand from becoming a broken-resolution statistic?