Top 5 Learnings for Marketers
1. Return to the building blocks of brand value: Meaningful, Different, and Salience
Strong brands succeed in all types of economic weather. Meaningfulness, Difference, and Salience have long been the cornerstone of the BrandZ™ approach to business insight. In the Netherlands, the brands in the BrandZ™ Dutch Top 30 indeed score well above average on dimension of Meaningful, Difference, and Salience – and brands with exceptionally high scores in these areas are more likely retain their value or even grow. Marketers keen for their brands to join the Netherlands’ top ranks should ask themselves:
- Is my brand Meaningful? Do consumers feel that my brand meets people’s needs and connects with them emotionally?
- Is my brand Different? Do consumers think that my brand feels different from the rest of its category, and does it set trends in the marketplace?
- Is my brand Salient? Does the brand come to consumers’ minds quickly and readily when activated by ideas relating to category purchase?
2. Tend to Brand Health
There are five “vital signs”—Purpose, Innovation, Communication, Experience, and Love—that work together to build Meaningful Difference in the proprietary BrandZ™ metric of brand health called vQ. When businesses want to understand how they can improve or protect their brand position, they should first look at their vQ indicators. The consequences of letting any aspect of Brand Health lapse can be harmful - especially at a time when cash-strapped consumers face hard choices about which brands they’ll continue to pay a premium for. Dutch brands with high overall vQ scores grew by an average of 4 percent this year, while those with average and below-average vQ scores declined by some 7 percent in value. Just like humans, brands need to be proactive in monitoring their vital signs - the better to identify and build on existing strengths, and also to head off any looming trouble.
3. Build more Trust
In difficult times, Trust is everything. But building and strengthening Trust is often easier said than done. To build Trust in a connected world, brands should look to activate the 3 “I’s”: Integrity, Identification, and Inclusion. Integrity means doing what you promise. Identification means connecting with people at a human level. And Inclusion means building a sense of kinship.
4. Show personality
While factors like product functionality and price are of course important, brands can also win consumers over by exhibiting human traits like empathy, bravery, and humor. In the BrandZ™ data, three “personality” attributes have proven especially effective at driving brand value in the Netherlands. This year, growing brands were more likely than their peers to be seen as fun and creative – a kind of “Joker” archetype that, when sensitively deployed, can tap into people’s need for cheering up in these tough times. At the same time, growing brands were also more likely to embody Responsible traits like honesty and respect, as well as care for their environment and employees. Lastly, Dutch consumers value Reliability in brands as well as people; growing brands were likely than their peers to be seen as caring for their customers, offering a superior range of products, and being the best at what they do.
5. Keep your foot on the gas
Brand building expenditure is an investment, not a cost. At times of crisis, it’s tempting for brandsbrands to go into “maintenance” mode: to cut back on campaigns and communications, and hope to draft off existing brand perceptions while preserving marketing resources for sunnier days. But experience shows that this is not a winning strategy. BrandZ™ analysis of brand recovery since the financial crisis of 2008 shows that brands that protected their perceptions of Meaningful Difference recovered more swiftly and grew more quickly in the years to follow. As BrandZ™ Global Strategy Director Graham Staplehurst and Global Director of Research Martin Guerrieria wrote in the 2020 Global Report, “Waiting to invest will not add comfort or certainty, but it will jeopardize effectiveness. Brands need to come easily to mind and be easily accessible. Disappearing from the marketplace to gain a short-term financial benefit will make it more difficult and expensive to rebuild brand presence.”