How corporate communications can differentiate their brands by focusing on the tangible benefits they provide to stakeholders.
What’s your favorite brand? Chances are you felt that brand offered unmatched value or benefits. It’s likely it also led with a promise that you feel you need.
Despite devoting a plethora of time and effort developing an effective corporate brand, organizations still struggle to stand out from the competition. As such, to garner customer preference, leaders must understand how to reposition their corporate brands to create personal connection for stakeholders.
Traditionally brands talk about themselves
Communications functions tend to approach brand in a variety of ways. Some focus on the company’s illustrious history using a company-centric lens, while others prioritize creating a brand that resonates with the customer by driving value messages.
Read more: Create Powerful Customer Experiences
A values-based approach focuses on a commitment to a specific value or set of values that the company shares with its stakeholders. For example, Unilever’s corporate branding efforts center on its commitment to sustainability — potentially raising its appeal to investors with the same values.
“Most companies aim to gain preference by emphasizing the authenticity of the values they share with audiences,” says Alexandra Earl, Director, Advisory, Gartner. “Unfortunately though, about one in four stakeholders can’t tell the difference between competing brands.”
Having a strong brand, with a high level of brand connection, pays off in more ways than one
The problem? It’s hard to differentiate your brand based on values when those values are shared by other companies.
Brand connection drives preference
Although a company’s values do have a positive impact on driving brand connection, the Gartner 2017 Corporate Brand Survey finds the single biggest driver of preference is brand connection, or the extent to which customers feel personally connected to the brand.
“Having a strong brand, with a high level of brand connection, pays off in more ways than one,” says Earl. “Stakeholders demonstrate positive results in terms of employment, purchase, and advocacy decisions.”
A personal benefits approach is three times more impactful on building brand connection than focusing on company values
For example, job applicants with high brand connection are more than three times as likely to switch employers at the same salary when compared to applicants with a low brand connection. This increase in stakeholder preference happens at a far greater rate than simply increasing stakeholder familiarity and satisfaction with the corporate brand.
Learn More: Drive corporate brand preference
Drive brand connection through personal benefits
The best way to support a strong brand connection is to demonstrate personal benefits — which may help customers achieve a goal, make their life more meaningful or provide some sort of emotional benefit. When done successfully, a personal benefits approach is three times more impactful on building brand connection than focusing on company values.
Given that the vast majority of organizations are not yet taking a personal benefits approach to corporate branding, this presents a significant opportunity for those that do. Companies that successfully orient their corporate brand around a resonant and credible personal benefit stand to gain significant preference relative to competitors.
Three areas where personal benefits should be considered:
- Position the brand: Select personal benefits that resonate with their target audiences and upon which the company can uniquely deliver.
- Craft brand messaging: Evoke and emphasize personal benefits in brand messaging.
- Engage and align employees around the brand: Keep brand and culture aligned by incorporating input from employees to help them understand the corporate brand and bring it to life in their communications.
Gartner for Communications Leadership Council member can read more in Winning Preference Through the Corporate Brand.