Tech gives branding an edge

A look at how IT can create better return on investment for companies.

Each decade has had its own unique offering to the business community: core competence in the 1960s, just-in-time inventory systems in 1970s, mergers and acquisitions and economies of scale in the 1980s, reengineering in the early 1990s and, finally, branding and IT in the current decade.

Branding has been widely acknowledged as the main business driver of the 21st century. Across the globe, corporations that have consistently invested in the right branding activities have been reaping the fruits. Similarly, IT has become the quintessential backbone of corporations, providing the crucial survival systems, competent supply chain operations and even global connectivity, spanning across industry sectors.

Therefore, going forward, the most profitable corporations will be those that successfully leverage these twin strategic assets. On one hand, the corporate brand (the overall organization) enables business success and growth; and on the other, cutting-edge IT systems ensure efficient operations.

Let's look at these twin pillars more closely, and better understand how companies can leverage IT in branding corporations and how IT can help the branding process itself leading to better return on investment for companies.

Corporate branding
Corporate branding refers to branding of the overall organization. Branding the company as a distinctive entity in addition to the brands that it offers has several advantages. Individual brands cater to specific market and customer segments and thus have certain specific positioning and personality traits. But the company that offers all of these brands can be branded across these market and customer segments to give a stronger sense of credibility and authenticity. Some of the main advantages of branding an organization are:

  • To create a strong differentiation in the market
  • To gain better brand management due to economies of scale
  • To build strong credibility and trust in all the operating markets
  • To ease introduction of new brands as they can leverage on the corporate brand
  • To provide a strong and clear market presence across markets and segments
  • To increases the overall corporate financial value

So how can companies brand themselves more strongly? Following these 10 steps:

  1. The CEO needs to lead the brand strategy work
  2. Build your own model as not every model suits all
  3. Involve your stakeholders, including your customers
  4. Advance the corporate vision
  5. Exploit new technology
  6. Empower people to become brand ambassadors
  7. Create the right delivery system
  8. Communicate
  9. Measure the brand performance
  10. Adjust relentlessly and be ready to raise your own bar all the times

Information technology
The other major thrust in business has been the ubiquity of information technology and its ever growing applications. Beyond using IT to fine-tune supply chain systems, enhance inventory management and conduct e-commerce, companies should view IT more strategically and use it in tandem with the overall branding and corporate strategies. One of the steps in creating a strong corporate brand is to exploit new technology and to align with the branding strategy. IT can be used to facilitate or bring the brand strategy to life within the organization. Some of the main ways are:

IT as a corporate backbone: With a proliferation of brands in the market, companies are striving to reach out to more, but often smaller, targeted segments of customers in a global market. IT facilitates not only business on the Web but ensures a strong tracking and delivery system linked strongly to customer relationship management, a system that helps firms better manage and identify buyer patterns, etc.. This helps to enhance the image of the corporation as products and services are delivered according to the promise.

Technology to innovate: Companies can invest in research and development to come out with innovations enabled by technology. But, technology in itself is not necessarily good. So companies should make technology relevant and useful to their customers. With well-established brands taking over the marketplace from pure commodity providers, innovation and a company’s capabilities in bringing out creative and differentiated products enable them to gain a strategic edge over the competition.

Technology to manage perceptions: A good product does not necessarily sell itself. In the current market dynamics, a good product has to be backed by a strong communication strategy and good perception management to make it successful. Therefore, with increasing Internet penetration and people getting more Internet-savvy, companies can leverage the online platform, which provides multiple interactions between the customer and the company, to build a strong brand image.

Technology to manage customer touch points: Brand management is a continuous and dynamic process. This means that brands need to be managed and tracked on a regular basis. Companies need to ensure that all possible customer touch points are properly managed on one hand and leverage these points to enhance the corporate brand on the other. Technology can be used in the designing, monitoring and managing of these touch points by using integrated information software such as CRM and ERP (enterprise resource planning).

Martin Roll is the CEO of VentureRepublic, an international brand strategist. He brings more than 15 years of experience from the international advertising industry.