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Your Corporate Brand is Probably Coming Up Short

Establishing a corporate brand that employees represent consistently to the outside world, and that positions the company as separate from competitors may still not be enough, according to current research

Every year companies spend mountains of money and a lot of time on developing a corporate brand and promoting it to the outside world. Unfortunately, few corporate brands work well.

In fact, only about one in four brands are viewed as different relative to a company’s competitors, according to CEB data. But while that may be disappointing news, statistical analysis shows that there are characteristics which make up a winning brand – one that encourages customers, potential employees, etc to choose one company over the competition. Two questions will help comms teams determine whether they have already cracked the code, and how this new approach differs from most corporate branding tactics.

Do You Have a Brand?

Take a moment and consider your corporate brand. What is it? Could you explain your brand position to a layperson in less than 20 seconds?

And if you were to stop a member of the senior executive or, indeed, brand team in the hallway, would their articulation of the brand be roughly similar to yours?

If you answered yes to both of those questions, then chances are you have a brand. And this is no small feat; it will have taken a ton of hard work to get to that position. But just because you have a brand, sadly, doesn’t mean the brand is effective. To work out how effective your brand is, there’s another question to consider.

Do You Have a “Winning” Brand?

Once again, consider your corporate brand. Do either of the following statements describe your current positioning?

  1. Your corporate brand emphasizes your company’s history, unique culture, or a track record for market leadership and innovation.
  2. Your corporate brand emphasizes your company’s commitment to its values. For example, that your organization is dedicated to sustainability, inclusion, integrity, or another similar value.

If you agree with either of the above statements, then this isn’t a bad thing, but it could well be insufficient. Companies that concentrate on qualities like those in the questions above miss out on what current CEB research is learning to be the single most effective approach to corporate branding – one that is at least three times more powerful than an approach emphasizing a company’s history or values.

This is a “personal benefits” approach to corporate branding, and is summed up by a statement such as the following.

  1. Your corporate brand makes audiences feel better about themselves by associating with you.

Notice that this statement did not say “feel better about the company.” By associating with the company, people feel better about themselves, which results in a sense of personal connection to the company.

It might feel odd at first, but what we are learning is that, while average brands focus on the company, winning brands are about the stakeholder. The best brands aren’t a statement about themselves but rather a promise of value to their audience.


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