MONDAY 11 DEC 2017 12:17 PM


Derived from the Old Norse word ‘Brandr,’ meaning ‘to burn,’ the concept of branding has existed for millennia. Originally a physical mark made on property, such as cattle or timber, branding today is perhaps less physical. But, together with marketing, it remains an integral way of communicating the provenance of a product or service.

However, a recent study released by independent creative agency Cubo suggests that just 3% of UK marketers strongly believe that marketing can protect their business from market changes and competitor innovations.

The research, carried out by The Centre for Brand Analysis (TCBA), compares the opinions of 200 decision makers from the marketing and finance industries. Highlighting a clear disconnect between marketers’ perceptions of their brand as whole compared to their specific role in helping leverage the brand, TCBA’s findings point to a lack of trust in the specific contributions of chief marketing officers (CMOs), and chief finance officers (CFOs).   

For Nick Ward, head of planning at Cubo, brand and marketing industries need to adapt and strengthen their message to be recognised as bringing benefits at every level of the company. “While CFOs did pay some lip service to longer-term brand-building in our survey, they also rated ‘brand’ and ‘marketing’ as being their lowest areas of investment to build immunity,” says Ward. “That latter point probably demonstrates the truth of the matter, especially in light of the well-documented trend towards boardroom short-termism within our industry.”

He continues, “The fact that CFOs have far greater belief in ‘technology’ as a source of immunity, over ‘marketing’ and ‘brand,’ suggests that marketing teams are failing to communicate exactly what they are doing, why it is needed and how valuable their work is in protecting a brand.”

However, while 74% of marketers and 79% of financiers feel their sectors are stable or in growth, and 84% believe their brand is equal to, or ahead of, competitors for product and service development capabilities, 71% of marketers suggested investment in marketing offers less than a 20% contribution to protecting the business against market changes. This is compared to other areas like new tech, product development and internal culture – for example, many surveyed believe technology, rather than marketing, provided the real solutions to market immunity for brands.

And, says Ward, the apparent lack of faith of marketers in their own profession will do nothing to reassure the wider company – particularly where investment is concerned. “Marketers appear to doubt whether ‘marketing’ or ‘brand’ drives immunity,” says Ward. “If marketers have lost faith in their own contribution, how can we expect them to articulate it clearly to their colleagues in finance? This is a wake-up call to revitalise belief in the protective strength of ‘marketing’ and ‘brand’, which seems to have slipped in recent years.”

Chris Walmsley, co-founder of Cubo, says a universal approach by marketers should cement their role in a brand focused on achieving the all-important immunity. “Immunity doesn’t just happen – it takes time,” says Walmsley. “For marketers, it involves planning ahead and getting the whole company aligned, so everyone, irrespective of their business division, understands what you’re doing. Establishing this universal understanding and support makes it a lot easier to secure the investment needed to protect your brand against the impact of competitors’ innovations.” 

“Marketers should be ranking their contribution to immunity a great deal higher than 21% for marketing and 16% for brand,” says Ward. And it is true that lack of personal belief in the power of marketing and brand to leverage a company’s position inevitably leads to a lack of wider company belief in the sector’s ability to contribute to brand immunity. Perhaps a middle ground, where brand and marketing professionals adopt, and adapt to, shifts in tech innovation and product development, would lead to a more optimistic and integrated workplace.