In a turbulent global economy that is recovering from the effects of a crippling pandemic, the knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine, the crash of cryptocurrency prices and the onset of a crypto winter and recent rumblings of a possible global recession; businesses that can rise above market conditions and who are tasting success, are those who are fully invested in developing and growing a brand that resonates with their customers.
According to economist Stephen King, businesses that increased their ad budget by 20% during a recession grew their market share by 0.5% on average. This rate of growth increased to 0.9% when the ad budget was up by more than 20%. Proof that Henry Ford was right when he said;
Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
Never before have brands attracted as much attention for creativity and commercial success as they are garnering at the moment. And yet, too often, I hear the value of brand building being questioned, and I see that many people still don’t fully understand what a brand is.
Why do brands matter?
Your brand allows you to funnel as many people as possible towards your product or service and then let the product or service do the talking.
Your brand is also the overall experience that a customer has with your organisation. It is vital that business leaders do not equate their brand with their visual identity alone. Brand identity’s purpose is to elevate what you stand for, your values, and your messages. It is a core element in bringing your brand to life.
Jeff Bezos is famously quoted as saying:
Brand is what people say when you’re not in the room.”
No matter how you define it, a brand happens whether you manage yours or not.
I believe it is crucial to find that special balance between magic – what your heart tells you – and logic – what you know to be true because that is where true brand equity lies.
What is the Magic of a Brand?
Antonio Damasio, a renowned neuroscientist, declares, “We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.” His research demonstrated that we make decisions with an interplay of the emotional governing centres in our brains. Therefore, making an emotional connection is essential to creating an effective brand.
The magic of a brand lies in the hard-to-value elements that live in people’s heads – memories, associations, feelings, values and personality. A brand exists so that consumers remember your product in a favourable way, making them more likely to buy it.
Magic is what makes a consumer say, ‘I am obsessed with brand x, y or z’.
Think of companies that have excelled in this area by creating memorable brand experiences.
Take Monzo, a banking brand that has become a customer favourite. Monzo was able to raise £20m GBP in one of the most successful crowdfunding financial campaigns ever. Since 2015 they have increased their user base to 1.2 million, and they have just surpassed First Direct as Britain’s number one bank for customer service.
How did they go about creating brand recognition besides offering excellent service? By adding entire buses, in their signature hot coral colour, to their marketing repertoire. They literally took their brand to the people on the street, and as a result, their brand awareness with their target audience (urban professionals) increased exponentially.
First Direct, owned by HSBC Bank, is still up there with the best though. They have built their brand and earned customer loyalty by making customer convenience their number one goal. How do they achieve this? By being open 24 hours a day and by being the first telephone bank in the market. Their customers spoke about what they want in a bank, and First Direct listened and made it happen!
What is the Logic of Brands?
The logic is in the hard numbers that showcase how brands drive value.
When it comes to business valuation, a company’s brand represents 20% of its market capitalisation compared to the Interbrand and other brand value league tables.**
Strong brands have proven to drive commercial impact:
- They command a 13% average price premium compared to weak brands***
- Strong brands capture, on average, three times the sales volume of weak brands****
Magic and Logic = Massive Investment for FinTech Startup
For me, there are many wonderful brands in the fintech space specifically. Brands that are rising to the challenge and growing their market by doing things differently in a fast-paced, constantly evolving industry.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with Thunes, a global payments and collections business based in Singapore. They have developed a global payments network that allows businesses to pay and get paid in even the hardest-to-reach corners of the world.
As a disruptor business with a strong proposition, including in emerging markets, the excellent work they do was recognised. In May 2021, 4 years after launch, they raised a $60m USD Series B investment from Helios Investment Partners, with participation from Checkout.com and others.
Despite not having plans to raise more funding, the company has received another $60m USD investment from Insight Partners.
When I started working with the executive team, they knew they could not deliver the growth they promised on the back of this raise without transforming their brand, clearly articulating positioning and messaging, and creating a look that reflected this. They understood that being distinctive and standing for something is critical.
And so, the rebranding project focused on design and messaging that helped them stand out as a business constantly moving on a global scale and reflected their technical expertise in the payments space.
Their brand idea of ‘Pay The World’ is now reflected in their core graphic device of a 3D world, always in motion and tirelessly creating new payment avenues all over the planet. To reflect their global scale and expertise, a dual typeface approach has helped convey the technical expertise they bring to the world of payments as well the unrivalled local knowledge of the humans who power.
Furthermore, a grid pattern was introduced to add texture to their communications, serving as a metaphor for their network. A vibrant green was adopted as their key stand-out colour to represent both the idea of payments and the sense of “go” for a brand that is always moving.
Together with messaging that expresses that they are bold, modern and better than ever before, the rebranding has allowed them to reach new heights in the market.
Branding works – and the proof, in this case, is in the Thunes pudding.
Need further convincing?
UK startup Yulife used gaming to build its brand and turn group life insurance entirely on its head. Their gamified well-being app focuses on risk prevention by using behavioural science, incentives and rewards to help users boost their physical and mental health. Yulife has raised $70m USD in what is, to date, one of the largest Series Bs raised by an Insurtech startup in Europe. Their business provides $15bn USD of coverage and has seen 10x growth in the last year.
Lemonade Inc is an insurance company that is on a mission to be the world’s most loved insurance company. Their Lemonade Giveback sees the company taking a 25% flat fee out of premiums as profit and donating whatever is left to charity after paying claims and expenses. Before going public in Jul ’20, Lemonade Inc had raised $480m USD in five different rounds.
These companies were not afraid to approach traditional business a little differently. Their marketing efforts and branding have set them far apart from their competitors.
If you create a product or experience that is exceptional, brand building can truly take you to new heights – if done correctly. Your brand will elevate you and cut through the noise to reach your market. It is more than worth the investment. Don’t be afraid to find your own unique blend of magic and logic!
My motto for brands is:
Make a connection.”
About the Author: Maya Moufarek, Founder of Growth Advisory MarketingCube.co
(Please do share any of your experiences with me on social media.)
* Source: According to data from Refinitiv.
**Source: BBH Labs, when you compare the annual brand value, as published by the likes of Interbrand, with a company’s total market cap. (Source BBH Labs).
***Source: Kantar Millward Brown, Strong brands command a 13% average price premium compared to weak brands.
****Source: Kantar Millward Brown, Strong brands capture, on average, 3 times the sales volume of weak brands.