Brand Management a Challenge, Gartner Survey Shows

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Even though global brand management is critical for company success, more than one-third (35 percent) of companies struggle with it, Gartner reports in its most recent brand survey.

According to the research firm, 58 percent of marketing leaders believe brand is a critical driver of buyer behavior for prospects, and 65 percent say it is a critical driver of buyer behavior for existing customers.

“Managing a global brand is a complex, multidimensional task,” says Chris Ross, Gartner vice president and analyst. “Even brands that may not see themselves as global are operating in a more tightly connected global ecosystem. As a result, the challenges of being a global brand extend to a large number of marketing leaders today.”

It’s not that marketers lack the data they need; it’s more that they lack in-depth insight, according to Ross. “It’s a signal-to-noise-ratio problem,” he says.

A big part of the problem is that the fast-paced environment in which they operate makes it difficult to get the information they need, according to Ross. Another issue is that sometimes data doesn’t provide all of the necessary insight, such as the emotional drivers of customers, he adds.

“You need qualitative as well as quantitative information,” Ross says. “That’s a hard thing to do.”

Lack of insight also comes from focusing on the data collection rather than the end goal, according to Ross. “You need to begin with the end in mind,” he says. “To extract insights from what you have, you need to be clear on what you are trying to extract. Some companies just collect a lot of data and hope that the answers will emerge. Sometimes they do, but more often, it will require a focused effort.”

Among the various challenges of brand marketing, survey respondents identified these:

  • keeping a brand relevant (33 percent);
  • measuring the impact of brand investments (31 percent);
  • creating a compelling brand vision (30 percent);
  • effectively integrating the brand into AI communications (29 percent); and
  • communicating the impact/value of the brand to internal stakeholders (24 percent).

To help overcome the issues above, Gartner recommends that marketers do the following:

  • Watch for new competitors launching in other parts of the world and be aware of regional or cultural trends that might impact their category or products. Marketers must find the right balance between maintaining brand consistency while also being responsive and adaptive to individual market needs.
  • Commit to remaining relevant by actively monitoring the marketplace for trends, preferences, and cultural factors that shape the collective mind-set. Marketers need to conduct their own research, collect customer insights, and measure the impact of brand activities to get a pulse on how their brands resonate across the environment.
  • Measure every brand investment possible while being open about what can’t be measured. It is critical that marketers be equally ambitious about quantifying brand initiatives and realistic about brand spending that cannot be easily assessed.

“Brand relevance and resonance can be extremely fluid based on a polarized marketplace, new disruptive business models, and ever-changing consumer requirements,” Ross says. “Marketers who want to stay relevant must be highly attuned to their customers, competitors, and larger cultural and economic trends.

“It really comes down to understanding the customer. You need to be clear about and prioritize key moments in the customer experience,” he adds.

Too often, marketers place too much of a priority on having information from every customer touchpoint, according to Ross.

Instead, they should focus on the data and insights that are essential, such as which customers are the most valuable, which customers have the highest expected lifetime value, and which moments in the customer experience will deliver the most effective service to retain the best customers.

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