‘So... what will the return be?’ We get this question often. And for good reason.
And there’s a follow-up question too: ‘Can you put a figure to that?’ Entrepreneurs think in terms of returns. Working on your brand is an investment. And an investment has to yield a return. So yes, the question of the ROI of a branding or rebranding exercise is entirely legitimate. But let’s be frank. The answer cannot be put into tables or expressed in percentages. Whatever anyone may say.
But it’s also undeniable that if you work on your brand in the right way you will always reap the fruits of your labour. There’s one big condition, though: it must be done properly and thought through carefully. There must be an objective. Simply creating something beautiful is good, but it’s never as valuable as a brand that is actually considered attractive by the people we want to find it beautiful, attractive, and perhaps even irresistible. That's what we call smart design. A great brand, in fact.
You will move forward while your competitors come to a standstill. And you will create value, because more than ever before, the value of companies lies in the brand itself. The core of the company. Entrepreneurs are increasingly realising this today. The literature is increasingly substantiating it. And the figures are increasingly demonstrating it too. And some of those figures are astonishing.
The prime example, and rightly so, is of course Apple. Forbes calculated in May 2019 that the company had the highest brand equity in the world for the ninth year in a row: 205.5 billion dollars, a cool 12 percent more than the year before. The company’s total value minus all its tangible assets is thus more than 200 billion. It’s a record. For the first time ever on this planet, a brand alone is worth more than 200 billion dollars. And Apple isn’t a lone figure: Google is hard on its heels. In the same ranking, this brand was worth 167.7 billion euros – no less than 23 percent more than the previous year.
That value is not achieved at the expense of the competition. It’s the value that people assign to the brand, a value given to something that cannot be grasped: the company’s intangible assets. According to a study by Ocean Tomo, the American business world has been turned upside down in the last 40 years. In 1975, an average of 17 percent of a company's value was intangible, and 83 percent was tangible. In 2015 it was almost the reverse: 84 percent intangible, 16 percent tangible. These are American figures, but the situation is exactly the same over here.
It's not only the case for the giants: it applies to any brand, no matter how big or small. A brand seduces, and a smart brand seduces the right people. Anyone working with brands anywhere in the world knows that brands that are simultaneously meaningful, distinct and 'salient' make the difference in every sector today. Brands that are salient come to mind in a given context, at precisely the times when they want them to be in the consumer’s mind.
Carglass is salient, for example. If you have a chipped windscreen, you think of Carglass. Need some furniture? Ikea. It takes a lot of effort to achieve, but the basis is always in the brand itself. Nowhere else. Some brands even manage to become actual ‘things’. For example, you may at this moment have a ‘bic’ on your desk. Even if it’s just a biro not made by Bic, in Belgium it’s known as a bic. Strong brands have a place in people’s lives, in their minds. And if they’re smart brands, then they have a place in the lives of the people that the owners of the brand are targeting.