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Connecting brand value to business value: Brand as a key growth driver

In an era where commercial understanding, strategic focus, and brand-driven culture are not just beneficial but necessary, marketers and brand owners are finding themselves at the crossroads of brand value and business success. A successful brand is much more than a communicational asset – based on a solid strategic foundation, brand paves the way for building a strong market position, setting the future commercial focus, and cultivating a culture that supports the desired customer experience. 

Strategic requirements for brand growth 

For a brand to serve as the key driver for growth, it must be embedded with a strong commercial focus. This necessitates a transitioning from traditional brand strategy approach to such that sets customer-centric growth ambition at the core. In practice, this translates to shared targets and KPIs across all commercial functions, ensuring that each part of the organization is aligned and moving towards common strategic objectives. 

The enablers of success 

The journey towards leveraging brand value for business success is rooted to several key enablers: 

  • Strong commercial competencies: Extending beyond traditional boundaries for brand and marketing to encompass new areas of expertise, e.g. in change management and data-driven decision-making. 
  • Concretizing value creation: The ability to demonstrate the business value of each action taken. 
  • ESG Integration: A clear ESG agenda that is tied to both the commercial strategy and the brand itself. 

The integrative role of brand 

At the heart of a successful strategy is the integration of brand across all functions, converting strategic vision into unique customer value. In this light, brand, marketing, and communications are not isolated departments but connectors that integrate and align the entire organization towards shared objectives. 

Despite the crucial role of building this integration, only 37% of CMOs report (Deloitte, 2024) having successfully integrated their teams across departments. Yet, it is evident that customer-centric companies, 60% of the market according to some estimates, are significantly more profitable than those driven purely by financial objectives. 

The balance between creativity and commercial return 

WARC reports that even 92% of CMOs struggle to link creativity with commercial return, highlighting a crucial gap in the current marketing paradigm. Creativity should not be confined to traditional roles like advertising or copywriting but should be recognized as a key enabler and driver for innovation, successful strategy, and brand building – and for growth. 

Aligning KPIs across business, brand, and marketing operations is vital. It ensures that all activities contribute directly to the overarching business goals, providing a playfield within which creativity can flourish. 

KONE: One of the global forerunners in strategic brand building 

Annika Payn, Global Head of Brand Experience at KONE, presented the company's brand journey at the Knowit Forum on 11.4.2024, illustrating how KONE has positioned brand as a cornerstone of their business strategy. By inspiring every function within the organization towards delivering a unified brand experience, KONE leverages its brand as a means to differentiate from competition, lead continuous change and drive growth. 

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Annika Payn emphasizes the importance of making brand a topic of discussion at every level in the organization, starting from leadership, highlighting the brand's potential to drive value and create meaningful connections with customers. 

The journey from branding to business value is complex, requiring a nuanced understanding of strategic, commercial, and creative dimensions. By embracing customer-centricity, aligning KPIs across functions, and fostering a culture of creativity and innovation, organizations can leverage their brand as a powerful engine for growth. 

As demonstrated by KONE's experience, making the brand a central focus of discussion and strategy can unlock its full commercial potential, driving not just growth but also creating a lasting impact in the market. 

"One of the key steps in unlocking the commercial value of a brand is creating internal mindset shift in the organization, so that the benefits and potential of brand strength are understood. This requires getting brand on the agenda of leadership and all key meetings and ensuring that the brand is spoken about. Was this easy to begin with? No. But when we got it on the agenda, was it easy to get attention? Yes, because the potential for a brand to drive growth, commercial value and meaningful differentiation is undeniable.”

- Annika Payn, Global Head of Brand Experience, KONE