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New research we undertook with our partners the FT reveals that over half of business leaders rate their knowledge of brand-building as average to very poor.

At an event at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity today, we revealed the results of a survey of the FT’s readership. Concerningly, it shows a lack of confidence around brand-building in the boardroom at many organisations.

The board-brand rift

Half the business leaders we questioned thought their knowledge of brand-building was average at best, and very poor at worst. Many of these people are responsible for balancing marketing budgets between long-term and short-term investments, so this could be bad news for brand-building.

Chart showing that 50% of business leaders rate their knowledge of brand-buidling as average to very poor. Evidence of a lack of understanding in the boardroom.

As Peter Field and Les Binet have uncovered in their research, the industry as a whole has seen a gradual shift from long-term brand-building to shorter-term direct response campaigns. ‘The Brand-Board Rift’, is based upon a global survey of FT readers, 43% of whom are c-level executives. Through it, we examine some of the underlying causes of this trend by looking at the capabilities and attitudes of senior managers and leaders.

“The data uncovered a worrying lack of confidence in brand management, within and beyond the marketing department.”

“Our aim with this research was to get inside businesses and understand the driving forces behind recent changes in marketing investment. The available evidence tells us that the brand model still works. We wanted to establish what needs to be done to bring brands back to the boardroom,” said David Buttle, Global Marketing Director, Commercial for the Financial Times. “The data uncovered a worrying lack of confidence in brand management, both within and beyond the marketing department.”

Here is a summary of some of the headline findings from the survey:

  • half of business leaders rate their knowledge of brand-building as average to very poor
  • less than a third of  companies use brand health metrics, reporting on metrics such as salience, distinctiveness and favourability, at boardroom level
  • many expressed a lack of access to good  measurement of the commercial impact of brands
  • over half of business leaders ranked social media top for brand-building when evidence actually places it at the bottom of the list of media
  • leaders at businesses that use brand health metrics express a greater belief in the power of creativity
EffWeek 2019
Creativity & Effectiveness Reimagined
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Organisational culture-change is a crucial part of improving perceptions and understanding of the value of long-term marketing. “The report makes clear recommendations,” says David Buttle. “It provides guidance on how to create an organisational environment in which the very real commercial benefits of investing in the long-term health of brands can be realised.”

The evidence of the value of long-term marketing is there. The challenge is to elevate that evidence to the boardroom, to keep investment in long-term campaigns at levels that maintain effectiveness, stemming the tide towards short-term efficiencies. Janet Hull of the IPA is hopeful that this can happen, “We welcome access to senior executives to share this evidence base, and our learnings about how to build, rather than diminish, brand power. The EffWorks programme is built for this purpose and, with the support of marketers and partners like the FT, we have high hopes of constructive dialogue and positive action.”

Download ‘The Board-Brand rift’

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“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA