Brands are assets. The more equity they have, the greater their value. Marketers are responsible for building their organizations’ brands. Doing so successfully takes time, dedication, a plan, foresight, consistency and some luck.
Few marketers have understood branding better than Steve Jobs, who is universally regarded as a marketing genius. In the book “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success,” Ken Segall discusses his former client’s concept of the “Brand Bank.”
“He believed that a company’s brand works like a bank account. When the company does good things, such as launch a hit product or a great campaign, it makes deposits in the Brand Bank. When a company experiences setbacks, like an embarrassing mouse or an overpriced computer, it’s making a withdrawal. When there’s a healthy balance in the Brand Bank, customers are more willing to ride out the tough times. With a low balance, they might be more tempted to cut and run.” (Source: Cult of Mac)
This metaphor is brilliant. It’s easy for everyone in a company to grasp. For non-marketers, it demystifies, at a high-level, how brand building works. There are plenty of recent examples of companies that have very publicly made deposits into, and withdrawals from, their Brand Banks.
Johnson & Johnson’s announcement that it’s banning harmful chemicals from its products and Whole Foods’ decision to stop selling wild-caught overfished (red-rated) seafood are corporate actions that customers are applauding and are, in turn, translating into Brand Bank deposits.
The CEO of Chick-fil-A’s recent anti-gay marriage comments and the CEO of Papa John’s statements about health care coverage costs raising the price of pizza are regarded as debits on their companies’ Brand Bank balance sheets by many. How large these debits will ultimately be has yet to be determined.
Brand Bank deposits and withdrawals are happening constantly on a company-to-customer level. Customers who have positive sales experiences, are pleased with their purchases, or have satisfying customer service calls will all make Brand Bank deposits. When company-to-customer interactions leave buyers angered or frustrated, withdrawals are made.
The Brand Bank framework is one that all CMOs and VPs of Marketing should adopt, regardless of whether they work at for-profit and non-profit organizations. Marketing leaders should anoint themselves “Chief Brand Investment Officers.” Whether they are building a lead generation strategy, developing a sales program or deploying a development campaign, Chief Brand Investment Officers must consider whether their initiatives are going to add to the Brand Bank’s balance and how to avoid triggering withdrawals.
This Brand Bank framework has worked magnificently for Apple. The Most Admired Brand of 2012, Apple just became the most valuable company in history! Your organization’s Brand Bank account is already open. Start actively managing it and see what happens.