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When Can I Expect ROI From My New Brand?

You decided you’re done “winging it” with your brand. You’ve opted to do a little research and find out exactly what your market wants of you. And now that you’re clear on that, you’re determined to be exactly what your market needs you to be. So you realigned your business with your market and created all-new touch points guaranteed to resonate with your best customers. OK so when does it pay off? The answer is (of course) it depends. It mostly depends on the size of your market. But other factors come into play as well. How well was the new brand promoted? is one key question. The good news is a new brand is likely to start paying dividends almost immediately. For instance, after a rebrand or a brand refresh, there is often a corresponding upward tick in sales. This can be a subtle little bump or a significant increase. We’ve written on the Eight Benefits of Branding before. So this article will focus not on what the benefits are but when you could expect to enjoy them in full.

Strategy comes first, always. For most small to middle-market businesses, it will take six weeks to six months to work out the perfect brand strategy. That’s a big range, to be sure. But there’s a lot of factors that are outside of anyone’s control. For instance, you may have to conduct many in-depth interviews. People are flattered when you ask their opinion on matters that concern them. So they’re usually happy to answer your questions. But you still have to fit into their schedule. And they have summer vacations, unexpected health absences, jury duty, whatever. You may have to wait months before finally getting to talk to that one key player. Hopefully, at the same time, you’re doing a marketing audit and a survey of the competitive environment. Once the field work is complete, there’s still a lot of processing and analysis to do before the “obvious” brand strategy becomes apparent. So, yeah, six weeks to six months.

The brand strategy exploration will point out some creative work that needs to be done. It could generate creative briefs on naming, positioning taglines, visual identity systems, websites and more. Allow another six weeks to six months to get all that work done. Naming, in particular, can take some time. It can take many rounds of creative brainstorming to get to a short list of acceptable names. Then the lawyers have to vet them. If none pass the legal test, you may have to start all over again. The creation of websites, depending on their size and complexity, can also drag on. Bear in mind too that, in creative work, things will often have to happen in sequence. The name has to come before the logo. The logo, before the visual identity system. The identity system before the website. And so on. It’s usually not advisable to try to tackle these things concurrently.

So, if you decide today to refresh your brand, or rebrand entirely, you can be three months to a year away from actually launching the new brand. Then it needs time to work its magic.

Some benefits, like the above mentioned uptick in sales, can happen right away. I’ve seen sales double in one year, though results are seldom so dramatic. There doesn’t seem to be any one explanation for this. It appears lot of small reasons combine to create the surge. It could be, now that you’ve been more focused on aligning with your market, it is responding as you hoped it would and is warming to your offerings. It could be purchasers are more trusting of you now that they’ve seen you investing in your brand. It’s a signal you plan on sticking around for a while. But the real sales benefit from a new brand is in year-over-year sales growth as, when well strategized and designed, it will consistently trigger the customers’ emotional reasons to buy.

Over the next few years, as you continue to manage your new brand, you’ll start to notice other benefits accruing. HR costs will come down as top talent starts knocking on your door. New growth opportunities will begin to appear. Your market will evangelize on your behalf and bring you new customers. You may gain the ability to raise your prices. And brand value? What about brand value?

The market places a premium on businesses that integrate a brand strategy into their everyday operations. But markets can be slow to recognize a strong brand. It may take a few years to get those extra multiples added to a company’s sale price.

So, for small and middle-market businesses, I advise a rule of thumb. Take six months to identify and codify the perfect brand strategy. Take another six months to create the touch points you’ll need to drive that brand strategy. Then, once launched, really work the brand strategy for three to four years. At the end of that time you should be enjoying all eight benefits, including a much higher brand value.

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