Resist Short-Termism To Avoid Brand Budget Cuts
Brand building is essential to corporate strategy — and sales will typically say that it’s needed to drive growth — yet when budgets are squeezed, brand is often one of the first casualties. Current global economic conditions remain uncertain, with rising inflation, highly publicized layoffs in many sectors, and continued geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and elsewhere. These factors have caused uncertainty and unpredictability in markets, and some CMOs may find budgets reduced at a time when building trust with audiences through stronger brand connections is most important.
High-growth companies see brand activation as a vital part of their strategy. Here are some of the ways that these organizations prioritize it:
- Treat brand as a strategic (nonoptional) investment. Forrester’s Planning Guide 2023: B2B Marketing Executives explains that high-growth companies apply the “spend money to make money” paradox and treat brand building as a strategic investment. Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, reports that 65% of high-growth enterprise companies plan to increase their reputation budget.
- Align brand building and demand generation activities. It’s challenging and often impossible to demonstrate direct attribution of brand programs to revenue. Moreover, proper measurement of brand health requires accurate historical data, a committed approach to brand measurement, and budget for surveys and analysis that many organizations lack. These factors cause executives to question the impact of brand efforts, putting budgets at risk. According to Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, 46% of high-growth enterprise companies will focus brand and communications on better aligning and integrating brand building and demand generation activities, compared to 32% of flat to declining companies.
- Focus on the long game. Brands aren’t built in a month or a quarter; they’re built incrementally over years through steady activation. When times are tough and revenue isn’t meeting expectations, companies often look for quick hits that are anticipated to deliver an immediate uptick in sales. CMOs must educate their CEO, board, and peer executives on the long-term impact of brand programs and the unseen challenges faced down the road when long-term commitment isn’t there.
Changing perceptions on the value of brand investments requires an intentional approach and alignment with the executive team. Even if your brand budget is intact for 2023, it’s important to take an offensive stance to ensure that you have long-term support for long-term wins.
At this year’s Summit, I’ll present on the value of brand building, its impact across the business, and how to view the visible and invisible effects when brand investments are compromised. Join me at this year’s B2B Summit North America, June 5–7, to better understand the risks to your business when sacrificing investments in brand. Learn more and register.