Transform Magazine: Brand-Driven Decision Making – 2023

Tom Warden, chief strategy officer at Landor & Fitch, believes that branding can drive future business success if used correctly. He argues that if companies are willing to compromise to strengthen the brand, they will have a better chance of standing out from the competition in the long run.

A brand, as we know, is much more than the logo that symbolizes it. The brand, if used well, becomes a tool for making strategic decisions to align and drive brand-driven business transformation.

A few years ago, Danone sought to become a global corporate brand, encompassing its portfolio of food nutrition product brands. However, in its product portfolio, it also had several high-sugar drinks, which hindered this ambition. So she got rid of those products and doubled down on her efforts to build a portfolio of nutritious products.

Why was it important? Because it became a trusted brand for consumers, the brand became synonymous with good nutrition, and a positioning it still holds today. This brand-led decision-making has become a tangible promise, a promise the company must keep or lose credibility. By using the brand as a filter for business decision making, Danone has repositioned itself and is currently the third most valued food brand.

Compromises help brands trade

In the GCC, many FMCG brands tend to overlap several categories that have little in common. This means that these brands must develop a position that transcends more than one category, such as nutrition, sustainability or simply a strong sense of morality. Companies are often reluctant to make the kind of compromises that a brand like Danone has, leaving them with a portfolio of patchy offerings that aren’t really tied together by a brand-led strategic theme. If companies start looking at their product portfolio through the lens of branding, they will begin to understand that their core brand can represent much more than generic tropes such as “quality” or “national pride”. A brand-driven focus for key offerings can better address unmet consumer needs, helping to create defined positioning and break through competitive clutter.

A high goal is useless

The key to any good brand goal is performance measurement. One of Landor & Fitch’s customers, Kellogg’s took this to heart. Its goal is to “create better days and a place at the table for everyone, through our trusted food brands”. Seating refers to diversity and inclusion, which is also a key strategy for the company. In addition to third-party recognition of their accomplishments, there are several measures and indicators that can indicate how far Kellogg’s is on the path to achieving a diverse and inclusive business.

Not only does Kellogg’s purpose mention the impact they seek to have, but the language is grounded in who they are. As a brand in the breakfast industry, it is “a brand you start the day with”.

The brand should be used as a North Star for a business, providing long-term direction and inspiring those moments when leaders – with the brand’s best interests at heart – can make decisions that are genuine for who the brand is and who they want to be in the future.