Ray Kieser, Group Managing Director, SGK, Europe

Brands were historically developed as business tools with an eye toward creating sustainable competitive advantage and future profitability. The financial/accounting community acknowledges the value of brand as expressed as intangibles–good will–on corporate financial statements and annual reports. Witness the recent purchase of Heinz for $28 billion, 20% above share price. But are many brands focusing on what we call Brand Performance — recognising the relationship between brand and business?

Brand Performance businesses can be found where brand creation and its experience is actively cultivated by expressing the brand’s “truth” and curating the brand experience through all facets of the brand’s deployment. Each is actively involved in not only clearly defining what makes their product desirable, but in ensuring that it is also delivering business results — profitability — by owning its expression in the marketplace.

Let’s face it; desirability is the most sought after quality in a brand. It represents the source of a brand’s influence. Brands that add value to a product or tell a story about the buyer provide meaning for interest and consumption. Desirability makes consumers feel more passionate and involved in brands, because of what it does for them, and for their lives.

One brand that I think embodies this driver is Nike. It drives desirability and profitability of its brand through innovation, making sure that it has complete control of the creation as well as the execution of its brand experience at all times. Nike’s desirability resides in the way the brand delivers game-changing products, whilst its profitability is shown in the way it consistently and efficiently delivers its desirability of the brand across markets, media and other elements. Just look at the ambition it has to become a vanguard of intimate, sensor-based advertising with the help of its activity-monitoring device, the Nike+ FuelBand. Over the last few years, it's been laser-focused on developing a franchise in consumer electronics, pushing the boundaries of what we’d expect of a sports brand that it known globally for its running shoes, football boots, and sports apparel.
The electronic bracelet tracks athletic performance and with Fuel, a proprietary metric, measures movement relative to a person's age and body type. Nike already uses the data it collects from its Nike+ system to design products and build its brand strategy. For example, when the company found that Nike+ users were running on trails more than paved roads, Nike expanded its trail-running merchandise offerings. And the company plans to turn its data-mining venture into intimate, highly personalised marketing.
Another way that Nike is continuing to innovate and stay desirable to consumers is through its pledge to work with suppliers to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020. The brand is endeavouring to change for the better in being more sustainable throughout its deployment.

The value of brand can only be realised by uncovering the brand truth. This will ensure that the business clearly defines what makes it desirable, but also delivering profitability by being in control of its own expression. This way, consumers are given the consistent truth that transcends through all the business facets for them to relate to and keep them on a journey of discovery that is believable and true to the products. Profitability should follow suit.

About the author
As Group Managing Director, Europe of Schawk, part of SGK since2010, Ray Kieser has led Schawk’s European operations, collaborating with their business leaders in North America and Asia Pacific. In the past he has played an influential role in the European and South African advertising communities. Previous to being with SGK, Ray has over 10 years of senior leadership experience at leading global advertising agencies in these regions.