Branding ROI – 4 Moments of Truth You Must Get Right

Branding ROI - 4 Moments of Truth You Must Get Right

You are likely wasting half of your Branding Budget!

More than a hundred years ago it was John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922) who famously uttered the words “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half”. Amazingly, a century later this still holds true and even more amazingly we still have no answer to this question. Today referred to as the return on investment of your branding activities (or Branding ROI), the topic is becoming more and more popular and in this article we’ll try and propose a framework to help identify which activities are worth the budget and deserve most attention.


Big FMCG are finally realizing they’re in the Game of Value Creation

Earlier in April both Unilever and P&G announced cutting ad spend and agency rosters, as media habits have become so fragmented that it is getting harder for them to really reach consumers. Instead of trying to be active in every channel the 2 big giants have finally realized they can’t own every channel. Although cutting cost is perhaps merely a tactical reaction to the decline in results and maybe it’s not about spending less but spending smarter, it seems both are at least waking up to the fact that the game is about delivering value. P&G introduced the acronym IS referring to ‘Irresistible Superiority’ (hopefully not linked to terrorizing consumers) on its latest earnings call and Unilever in addition is also more than ever focused on value creation after getting rattled by the Warren Buffett/Kraft/Heinz take-over bid.


So if Value Creation is an Underlying Requirement for Effective Branding, How to Decide what Activities to Invest in and Why?

With a lot of unclarity still existing as to exactly how a brand or brand owner can deliver real value to the audiences they wish to connect with, we’ll try and introduce an intuitive framework to help you figure out (a) what type of branding activities are most relevant and (b) where branding budgets are best allocated. The model helps ensure better decisions can be made on how budgets should be spend and helps ensure value creation truly becomes a foundation of branding – not just through branded products that deliver superior value, but as well through the ways these brands communicate with their audiences – avoiding much disliked spammy Youtube adds you have to wait 5 seconds for before you can click them away, but instead by actually creating messages audiences don’t mind, perhaps even appreciate!


Let’s start with a clear Definition of Branding.

We define branding as a deliberate process aimed at shaping how people think and feel about a product (or company, or service, or place or person) with the aim to establish a commercial relationship.

Effective branding then logically can be defined as maximizing the results of that commercial relationship while using minimal resources.

Understanding 4 Critical Branding Moments where your Brand needs to Perform!

If we look at delivering superior value for users through brand messaging, 4 moments come to mind that are important:

4 moments for branding ROI

1 – The Moment of Consideration

This is when a brand first enters the mind of a user, getting it established alongside other competitive offerings that solve a similar need. This part of the brain hopefully gets activated when browsing a shelf, so memory can help aid the decision-making process. For the sake of simplification we’ll include interest, attention and desire in this segment as well – making this the space where most current forms of advertising and brand messaging exist. Simultaneously John Wanamaker’s wasted budgets are over-represented here as well, as a large number of messages are unwanted, reach the wrong audience or go by unseen due to mental filtering or ad-blocking.

2 – The Moment of Purchase

This is when you’re about to decide what to buy. This usually takes place in a retail context and typically allows close examination of a variety of competing products alongside each other. Besides existing in a physical retail environment, many brands now also have to compete on the digital shelf – where shelf position and the number of facings a brand has does not apply, creating a level playing field among brands.

3 – The Moment of Use

This is where you actually consume or use a product and are confronted with every aspect of its performance. The score on this dimension might happen instantly (as you consume a candy bar in less than a minute for instance) or it might gradually take place over multiple moments, interactions and occasions with a brand (as you gradually use up a shampoo for instance). The element of time spend between a brand and a user plays a factor before a relationship can be formed, just like in real life.

4 – The Moment of Love

This is the moment of evaluation that ultimately forms inside the heart and mind of a user based on earlier established expectations, comparison with past experiences of other competitive offerings and actual performance during use and will determine how good a product really is and to what degree you actually fall in love with it.

If your brand performs well in each moment, you have a killer brand!

Note #1: Performance and Scoring should take place on a Sliding Scale.

It’s important to note that good performance is not a yes or no question, it’s measured on a gradual imaginary scale from 1-100 where competitive forces, your own efforts and the way efforts are received decide how high you score.

Note #2: Linkage & Cross-over Play an Important Role

Concentration of branding tools that exist where 2 moments come together have a stronger impact. A branding tool for example that connects the moment of consideration and the moment of purchase (or the moment of use and the moment of love) has more power than a tool that exists purely in 1 space only.

If a branding tool exists across multiple moments its power can be multiplied as well.

Note #3: Time & Duration are a Critical Factor

If a marketing tool can maximize the duration of time it has an effect on a consumer its power becomes stronger.

A TV commercial or YouTube add for example perhaps spend the shortest time with an audience (as they get skipped, ad-blocked or replaced by a toilet break), whereas packaging might spend most time with a consumer (from moment of purchase, up to full use and sometimes beyond if a pack has an afterlife that might add relevance even after a product has been used up).

Given the fact that it takes time to form any kind of relationship (whether between humans or between a human and a brand), time or time spend with a user has been a completely underconsidered factor when measuring the ROI of a branding activity.

So how to Decide How & Where to Spend?

Make a matrix to score each of your current branding activities to see which activity sits where, which activities benefit from a cross-over bonus or a time bonus to help decide which activities are most relevant for your brand.

A simple score card could look something like this:

4 moments for branding ROI score card

Branding Budgets are best spend at the Core, extending outwards once sufficient Scores are attained.

To be effective at branding, your budgets should be spend from the inside out. Start at the core and focus on achieving love. Once you’ve accomplished love to a sufficient degree, move into the next layer and own the moment of use, then focus on the moment of purchase etc. At some point budget will run out, but at least you’ve prioritized the most important branding activities!

3 Highly ROI-Effective FMCG Branding Activities that will pay themselves back!

For FMCG brands there are 3 critical activities that require proper investment to ensure they can provide a tremendous return on investment back:

1. New Product Development & Innovation

New Product Development and Innovation play an essential role at the moment of love and help ensure you’re constantly able to come up with solutions that within your competitive arena deliver superior value to your users. While of course dependent on the competitive forces in your industry, we’re looking for solutions that solve real problems, address needs, connect with real insights to ensure you create relevance for users and have much better products than competitors to enable you to win the long term game.

2. Packaging Design

Packaging design is highly underestimated, but extremely powerful. If executed well it can deliver tremendous value across all 4 critical moments. It can grab attention through visibility and by highlighting the correct shopper cues to create consideration when and where it matters most; close to the moment of purchase. At the moment of purchase it can provide superior differentiation from competition and add ‘pick up’ power to your brand. At the moment of use there’s direct interaction between user and brand over packaging and in addition like no other medium, packaging spends more time with your audience than any other branding tool, enabling it to establish real relationships with your audience (constantly communicating your brands messages). Last but not least; at the moment of love the performance of your product and its pack can lock in ambassadors and advocates!

3. Retail Environment

Branding at the moment of purchase is so relevant because consumers at this moment pay so much attention to branding messages and are perhaps most receptive to what you have to say in an effort to compare products and go home with the best option. The majority of executions are however so ineffective that the value gets lost. Aim for messages that are not just focused on selling. Connect consideration and purchase, add experience and usage previews, connect the senses and start with loyalty even before a purchase is made. Many opportunities are not considered as the follow-the-herd mentality that exists in the marketing world often leads to copying. A lot of room exists for leaders to stand up and dominate retail executions.

Need a Hand?

Do you want to make better use of your branding budgets? Need help with better product development or innovation approaches? Need more effective packaging design solutions that sell and create a loyal community of followers around your brand? Or do you need help developing more effective retail executions for your FMCG brand? Don’t hesitate to get in touch here!

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