Corporate branding strategies diverge

26 July 2012

NEW YORK: Over 80% of major companies believe enhancing their corporate reputation is vital, but strategies vary considerably depending on whether firms are a "house of brands" or a "branded house".

Weber Shandwick, the PR network, and KRC Research, the insights group, polled 575 executives from Brazil, China, the UK and US, all representing organisations with annual sales of at least $500m.

Overall, 92% of the sample from "single-brand" firms agreed augmenting their reputation at the corporate level matched the importance of enhancing the standing of their goods.

Figures here fell to 75% among their peers working for players operating a "house of brands" model, examples of which include Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

In keeping with these trends, 87% of businesses from the former category actively promoted and communicated the reputation of their company at present, as did 80% from the latter.

Some 79% of the entire panel agreed buyers were increasingly checking product labels to find out which organisation made them, and 77% thought shoppers were conducting more research to learn about the manufacturers of the offerings they purchased.

However, respondents from single-brand enterprises registered totals that were 10 points and 14 points greater respectively than executives at multi-brand rivals.

Similarly, 61% of contributors from firms selling products under one name would rather see news showing they were listed in "most admired" rankings than for strong share price forecasts. This figure fell to 49% among the other group.

The main benefits of corporate branding for its adherents included the "halo effect" it had on their goods, posting 65%, serving consumer interests, on 55%, and increasing transparency, logging 50%.

Some 46.5% believed it was advantageous to unite all their products with a common voice. An extra 43.5% perceived this approach as being "more efficient" from a marketing perspective.

When assessing which factors influenced corporate reputations, around 90% of both panels selected word of mouth and communications from their leaders.

However, while 91% of single brand executives also cited company websites, online search and user reviews, these scores were at least seven points lower for multi-brand firms.

Scores for the first group came in at 90% for advertising, versus 77% for the second. Ratings on this metric reached 77% and 65% in turn for social media.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, said: "Historically, multi-brand organizations more extensively marketed their product brands over their corporate brands, but their future success might entail determining how to bring the corporate brand forward to realize the full potential of all their reputational assets."

Data sourced from Weber Shandwick; additional content by Warc staff