Marketers focused on corporate branding

20 January 2012

NEW YORK: Companies are responding to shifting consumer priorities by increasingly concentrating on improving their corporate brands.

Global research from Weber Shandwick, the PR network, found that 87% of business leaders believe corporate brands are as important as individual assets, and that 86% of firms have tried to enhance their standing in this field in the recent past.

Meanwhile, 65% saw a strong umbrella brand as boosting company reputation, 55% thought that corporate brands mattered to consumers, 49% suggested they exert a "halo" effect on products, and 45% cited advantages linked to marketing goods with "one voice".

For the study, Weber Shandwick questioned business executives and consumers from the US, UK, China and Brazil.

"In this always-on, multi-platform, uncertain world, corporate brands are more important than ever because they provide an anchor of trust and credibility in a sea of dynamic, continual change," Micho Spring, global corporate chair at Weber Shandwick, said.

Elsewhere in the report, 70% of the consumer panel said they avoided buying a product if they "didn't like" the company making it, 67% were increasingly checked packaging to ascertain this fact and 61% "got annoyed" when such information was not readily available.

A further 56% conducted research to find out which organisation owned a particular brand, and the same number were "hesitant" to purchase something where they unsure of its parent's identity.

Scores on each of these metrics were higher in China and Brazil, with the size of this difference typically reaching between 20% and as much as 40%, the analysis revealed.

A 54% majority of customers had previously been surprised to learn a product they liked was made by a firm they did not like. In these cases, 40% switched away from the item concerned and 34% used the web to identify other brands the company had made.

Word of mouth was the most influential source of information about corporations for consumers on 88%, beating online reviews on 83%, internet search on 81%, news providers on 79% and official websites on 74%.

Executives also suggested that 60% of a firm's market value rested on its reputation. The key factors they saw as shaping corporate reputation were word of mouth, news, leadership messages and online search, all mentioned by around 90% of business respondents.

One matter of disagreement was advertising, which 86% of the industry sample suggested could impact reputation scores. But just 56% of customers thought it influenced popular perceptions.

Data sourced from Weber Shandwick; additional content by Warc staff