Business leaders lack confidence in building brands

New FT and IPA research reveals business leaders don't trust their knowledge of brand building

Over half of business leaders, including 30% of senior-level marketers, rate their knowledge of brand building as average to very poor, in spite of being responsible for setting marketing objectives across both the short- and long-term, according to the Board-Brand Rift, a new report conducted by the FT in partnership with the Institute of Practitioners In Advertising (IPA).

Business leaders lack confidence in building brands

The industry as a whole has seen a gradual shift in marketing investment, from long-term brand-building to shorter-term direct response campaigns. The Board-Brand Rift, which is based upon a global survey of FT readers, 43% of whom are c-level executives, examines the underlying causes of this trend.

It finds that less than a third of organisations use ‘brand health’ metrics, which report on factors such as salience, distinctiveness and favourability, at board level. This is seen alongside a widespread misalignment between the marketing tactics perceived by senior leaders to be most effective at building brands and those which are proven to be drivers of those objectives. Leaders also expressed a desire for better measurement of the commercial impact of brands and claim that this shortcoming is the primary reason for the imbalanced approach to marketing investment.

“Our aim with this research was to get inside businesses and understand the real driving forces behind the recent changes in marketing investment. The available evidence tells us that the brand model still works; we wanted to establish what needs to be done to bring brands back to the board room.” said David Buttle, Global Marketing Director, Commercial for the Financial Times. “The data uncovered a worrying lack of confidence in brand management, both within and beyond the marketing department. The report makes clear recommendations, for both groups, providing guidance on how to create an organisational environment in which the very real commercial benefits of investing in the long-term health of brands can be realised.”

“From analysis of our IPA Databank – which contains quantitative data from 1500 advertising and marketing effectiveness case studies spanning almost 40 years, we know that brand-building lies at the heart of sustainable profitable growth for businesses,” says Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy, IPA. “We welcome access to senior executives to share this evidence base, and our learnings about how to build, rather than diminish, brand power. The EffWorks programme is built for this purpose and, with the support of marketers and partners like the FT, we have high hopes of a constructive dialogue and positive action.”

Download the full Board Brand Rift report.