THE RIGHT TO BRAND
BY YASMIN MERICAN
CEO of Trax Associates,
A Brand Consulting Company
The Right to Brand is written by Yasmin Merican, edited by Daniel Neye, designed, illustrated and printed in Germany, and published by Trax Publishing in Malaysia. The black book of branding won a Good Design Award from the Deutscher Designer Club (DDC) or the German Design Club in
Throughout much of her career, Yasmin has worked in delivering programmes in Malaysia that were developed elsewhere. First, in adapting cross-cultural programmes designed by AFS (American Field Service) for Malaysian students, then developing brands for Malaysian companies through the brand building methods of an international advertising agency, and finally, implementing mature market business transformation solutions at Malaysian corporations when she was with Ernst & Young.
As a result, she came to realise that many companies in this part of the world do not connect strategic brand management to the competitive advantage of their business. Although millions of dollars are spent on brand related activities each year (Malaysia’s advertising spend was Ringgit 14 billion in 2014), many are still not brand driven, where brands continue to be developed and managed further down the organisation by the communications, design or marketing capabilities. Seldom is branding sufficiently high on the CEO’s agenda.
However, said Yasmin, brand-driven companies around the world know that a well developed and managed brand directly influences the way a company’s product and services are delivered. It gives a company the competitive edge and distinguishes itself from competitors. But this won’t happen if the CEO is not actively engaged.
According to Yasmin, the message is simple: What underlies all good brands is that people must be able to consistently see, feel and experience the strengths of a brand. It does not matter whether you are talking about a country, a person, an institution, a product or service. Without leadership intervention, the right delivery structure and the required competencies, it is not easy to consolidate the many forms that people see through design, the values that people feel through communications, or the experiences delivered from various functions within an organisation. You can have the best of advertising, design or communications, but if they do not converge effectively, your brand will not come together. Brand creation has to fit within the business processes and work culture of an organisation. Otherwise, the value or the goodwill created by the brand with employees, customers and other stakeholders is not sustainable.
Aligning the brand with business processes is what advertising agencies and management consultants have not yet been able to comprehensively deliver from brand strategy through to market impact. Essentially, this is the role of the organisation or the brand owners. What the book advances is the need for stronger brand knowledge and leadership, and the need for deeper brand delivery capabilities and measures. The process starts with the CEO and the Board of Directors.