ROI. Meet ROB.

January 20, 2010

We’ve redefined ROI. We are now talking about return-on-branding, a.k.a. ROB.

ROI we’ll leave for the mathematicians at McKinsey. ROB is much easier to measure and improve, because it mostly affects business process not investment. The idea is actually quite simple and can be implemented by any business on their own: just take a look at the above diagram and define your own company’s processes. Then write down what you believe your brand is saying and correspondingly judge all your business processes as either supporting or detracting from that brand statement.

The surprise in many cases is, that so many business processes are not at all in line with what the brand should say. Consequently, of course, the brand is not saying it either. For example, I had an interesting experience with a mobile operator recently. Their campaign in mass media is suggesting that they are customer centric and very flexible. When I encountered a problem with my phone, however, this company’s solution was to charge me about 50% of my handset’s price and leave me without a phone for 2-3 weeks while they fix it. Unsurprisingly, that was not acceptable. Looking for an other option, I found help the next day for 1/3 of the cost suggested by the operator and had my phone back 2 hours after I dropped it off to be fixed.

In some ways, my phone example clearly illustrates that in this company’s case the marketing department is responsible for “branding” while the rest of the company does what is comfortable or convenient to do. As the diagram describes, however, the brand is not only created by well dressed and smiling marketing people, but by the whole company at every point of contact with suppliers and customers. Companies ignore this at their peril.