Maintaining brand creativity in a process-driven world

Brand lies at the very heart of an organisation. An intangible essence with a high financial value. Successful automotive companies don’t just sell cars, they sell lifestyle choices. More than any other consumer product, cars arguably represent individual aspirations. The manufacture and marketing of cars is highly complex, involving multiple supply chains and sales channels.

By its very nature, the automotive industry is heavily process-driven and this can challenge creativity.

Decades ago marketing for automotive products was much simpler – design an advert and the job was done. Take the iconic 1950’s Ford Anglia, arguably one of the most popular cars for Ford UK at the time, with its simple ‘Beyond Comparison’ slogan. How would this same promotion play out today? In a fast-paced multimedia, omni-channel world, the way in which we all experience brands has become much more engaging and complex. At the same time, it has become a lot more challenging for marketing professionals, making business processes ever more essential to driving successful delivery across all sales platforms.

The multitude of brand touchpoints offered by automotive brand doesn’t just stop at social media. The dealership buildings, interiors, and even the customer service representatives all contribute to the total brand experience.

The implication for business is clear; there must be a structured framework that allows creative drive to thrive and yet at the same time ensure the consistency and success of the brand.

By its very nature, creativity is hard to quantify. But with the right business processes in place, it is possible to channel creativity into the most beneficial areas.

Busting the Myths

Understanding the myths surrounding the conflict between creativity and process is key to creating a successful framework within your organisation so that the right balance is achieved:

1. Marketing is just about communication. In reality, marketing is about delivering a promise and an experience. After all, that’s what a brand is – a company’s promise – consumers buy an expectation of consistency and reliability. To be successful in today’s unforgiving world of instant access and reviews where success brands success and failure goes viral, brand marketing must pervade every level of the organisation from dealerships to online customer service representatives.

2. Brand values are for customers. The values associated with a company are not simply for the customer and cannot simply be portrayed in a logo. Brand is as important to employees as it is to customers – every employee must live and breathe brand values so they can deliver them. The brand must run right through the company so that everyone is aligned. MINI has recently had astronomical success through the ‘MINI NOT NORMAL’ campaign. By conveying its brand ‘personality’ across all of their touch points it managed to re-establish its core as the most friendly and inventive brand in the category. In 6 weeks 230,000 engaged with the campaign via social media. Furthermore 3,853 visitors to the campaign ‘hub’ went on to look for a new MINI online, with 11% becoming qualified dealership leads.

3. Marketing professionals do not like process. Traditionally, marketeers are the free thinkers who have previously been wary that process will stifle their creative flow. Now, they embrace processes as they help to standardise procedures so that consistency and reliability is improved. Processes also help to capture best practice which makes it easier to replicate, and share resources, facilitating the sharing of skills and knowledge, as well as physical assets.

4. Operations is purely a delivery mechanism. Traditionally operations staff focused on doing things more quickly, efficiently, and cheaply, using the most appropriate processes. There was often little room for the “creative brand”. Today this could not be further from the truth. Operations is a key element of the brand experience and it’s often the operations staff that have the strongest impact, serving as they do on the frontline.

It is essential to foster collaboration between the creative minds of your marketing department and those in operational roles that have to deliver your marketing in the real world. Rather than stifle growth and creativity, such a valuable collaborative framework enables creative people to blossom, businesses to grow and customers to feel delighted by the brand experience you deliver.

Ed Gibbs

UK Head of Automotive Retail Delivering Brand Experience - Retail Networks +44 7747 559999 Ask me a question
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