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Interview

Interview: Measuring the Business Impact of Brand in the Digital Age, with Maggie Gross, Head of Strategy for The Studios at Deloitte Digital

As the consumer is increasingly in charge of how, where, and when they discover, research, and buy, the ways in which your brand comes to life for them has shifted and multiplied dramatically. More than ever, brand marketers need to articulate an evolved brand strategy and, to receive the proper investment, prove its worth to the bottom line. Maggie Gross, Head of Strategy for The Studios at Deloitte Digital, armed with tons of category data, has created a new way to measure the value of brand investment and drive the right areas of investment for maximum ROI. It’s called BrandWorth, and Maggie joined Peter to explain it.

TRANSCRIPT

Peter (00:00):

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf where we explore brand manufacturing in the Digital Age

Peter (00:18):

Hey everyone, Peter Crosby here from the digital shelf Institute as the consumer is increasingly in charge of how, where, and when they discover research. And by the ways in which your brand comes to life for them has shifted and multiplied dramatically more than ever. Brand marketers need to articulate and evolve the brand strategy and to receive the proper investment, prove its worth to the bottom line. Maggie gross head of strategy for the studios at Deloitte digital armed with tons of category. Data has created a new way to measure the value of brand investment and drive the right areas, investment for maximum ROI it's called brand worth. And Maggie joined me to explain it.

Peter (00:58):

So Maggie, thank you so much for coming on the pod to talk about your methodology for driving the value of brand to overall growth. I know right now, what is a brand and, and how do brands show up in this new age is a really exciting nerve-wracking topic for, for our listeners. So I love having you here to talk about

Maggie (01:19):

Thank you. Yeah, thanks for having me. And it's, it's shifting so much every day. I think that's, what's, it's always been nerve wracking for clients, for marketers, but I think more than ever, they're seeing, oh my goodness. The world is changing. Our CFO is asking for proof that the money that we're spending is driving the bottom line. I need a you know, an attribution model and all these things are kind of converging. The world is more digital than ever and you know, brand can't always be proven to be a click. And so the role, the real quest and question was how do we prove the value of brand, even when it can't be measured, you know, overnight? So that's, that's what we got.

Peter (02:06):

No, of course. And when I read the report, I could kind of feel the the C thing need of, of your CMO customers to have more, to walk into the C-suite with then, oh, you love our brand. You know, it is really a time where brand seems more important than ever, but also more diffuse in its expression and where consumers engage with it. And so tell us a little bit more about how you got brought into the room for the conversations that led to this research and, and, and the goals that you sort of set out for yourselves and sort of pulling us together. I think over time, right? It was sort of a it was in creation over a bit of time.

Maggie (02:45):

It was. And you know, it was really rooted in, I was having a conversation with one of my one of my favorite smart partners at the firm. He helps lead consumer and retail goods, retail sort of practice. And he asked me, you know, Maggie, I think it's really great that you're, you're, you're building this offering around brand, but what happens when the CMO of your, of your client is actually an ex CFO and he, or she fundamentally disagrees that brand has value. And I was really sort of taken aback. My, my cheeky answer was like, well, maybe that person isn't the customer for us, but that's not really, that's not really the right way to answer that question the right way to answer that is okay, well then let's, if this is truly something that we believe objectively does drive business results, how do we, how do we have a conversation with a CMO that might be an ex CFO or, you know, another use case as a CMO that has to go and talk to their CFO about this and that ultimately drove the creation of brand worth.

Maggie (03:57):

I spent it, it had kind of been bubbling up for a while and over 2020 I spent the majority of afternoons nights, weekends, all of my extra time because I had, I had no other extra-curricular activities to do building this thing. Finding the data that we could go back back into 2016 kind of looking and measuring the, the measurements we had been taking for what people's perspective was on brand, how they were kind of engaging with the brands throughout the funnel. And also sort of combining that with 10 K reports revenue, revenue reportings for all of these organizations and essentially backing into what happens when brand gets stronger. And what happens when brand gets weaker with regards to the bottom line and what are the things that make brands stronger and weaker and that's ultimately what brand worth is

Peter (04:58):

And a brand worth is really, it's a report that, that you folks put out to share with, with kind of with the industry, which is, which is really really generous, I think, and, and brand worth really is made up of four metrics that that you put forth that CMOs can use a model CMOs can use to kind of, to provide the conversation, the talking points, the proof essentially that that brand is having an impact on the business. Do you want to, Hey, did I, did I capture that correctly? And if so, do you want to walk us through the metrics that you uncovered in your research?

Maggie (05:38):

Yeah. You nailed it. That's great. Yeah. So, so the four things, you know, I, I just talked a little bit about when brand gets stronger versus when brand gets weaker. We we were able to prove that and then also figure out what are the things that make a brand strong or weak. And those metrics are values alignment. And, and that basically is when an audience feels like the organization shares their values and motivates them to engage through purpose. So a lot of charitable organizations obviously do really, really well here, but a lot of kind of purpose driven brands. The second metric is experience satisfaction. That's when the products and experiences leave the audience satisfied and wanting more, it's not just engaging with the product, it can be engaging in the purchase journey. So, so the values alignment, the experience satisfaction.

Maggie (06:34):

The third is message memorability, and I think that's where most marketer and advertisers head goes. When they think of brand strength, it's do they know my ad campaign? Do they know what my brand stands for? We find that that is highly correlated with how much these organizations are spending in media dollars, but we do see some examples of brands that are having an out-sized impact. They're spending less and they're, they're getting really great message memorability. And then the fourth is called sheriff culture. And that's when a brand is kind of broadening the relationship by participating with their audiences, not just talking to them and great examples of brands that own share of culture are the brands that know they're not for everybody and are okay with that. So those are the four metrics of brand worth, and I'll, I'll mention that they're not all equal. And, and more importantly, they're not all equal in different industries. So in some industries, values alignment is what drives essentially people to consider come customers of a brand. And in other industries message memorability could be the most important thing. And I think that's, what's so great about brand work. Is it fundamentally breaks down what makes a brand strong and what can I do as a brand manager to strengthen my brand within my category to achieve an out-sized impact

Peter (08:00):

You know, our, our listeners are executives and leaders at, at brand manufacturers and some, some retailers. And so often the ones driving e-commerce are driving digital. And so they're often kind of at the forefront of the new ways that they engage with their consumers. So when you say sort of category specific, when we think of category in, in our world, it's specific down to like, you know, consumer goods or even way below that in some tiny parts of it. When you're talking about category, you're talking about financial services versus manufacturing versus brands, or like when you think about it, just through the lens of our audience, do you have a sense of, of where these things sort of rank?

Maggie (08:45):

Yeah, we can. We can essentially narrow it down as, almost as far as we need to do so there's 24,000 brands that we, which gives us a massive breadth. We could do it for financial services. We could do it just for consumer banking. Within manufacturing, as an example, we, we helped a shoe manufacturer. They were looking to take their unique product direct to consumer. So we use brand worth to help them understand the role that brand played in the purchase journey of shoes for their three audiences, and ultimately built a plan that drove 30% year on year sales growth. So you can get that specific in that narrow, or you can help a CPG company that has, you know, an entire portfolio of products that like in the auto care category, and you can help them unlock top line growth and make sure that each one of their Autocare brands stands for something unique without cannibalizing each other and helps them essentially grow their growth over overall. And for that, for that client in particular, we developed a brand strategy and creative campaign that unlocked about $165 million in top line growth over three years.

Peter (10:01):

And how were you able to, and this goes, I think, to the four categories. So how were you able to draw that line between that growth you talked about and the various metrics that you have inside of, of the brand worth formula?

Maggie (10:20):

Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. And it's, it's a big part of our methodology. So we, we don't just bring brand worth in on the diagnostic conversation, brand worth is part of our entire process. So it's not just a paper. It is essentially what we might call a data accelerator. So in the first meeting with the client, we can actually show them what brand, you know, has an in store in their category and what, what metrics are really at play. And then as we build the brand strategies, the brand sort of experiences, and then brand activations to bring that to life for them, we measure them against those same metrics so we can show what percent lift they've achieved. And then based on that lift, we can also measure their financial impact of, of kind of getting there with their brand.

Peter (11:12):

So fascinating. So to, to dig into the shoe company just for a minute, was this a, a first kind of experiment in D to C for them, or, and so they were really trying to figure it all out at once and how do we arrive and really get attention? Like, was that the sort of the origin story of that?

Maggie (11:33):

Yeah, I think like a lot of manufacturers, they had always had the channel open for you know, buying directly from their website, but they really knew that long-term growth and more efficient growth was going to come from direct to consumer sales rather than going through the retail partners. And they really wanted a campaign that was going to get people to switch, to, to trust that going to their website was the right way to go. They were going to get more value, get something, you know, all of, all of the things that they had hypotheses on, we were able to test and show them. These are the things that really matter. This is the, this is the result that your customers care about for both your product and then buying directly from you. And these are the things that your campaign needs to communicate.

Peter (12:22):

Because for so many of our, of our listeners and the executives that we talk to at the Institute, you know, DDC is a challenging channel because a, a ton of new motions of being a direct to consumer marketer and, and the data platforms required and all that kind of stuff, but really it's about it really is about becoming a, a direct to consumer marketer, which is new for a lot of, for a lot of our clients. And so I, I'm, I'm super interested in this idea that and it's also very difficult, sorry to achieve profitability in that channel. So in some cases it's a loss leader to drive data so that they can, you know, perform better in their main channels, but it sounds like potentially this approach could help unlock additional value to allow there to be a higher, you know, a higher margin because of the, some of these metrics are tracking, is that, did I make that up or is that

Maggie (13:27):

I pick it up at all? I think for, for this client in particular, they had three different audiences that they knew were buying their shoes and they were buying them for very different reasons. And what we did is we, we understood what they had in common and kind of identified what those folks values were and ultimately suggested to this brand that we might want to consider repositioning your brand to align with these folks values, because right now your shoe is they love it, but it's pretty functional for them. And so there's not a ton of emotional reason for them to choose you over you know, some kind of what they might call the knockoff brand on Amazon. So how do you build that loyalty and the desire to, to come direct to consumer, you know, D to C co come to your website, buy direct from you at ultimately a price premium and potentially even in some instances you could, you know, run out to the store and buy these shoes, or you may have to wait a couple of days for shipping. So what is the, what's the reason you give folks to kind of come along on the journey with this brand? And ultimately it was building a brand that shared their values and giving them kind of a horse in the race and a reason to want to stick with us and buy directly from us.

Peter (14:48):

Yeah, it's a part of it is that long-term value, right? Like how can we get them to stick around and come back through this channel again and again and again, and, and all of these things, all of these metrics could have, I think, to your point, a varying level of impact, depending upon the brand and the, and who the audience is.

Maggie (15:08):

Yeah, I think another example. So if that one was a little bit more rooted in values alignment we worked with a a QSR quick service restaurant. They were looking to understand how brand and product sort of matter together. You know, they know people love their food. They know people come in for their food, but do people really love them for the brand that they stand for because they invest a lot in communicating what their brand stands for. So we did some brand worth analysis to help them understand the role that each element of, you know, essentially values alignment of does this brand share my values versus experienced satisfaction, have on getting people to walk in store and ultimately buy from them. And, and what role that played throughout the purchase journey. So we were able to help them identify the brand elements that should halo onto the digital experience. And ultimately that drove a 40% lower cost per acquisition because we gave people a reason to come in beyond just the food. It's an easier experience, easier to do business with them, easier to order what you want to order. And by the way, I, I, I know what this brand stands for, and it's all connected for me as a customer.

Peter (16:26):

So lower cost of acquisition, because they didn't need to keep re re reminding them that they exist and that they should come in with this. Got it.

Maggie (16:35):

Because all of their messages were now pointed in the same direction, essentially before their experience and their kind of brand positioning. I won't say that they were at odds, but they weren't working together brand worth helped us identify what should, what should your brand stand for both in experience and in your messages and your values alignment and your sheriff culture. So that all of the things that you're putting out in market are actually going to get people to pay attention to you more and everything works together and builds on each other versus being a bit of a, you know, a soup.

Peter (17:12):

I imagine then that this process must sharpen the creative and make the creative process much easier because it, well, let me just ask the question, does it cause my, my prognostication, yeah, yeah,

Maggie (17:28):

It really does. So I, I have a background in a few different sort of agency environments, and I'll tell you a lot of times, creatives are not super keen on a lot of data early on in the process sometimes. Particularly if they've been at like call it a marketing, very, very digital shop. A lot of times their experience with strategists with data is a strategist telling them, like, I don't think this headline is working. You need to change it. And that's not, that's not a super awesome experience between a creative and a strategist, but I will tell you that the, this is not what brand worth does brand worth gives them basically the brief that's going to make them successful. So it doesn't tell them the colors or the words or the taglines they should be using. That's still up to their creative discretion, but it does, it does say, Hey, in order to be successful, we need to build a brand that shares values with our customers. And here's the values of those customers, or in order to be successful, we need to communicate that our experiences make things easy on people. And so, you know, creative team, we need you to design a visual identity that communicates ease, and we need you to design an app and a website experience that gives people ease. All of that is, is already in the brief when they get, when they get kicked off. And so it's much easier for them to be successful. And ultimately I think it alleviates some of their anxieties.

Peter (19:00):

Yeah. So I would imagine that often, sometimes these kinds of models that agencies come up with, they sometimes can be sort of the fake eight ball where, you know, every question you asked the answer's yes, spend more money. But I, I think about that, that boardroom conversation where a CMO is coming in to, to, in an uncertain and changing era, make a, a pitch for their strategy. And, and I, I was wondering how, how this, the outcomes of this process can help drive that next budget conversation. What have you seen when you've been in, on those conversations of where this can be helpful to a COO sort of making, making their case?

Maggie (19:45):

Yeah. Thank you for asking that question. Cause I think it is rooted in actually why I work at a place like Deloitte digital and why I've shifted from more traditional agencies. We add a place like Deloitte, we take it really seriously that we are there to champion our client's best interest, not to sell the things that we make. And that's a massive shift from at least my experience at, at agencies where if you were at an ad campaign agency, every answer was an ad campaign, no matter what, you know, and, and I think folks, you know, they really believe it, but at a place like Deloitte, I think we have been pushed to open the aperture and see other opportunities beyond just an ad campaign or beyond just a new website beyond, you know, a social campaign. And so that's one of the I think most freeing things about having brand worth at a place like Deloitte is I can go in and tell a client, look, you know, Simo.

Maggie (20:54):

I know that you really want to invest in brand, but when I look at the data and I see what your market share is today, I believe that you are going to spend more than you will receive back an ROI by building your brand today through these these ways. So if you still, you know, want to invest in brand, here is the way to make sure that you are getting that positive return on investment, but we can actually advise them on where to spend and where not to spend. And then let's say that the answer is yes, you know, spending on brand does work, but we can also say spending on brand does work, but you need to not have an ad campaign. You need to have a better purchase experience, or you need to have some sort of you know, inject your brand into culture and, and engage in conversations with your audience. There's, there's different paths to building your brand than just spend, you know, a hundred million dollars on advertising that brand worth can get to the bottom of it. Obviously, sometimes the answer is advertising, but it allows us to be a much more objective partner to our clients. And, and to say, you know, maybe investing in brand isn't the right move right now. And there, there have been times when brand worth tells us that. And we're, we're happy to share that with our clients because ultimately it, it makes them stronger in market.

Peter (22:13):

Yeah. That really resonates with me. Cause I was, I was actually recording a future podcasts the other day with I hope I'm not giving anything away with Steve Dennis, who is releasing a third edition of remarkable retail. If you know his book and one of the things that he was talking about is his disdain for the term omni-channel like it's cause all things are Omni. What he was talking about is sort of the need for a harmonized experience that, and, and what you were talking about where brand brand now shows up in every interaction and, and the consumer decides where you know, where they're going to go the most to get that, that connection with you. And so the challenge is deciding where is it that you need to show up better for them right now? And I feel like that's kind of what you're describing here.

Maggie (23:11):

It absolutely is. A metaphor that we often use is, you know, your brand again is not just a creative asset or a marketing asset, it's a financial asset. And so if you think about your brand as a part of your portfolio, where are you making an investment in brand so that you're balanced in a way you're achieving the right return on that investment and, and what other things are you also investing in? So that it, it has that harmony that talk about because brand is to your point present in everything, but also it's not the only player that matters. And so brand worth helps us get to the heart of where does brand matter most and where are we going to get the most return for the investment we make and brand today and tomorrow?

Peter (24:04):

Yeah, that's what I really like about these metrics that you have the values it's about values, it's about experience. And that to your point experience is a very long journey, as you know, so there's all sorts of places you can look to to improve the way consumers connect and then want to return. Do people remember us message memorability and then share of culture? Like who, who are my people kind of is sort of how it, it feels like to me. So going back then to that boardroom where a CMO is armed with this kind of data on the other side of the table, what have caused the aha moments to like, oh, this isn't just last year's presentation where you're like, I need 20% more. Are there any sort of stories or, or sort of impressions that you have of the difference in those conversations?

Maggie (24:58):

Well, well certainly one of the stats that I'm most proud of that we were able to prove with Brianne worth is every 1% that the organizations that we measured in increased their brand worth resulted in about a billion dollars return on revenue in that quarter. And I know that sounds like a very big number. These are obviously large market cap organizations, but that kind of return is massive. The, you know, for, for those of you, your listeners who are, who are Mafi, the R squared is quite high and it actually goes down when you lag by a quarter, which essentially proves that I think organizations and marketers have always felt like brand was like at the top of the pyramid, the thing you invest in last, when there's money leftover and what this actually proves is that brand is the foundation of the pyramid that can ultimately drive revenue returns, not just be a cost center.

Maggie (25:56):

And so that certainly shifts a lot of the conversations and then being able to show what that looks like in our respective category or industry. We worked with a cyber security company to help them say, you know, historically here's what an improvement in brand has, has led for us in our competitors. And so based on that, we think that we need X amount of incremental budget in the next three years, and here's the customer lifetime value and the longterm returns that we think we're going to get because of that and, and ultimately make that case to their board and get that approved. And so those are, those are the ways that the conversation shifts, I think when you use the same language that the, the financial folks sitting around the C-suite or are using, you're a lot more successful because they, they can see the value of

Peter (26:48):

Yeah. And then as a COO, you get to turn around and go have the incredible journey of actually then bringing this to life for your brand, which I think is very exciting. So to, to close out Maggie as, you know, as you know, many of our listeners are leaders on the e-commerce side, and there are some more, more and more as we talk about that harmonized experience, the, the, the places where brand needs to show up are changing rapidly. And certainly the the product detail page on a retailer site, retail or media, or they are becoming full funnel experiences. And so more and more as the product detail page can be someone's first or most frequent brand experience. Do you feel like this research put in the hands of our listeners could be useful in a conversation with their CMO, even if they may not be of a size to engage you know, Adobe digital on their, on their brand work?

Maggie (27:47):

Yeah, absolutely. So the white paper we published goes into a bit of detail on essentially within each industry or category how competitive is branding, which I think is a nice snapshot for P for folks to know, like, what am I up against? And then those sort of return percentages. So every 1% that I can improve my brand worth results in what percent increase in consideration and purchase. So even that is probably something that you know, some of the listeners could probably take, take use from but brand worth also has the ability to provide hierarchy of what matters in branding. So on a product detail page, let's say we're in the footwear category. We may identify that the most important thing is actually sheriff culture followed by experience satisfaction, followed by message memorability, and then followed by values alignment. So that product detail page should first talk about, you know, why, where the shoe fits in culture, what, what the shoe says about who you are, et cetera. Then it could talk about the, you know, how wonderful it is to wear the shoe, the feeling of the shoe. Then you can kind of hit on those other elements of, of brand worth later. Or you could even just choose that those aren't really exactly what you want to put on your product detail page, but it can help with the messaging and the prioritization of those messages.

Peter (29:14):

And I would hope that also when you, when you have that prioritization, it's an easier conversation in terms of, cause a lot of the conversation is around a budget and who's paying for what on that product detail page. And if, if the CMO through, you know, sort of informed through this has a greater sense of how that can be measured. I think that could hopefully unlock some conversations that would lead to a better collaboration.

Maggie (29:41):

Yeah, yeah. That's exactly right. It's it's all about partnership. I think that's, that's one of the things that brand worth does enable is it enables marketing folks, product folks, finance folks, everybody in the organization to have a stake in brand. It no longer just belongs to marketing. And I think when we all share brand, we can, we can actually use it for what it's really meant for and we can use it better. So that's, what's really cool. I think about brand worth

Peter (30:12):

Well, Maggie, you know none of us are happy about the reason why we were locked into our homes for a year and a half, but here's another example of some, something that has come out of it that at least at least provides value. And and, and you had the opportunity to kind of do this sort of big thinking, which is really, really terrific. Thank you so much for, for, for coming on the podcast.

Maggie (30:37):

Thanks for having me.

Peter (30:40):

Thanks again to Maggie for being on the podcast. The link to the brand worth report will be in the show notes or hit me up on LinkedIn if you'd like a copy in the meantime, thanks for being part of our community.

Speaker 3 (31:01):

[Inaudible].