Gartner gloomy on brand management as marketers say they struggle with multiple facets

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In July, Teradata chief marketing officer Martyn Etherington wrote for MarketingTech that “regardless of industry, size or standing, building and maintaining a brand remains the biggest challenge facing any CMO.” With this in mind, a new report from Gartner has put across just how difficult this is.

The analyst firm’s Brand Survey 2019 has found more than one third of the almost 400 marketers surveyed struggle with managing a global brand. The same number say they have concerns with keeping their brand relevant, while 30% struggle with creating a compelling brand vision.

Gartner quizzed marketers across a variety of metrics, such as communicating the value of their brand to internal stakeholders, managing a portfolio of multiple brands, and connecting their messages with their organisation’s values and culture. In each case, at least one in five respondents said they found this a challenge.

“Brand relevance and resonance can be extremely fluid based on a polarised marketplace, new disruptive business models and ever-changing consumer requirements,” said Chris Ross, Gartner vice president. “Marketers who want to stay relevant must be highly attuned to their customers, competitors and larger cultural and economic trends.”

“Even brands that may not see themselves as global are operating in a more tightly connected global ecosystem,” added Ross.

The analysis touches on various pain points about which regular readers of this publication will be aware. Measurement is a continued bugbear, and is more often than not an issue which keeps heads of marketing and CMOs sweating over their seat on the board. A study from Deloitte last month found that while CMOs suffer periodic crises of confidence, the majority of the C-suite has faith in their abilities to bring continued value to the business.

Gartner argued that marketers should measure as much as possible, but be open about what cannot be measured. “It is critical that marketers be equally ambitious about quantifying brand initiatives and realistic about brand spending that cannot be easily assessed,” the company noted.

Maintaining brand relevance has, of course, been the pursuit of marketing since the dawn of time. Marketers should ‘actively monitor the marketplace to remain tuned into the trends, preferences and cultural factors that shape the collective mindset’, as Gartner put it.

This is particularly pertinent given the previous mew of Generation Z employees into the workplace has turned into a full-throated roar. Plenty of research has taken place around younger professionals’ likes and dislikes. A report from creative agency ZAK in July, which polled 1,000 20-somethings, argued the demographic had the ‘spirit of an entrepreneur and the heart of a hacker’, adding that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was seen as a ‘calculated and institutional betrayal of users’ data.’

Gartner added that a balance needed to be struck between maintaining brand consistency and being responsive to individual market needs. A note from the analyst firm in March previously noted this disparity; tailored messaging for personalisation is ‘causing most efforts to fail’ with brands who fall short being labelled as ‘creepy’.

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