Why our brand matters – and how we can support it
Sven Theobald, Head of Corporate Brand Management, and Wolfgang Stippler from the Insights Generation Team, responsible for the Global Brand Tracking, share their views on the current performance of the Bayer brand and how it is being measured.
Why is a strong brand so important for a company like Bayer?
Sven Theobald (ST): The Bayer brand is one of our company’s most valuable assets. For almost 160 years, our brand stands for quality, reliability, and trust.
The brand is what safeguards our license to operate. It increases our standing with key stakeholders, protects us against reputational attacks, and fosters a sense of community and loyalty among employees. It helps keep the company together as one vehicle that everybody identifies with.
It also gives us significant commercial value. A strong brand leads to higher confidence among investors, and ultimately increased market capitalization. It supports the top and bottom line and helps reduce capital costs.
Wolfgang Stippler (WS): In the business world, a brand can both accentuate the positives and soften the negatives. It has been shown that a strong brand can generate a price premium in comparison to competitors. And in a crisis, a brand gives you a ‘buffer’: a company with a high reputation is afforded a certain degree of trust, even during difficult times.
How is the Bayer brand currently performing?
ST: All the data we have tells us that the Bayer brand is strong and resilient. Even in the face of reputational headwinds, our brand occupies a competitive position, and exceeds our competitors in general.
We are the number four pharma brand in Brand Finance’s Top 500 Most Valuable Brands ranking. We also know that our brand helps drive business, because our product brands are seen 80% more positively among people who know that the product is from Bayer. A recent study found that 26% of Bayer’s market capitalization is driven by our brand and reputation. On the flip side, our financial brand value dropped nearly 30% in three years to now $ 4.5 billion.
WS: In recent years, as we navigated challenging times, the brand did experience even significant reputation losses in some geographies. But in these areas, we are already seeing signs of recovery and have reached or even exceeded 2016 levels in most countries This shows that we have a strong brand foundation, built over decades, that allows us to turn around adverse situations.
Please tell us how we are currently tracking brand performance.
WS: Our brand analytics track two discrete categories: equity (how the brand is perceived, based on surveys), and value (the financial impact of the brand). We combine these into the Brand Dashboard, which we update every year. In the Brand Section of the Identity Net Brand Portal, all employees can find this dashboard and review the data for themselves.
What are the main drivers of Bayer’s brand strength?
ST: For a long time, Bayer built its reputation on a pillar of competence. Bayer stands for competence, quality, and trust throughout the world. That is of huge importance for a life science company such as ours and remains a crucial driver for us to grow our reputation and brand value. But today, there is another, growing aspect: brand likeability. What does this mean? It is how we make our brand relatable to our target audiences.
WS: Likeability seems to be key for encouraging target groups to behave in a way beneficial to Bayer – e.g., that they purchase our products, invest in our shares, engage for Bayer in conversations or even recommend the brand to others. In most countries, we tend to outperform our competitors in this regard – driven by customer perceptions of us as an innovative, sustainable and responsible enterprise. So, our products fuel our image of competence. Breakthrough innovations, our attention to environmental and social governance fuel our overall attractiveness.
Are you happy with the brand’s current performance?
ST: Yes, and no! We can be proud of the Bayer brand’s high reputation to trigger desired behavior (engaging with, buying from, investing in, or recommending us). We can also be proud that we are still such a well-positioned brand in the external rankings, and of the way our brand helps our business.
However, we must acknowledge that the brand has performed better in the past. We must endeavor to turn around the direction of these metrics, get back to our old strength, and then focus on leveraging our brand’s full potential.
What do you see as the brand’s biggest challenges?
WS: Beyond doubt, it’s the rapid change we are seeing in our industries. Today, the demands of our stakeholders are changing as quickly as they have ever done, and the pace of change will only grow. The brand must stay nimble and flexible. Our brand strength helps us get through these challenges. but of course, we must also continue to keep our brand relevant, distinct, and esteemed.
ST: There is an opportunity to challenge ourselves and put greater focus on the likeability side of the brand and the positive impact we make on the world. We know this would significantly drive reputation, desired behavior, and value more than it ever did before.
How do we do that? It helps to communicate more consistently, telling a coherent and strong ‘One Bayer’ story that spans all our businesses and innovations to help people and planet thrive. The positive impact we are making is so tremendous and relevant in the context of health and nutrition, it certainly deserves to be talked about boldly. Our purpose Science for a better life and our vision Health for all, Hunger for none promote our journey towards a dynamic, outward-oriented and human Bayer brand.
How can Bayer employees contribute to the improvement of the brand?
ST: Bring our brand personality consistently to life in the interactions with our stakeholders. Be visionary, optimistic, and passionate – not only in our visual expressions, but also in a warm or relatable language and our actions. Put across the One Bayer mindset and confidently talk about the positive impact of what we do.
WS: We know that employees are already doing a lot in this regard. The current strength of the brand is the cumulative result of all that Bayer employees have done in the past. Every effort and engagement feeds into the brand. In other words, Bayer’s positive results to date are down to all of us. Despite all the current challenges, we should take a moment now and then to acknowledge this exceptional work.