Why Do I Need to Brand My Incentive Program?

By: Laura Avey

Where would Nike be without “Just Do It?” Where would McDonalds be without the Golden Arches? And what about Apple without, well, the apple?

These companies are some of the most recognizable in the world. What is one of the keys to their success? Simple: branding.

Marketing expert Seth Godin defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

A company’s brand tells consumers who you are and what it offers. It’s what makes your company recognizable to your audience.

You wouldn’t create a business without a brand that differentiates yourself from your competition. So why wouldn’t you do the same with your event, incentive and recognition programs?

Branding is what turns an incentive program from a nameless, little-known entity into something resounding, fun and engaging. If that’s not enough reason, here are five crucial reasons why you need to brand incentives:

Branding Provides Consistency

Your company has spent time, money and effort on its own brand, and you know it’s important. So why go contrary to that effort by creating an incentive program that doesn’t align with your company brand?

More than that, having a consistent brand between all of your communications pieces builds momentum in your program. With a strong brand backing up your incentive program, every communications piece you send has a consistent look, feel and message, tying the program together from beginning to end.

This not only connects your message with your participants, but it also ensures they continue the behaviors they developed during the incentive program long after the awards are distributed.

Branding Boosts Incentive Program Objectives

A clear incentive brand provides clarity and focus to your message, helping communicate to participants what they need to do to be successful.

This relates to overall incentive goals. It seems obvious, but when the rules are clearer, people can follow them. And when people follow the rules, they earn more—which makes the program successful, too.

Branding Drives Engagement

A strong incentive brand builds a connection between participants and their goals, and acts as a motivator for them to achieve their objectives (and yours).

With a boring, forgettable incentive program brand, people won’t want to be associated with it. With an impressive program brand, people want to be engaged in the program.

Branding Builds Loyalty

Participant loyalty is often one of the key driving factors of a program. It’s frequently the reason why a program exists. A program brand can help, especially for ongoing incentive and recognition programs.

A strong brand causes participants to associate their achievements with the incentive program, inspiring them to work to achieve their goals year after year.

Branding Drives ROI

All the best strategy and technology in the world is useless if your audience doesn’t know what action to take or what you want them to do. A clear picture of what your company can accomplish—what branding solidifies—can help your audience figure that out.

Achieving a high ROI depends on how much your participants know about your incentive program, and that’s what branding hopes to accomplish.

Laura Avey
Laura Avey

Laura has spent 10 years as a marketing writer in the incentive and book publishing industries. Currently, she works with ITA Group’s communications team to develop branding for incentive and recognition programs. She’s also read far too much Faulkner and enjoys pretending to be French in foreign countries.