The brand function has taken the lead as a marketing team's most important asset to help grow a business in 2013, according to Michael Page Marketing's '2013 Salary and Insight Report'. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The brand (29%) is now believed to be most important function to a grow business, followed by CRM (21%) and online/website development (21%). Up 10% on the same study's results one year earlier, brand took the top spot from online/website development, which now ranks joint second with CRM at 21%. Social media and mobile have both fallen by 3% from 2012's figures.

Paul Sykes, managing director for Michael Page Marketing, suggests that the shift could be linked to the cautious and competitive state of the market where brand differentiation is now vital in order to drive market share.

"Growth is on the top of the agenda for nearly six out of ten companies (57%). However with economic conditions remaining unpredictable marketing teams are still cautious about incremental hiring and therefore must look at their internal resources to justify their ROI," said Sykes.

In 2012, many marketing departments were heavily focused on building their online and digital capabilities. But it seems that those teams are now feeling more confident about their capabilities in this area, with 7% fewer reporting they had a shortfall of digital expertise in their marketing department. According to Sykes, "The emphasis is now on seeing a return on that digital investment which, when successfully utilised, will lead to greater digital investment."

An increasing demand for brands to deliver business growth suggests that companies are now re-evaluating their market position, and investing where appropriate but ultimately trying to ensure maximum exposure to - and awareness of - their brands.