Displaying items by tag: Brand architecture

Many organisations house more than one brand within their portfolio. This may have been strategically planned or may have come about as a result of a merger or acquisition. It is important that each brand has a specific purpose, does not overlap or cannibalise other brands within the portfolio and maximises the market reach for the organisation.

A brand architecture review can help organisations streamline their brand portfolio so as to maximise return on investment and minimise confusion in the market.

There are a number of brand architecture models that may be appropriate; a review of your brands can help ascertain which model is right for your organisation.

To learn more about the various brand architecture models, download our e-book – An Introduction to Brand Architecture. This e-book outlines the various models, along with the pros and cons of each. Understanding whether your portfolio suits a master brand, branded house, house of brands model or something in between will unfold as you delve into the considerations and review the specific roles of each of your brands. 

Some of the key considerations you will need to assess when undergoing your brand architecture review are:

1. How many brands are appropriate for your organisation?

The more brands you have the more thinly spread your marketing budget will become. A good first step in a brand architecture review is to logically assess the number of brands you need verses how many you currently have.

A disorganised and inconsistent brand portfolio may have evolved organically over time with little structure or discipline as to how brands are treated, presented or managed. This can lead to a multitude of inconsistent identities and possibly a lack of ‘daylight’ between brands. The development of products, services, campaigns or programs can become less cost effective and the lack of clarity can make it difficult to grow a company’s profile. Low brand awareness and equity will often stem from managing multiple brands, as audiences generally find it easier to remember fewer brands.

Depending on your strategy and starting point, in general terms, less is more when it comes to the number of brands required to be managed.  A master brand strategy presents a singular brand promise, consistently applied. It offers efficiencies for new product development complementing brand-building initiatives. In a master brand strategy, the approach to singularity of message underpins all brand decision making, maximises cohesiveness across the offer and provides the decision-making mechanism for brand extensions. Additionally, the application of a singular visual identity system minimises the investment required and makes it easier to manage. These efficiencies of a master brand strategy also come with compromises and limitations as it relates to entering new markets, launching new products and reaching new audiences.

For global B2B professional services organisations such as Deloitte, the master brand strategy offers the opportunity to provide a suite of services across functions, sectors and geographies with one voice. It allows the flexibility to add new services over time without diluting its brand or confusing the market. Aligned, integrated and well-coordinated, the master brand strategy allows organisations like Deloitte to earn the right over time to add ever more divergent services to its suite under the existing brand.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the house of brands model, it is the individual product or service brand - rather than the central, owning parent or corporate group – that is the source of brand identification for target audiences. This model allows for flexibility, as each brand under the parent brand operates independently under their own individual business strategy. As such, each standalone brand feeds back to the parent and feeds into their business strategy as one component of many. The owner, umbrella or corporate brand often remains invisible to consumers, as there is little inherent value in highlighting it. The model requires greater levels of investment in new product development, marketing and ongoing maintenance.

For example, Google introduced its parent brand Alphabet to function as a corporate holding company that enables Google and other entities within the portfolio including Calico and YouTube to build their own equity. Alphabet is, therefore, free to acquire and expand its portfolio as the opportunities arise.

2. How well do your brands fit together?

Understanding how all brands fit and work together enables companies to better target their key audiences, including internal stakeholders, and build brand awareness more effectively to avoid brand overlaps and the duplication of internal effort.

Brand distinction, in terms of quality or features, is one way to ensure that customers aren’t interpreting your brands as too similar, whereby the price becomes the determining factor in decision-making. When customers experience difficulties understanding the full scope and relationships between brands, they are restricted from fully connecting with the brand and are also more likely to make price-based purchasing decisions or search elsewhere. Attention spans are undoubtedly low and brands need to be aware of this when it comes to the organisation of their brands.

A branded house, endorsed brand or sub-brand model may be suitable in these cases – allowing the brands to borrow equity already earned by the parent brand and enable consumers to gain more clarity on the distinction between each of your brands.

A good example of this is Virgin Group, the core brand equity is dispersed across a portfolio of non-competing offers. Virgin’s portfolio scope is enormous, yet its core brand capabilities are never lost, despite continually extending into new markets. Each brand generates an immediate market positioning based on the perception of the parent brand, a unified identity that is easy for consumers to recognise and recall.

3. How clear is your brand structure?

Without clearly defining the roles and relationships of your brands, employees are more likely to interpret them as they see fit.  This may lead to internal competition and conflicting views that can be improved or prevented by a clear brand structure.

The key purpose then of brand architecture is to facilitate customer and employee understanding of a company’s range of offerings and simplify the buyer’s decision-making process to minimise audience confusion.

Testing your proposed new brand architecture structure through brand research will help you ensure you succeed in implementing a model that works both internally and externally.

4. Is your brand architecture flexible enough to grow with?

A brand framework that has been designed for today without adequate thought given to future considerations – mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations and product shifts, just to name a few – inhibits the growth of a company and isn’t responsive to industry trends or the ever-evolving landscape of the marketplace.

Brand architecture is a critical factor within the context of acquisitions, where companies intend to grow their scale, competencies and geographical presence. An inflexible brand structure, one which has failed to consider future business expansion and is too fixed to accommodate any kind of change, can hamper a company’s potential to grow strategically and maximise the value of its acquisitions. Unrealistic expectations surrounding acquisitions; that the new entity can merely co-exist alongside the company’s existing brands, can negatively impact organisational efficiency, as the costs often outweigh the benefits without a suitable architecture strategy to integrate and leverage the new brand assets.

Your brand architecture is always most efficient when it is aligned and reflects your business strategy with consideration given to the relevance of your brands to meet your objectives.

For house of brand companies, achieving market dominance with a large number of brands has resulted in companies like Unilever pruning their portfolios by reducing costs and complexity to increase efficiency. It is always worth articulating the costs of inefficient brand architecture, as this has a ripple effect. 

How to kick off a review?

At BrandMatters, we specialise in simplifying complex brand architecture so that it provides a positive return on investment and ensures the essence of each of your brands is clearly articulated and understood.

Contact us to discuss your brand portfolio and how it can work more efficiently and effectively.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:24

Optimal brand architecture ensures that brands are consistently adding value to justify the costs required to sustain them. For instance, choosing to focus all your efforts on building brand awareness and equity with a series of unprofitable small-scale sub-brands could be less effective to reach your business goals, whilst increasing the risk of brand overlaps and inefficiencies.

The purpose of brand architecture is to clarify decisions concerning your products, services, customer experiences and marketing efforts that span across your entire brand system. When appropriately structured, there is a greater likelihood of organisational and operational efficiencies.

Aside from the business efficiencies of optimal brand architecture, more importantly, is the outward-facing story you are telling your customers. When it comes to brand architecture, it is less about the internal understanding and more about whether your customers understand and can differentiate between your brands.

“It doesn't matter how much we know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know.” Simon Sinek

It is important to ensure each and every brand within your portfolio has a purpose and performs a specific role that is immediately evident to the end consumer.

So, where do you start in ensuring your brand architecture makes sense – both from an internal business perspective and from an external customer-facing perspective?

1. Gain a better understanding of brand architecture.

To ensure you select the right brand architecture model, it is important to gain a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each model.

To gain a better understanding of brand architecture, a good first step would be to download our e-book - An Introductory Guide to Brand Architecture. This guide will help business leaders understand the different models of brand architecture, the benefits of each and what to consider when instigating an architecture review.

The complexity level of your brand architecture will depend on your current business model and the number of brands housed within your organisation.  A brand architecture review can help you confidently organise, manage and go to market with your brands.

2. Conduct an audit – understand where you stand and what you have.

Taking stock of your current situation is an important early step in the brand architecture review process. Many organisations grow organically over time.  Brands are acquired, new brands are introduced following the release of a new product offering, or there’s a shift in the market resulting in a realignment of brands.

An audit of your current brand portfolio will enable you to understand the interrelationships between each of your brands, establish whether any of your brands overlap or cannibalise each other, and determine the relevance of each of your brands within the marketplace.

3. Ask some questions – the important role of brand research.

Brand research is an essential step in the brand architecture review process. Not only will it help in understanding the market perception of your current situation, but it will also answer questions about your future state in evaluating the impact of potential architecture alternatives. The research will provide insights and answers to questions you may have only been able to hypothesise.  Research can uncover the differentiating factors that will influence your decisions and ensure that your future position resonates well with your current and future clients.

Brand research can be conducted on one or more brands within your portfolio; it can help ensure each of the brands have a role to play in the overall brand architecture. Testing the entire model with market research can also be beneficial. The objective of this is to confirm the model is clear to consumers, ensure the interrelationships between each brand is evident, that there is an opportunity to share some of the brand equity within the model, or whether each brand is strong enough to stand alone without any endorsement from the parent brand.

It is important too that your brand architecture is built with flexibility in mind.  An architecture framework that has been designed for today without adequate thought given to future considerations such as mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations or market shifts, can risk future growth potential, therefore built-in flexibility must be established in your brand architecture model.

4. Develop, execute and communicate your strategy

Once you have established your brand architecture strategy, it is time to move forward with planning and executing the strategy. It is important to communicate internally and ensure all of the key stakeholders are clear on the rationale behind the changes. In the case of adopting a master brand architecture strategy, the benefits are clear and simple. A unified single brand under which all products and services exist, creates a greater overall market impact, share and revenue. Examples of this architecture model include Deloitte, KPMG and Perpetual. At the other end of the scale, the house of brands architecture model - the clear separation of all products and services from each other and from the umbrella/parent brand - helps create sharp differentiation for individual brands to target specific markets and market segments. Examples of this model include Unilever, P&G and Alphabet.

Changes to brand architecture can affect the overall organisational culture. By aligning your brand values you can deliver a positive reaction internally to the changes. Depending on the model, you will need to decide which brand takes the lead, and then align your employee values with the lead brand’s values. In most cases, this would be the umbrella brand, but it may not necessarily be the strongest brand in the portfolio. 

Turning insights into strategy

Without clearly defining the roles and relationships of your brands, employees are more likely to interpret them as they see fit. This can lead to internal competition and conflicting views that can be improved or prevented by a clear brand structure. The key purpose of brand architecture is to facilitate both the customer and employees’ understanding of a company’s range of offerings and simplify the buyer’s decision-making process to minimise audience confusion.

Your brand architecture is always most efficient when it is aligned and reflects your business strategy with consideration given to the relevance of your brands to meet your objectives.

BrandMatters prides itself on unravelling complexity to increase efficiency. We have in-house brand research expertise coupled with an experienced brand strategy team who thrive on solving complex brand challenges.

Call us to discuss your unique situation.

Friday, 13 April 2018 17:28

In the past, brand positioning was considered extremely important for B2C businesses, but largely irrelevant for B2B businesses.

The majority of views were that:
  • price is the driving force behind decision-making purchases in B2B
  • B2B buyers are rational decision makers unmoved by emotional factors, including brands
  • relationship between sales reps and buyers and that the sales reps are more important than the brand
  • B2B products are too complex to be reduced to a tagline 

However, those views have changed, and most people now understand that branding is every bit as important for B2B businesses as for B2C businesses.

B2B buyers are people, and people are emotional. People largely make decisions relying on their first impressions of stored memories, images and feelings. These emotions impact economic decision making. In one sense, brands inherently operate on an emotional level by stimulating that part of the brain that stores emotional reactions. By nurturing the right brand associations in your prospects’ minds, you can begin closing the deal before the selling has even started. Trust can be achieved by being the dominant player in your market, or by achieving thought leadership early in the buying cycle.

The benefits of a strong B2B brand

B2B businesses can benefit greatly from a strong brand. A strong B2B brand:

  • ensures your brand stands out and cuts-through in its category – it gives customers a reason to choose your brand over competitors
  • creates customers with a predisposition towards your brand, and an increased willingness to try it
  • shortens the sales cycle
  • enables your brand to charge and sustain a price premium
  • enables your brand to build trust with its key stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries etc.
  • it creates loyal customers, advocates, and even evangelists, out of those who buy
  • lowers sensitivity to price increases
  • attracts and retains the best employee talent.
  • the financial pay-off

Because brand-influenced emotional reactions impact buyer decision making, those companies with strong brands usually achieve better financial performance. In fact, McKinsey states that their analysis shows that B2B companies with strong brands outperform weak ones by 20 percent.

Examples of strong, successful B2B brands

Boeing

A global brand known around the world as the leading manufacturer of commercial aircraft, Boeing has successfully owned this positioning. However, from a B2B perspective, they are also leaders in manufacturing defence, space and security systems, with a vision to be the largest aerospace company with innovation at its core. Boeing’s focus on innovation attracts and retains the best talent, which is vital in a company that relies on the best and brightest to continually innovate in their industry. 

MailChimp

The most recognised email marketing service provider, MailChimp has traditionally positioned themselves as the ‘lead in’ or ‘go-to’ email marketing tool for beginners or smaller businesses. Mailchimp has managed to grow the brand and its values into a more professional B2B offering that can scale as your business scales. Awareness, ease of use and technical integration abilities has driven larger companies to buy into the brand and remain loyal. By targeting beginners to email marketing, MailChimp also wins loyalty from users who don’t have time to learn a new system as their business grows.

Adobe

Adobe showcases its superior products direct to the consumer by utilising the branded house approach with each of their product offering (eg. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Cloud, Adobe Spark), this has increased the awareness of their brand to consumers. Adobe’s B2B offering is positioned as more of a partnership than a product or service offering. Adobe has positioned the brand as the creative solutions partner for businesses. Therefore, Adobe has pitched their brand squarely at ‘creatives’ who are also seen as trendsetters or forward thinkers, and have thus altered their brand strategy.

Perpetual

Perpetual is an ASX-listed, diversified financial services company with three separate, yet connected lines of business. These are Perpetual Investments, Perpetual Private and Perpetual Corporate Trust. Perpetual is one of Australia’s largest and most awarded wealth managers, an expert adviser to high net worth individuals, families and businesses, and a leading provider of corporate trustee services. It’s a brand that has a very positive culture and prides itself on building teams around its strong investment philosophy and process, rather than creating “rock star” fund managers.
We’re proud to have assisted Perpetual across brand strategy development and see them as the most trusted financial services brand in Australia.

The BrandMatters team are experts at creating strong, relevant and enduring B2B brands. Check out our many B2B case studies and contact us to find out more.

Thursday, 08 March 2018 15:01

 

Product brands used to be the focus of attention for multi-brand companies, but the role of the corporate brand has become more and more important over the years, as CEOs and boards have realised the enormous value a strong corporate brand can deliver.

What is corporate branding?

Corporate branding is the practice of promoting the brand name of a corporate entity, as opposed to specific products or services. The corporate brand is the “umbrella” brand that sits over all a company’s product and service brands. The scope of a corporate brand is therefore much broader than a product brand.

The way a company’s corporate brand and its product/service brands sit and interact in relation to each other is known as the brand architecture.

Why is corporate branding so important?

People now really care about the corporation behind the product. They no longer separate their opinions about a company from their opinions of its products or services. This is largely due to the digital revolution and social media, which has created incredible corporate transparency. Like never before, customers, communities, government, suppliers, partners, investors and employees have a clear view into corporations’ actual behaviour and performance. They can freely share in their knowledge of, experiences with, and opinions of, organisations.

While this transparency and scrutiny can be problematic for some organisations, it can offer an enormous opportunity to savvy organisations. Those that grab this opportunity with both hands, and leverage social media and other digital platforms, can grow their profile, amplify their organisational purpose, shape their reputation, generate positive sentiment, and ultimately, increase the value of the company.

Creating a powerful corporate brand

The creation of a powerful corporate brand stems from a clear strategic vision and compelling organisational purpose, combined with employees who understand, believe and behave in a way that supports the vision and purpose in every way, every day. The corporate brand is also built and strengthened over time through visible, consistent actions and communications to the market.

The benefits of a successful corporate brand

Let’s have a look at the benefits that a strong corporate brand offers the different areas and stakeholders of a business.

For human resources / organisational development

  • Employee behaviours are aligned to business goals – a clear understanding of who the business is and what it stands for ensures staff act in a way that aligns to the strategic needs of the business.
  • Increased staff retention – clarity around what it means to be part of the organisation increases staff satisfaction.
  • Ability to attract the best – consistent word of mouth and a clear proposition to the talent market ensures the company will stand out from the myriad of competitors.
  • Reduced recruitment costs – as the best talent seeks the business out.
  • Increased productivity – as a result of increased satisfaction and understanding of the organisation’s purpose.

For the corporate and business functions

  • Deep alignment, cohesion, understanding and focus across the entire organisation, of who the business is, how it is different and how that difference turns up as a benefit for stakeholders on a daily basis.
  • Overall higher levels of innovation through working more constructively and collaboratively.
  • Increased trust with key stakeholders - customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries etc.
  • Improved and aligned customer experience, as employees communicate and deliver against the company’s overarching intent with clarity, conviction and confidence.
  • Reduced confusion and ambiguity when important decisions need to be made.
  • Improved returns on company programs and initiatives through increased company presence, understanding and leverage.

For marketing

  • Economies of scale – one advertising or promotional campaign can serve multiple brands, as they all sit underneath the corporate brand umbrella.
  • Stronger brand equity for product brands, as the positive corporate brand equity “rubs off” on the product brands.
  • Increased acceptance of new products launched by the company, as potential buyers are already familiar with the corporate brand and its reputation.

For sales

  • A stronger negotiating position – a stronger brand brings a stronger negotiating position and more favourable terms.
  • Increased customer resonance – customers have a clear understanding of the value of the business, creating more sustainable relationships with existing customers, and providing new customers with a clear reason to choose the business.

For the value of the portfolio

  • Increased value of the company’s product and service brands – as the equity in the corporate brand builds over time, there is the opportunity to transfer the benefit that it brings to the company’s portfolio of brands.
  • Increased opportunities for expansion – by establishing the reputation and value of the business, we open up opportunities to move into additional markets.

For relationships with Government and media

  • Supports Government stakeholders – smooths the way for Government to support our concerns, views and opinions.
  • Increased positive sentiment and commentary in the media, ensuring the company’s brands receive the “benefit of the doubt” in times of crisis.
  • Protection from possible industrial activity – through positive, accurate understanding of the company and its overall contribution.

For the community

Given all these benefits, building a strong corporate brand is a worthwhile investment for any business. At BrandMatters, working with corporate brands is our daily fare. If you’d like to learn more about how we’ve brought concepts like those described above to life for our clients, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ve performed this sort of work for clients including Perpetual, Suncorp, Downer, Wesfarmers and Sage amongst many others.

 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 13:23

All industries overflow with jargon. The legal industry. Professional services. Construction. Government. Science and research. Jargon provides a useful and accurate shortcut to communicate concepts or processes with specific meanings.

The marketing and brand worlds are no different. Yet in the absence of the need for specificity or accuracy (such as legal or scientific definitions), the use of marketing and brand jargon can become problematic for many clients. Brand ecosystem. Omnichannel marketing. Social media influencers. Brand architecture. What do any of these mean?

For a raft of clients and industry sectors, marketing and brand speak is considered at best a necessary evil and at worst, puffery. In an environment where avenues through which to engage audiences are forever multiplying– jargon also multiplies and compounds. New terminology is coined by compounding existing terminology, such as clickjacking or slacktivism1, and enters the marketing and brand vernacular. The adoption is swift: even buzzwords from 24 months ago such as digital disruption are now everyday vernacular in business.

All organisations engage in brand and marketing . Yet its vernacular to describe brand and marketing activity may be perceived as self-manufactured and devoid of concrete meaning. Often brand, marketing and associated vernaculars are either not understood or derided by those not in marketing roles. “Never mention the word brand” is an sometimes heard phrase for branding consultants when engaging brand resistant organisations.

So how can this vernacular be decoded in order to have substantial meaning? For those who are resistant, how can it be made real? As in all cases where confusion may cloud clarity, it’s best to go back to basics.

Here are some of the more common “brand” terms:

Brand – Brand is who your organisation is, what it stands for, and why a customer or client would select it over the brand and offer of a competitor. Seen from a different angle, brand is the disincentive for a customer or client to choose any other alternative.

Brand is more than an organisation’s logo. Many components cumulatively feed into creating a brand: the crafted customer/client experience of a product/service mix, the customer/client perception of that experience, the tangible and intangible assets required to create that experience and the positioning of the organisation in relation to a sector or competitive environment to create differentiation and advantage.

Brand architecture – The structure of an organisation’s brands and/or products/services to achieve maximum market impact, and, minimum cannibalisation where an organisation may own brands competing in the same market. Stated simply, brand architecture is the way you frame and go to market with your brands. It’s the way your brands are connected or kept separate in the consumer’s mind. Multiple brand architecture models can be applied and organisations need to carefully select an approach that will assist in maximising revenue and sustainability.

Branding – The active process by which organisations create and communicate their overall value and positioning via the development and protection (trademarking) of tangible brand assets (eg logo, tagline) and intangible brand assets (eg characteristics, attributes and behaviours) to achieve a specific position in a market.

Brand equity – The resultant comparative value, influence and impact of a brand in relation to its competitive set, and as evidenced by the loyalty and advocacy of its customer/client base and market share. Unto itself, a strong brand equity can be used as a brand tool to strategically further pricing strategies, positioning and competitive advantage within markets.

Brand experience – Arguably for many organisations, this is the brand. The positive and fulfilling direct interaction between customer/client and the organisation, and ongoing affirmation of that experience will define the brand. This creates loyalist behaviour; it creates advocacy.

Brand loyalty / brand advocacy – The ideal for any brand: the creation of long-term loyal clients disincentivised to pursue other brand options given their ongoing and vocal advocacy of a brand’s value.

1 Oxford English Dictionary http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/september-2016-update/new-words-list-september-2016/

Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:47

Alphabet has taken over Google - but does this new structure mean people will stop 'googling' and start 'alphabetting?' Paul Nelson argues on Mumbrella that this change is more than skin deep. Read the full article on Mumbrella here.

Despite the omnipresence of the Google brand we argue the recent logo change is at best peripheral compared to the changes made at a brand architecture level.

The revised organisation of its brands and its creation of Alphabet means Google escapes the constant market and investor scrutiny and is freed up to focus on what it does best.

This is the main game – the logo change is really summed up improving scalability and readability on digital devices – and after 16 years it was due for a refresh.

Over the past few weeks, there has been considerable commentary in the press about the change of structure at Google, and its adoption of Alphabet as a name for the new parent.

The transition within Google – Alphabet – culminated in Tuesday night’s launch of the new Google logo. Prior to the logo launch, much of the commentary had surrounded the choice of the name ‘Alphabet’, and the fact that the name was not universally well-received and not available as a clear URL. Again, this is peripheral in our view.

What some of the commentators were overlooking is that this shift to Alphabet is about something far more significant than simply choosing a new name that either is either popular or not.

The move to Alphabet signals a fundamental shift in the way Google – or rather, Alphabet – has chosen to structure its organisation and its brand architecture, in order to prepare for future acquisitions and expansion into new markets.
 

Alphabet Google org structure
 
Yesterday, with the launch of the new Google logo, people were back to talking about Google. Do we like the San Serif font? Do we dislike the San Serif font? Have they moved far enough? Have they moved too far?

But in a sense this is not that material, any more than it matters that the Alphabet URL isn’t clear and available. What matters is that under the new Alphabet brand architecture, Google now has ‘permission’ to change its logo, to change its corporate identity and to highlight its focus on sourcing and sorting information, without impacting the broader scope of Alphabet’s interests.

The creation of Alphabet has enabled Google to operate in the sphere which it knows best – to be single-minded – without limiting the broader business’ growth trajectory.

Under this new architecture, Google will retain search, YouTube and most of the biggest divisions while smaller operations such as Nest home appliances, life sciences, drone deliveries and venture capital investments will operate as individual companies.

Alphabet is essentially a corporate holding company and never consumer facing – consumers won’t start ‘Alphabetting’ any time soon.
Google’s co-founder Larry Page has long been keen to explore new areas for growth and less interested in creating incremental improvements to Gmail. He’s made no secret of wanting to explore transportation, connectivity and life itself.

Over the years many business analysts have enquired as to the relevance of these new acquisitions and how they align to Google’s mission, now Page can honestly and confidently answer, ‘they don’t’.
 
 

Friday, 24 August 2012 11:47

Dig out your shoulder padded power suits and puffy shirts and get ready for a return to eighties-style mass marketing advertising and sponsorship.

At a time when most marketers are funnelling budgets into online advertising and social media, Swisse Vitamins is bucking the trend and returning to one-way communication directed at consumers. The Australian-owned company is spending up big on mainstream prime time television and print media advertising.

You would be hard pushed to miss the recent proliferation of Swisse television commercials. They feature a host of high-profile sporting and media celebrities including Ricky Ponting, Cadel Evans, Marcia Hines, Sonia Kruger, Dr Chris Brown and Mark Webber.

As the broadcast sponsor of Channel 9’s Olympic Games coverage, Swisse was also the “Choice of the Australian Olympic Team” and is the “Official Vitamin of the AFL”. Other sponsorships include lifestyle and news programs such as The Block, Young Talent Time, The Voice and Channel 7 News plus a range of sports sponsorships that include Australia’s Paralympic Team, the Qantas Wallabies, Swimming Australia and the Victorian Institute of Sport. Swisse has shaken up the relatively boring vitamins and dietary supplements category and the bold move is seems to be paying off at the moment. The company reported a 131 per cent rise in net profits to $8.9 million for the 2011 financial year. Swisse now has products ranked in the top ten selling lines in various supplement segments. Thus, Swisse's well-thought-out brand archiecture achieved maximum market impact.

With Australian consumers’ health and wellness concerns driving this fast-growing category, it’s not surprising to see other supplement brands are racing to mimic the success of the Swisse approach.

Bioglan is now sponsoring brand ambassadors Jennifer Hawkins and Sophie Falkiner and has started a program of mainstream, prime time television advertising for some of its flagship products. Likewise, Nature’s Way has jumped on the bandwagon, securing Antonia Kidman, Michelle Bridges and Shannan Ponton as its spokespeople. Not to be outdone, Nature’s Own also has a new television campaign airing in prime slots – “What does your body want?”.

But is there a risk in using celebrities to endorse your brand? Celebrity endorsement of brands only works when the endorser is relevant, credible and performs in line with the brand’s aspirations.

Swisse has already been challenged on this point. The company sponsored 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, who withdrew from the Olympics due to fatigue. He clearly does not fit the Swisse tagline “You’ll feel better on Swisse”. And there’s been plenty of social media comments about the [lack of] performance of our Olympic team despite taking Swisse vitamins.

There are many other examples where celebrity sponsorships have been quickly withdrawn in order to protect a brand. Grant Hackett’s drunken rampage last year meant his major sponsor, Uncle Tobys, had to quickly review their relationship with the swimmer despite sponsoring him since before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. And Hackett’s ambassador role for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation – an anti-violence charity – has since been withdrawn.

Jaguar terminated its sponsorship of swimmer Stephanie Rice after her gay slur on Twitter while a host of companies including AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Tag Heuer dumped Tiger Woods in the wake of the golf star’s sex scandal in 2009.

Swisse may be reaping benefits from its marketing approach right now but its message has to resonate with its customers – and that will only happen as long as its celebrities continue to perform.

 

UPDATE 28 August 2012: According to B&T Swisse attracted the highest recall rate of all Olympic advertisers demonstrating that, in the short term at least, the celebrity mass marketing approach is successfully driving heightened awareness of their brand.

 

Thursday, 14 October 2010 18:07

Where does your business sit on the continuum? Are you utilising an Inside Out or an Outside In brand strategy?

Outside In

The Outside In strategy takes customer value as its starting and end point. Companies using this approach are focused on creating and nurturing their customers by providing high calibre customer value. They put themselves in the position of their customers, and view themselves from their perspective. It's also about having a firm vision that drives you forward; there's no room here for looking behind your shoulder.

Inside Out

In contrast, the Inside Out perspective begins with a focus on the company's own capabilities and strengths. With this approach a business will take account of its resources and look at providing them more efficiently.

The problem with the latter approach is that by nature it's limiting and demonstrates slowness in adopting changes in the market place.

Shareholder or Customer Value?

Comparing these two approaches suggest a conflict between two fundamental stakeholders businesses need to deliver to: customers and shareholders.

If incorporated appropriately, pleasing and keeping customers will increase profits, which will feed shareholder returns. However, it does suggest a shift in emphasis away from directly trying to deliver to shareholders. Having a chief focus on shareholder value can lead to short-term thinking, and an Inside Out approach to business.

The key is understanding that the customer is the source of value, and the market will reward a better value proposition. This is a realignment of values that places shareholder value as an outcome of customer value: customer value should be the primary focus.

Outside In Case Study: Amazon

Amazon has set a new standard for Outside In brand strategy. They began as an online bookshop, and built an incredibly strong brand around that. But they put themselves in their customer's shoes and asked what else their customer base wanted. This allowed them to expand into the Kindle, and then into cloud computing, web services for their channel partners, and massive online retailing of a range of products outside their initial offering. Rather than dwelling on what they were good at (selling books), they asked 'Who are our customers and what do they need?' By shifting their focus, they were able to leverage their brand to seize opportunities in other areas.

Barriers to This Approach

Executives and CEOS face a number of challenges that keep them focussed on an Inside Out focus. Focussing on annual budgets, outsourcing, day-to-day management etc. are the typical concerns that continue to lose focus from a bigger perspective. Without effective and visionary leadership, it can be hard to rise above these matters. Without an emphasis on innovation, experimenting, and taking a step outside the corporate framework and into the minds and hearts of customers, a business will not be ready for that moment when markets open and their opportunity to outperform competition and increasing market share and brand loyalty arrives.

Outside In Strategy

There are three ways to ascertain whether your business is oriented more towards an Inside Out or Outside In approach. The first place to look is your competition and channels. If you're continually surprised by new competitors, your own poor results, or the appearance of new product categories from out of nowhere, this is probably a strong indication you're reactively focussed, rather than setting the pace in the market.

The second question concerns your customers: do you know who they are and what kind of value you're delivering them?

The third matter to examine is whether your brand stands up. Are you viewed as credible? Do your customers understand you? Are insights from the market and foresight driving the organisation? Are your marketing efforts aligning with your core values and strengths?

How Can Brands Reach Out?

Customers buy the expectation of benefits they will receive from forming a relationship with a brand. Buying from and interacting with a business is guided by a businesses brand. An Outside In strategy means a change of focus and entering into a collaborative relationship with the customer.

 

Thursday, 30 September 2010 20:37

The State of Queensland has rebranded itself as part of a major global push for tourism. The State now has a new 'Q' logo, and are using the tagline 'Queensland, Where Australia Shines'.' It's part of an international social media campaign, an updated website and advertising in major international markets.

New online media avenues have made it easier, according to the State Tourism Minister, to position the state differently for both Australian and international audiences.

It's been twelve years since the state's previous brand campaign, with the "˜Where else but Queensland" tagline, and has been guided by the tourism body responsible for the uber successful Best Job In The World campaign.

Full article here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/queensland-launches-new-brand/story-e6frg996-1225930886245

 

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 19:47

The Australian Securities Exchange Ltd (ASX) has reconfigured the brand architecture between its holding company and subsidiaries.

On Monday the ASX announced that the ASX Group will be its new overarching brand, with ASX, ASX Clearing Corporation Ltd, ASX Settlement Corporation Ltd, ASX Compliance Pty Ltd and other subsidiaries sitting underneath.

The ASX logo will feature the words ASX Group.

Continuing from our examination of brand architecture earlier this week, this is a good example of a Branded House where all products support the same message with the same core brand values against the similar buying group.

This type of branding structure is used to:

  • Reflects broad strength
  • Present a single focused offer
  • Clarifies layering
  • Act as a clear reference point
  • Establishes a point of trust and assurance

It requires:

  • A clearly articulated vision and values set applicable across the business
  • Unilateral support
  • Strong brand management

Examples above and beyond the ASX include Virgin Group, General Electric, BMW and American Express

 

 

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