Customer value proposition (CVP)

What makes clients buy or use your services?

This is the most fundamental question that drives every aspect of brand and marketing strategy within financial services organisations.

If your organisation could succinctly articulate the benefits your client experiences when they do business with you, especially in these turbulent times, then you would be one of the few financial services brands that have a compelling point of difference and a strong value proposition.

A customer value proposition (CVP) is the benefit that sits at the intersection of client need and organisational offer. It is made of an understanding of what an audience wants and what an operating model can tangibly deliver. It is aspirational but achievable, it encompasses why existing and potential clients should choose your brand and be disinterested in alternatives.

In financial services, a well-defined customer value proposition:

  • Inspires and delivers meaning and confidence for existing clients
  • Presents a meaningful, engaging representation of a brand for prospective clients
  • Creates engagement and pride amongst employees in being part of the brand
  • Delivers a unified, meaningful, compelling and consistent understanding of the brand that resonates with all stakeholders (investors, clients and employees).

Building an engaging and relevant CVP in financial services

When you are seeking to build out a proposition that resonates with your clients and cascades throughout your business, there are six crucial components that you should consider.

1. Define a specific target market

By clearly identifying the clients who are likely to be choosing and buying your products and services, you will avoid appearing like all things to all people. This is a common mistake in financial services, where organisations are determined to meet the diverse expectations of multiple audiences, and in doing so, fail to deliver true value to any of them.

Dividing potential clients along relevant dimensions through brand research can help to provide insights into the most appropriate demographics, buying behaviours, attitudes and client needs your brand can best deliver to. This will make the task of segmenting prospective audiences much more effective, by clearly articulating the segments which are most available and attractive to you.

2. Understand the value equation you expect to deliver upon

For your clients, value can be as simple as what they get in return for what they pay. Although it sounds straight forward, the value equation is different for each segment of the market that you may be targeting and is more complex in financial services as these relationships are generally over longer periods.

It is important to think about both the tangible and intangible attributes and benefits that you are seeking to deliver to your clients. In financial services, it is often this perceived intangible value that is built over the long term that resonates most. It might relate to returns on investment and sustained performance, which translates to clients who value premium experiences. That is the financial return that they receive for the services they are buying from you – enduring prosperity.

3. Craft a precise offer that can evolve over time

If you understand what the exact product and service that both existing and prospective clients come to you for, and then build your offer around delivering that perceived level of value, your proposition will sit in a rare intersection of - client need and organisational offer.

Placing data and insight alongside the value your current offer brings to clients can allow you to map your buyers and price accordingly. This requires evaluating the way your organisation currently delivers value to its clients and then ensuring it remains innovative, relevant and differentiated over time.

4. Prioritising the benefits that your organisation delivers

Organisations in financial services often become stuck at this stage because they aren’t able to pull apart their key service benefits without considering which ones are the most important to their clients, and the interrelationship between these benefits.

In this prioritisation process, consider first the underlying attributes of your service, then consider the functional benefits that that service produces, and finally, articulate the emotional benefits that your clients experience as a result of these.

5. Compare your value proposition in the competitive context

Once you have clarified the emotional benefits of your particular service experience, compare your value proposition against your competitors in the market. This is not an exercise in comparing functional product and service offerings. You are trying to understand their tangible differentiation and positioning in the market and how you can be tangibly different from them.

Expand your existing frame of reference to include alternatives to choosing your product or service. In financial services, value propositions are compelling when they effectively demonstrate why your clients should choose you over any other option.

6. Provide the appropriate evidence and proof points

Once you have addressed these value proposition essentials, you need to create and continually reinforce evidence to ensure your clients will derive the benefit and value you’re promising.

Proof points can be as broad as case studies, testimonials, thought leadership; any active involvement that demonstrates to your client why they should believe in your organisational promise. Evidence why they should choose you over any alternative, help them justify their investment and remain loyal through more challenging periods.

Customer value propositions are built from the foundations of a brand’s positioning, which is the guiding essence that sits in the heart of the business. This positioning defines the brand’s proposition, a short summary of the purpose and guiding philosophy of the firm. To learn more about specific examples of CVP’s we have created for others and what we could create for you, please reach out here.

Value propositions ensure the effective translation of strategy into execution

A compelling value proposition in financial services helps organisations to consistently translate their business strategy and brand positioning into execution in the market.

They have enormous value in helping your existing and potential clients navigate the breadth of your offer externally, whilst also clarifying and confirming your organisation's value for internal stakeholders and employees.

At BrandMatters, we have been building engaging value propositions that deliver meaning and confidence for businesses throughout the financial services landscape for nearly 20 years. If your organisation would like help in prioritising and articulating your unique service benefits, feel free to get in contact with us here.

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:31

TCorp provides best-in-class investment management, financial management, solutions and advice to the NSW Government family, delivering sustainable returns and financial efficiencies for the benefit of the state of NSW. As part of wider transformation programs, TCorp initiated its largest brand refresh in a decade.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 15:05

Almost every business we spoke to as part of our Brand Leaders 2017 Report, and many of our clients, are reorganising around customer segments, and have comprehensive customer experience (CX) measurement programs in place.

All our brand leaders agreed that delivering superb CX is important for the survival and future growth of any business. They also all agreed that a strong brand is vital to organisational success. However, there differing thoughts on which should take precedent: brand or CX.

It goes without saying that creating a brand that doesn’t delight customers out in the real world is futile. Similarly, crafting customer experiences without the guidance of your brand will result in variable customer interactions with no clear direction or substance.

The brand should guide customer experience at every customer touchpoint. Brand delivers three C’s vital to CX. Its greatest strengths in supporting businesses in their mission to delight customers are Clarity, Consistency and Confidence. Here’s how brand delivers these three C’s.

3 C's of Customer Experience infographic


When brand is placed at the heart of your organisation, it helps drive CX in many ways, and therefore has a much clearer impact on organisational behaviour and performance.

By ensuring that your brand permeates every area of your organisation, you will not only deliver a superior customer experience – you will demonstrate value to the C-suite, and measurable ROI for your brand.


When it comes to executing the marketing function, small and medium businesses experience a number of challenges. Without the budget of a larger organisation, it’s not possible to hire a marketing team covering all the skills to fulfil all the different marketing needs that the business has. The demands of marketing are many and diverse. At the senior level, the marketing function needs to be able to develop and present thought-leading and accountable brand and marketing strategies and business cases and confidently persuade top management and the board of the merits of marketing initiatives. While at the mid and junior levels, marketing needs strong operational, project management and execution skills in a variety of disciplines: lead acquisition and nurture, content creation, campaigns, social, digital, events, SEO/SEM, advertising, media, CRM and more.

These are two quite different skills sets, and often, small and medium businesses (SMEs) have a single marketing person who cannot span both. They often have a more junior marketer who can execute the day-to-day marketing tasks and initiatives but is not experienced enough to develop marketing strategy - and there is no-one in the business who can coach and mentor them to grow and develop. At BrandMatters, we see this challenge particularly in mid-tier professional services businesses including accounting, financial services, legal and investment management firms, as they just don’t have the budget to hire the senior marketers that they really need. Or they may have a single, mid-level marketer who simply does not have the bandwidth to undertake all the marketing initiatives required for the business to grow.

Added to that is the reality that there is typically a low tenure rate for marketers. This turnover is a constant frustration – and a hefty expense - for businesses. The churn leads to disruption in the execution of marketing plans, lower confidence rates in marketing within the organisation, significant time spent searching for, interviewing and onboarding new recruits, and high recruitment costs, often at 20% of salary.

For start-ups and small businesses, it’s a big leap to employ their first marketing person, as it will take time for the marketing they undertake to start to generate sales and income for the business and hence pay for that marketing resource.

So how do SMEs develop a best-in-class marketing function, despite these challenges? How do they access all the different marketing skills they need, increase their marketing capacity, mentor and develop junior marketers, maintain stability and consistency, and reduce marketing recruitment costs? And how do they do this in an accountable and sustainable way?

The team at BrandMatters has been asking the same questions, and in response, we’ve developed BM Inside to remove the obstacles to best-in-class marketing for SMEs.

The BM Inside service places a BrandMatters marketer inside a business for as many days per week as they need, for as long a period as they need. It could be two days per week for three months, five days a week for 6 months or any other combination – the business decides what’s right for them. Best of all the service is completely flexible and can be started, stopped, and dialled up and down in line with requirements.

BrandMatters assigns an appropriate marketer according to the skill level that the business requires, and the business pays no recruitment costs. The resource can be up and running very quickly. The marketer becomes a seamless part of the client’s team – but at the same time remains a member of the BrandMatters team, with access to BrandMatters’ deep brand and marketing expertise. They can tap into the BrandMatters senior team members’ experience at any time, and their briefing, performance management and professional development is managed by us. In addition, BrandMatters maintains oversight of the ongoing execution of client deliverables and quality control, making the service completely accountable.

BM Inside creates immediate marketing momentum. BrandMatters’ knowledge of the client’s business combined with the practical experience and know-how of the marketer means the typical three-month ramp-up time of a new employee is eliminated.

BM Inside allows small businesses to bring on their first marketing resource in a right-sized, cost-effective way, so they can start to generate marketing returns before the business commits to a full-time employee. It allows medium businesses to bring on an additional, perhaps more senior, marketing resource to develop strategic marketing plans and coach and mentor junior marketers. And it allows resource-challenged organisations to bring on an extra pair of marketing hands quickly and cost-effectively as required.

As an added bonus, the BM Inside resource and the client have seamless access to BrandMatters’ design studio, making the management of marketing assets and execution of campaigns easy.

BM Inside has been created to take the pain of managing the marketing function away from SMEs, allowing them to concentrate on running and growing their businesses.

If your business could benefit from BM Inside, or you would like to find out more, or review one of our BM Inside successful case studies, please contact us.


Thursday, 23 June 2016 09:44

The term brand stretch refers to how far a business can stretch its products or services into new and unrelated markets successfully. Think Yamaha, originally a musical instrument manufacturer, launching into the unrelated motorbike market. The less extreme variation of a brand stretch is a brand extension, where an existing brand launches a new or modified product into the same broad market. Think Coke launching Coke Zero, or Sanitarium, the WeetBix parent, launching Up&Go to the breakfast market. These terms both fall under a business's brand positioning.

Both a brand stretch and a brand extension can be a lucrative way for a brand to increase its revenue and customer base, but both carry inherent risks. A business that stretches its product or service offering too far can leave consumers confused and alienated; and operating in an unknown territory can result in your brand fighting against entrenched competitors more experienced in that market.

Before deciding to move forward with a brand stretch that takes your business into new markets, we’ve outlined three key questions for consideration.

1. Brand stretch or brand extension?

While ascertaining exactly how far a brand can stretch into new product lines or markets can be more of an art than an exact science, the chart below provides a useful tool for evaluating risk.


BM Stretch or Extend graph

There are two approaches for mitigating risk. One is a straightforward brand extension – keeping the same core product category, but moving to a different audience – i.e. change the who. An example of this type of stretch is Dove skincare for women and Dove skincare for men, an example we will explore further later in this post. The core product remains the same but it has been adapted for a new audience

The alternative approach is a larger shift, a brand stretch, but mitigating risk by continuing to cater for the same audience while broadening the product offer - i.e. change the what. An example of this is the construction brand Caterpillar. Caterpillar was originally a construction and mining equipment brand, before stretching its brand into safety footwear for worksites – an entirely different category of product, but the same core construction and worksite employee audience. Another example is Porsche sunglasses, an entirely different category being sold to a similar, highly affluent, image-conscious audience.

While both of these options contain inherent risks, an even bigger risk lies in changing both the audience and the product i.e. the what and the who – at the same time. This move represents the furthest brand stretch and is the most likely to cause confusion in both current and targeted consumers.

2. Is there an appropriate level of brand equity within your existing brand?

Once the business has evaluated whether a new product line or new target market presents an opportunity for growth, it needs to consider the strength of the equity that currently exists within the brand.

A successful brand stretch or brand extension is able to leverage the brand equity that already sits within the parent brand. Leveraging that existing equity will ensure the new product is immediately credible and is recognisable by its target audience. The ability to leverage existing equity also delivers the benefit of allowing the new product or service to bypass the heavy investment traditionally required to build a profile from scratch.

An excellent example of a brand extension that successfully leveraged the brand equity within the parent brand is Dove and Dove For Men. Originally launched in 1957, Dove’s positioning has evolved over time to become synonymous with real, honest, caring skincare for women. Building on the strength of its range of products for women, Dove decided to leverage its brand equity to target the men's grooming market by launching a new line for men - Dove Men+Care.

The launch of this new product range took place in 2010, more than 50 years after Dove was established. By driving awareness of the Dove product line through the ongoing and consistent application of the brand and its unique point of difference, Dove had successfully established itself as the market leader in skincare. Only then, with sufficient awareness and brand equity, did they apply this expertise by extending their skincare expertise to a new audience.

It’s vital that a brand is truly established within its existing market if it is to provide sufficient brand equity to a new product or service. Without sufficient awareness and understanding of the existing product or service, the new product will fail to appear credible.

This is even more important for a brand stretch. In the example of Caterpillar, the CAT brand had built a strong and firmly embedded reputation as construction and mining experts who understand the specific needs of a construction environment. They had built a brand based on strength in a rugged workplace, around the idea of being unbreakable. Caterpillar was able to successfully carry across the equity it had built around these characteristics, characteristics that resonated with its audience, into the new category of footwear.

3. Will customers trust you in this space?

Put another way, is our expertise valued in our new market place?

The Apple iPhone is a story of a brilliantly successful brand stretch, moving Apple from the computer market into the telecommunications market. When the iPhone launched in 2007 Telstra’s COO at the time, Greg Winn, when asked if he viewed the new product as a threat, is quoted as having said "There's an old saying - stick to your knitting - and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting,".

Nine years on and it’s clear what Greg Winn failed to understand. While Apple was at the time called Apple Computers, they weren’t just experts in computing but rather technology supported by excellent design, two characteristics of remarkable value in the mobile phone space. Apple’s brand positioning centres on ‘humanising technology’ – a positioning that can apply equally to mobile phones as it can to computers. Additionally, the success of Apple’s iPod bridged the brand stretch between computers and mobile phones, making the ‘leap’ in the consumer’s mind more manageable. This provided consumers with a reason to trust Apple in this new market, resulting in the most successful product launch in history.

Another example of the importance of consumer trust is the failed McDonalds’ failed brand extension into Italian restaurants.

In 1999 McDonalds attempted to transfer their success in American fast food restaurants to reach a broader audience by opening a number of pizza restaurants. Famously this brand extension failed to gain traction - but why was this? The answer lies in McDonald’s perceived expertise. The public accepted McDonalds’ authority in burgers but was unable to trust that this expertise could carry across successfully to the pizza and pasta space.

Any business considering a brand stretch or brand extension, whether B2C or B2B, must understand consumer perceptions of its expertise and question whether the new direction provides consumers with a reason to trust the brand in its new chosen field.

To understand how to approach gathering information on your customers and how they perceive your business download our Guide to Brand Research.


Both a brand stretch and a brand extension can be seen as an invaluable opportunity for growth. Yet, transferring the brand equity and consumer trust from an established brand to a new offering is often a difficult exercise. Brand stretch should not be seen as a short cut to growth, but should be treated cautiously, and with brand equity and customer sentiment front of mind.

An interesting example of brand stretch to conclude with is eHarmony’s foray into recruitment. eHarmony has launched ‘Elevated Careers by eHarmony’, applying the same scientific methods its uses to match couples to matching employers with their next employee.

Here eHarmony has evolved both the ‘who’ (from singles to employers and job hunters) and the ‘what’ (finding love to a finding new job) – but it’s an evolution, not a wholesale change. In each example, eHarmony uses your personality and personal characteristics to find a solution tailored to your specific needs. There is no doubt that there is equity in the eHarmony brand – the site is responsible for around 4% of marriages in the US each year. But can they translate the trust consumers place in them to find them a partner into trust to find them a new job or a new employee? Will the recruitment marketplace value their online dating expertise? Can the brand achieve the growth it’s seeking via this ambitious brand stretch?

Time will tell.


As the end of another financial year approaches, the FY16/17 planning cycle provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to assess the current strength of their brand and establish what investment needs to be made to enable your brand to underpin your efforts to drive a strong return on your marketing investment.

As you begin to solidify your marketing plan for FY16/17 we’ve explored four opportunities for strengthening your brand and bringing it further into focus for your key stakeholders.

In last fortnight's blog we shed light on the four emerging themes among the challenges our clients are facing at the moment, and took a deep dive into the first two of these pain points.

These themes included:

1) Inefficient spend: “We’re expected to do more with less, but we aren’t sure how to become more targeted”

2) Lack of distinctiveness: “Our market is getting more crowded and we aren’t standing out”

At BrandMatters we operate at the intersection of marketing and business strategy. As a result, it’s critical that we are able to offer clients solutions that both facilitate efficient marketing delivery, and align with the broader business strategy, driving business growth.

As a team, we’ve noticed four emerging themes among the challenges our clients are describing to us. These themes are drawn from clients of all sizes – from significant multi-nationals through to mid-tier professional service and IT firms.

Friday, 31 July 2015 17:17

Australia's biggest supermarket is struggling. Unrest within the leadership team, with several high profile executives exiting stage left in recent months, and another set of disappointing sales figures are painting a grim picture for the future of this business.

And now, to compound Woolworths’ woes, Coles has just unleashed their latest ad campaign, fronted by Curtis Stone, championing themselves as ‘Coles Fresh’.

So where did it go wrong for Woolworths?

Paul Nelson, BrandMatters’ managing director, was one of a few brand experts interviewed by Mumbrella’s Steve Jones, and gave his insights into why the chain is losing out to competitors such as Coles and European import ALDI.

Nelson’s view is the apparent lack of proactive strategy, and a willingness to copy the competition has created confusion around Woolworth’s offering. Woolworths’ pursuit of value shoppers through the Leo Burnett-created Cheap Cheap campaign was flawed, and was an obvious bid to emulate the successful ‘Down, Down’ campaign created for Coles.

“The market share sensitivity across retailers is omnipresent but it’s easy to exaggerate that and take your eye off the main game”, he said. “That is evidenced by what could be described as a crisis of confidence at Woolworths. They looked at the Coles strategy and thought; ”if they’re doing Down Down, we’ll do Cheap Cheap”.

What could’ve been done?

The better option would have been to capitalise on Woolworths’ existing brand equity surrounding their positioning as the fresh food people – instead Woolworths has seemingly lost confidence, evidenced by an uncertain and unclear brand strategy which has left shoppers equally puzzled.

And whilst it is all too easy to vilify the marketing and advertising teams; the truth is, that without an aligned business strategy with clear key messages, they were, in essence, set up to fail. “If there isn’t a sensible conversation in the boardroom about a longer term strategy, based on key understandings of the market segments, it’s tough,” Nelson said.

Where do they go from here?

Quite how Woolworths will attempt to bolster sales remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that a more rounded approach to strategy is crucial – even if that provides a decrease in market share initially.

“I would build the case for a deeper understanding of the brand assets that reside at Woolworths, that being the fresh food people, and I’d build a deeper understanding of our desired customers – and that isn’t ALDI or Costco customers”, Nelson said.

“Yes, we may initially lose market share but I’d go in with a strategy to bring branded customers into the stores and have deep relationships with my suppliers while simultaneously building out my portfolio with private labels which are delivering deeper revenue.”

When a business attempts to talk to everybody, they end up talking to nobody; and this is evidenced by Woolworths’ current position. By losing sight of what they offer and who their consumer is, they are losing relevance and doing significant damage to their brand equity.

Read the full, Mumbrella article here

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 12:40

On Sunday night Qantas launched its new TV campaign across all the major Australian TV networks. You can view the TV commercial, ‘Welcome Home’, here:

And you can watch Channel 7’s take on it here, where BrandMatters was also asked to comment:

The TV-led campaign is an attempt to get Australians to reconnect emotionally with the embattled brand. With its strong narrative, quality production values and the lilting melodies of Australian singer Martha Marlow singing Randy Newman’s ‘Feels Like Home’, it is unquestionably a beautiful piece of advertising.  But will it be enough to overcome the brand’s challenges of the past three years and increase flagging revenue on Qantas’ international routes?

At BrandMatters, we don’t think it’s enough. There is a succinct saying that neatly sums up the Qantas brand challenge: brand is a promise delivered. Unfortunately for Qantas, advertising alone can’t rebuild a broken brand – especially a brand that is perceived as not delivering on its promise to passengers, its employees or the Australian public more broadly.

Although advertising alone is insufficient to be the entire answer, there are three actions that Qantas can take to begin to rebuild its brand in the mind of its audience:

Rebuild trust:

When many Australians think of Qantas today they call to mind the 2011 global fleet grounding, the replacement of Qantas routes with budget partner Jetstar flights, sending maintenance jobs offshore, safety scares and recent rounds of large scale redundancies. The erosion of trust is having both an emotional and economic effect on the former national carrier. Trusted brands have committed customers who are not only willing to recommend them to friends and family, but display a willingness to pay higher prices: a ‘trust’ premium. David Horsager, C-suite leadership expert and author of The Trust Edge suggests that trust is made up of eight key factors: clarity, compassion, character, contribution, competency, connection, commitment and consistency. It is the result of long term investment and commitment and, unfortunately for Qantas, cannot be rebuilt in a day. You can learn more about how trust can be rebuilt here. 

Reconnect with employees:

We would argue that the advertising as presented captures the emotion of when Qantas had proud and passionate employees – be they call centre operators, check in staff, cabin crew and even captains. There was something quintessentially Australian about that experience then, that made it ‘our airline’, especially when heading home, as the ads insight taps into. It was a perfect balance of Aussie genuineness, good humour, and relaxed and friendly service, all underpinned by a safety record that was the envy of every other airline worldwide.  So what happened? After multiple rounds of redundancies, Qantas employees are doubtlessly fearing an uncertain future and, as a result, suffering from a lack of trust and feeling disengaged from their employer. Yet employees in a service business are an airline’s most valuable assets – a living example of the Qantas brand promise – and the impact of a disengaged workforce on a company’s bottom line can’t be overstated. Engaged workers feel valued and connected, and approach their work with far more passion than those who don’t. Two of the keys to building a strong employee brand are demonstrating inspired, committed leadership and communicating a sense of vision; and offering employees the tools and knowledge to deliver on the brand promise. If Qantas’ leadership can begin to rebuild trust and invest in repairing its relationship with its employees, it will once again be able to build a cohesive, inspired workforce that delivers passionately on the Qantas brand promise. You can learn more about building a strong employee brand here.

Repair the customer experience:

If social media sentiment is anything to go by, the impact of the ‘Welcome Home’ advertisement has been polarising. There are many viewers who have connected with the ad emotionally, but equally many for whom the ad simply serves as a reminder of a recent negative Qantas customer experience. Qantas needs to invest in ensuring that the rational experience of its service aligns with the emotional connection it is attempting to repair. As challenger Virgin Australia attempts to steal market share in the lucrative business travel market, Qantas needs to reassess what it is about its customer experience that makes it different, and use its reengaged employees to deliver on this unique experience on each and every flight.


Unfortunately for Qantas there is no simple advertising solution for repairing its reputation with its Australia audience, no matter how emotional and beautiful to watch. Alas, brands aren’t built or repaired by advertising alone. That said, when done well, advertising can act brilliantly to create awareness about your product or service proposition in a way that has your target audience consider or re-consider you and, in turn, view, read, listen, phone, click, or seek, to learn more. We hope (and in fairness, expect) that Qantas understands this.

As a business under pressure however, the natural inclination might be to outsource its brand repair work to its ad agency. Let’s face it, it’s much easier than what we’re suggesting. However appealing that might be, we would strongly caution against this. To create an airline brand that has its chosen audience disinterested in alternatives means it must start with its leadership, its culture and its people. It must start inside, out.  By doing this, it will  rebuild its relationship with its employees first and instil the pride of the Qantas brand in them. In our view it’s this strengthened relationship with its employees is the only sustainable way to improve and create its desired customer experience.

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