brand positioning

Wednesday, 23 February 2022 08:43

Discussion between Jayson Walker, CEO and Director of Tribel, and Paul Nelson, Managing Director of BrandMatters. You can view the video interview on our YouTube channel here or scroll down to view it at the bottom of this article.

PN: I thought we'd just start by talking about the Tribel story. You built a business out of Aon and brought a number of your team with you. It might be scary for some people having stepped out of a very large organisation like Aon. What led you to do that?

JW: Very scary I must say. Bringing a team of very capable, passionate people in the financial advisory sector during a period of significant change as a result of the Royal Commission, to embark on exiting a large global corporate like Aon was a very challenging thing to do. I, like the rest of the team, am passionate about financial advice and the wellbeing it helps provide to the broader community. It wasn’t actually a difficult decision to make. The scary part was concluding the transaction in a management buyout with a large global corporate, but more importantly, engaging the team who were going to come along with that transaction to be part of the journey.

PN: Your product is your people. It's absolutely critical and you've done a sensational job doing that. Despite doing so well, the market is still highly competitive. It's very crowded and you've got to cut through the clutter of all that change and bring clients on the journey. How are you doing that?

JW: It goes back to the start of the journey that we set in place for the first three years. Funnily enough, the first of May this year, 2022, will be our three-year anniversary of the management buy-out. That was all about making sure that we provided clear, concise communication to our clients. We had a clear, clean brand, which although had some references towards our global parent, was able to set us aside. There's lots happening in the financial planning industry. It's about making it simple for the end consumer to understand. The market has moved into that space. It's now providing clear, concise messaging to help people get educated and understand more so that when they do come to us, we're a facilitator of the end outcome, which is a better financial wellbeing outcome over time.

PN: What about the process of moving your clients across from the security, safety and familiarity of Aon through to Tribel? How did that go for you?

JW: We spent a lot of time in the way we positioned the brand. Gratefully, the journey of the team moving out of Aon into the new environment meant that from a client point of view, the core factor of their relationship with Tribel, (as with Aon), was as an individual and those individuals came with the process. Because they were part of the journey, they were the ones who helped create the brand, the name, the vision and what we want to stand for. The conversation that they were having with clients was passionate, heartfelt, transparent and honest about why. I think that made it easy for us.

PN: Building trust and meaning in this environment is so challenging. Talk to me a bit more about financial wellness, what that means and how that turns up as a benefit for your clients.

JW: Wellbeing overall has a number of pillars to it. It can be five, six. In my world, that's three. One is social wellbeing. The other is physical wellbeing. The other is mental wellbeing. What sits behind all of those is financial wellbeing. There's lots of research in the marketplace that if you manage someone’s financial wellbeing, it helps deliver on those other three pillars. It gives people more time to focus on looking after their physical wellbeing. It relieves the stress and pressure around their mental wellbeing. It takes away all those challenges. We've all heard statistics of how many people get divorced and the underlying factor in divorces these days is generally financial.

If you start to look after those things, then you help people feel comfortable in their life. This isn't about making people wealthier than what they can naturally be with their capital contributions through income. This is about making people feel comfortable and not stressed. Research around the globe shows that if you can focus on financial wellbeing, it underpins those other three pillars and helps someone become well totally, in all of those areas. We focused on that. It's about making sure we deliver on their financial wellbeing to then help people with those other factors in their life.

PN: It’s managing the whole person, isn’t it. Rather than just their own personal balance sheet or being their personal CFO, you're actually thinking about their goals or aspirations, their functional needs and critically their emotional needs as well.

JW: We've still got a bit of a journey to go. We've now built that solution around financial advice, accounting and finance. The next stages of our growth will be, how do we enhance and help people in those other wellbeing areas such as the social, emotional and physical? That'll be a journey we look to go on over time.

PN: Let's talk about the financial planning industry. Over the last three years you’ve traversed a phenomenal amount of change, lifting out a team, setting up your own practice, building that out and dimensionalising that beyond financial planning. What are the broader challenges and opportunities the financial planning industry itself is facing? We know about the Royal Commission and the impact that's had, but that's only part of it, isn't it? What about the other challenges and opportunities facing the industry?

JW: There really needs to be a considered view about a total restructure of the industry in my opinion. If you look at its complexity from a compliance and regulatory point of view, a bit similar to our tax system, it's a patchwork of fixes that have been put over problems for decades and decades without a fundamental restructure of outcomes that deliver to a client's need. Cost of advice is unachievable for most Australians. Why is that? Well, we have a compliance and regulatory framework that costs significantly more money than it used to. Ultimately, the end-consumer has to pay for that. I think there's definitely a position for regulators and legislators to think about how financial advice is reconstructed. Ultimately, in my view, it's a liability issue. Today, we have independent financial planners who have their own licence. There's then aggregated financial licences which we're a part of who provide services.

How do all of those individuals provide comfort to their consumer or their client that in the event of an error occurring that there's fundamentally a support system that provides compensation for that? Today, it's all positioned at an individual financial advisor level. As a result, that stops attracting individuals into our marketplace. They think, “well, if I've got to be liable for 100% of everything I do and there's a cost associated with doing that”. That detracts from new entrants thinking about joining our industry. Whereas you have mid-sized firms like ourselves, larger firms and boutiques where the business should be wearing the liability for the advice provision to a consumer, based on the infrastructure it supports. I don't have all the answers naturally, but there's a need to think about a total reworking and structural change for the industry around how consumers access advice affordably and remove a lot of the historical legislation and regulation that provides no protection for the end-consumer.

PN: You've done a sensational job of attracting and retaining the best and the brightest across your firm. As we close, what advice would you provide to anyone who is considering a career in financial planning? From my point of view, it's such a critical, fundamental plank in people's futures and financial planners have a critical role to play. If someone was thinking about a career in financial planning, what advice or guidance would you provide for them?

JW: It's an interesting question that you often get posed. The conversations you have with individuals is firstly choose a career which is about helping people, supporting individuals who do not have the knowledge, capability, or experience to put themselves in a better financial position and achieve their lifestyle goals. And secondly, look at our profession for what it will be, not what it was.

If you look back in history, it took 475 years for accounting to be considered a profession. If you look at financial advice in Australia, it started with the life insurance days. It's only around about 75 to 80 years young, and we are on the cusp of being considered for all intents and purposes, a profession. There's hallmarks around a profession and that's education standards, associations, regulation and oversight by regulators and legislators. We're not far away from that. What I would say to individuals considering a professional career is look at where we will be and jump on that journey. Don't look where we've come from, because in any industry that has had a journey, you can always find areas of turmoil and challenge that they've been through to get to where they are today.

PN: Your final answer there basically summed it up in terms of your future focus and what you've already created and certainly what you will continue to create going forward. Jayson, we really appreciate your time today. Thanks so much for joining us.

JW: Thanks, Paul. Nice to be with you.


To see Tribel Advisory, click here. 

To see Tribel Accountants, click here

To contact BrandMatters click here.

At a time of volatility, it is harder than ever for brands to cut through and connect with their clients. The goal posts were well and truly shifted for everyone and many brands scrambled to pivot, reallocate resources or were forced to go into hibernation.

Some brands pushed through and continued to focus on the long game. Brand leaders and marketers have been faced with major challenges, all at an incredibly rapid pace. For some the tough decision to strategically prepare for short-term pain to enable long-term gain has or will pay off as we emerge from this latest installment of the COVID-19 crisis.

At BrandMatters, we’ve assisted brands with brand research, brand strategy and brand design and have witnessed firsthand, the importance of staying true to your brand values, keeping the client front of mind, and nurturing your internal brand even through the toughest times.

Pivoting or hibernating has been necessary for business survival, but for brand equity, we believe staying true to your brand positioning and brand story will prove just as powerful in the longer term, post-pandemic.

So which brands have demonstrated the critical traits that will see them through to the other side of this pandemic? Our team of passionate brand advocates have put together a list of the brands we feel will pull through even stronger than ever as we emerge from these unprecedented times.

Here is our list of brands that have impressed us recently:


Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, was quick to respond back in March in terms of its key role as Australia’s ‘truth teller’ broadcaster. Even though they’d been hit with major budget cuts, they did what Australians expected of them and that is show up and keep us informed.

They quickly adapted their news coverage, pivoted to zoom, and focused on delivering the news and programming online via ABC iView. They have created several versions of its ‘I Am Australian’ song, with a virtual choir made up of everyday Australians singing from their homes during the various lockdowns. The various iterations include one sung by students of Broome Primary School in Yawuru language which resonated across the nation to remind people we are still connected, despite the physical disconnection.

The ABC has a role to keep Australians informed, educated and entertained, more so during these COVID-19 times, with trusted content and services accessible to all Australians.


Of all the industries affected by COVID, aviation was undoubtedly one of the hardest hit. Throughout the pandemic, they’ve been in the public eye, with news of staff standdowns, billion dollar losses, and numerous press appearances by Alan Joyce publicly pleading with governments to make decisions on timelines for domestic and international borders to reopen.

As avid travellers, who all have family overseas and interstate, our whole team was moved to tears by the recent advertisement release by Qantas encouraging Australians to get vaccinated. The tone and messaging of the campaign fits with the airline’s brand positioning and values and is part of a broader ‘Be Rewarded’ campaign.


Another tourism brand that has not been able to operate in their normal capacity, Airbnb has shown resilience and even managed to continue with a successful IPO in the midst of the pandemic.
Airbnb have been focused on brand building with their latest campaign – made possible by hosts and have introduced measures in preparation for the return of travel. These include strict disinfectant protocols and relaxed cancellation policies.

They’ve ramped up focus on experiences and introduced virtual experiences to their suite of offerings. Recognising the increased use of at-home devices, Airbnb have introduced virtual background images of its stunning spaces, free for download and use.

Service NSW

Of all the organisations and brands that have been thrust into the limelight, it has been Service NSW. Not only have they had to change their entire business strategy from a predominately face to face model, but they’ve also had to roll out, at rocket speed, a range of new initiatives to support their customers (the entire adult population of Australia). This included the NSW COVID Safe Check-in App and a range of other initiatives together with business grants and disaster grants for Australians who have had their income impacted by the pandemic.

The next step from a tech perspective is managing the integration between mygov and Service NSW in order to allow vaccination status to be easily identified as we open up. These integrations and improvements would normally take a government department several years to implement. Service NSW has been incredibly focused on the end customer and enabling them to get what they need.


One of BrandMatters’ long-standing clients, we may be a little biased here. Vero is focused on building relationships and truly partnering with insurance brokers by giving them a better understanding of SMEs and their attitudes towards commercial insurance.

The annual Vero SME Insurance Index provides unbiased insights into the needs and pain points of SMEs in Australia. This research is conducted annually to help insurance brokers better understand their core target audience.

In 2020 the Index was released just as COVID hit in March and Vero knew that SMEs were facing difficult times that would not be reflected in the report. As a result, Vero commissioned an additional SME Insurance Index COVID-19 Pulse Check, which provided actionable insights for brokers into the challenges being faced by SMEs during the pandemic and what they could do to support them during this time.

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc for SMEs, the Vero Business Recovery Grant was created to help existing Vero SME customers deal with the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

To read more about BrandMatters’ involvement in creating the Vero SME Insurance index visit our case study.


Established in Melbourne in 1987, Aesop has become one of the most respected skincare brands in the world. During COVID times, many luxury brands have suffered as a result of tighter consumer spending. Aesop has continued to grow and has stayed focused on offering innovative, unique products and experiences as well as showing continuous genuine dedication to producing sustainable products and design.

Part of this sustainability journey is a strong focus on climate action and reducing their carbon footprint. In 2019, Aesop committed to becoming net-zero by 2030 and established a science-based emission reduction target by the end of 2021. So far, they have earned certifications from B Corp, Cruelty-Free International and PETA as well as achieving carbon neutrality through carbon offsetting across the global business for their 2020 operations; an achievement verified under South Pole’s Climate Neutral label. Not losing sight of the importance of sustainability throughout the pandemic will see them emerge as a leader in this category.


TAL is a leading provider of life insurance products within Australia. TAL have been actively campaigning throughout the pandemic on the importance of ‘Insuring this Australian Life’ which has been their tagline for some time. It has resonated well throughout the past few years, with Australians faced with bushfires, floods and of course the pandemic, ‘Insuring this Australian Life’ is about the only way to describe it.

The marketing lends naturally into our need to protect what we have, our families, but also to be smart in a time when there is unrelenting change and uncertainty of the rollercoaster of environmental and social disasters. TAL’s marketing doesn’t feed into a reactionism to make things as they were, but it does tap into the need to create one constant that can be relied on in an ever-changing world.

TAL’s existing tagline and approach was right for the time and enabled them to consistently reinforce their messaging as the last 2 years have unfolded. It is in contrast with MLC’s “Life Unchanging” tagline which, whilst also tapping into protecting what you already have, slightly jars as one thing life is not right now is unchanging.


Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 2.7 million subscribers around the world. From the onset, the Xero brand was very clear in its positioning of ‘beautiful accounting software’. Xero was a disrupter in this market and a game changer for small businesses.

During the pandemic, Xero has released a series of initiatives to help connect with their target audience, however they have not deviated from their core offering. For most small businesses, who were trying to cut costs, Xero was one of the subscriptions that still represented value during the difficult times.

Xero continued to focus on product improvement – continued to focus on making accounting for small businesses beautiful, by simplifying everyday business tasks and integrating with other systems commonly used by small business owners such as Square, Receipt Bank and others. From a communication perspective, they’ve released a series of guides for small business start-ups and a podcast series called ‘What led you here’ where Xero’s CEO talks to founders and entrepreneurs about their business journey. There is also a series of articles sharing Xero customer stories.

A clear brand positioning is a key to success

As a brand agency, we are always on the lookout for brands to advocate for. We love to see brands do great things and inspire people, and these are just some of the brands we’ve noticed over the past few months while in lockdown. 

Importantly, these brands have proven that brand building is not just about advertising and pre-purchase communications. It requires connection throughout the entire organisation at every consumer touchpoint and must involve other parts of the business – fulfillment, sales and customer service.

Brands are realising the role of brand is more than just the ‘typical’ marketing function and that organisations must create an environment that better integrates brand into the entire organisation.

Ultimately brands with a strong positioning have proven they can successfully navigate a crisis by adapting their brand to the changing environment.

These brands will come out the other side much stronger.

Is your brand ready for lift-off post pandemic? Get in touch if you are ready to take the next step in clarifying your brand and forming a closer connection with your customers.  

Brand positioning is an important tool that helps to clearly articulate why your brand exists. Brand positioning will ultimately define how your clients view your brand and why they choose your brand over others in your market.

Brand positioning is the key to brand strategy, it is not what your customers see, but how it makes them feel. Brand positioning will become the essential ingredient in your long term business objectives, aligning your team and creating clear and relevant communication with your customers.

In order to distill your brand’s positioning, you must first decide…

  • Who is your ideal target audience?
  • Who are your main competitors in the market?
  • What makes you different and what will ultimately make your target audience choose you over your competitors?

At Brand Matters, we have worked with a vast number of organisations in crafting and defining brand positioning statements that set the course for a strong brand strategy.

We’ve recently launched The Brand Distillery Workshop. This one-day workshop is designed to extract the true essence of your brand by harnessing the expertise of our brand strategists and the business intelligence that sits within your team.

Defining your brand positioning is about finding clear and ownable space within your market.

For example, can your brand own any of these positions in the market?

  • The best quality or premium option
  • The best value or well-priced option
  • A challenger or disrupter
  • Most trusted or established
  • The leader in the field

There are several options for positioning and your brand strategy should define your objectives before you can establish your clear and ownable brand positioning.

By way of example, Ferrari would not go after the position of value; consumers are not choosing to buy a Ferrari because of the excellent value it represents. They are choosing instead to align themselves with the prestige and quality that is inherent in the Ferrari brand positioning.

Once you establish the clear space in the market that you can realistically own, your brand strategy should set out how you go about doing this. Pinpointing a brand positioning that is achievable and believable is critical in your brand strategy. Once you establish this, it will impact every business decision that is made, and keep you on track to delivering on the expectations of your target audience.

You will need to examine the gap between your brand positioning and the current market perception. Brand research can assist you in getting a true understanding of where your brand is now in the eyes of consumers/clients.

Once you have established the gaps, your brand strategy should set out your approach to close those gaps.

Bringing your brand positioning to life

Once you have established and agreed on your brand positioning it is important to determine the ways in which this positioning is brought to life. It should be evident during every interaction your customers have with your brand/organisation.

Brand positioning affects everyone within the organisation – it is not just a function of the marketing team. Everyone within the organisation should know what the brand positioning is and have it in mind throughout the day to day context of their roles.

As with any communication, there should be close and continued monitoring of your brand’s positioning and proof points, as well as brand tracking to ensure it is resonating with the market.

Once you’ve decided on your brand’s positioning, this becomes your foundation when you build the brand experience across your entire marketing and communications strategy.

Brand positioning will feed the other elements of brand strategy

The key elements of your brand strategy include your brand story, customer and employee value propositions, your brand’s visual identity and the tone with which you communicate with your team and customers.

Defining these elements based on your strong positioning and then carefully executing them across all touchpoints is crucial in creating an emotional conection with your customers and building your brand equity.

The importance of brand research in formulating your brand strategy

Brand research will help uncover insights about your customers, competitors and the market. The answers and insights uncovered through the research process will help develop your brand strategy.

Whether it’s an extensive exploration with consumers and businesses, or leveraging and interrogating existing knowledge through desk research or in-depth interviews, there is a range of brand research options. Feel free to contact BrandMatters, we can determine the right-sized research program depending on the complexity of your brand challenge.

Is your brand positioning crystal clear?

At BrandMatters, we’ve helped reposition brands, create and establish new brands and reaffirm existing brands within their existing market position.

Now is a great time to get clear on your brand strategy goals and defining your unique positioning is the first step. Get in touch with our team, we are passionate brand advocates who thrive in solving complex brand challenges.


What is brand positioning, and why is it so important?

Brand positioning (also known as a brand essence) is the distillation of all the elements that exist in your brand. It’s a single thought that ties everything together, it is the distillation of your purpose, your values, your archetypes, your propositions.

As such, senior leaders should use it to guide decisions, marketers should use it to guide the tonality of brand communications, designers should bring it to life visually, HR teams should use it to guide recruitment. In short, every touchpoint of your brand is consistent and single-minded with the brand positioning as the beacon.

Where all other elements of your brand strategy say, ‘what you do’, your brand’s positioning expresses the ‘how you do it’.

At BrandMatters, we see brand positioning as the “red thread” that binds an organisation – the most critical, single organising thought that ties everything you do together.

A strong and well-defined brand provides several immediate business benefits:

  • It delivers cut-through in cluttered categories, enabling your brand to stand out.
  • It gives customers a reason to choose you over the competition.
  • It helps validate customers' choice.
  • It enables you to charge and sustain a price premium.
  • It allows you to build trust with key stakeholders.
  • It will help you attract and retain the best employee talent.
  • Ultimately, a strong brand positioning creates clients who are disinterested in alternatives.

Why do you need a strong positioning?

A strong positioning sets the distinctive position your brand can adopt within its competitive environment. It enables your target audiences to tell your brand apart from others in the market. It specifies and expresses your brand’s point of difference – how it is unique and compelling.

There are a few other key components in a strong positioning:

  • Consistency – Every interaction a customer or employee has with your brand should bring to life this single governing idea. As such, they walk away with a single impression made up of hundreds of moments that have been created with one thought in mind.
  • Efficiency – Making decisions inside any organisation can be time consuming. Your brand positioning will ensure every single person, from a customer service representative to a HR director is empowered to make decisions because they understand your way of doing things.
  • Clarity – Brands are complex, the way you express and go to market with your offer evolves and changes, but how do you remain clear on who you are, and are not? A strong brand positioning is your stake in the sand, whilst propositions and communications can evolve, advertising changes and your mission alters as you achieve more and more, your uniqueness, your DNA, your essence remains and serves to give clarity as to who you are for your staff and your customers. 

How strong is your brand’s positioning?

There are many ways to evaluate the strength of your brand’s positioning, but we find it easiest to look through four lenses, asking yourselves whether your positioning is credible, relevant, differentiating, and sustainable.

  • Credible – Is it an achievable stretch for the business and will stakeholders buy into it? Does it align to the needs and expectations of defined customers/clients? Does it work across short term and long term objectives? 
  • Relevant – Is it relevant to all customer segments?
  • Differentiating – Does it enable any first-mover advantage in the category? Is it claimable and therefore ownable prior to additional entrants arriving in the market?
  • Sustainable – Is it suitable as your brand enters new/different markets? Will it encourage new product/service development? Does it challenge and invigorate current employees and the concept of change internally?

What is the role of brand positioning in your wider brand strategy?

Your brand’s positioning informs your wider brand and business strategy, the platform from which organisations can set the strategic rationale for all corporate decisions.

It feeds into your brand’s proposition; the succinct summary of what key benefit your brand offers to customers; then informs and leads the narrative and personality of your brand. This includes your brand story (the who, what, when and how that makes your brand different, including reasons to care), key messages (to externalise your positioning through tactical communications), tone of voice (the language that expresses your brand’s personality) and the elevator pitch (the 30-second description of your brand that succinctly articulates your business).

Your brand positioning will also dovetail to bespoke customer and employee value propositions, helping to articulate the value of your brand and what it brings to clients, customers and employees alike. A strong brand positioning will help ensure there is greater clarity and consistency in these propositions.

The final core component that brand positioning informs is in your visual identity, especially in brand logo and visual expression systems. Ensuring these are also aligned to your positioning will provide your brand with all the tools to differentiate itself in the market and build a sustainable and growth-orientated business moving forward.

Introducing BrandMatters' Brand Distillery Workshop – Building engaging and emotionally relevant brands, all in one day.

When looking at the brands that we engage with, either in the consumer or business world, one thing becomes clear. A strong brand, one that attracts the brightest and best, is so distinct and single-minded, that even when the logo mark is covered, the experience and tonality is so distinguishable that you identify it immediately.

That’s the power of brand positioning. With a single and ownable brand positioning, you will have carved out a brand that delivers that clarity of intent at every touchpoint. If you remove it, it becomes hard to create that consistency of experience.

At BrandMatters, we truly believe in the capabilities of a strong brand positioning in driving organisational growth. It’s one of the reasons why we have developed an entirely new, comprehensive one-day workshop aptly named ‘The Brand Distillery’, where we set out to engage your people to uncover this critical component of your business.

This new solution is designed to deliver the most important aspects of your brand and more, in a single engaging, collaborative session with your employees. In our experience, getting your people aligned in an interactive workshop environment delivers the nuance that binds the outcomes of the session to them, ensuring the results resonate for years to come.

If you and your organisation would benefit from a solution such as The Brand Distillery Workshop, reach out to the team at BrandMatters. We can put together the right approach for your business to enable you to achieve this essential component of your brand and business strategy.