brand research

Thursday, 25 November 2021 16:03

It’s no longer an option for brands to ignore sustainability. Consumers are demanding brands step up and prove they are authentically determined to prioritise planet alongside profit. It is not just consumers demanding this, but employees and investors are also prioritising sustainability when they make choices as to who to work for, or who to invest in.


Sustainability needs to be considered whether your brand is a new brand or well-established. Many of the world’s largest organisations are driving sustainability in their strategic goals, through a number of initiatives and ambitious target setting.

Brand action on sustainability

Brands can bring sustainability into their strategy in a range of ways. Some of these actions include:

  • Lead by example, internally and externally
  • Create products with less packaging
  • Invest in recycled packaging
  • Use natural, organic ingredients
  • Introduce eco-friendly options that are more affordable
  • Insist on sustainable practices within supply chains
  • Set emissions targets and put in place action plans to achieve sustainability targets
  • Focus on reducing waste (reuse, recycle, repair)
  • Minimise pollution
  • Offset carbon
  • Contribute to environmental causes
  • Be vocal in supporting sustainable initiatives
  • Invest in local production options where possible
  • Use and invest in renewable energy and technology
  • Partner with organisations who can help with your brand achieving sustainability targets
  • Educate consumers on how to be more sustainable

One thing is certain, brands will not survive if they continue with business as usual if that doesn’t address sustainability in some way. Even if we put a fraction of the effort that went into tackling COVID-19 into addressing climate change, we will be in great shape for a greener future.

Consumers demand sustainability

Consumers have the power to choose sustainable options, but brands need to build trust and prove their commitment through action. They must practice what they preach. It can be confusing for consumers, especially with the amount of greenwashing that has already started to take place. Government and regulatory bodies are cracking down on greenwashing in advertising, organisations such as B Corp are creating strict certification criteria for companies to adhere to which is one way for brands to build consumer confidence.

Brands need to highlight their sustainable values in their marketing communications but also hold themselves accountable.

For brands, the challenge of sustainable transformation is balancing the profitability and day to day operations of business as usual with making the necessary changes to reach sustainability goals. Some sectors and industries will find it more challenging than others. But every step and action does count and every day we are reminded of the urgency to act.

At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, targets and agreements were signed, however consumers were left wondering if they went far enough?

The agenda had all the right intentions – cutting our reliance on coal, oil, and gas, reversing deforestation, and mitigating against greenhouse gases. Greta Thunberg and other prominent climate activists say it was a failure and that agreements made by world leaders were not enough to tackle the climate crisis we are facing.

The sustainability journey for brands

Some brands, large and small are already leading the way in their industries while others are not sure where to start. The first step is to set goals and understand the concerns and perception of your brand in the eyes of consumers. Brand research can give your organisation a clear understanding of what your customers expect and enable you to set out plans to achieve this.

A great example is Bank Australia. Their ‘clean money’ policy promises their investments will only focus on planet positive initiatives such as clean energy, sustainable investments, not-for-profit and community. They have promised not to invest in fossil fuels, live animal exports, the arms industry or gambling and tobacco.

The good news is that every industry is taking responsibility for reducing emissions and planning their path to net zero. Even leading players within the mining industry such as BHP and Rio Tinto have agreed upon reaching the net zero goal by 2050. The hope is that they stick to this and with continued pressure from government, investors and consumers will achieve this sooner and build upon this commitment with other opportunities such as moving away from coal and into renewables.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behaviours and attitudes around the globe at such a rapid pace, brands must take the time to understand their customers and clients new context. Brands need to question everything they thought they knew about their customers, as well as how much customers know about them. That includes what they do and how they do it.

Brands who act now will reap the rewards

Brands proactively changing to sustainable strategies will reap the benefits of this new context. It is now a strategic imperative for brands to be sustainable because consumers are expecting it.
So how will your brand prioritise sustainability? BrandMatters can tailor a research approach that will uncover the expectations of your core clients so that you can ensure your strategy aligns with what is most important to your customers and what will set you apart from your competitors.


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If you hear the statement ‘this product/brand is suited to everyone’, you should be concerned that it may well translate to ‘this product/brand is not going to suit anyone’.

All too often, products are developed and brands are created and then launched to market without any real thought as to who they will appeal to. Some organisations try to cast a wide net and reach a mass-market audience with their new product or brand, however, this approach will quickly consume your entire marketing budget. A more effective approach is to start with some brand research to identify and get to know who your brand appeals to and why.

Understanding who you are targeting and what is relevant to them is the first of many vital steps in your brand strategy.
Brand research can help you answer the all-important questions:

  • Who does our brand appeal to?
  • What are the main concerns our customers currently face?
  • What resonates with them about our brand?
  • What is our key point of difference when compared with our competitors?
  • What barriers do we need to overcome in order to grow?

Brand research will uncover the data and insights required to gain a deeper understanding of who you want to attract with your brand and will help you develop your brand positioning, brand story and key messages so that your brand resonates with your targeted audience. Once you have the data it is important to create a face for that data – this is where customer personas come into play.

Customer personas bring to life a detailed fictional representation of the different segments that make up your target audience. Most organisations will have more than one persona to represent their ideal clients. Personas are used widely by marketing leaders as a useful way to bring their target market to life. A detailed persona provides all levels of the organisation with a clear view of the wants, needs, goals and problems faced by that client. In most cases, these personas are created by using a mix of real data gathered through research along with hypothetical scenarios. Personas are then used to make decisions that will motivate your target market to purchase your product or service.

The right mix of quantitative and qualitative research will help define your personas

While personas are fictional characters, it is important to base them on real evidence derived from brand research. This data can come from surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, online communities and data analytics. It can also be created within the organisation based on your team’s knowledge of their core customers. Creating personas from this data will make it easy for everyone in the organisation to understand and make customer-led decisions when it comes to the brand, product or service.

Building your ideal client personas

If your business has been operating for some time, you would already have a good understanding of your existing clients. Analysing your past clients who have shown brand loyalty and have advocated for your brand is a good place to start building your personas. If you can pinpoint common traits of these clients, then you can start building your personas.

However, it is important to look further as your ideal customers may not be within your existing clientele. This is where the data from brand research will help you build out potential personas that you may have not identified yet. These personas could present growth opportunities for your brand.

Depending on your brand and market segments, you may need to create multiple personas. The most common profiles are grouped by demographics, psychographics and behaviours.

Some of the demographic data may include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Education level
  • Income level
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Vehicle type
  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Business maturity
  • Years of service

Some of the psychographic data may include:

  • Aspirations and goals
  • Interests and activities
  • Personality and values
  • Lifestyle and priorities
  • Fears and possible objections

Behavioural considerations include:

  • Online analytics such as interactions with social media, email opens, web traffic and other online interactions
  • Reviews, and feedback from existing customers
  • Activity post-marketing campaigns and brand tracking
  • Customer surveys and online community feedback
  • Focus group feedback

Targeting Your Ideal Clients

Once you have your personas mapped out and you know who you are targeting, it will be much easier to direct your brand strategy and marketing messages to that audience. You will see your marketing effectiveness skyrocket and your entire organisation should be able to better understand what they need to do in order to provide a positive customer experience for these clients. Your brand will naturally attract like-minded clients and filter out the wrong ones.

Your ideal clients will connect with your brand and it will feel like a natural fit for them and they will develop trust and loyalty for your brand. Rather than a brand that is made for everyone, they will believe that this brand was made for them.

At BrandMatters, we can help you build out your ideal client personas. We will design a bespoke research plan that will extract the data needed to create your personas, and then work with your team to build out these personas and position your brand to meet their needs and expectations.

Client personas will enable you to gain clarity, create a consistent brand story and key messages so that you can attract your ideal client instead of trying to be everything to everyone.

Times have changed for superannuation brands. Renewed regulatory changes have empowered members to make more informed and active decisions about how their retirement savings are managed. Superannuation brands must consider not only their performance but their corporate social responsibility credentials and member priorities. How well funds understand their members’ needs has never been more critical, and beyond these capabilities, a unique and differentiated offering is essential to help superannuation brands stand out from the crowd.

A powerful way for funds to differentiate themselves is via enhanced and more effective member communications and engagement. According to Mercer Australia, only 54% of superannuation executives believe their member offering is unique and sets them apart from the competition. 

Superannuation brands must find a way to connect and remain consistently present and relevant to members throughout their careers. They need to be considerate of member needs no matter what age - 18, 36 or 50 years old, member needs will constantly change and the new choice world that funds find themselves in is more likely to promote consideration amongst members about whether the fund they started with at 18 is the best fund for them at 36, 50 and beyond.

Is your brand unique and relevant to your audiences?

In overall terms, to respond to these new challenges and build more distinctiveness into both brand and market offering, superannuation brands will need to have a deeper understanding of their members’ needs, wants, motivations and concerns. With change comes both risk and opportunity. How informed you are in relation to your members will determine whether you win or lose members and subsequent fund flows.

Brand research allows you to distil your brand down to its pure essence, finding the unique space your fund’s brand can occupy that will dramatically separate you from the similarity of other funds across the category. A strong brand shapes perceptions and influences decisions such as whether to stay with an existing fund or leave for a different offer.

By using research, your brand will be able to inform the development of a growth-focused plan that can help tighten marketing communications and strategy. By understanding your brand and members more clearly, you can ensure your communications are more effective and consistent, across both internal and external stakeholders.

Sharpen marketing expenditure and demonstrate member values

Apart from the efficiency benefits that research can provide, it can also allow your fund to avoid the wrath of the regulators in their ‘sole purpose’ tests. These tests are in place to ensure that all activities and investments being undertaken by a superannuation fund are to safeguard and grow retirement savings for members.

The industry came under significant pressure and criticism as part of the Financial Services Royal Commission for the volume and percentage of member returns which were being invested in advertising and sponsorship activities, neither of which directly benefited their members.

The marketing of superannuation brands has always been a contentious issue, given their legislated sole purpose to generate investment returns for members. But with greater marketing, superannuation funds can achieve greater economies of scale, increasing the pool of capital they have to invest for their members.

In superannuation, performance obviously matters, and pointing to the scoreboard has long been an effective defence used by brands when asked about ethical and transparency concerns. It was a line adopted to great effect by AustralianSuper Chief Executive Ian Silk at the Financial Services Royal Commission, for example, when he said the outperformance of industry funds over retail funds justifies their multimillion-dollar TV advertising campaigns.

Regardless, through research data and analytics, you will be more easily able to demonstrate how your marketing investment is improving member outcomes by highlighting the key benefits of your brand in the market, whilst also warning your members of the weaknesses inherent in the competitive environment.

Change is the only constant in this renewed superannuation landscape

For a number of years now, the superannuation industry has been awash with talk of change. Every year, the calls grew louder – underpinned by new developments that, at times, have been both startling and game-changing.

We are likely to see fewer overall brands in the sector, headlined by some very large funds, some moderate sized funds, and those in niche markets. There will be increasing competition, but likely more improved benefits for members with greater engagement between themselves and the brands they choose to align with. Understanding the unique makeup of these audiences is critical in this period as superannuation funds look to carve out a distinctive and sustainable position in the market.

It’s fair to say the level of change currently impacting the superannuation industry is unparalleled and likely to be the most significant it has ever faced. David Knox, Senior Partner and Global Pension Expert Mercer Australia said it best, “what happens over the next two years is expected to shape the industry for the next 20 years.”

At BrandMatters, our business is to help financial services organisations navigate their brand through the changing circumstances and uncover the insights that will guide a successful path forward. Now is the time to learn more about what will make your superannuation brand unique and compelling to your members. Feel free to reach out to BrandMatters to discuss your unique situation.

note:
This article and insights are part of a larger deep dive into the trends impacting upon brands in the superannuation landscape. To learn more, feel free to download Part 3 of the Outlook for Financial Services Branding, where we explore the changing expectations for superannuation brands in greater detail.

One of the core principles underlying an effective brand strategy is to understand and align the company’s offering with customers’ needs and preferences. Understanding the discrepancies between what the brand claims it stands for and what customers believe, will help to construct a brand that is more accurately in tune with the audience. Brand research will help you gain deeper insight into your customers which can form the basis of your brand strategy.  

Research can also assist in consolidating views from internal stakeholders pre or post a merger or acquisition. The insights can deliver a richer understanding of the strategy behind creating a new brand name. The goal of research is to gain clarity on how brand performance and brand distinction is perceived by external and internal audiences. Ultimately, we want to uncover the meaning of the brand to those who interact with it in a 360-degree approach. 

Reducing the risks associated with rebranding after a merger or acquisition.

Insights from brand research can help organisations mitigate risk when it comes to rebranding. A rebrand represents considerable investment from a financial and time perspective, not to mention the risk of losing customers who were loyal to your existing brand.  This factor is particularly pertinent when going from a well-known established brand to an unknown new brand. This was the case for one of our past clients - mycar.

The strategic acquisition that made way for a strong new brand in a competitive market.

Continental Automotive Group is a world leader in tyre production. Founded in 1871, Continental is a multinational manufacturer of performance-oriented tyres. The organisation was focused on growth, and as part of that growth strategy, had identified Australia as a growth market. This resulted in the acquisition of Kmart Tyre & Auto Services – one of the largest tyre and auto service chains in Australia, which at the time had 258 branches and more than 1,200 employees.

With the existing brand name linked back to the original owners (Kmart, a brand owned by parent company Wesfarmers), the new owner needed to rebrand. They needed to make a strategic decision on what brand was required to bring this new, heavily service-oriented arm of their business to market.

Making a strategic decision such as this, in a market relatively unfamiliar to the new parent company, needed to be underpinned by research. For Continental Automotive Group, the research was the key to reducing risk by investigating how to retain existing customers and attract new customers in the Australian market.

BrandMatters were engaged to conduct brand research in order to test the market response to the new brand, mycar. The objective was to find a brand the internal team would feel confident with, a name that would drive their business forward and demonstrate that the brand’s strategic direction was aligned to the wants and needs of their customers.

Utilising both qualitative and quantitative research methods, BrandMatters were able to build a deep understanding of what the market valued about the current brand as well as test the identity of the new brand with existing customers.

Brand research enabled the Continental Automotive Group to understand: 

  • Their existing audience – what they valued about the current service/brand/offering.
  • The market – what were the needs of the market.
  • The internal culture – with such a significant workforce within the branch network, it was important to understand what was valued by the employees and stakeholders of the acquired business, and how they should best retain a positive culture through the acquisition and rebrand process.

BrandMatters were able to utilise the information that already existed inside the business. Kmart Tyre and Auto were already invested in the value of brand research and had engaged in brand tracking. Interrogating this information along with discussions with the internal team paved the road to formalising the right positioning for the new brand name - mycar.

Three key forms of brand research were used in this project:

  • Desk research

In this case, quality brand tracking research and competitor analysis was available and proved useful in unpacking insights into existing customer sentiment for the market segment. BrandMatters were able to clearly articulate the new brand positioning through interrogating this existing research.

  • Qualitative research

Internal discussions with key stakeholders were designed to facilitate an understanding of brand perceptions and strategic direction. A number of directions for the new brand were explored and one particular identity resonated strongly with the group.

  • Quantitative research

The quantitative research mined the sentiment of the general population interested in purchasing tyres and car servicing, utilising the existing positioning to help understand the potential of the new brand name. Given the strong network and customer base already established for the Kmart Tyre and Auto brand, it was vital that the new brand did not jeopardise this equity. In this case the quantitative research overwhelmingly supported the new brand direction.

Along the way, the research uncovered some key opportunities for the new brand including a greater focus on digital to make the customer experience more personalised and service seamless.

The new brand has been out in the marketplace for just over 2 years now, and mycar as a brand has been accepted and embraced by the team and consumers. To read more about the mycar brand project – see our case study or read a recent article by CMO magazine.

As mycar continues to grow across Australia, they’ve retained their focus on staying true to their brand positioning, delivering on customer needs above all else and importantly building brand trust along the way.

At BrandMatters, we believe a great brand is based on the right balance of strategic insight and intrinsic design. We love creating new brands for our clients, especially when they are born from insight and are embraced whole-heartedly by the entire team.

If your organisation has recently acquired a new brand, we highly recommend brand research as a tool to mitigate the risk of transitioning brands through the acquisition process. Contact us to discuss your unique situation. 

BrandMatters’ Director of Brand Strategy, Kylie McNamara reflects on the success of the Vero SME Insurance Index in driving a market-leading position for Vero Australia.

So much can change in ten years. In an industry renowned for embracing the latest big thing, the last decade has felt particularly frenetic for marketers, dominated by trends as diverse as purpose-led marketing, big data, and Snapchat / TikTok / Clubhouse / whatever else is new this week. 

In this ever-changing context, celebrating a decade of anything feels rare. So, at BrandMatters we are very excited and proud this week to mark the launch of the 10th edition of the Vero SME Insurance Index.

Vero, part of the Suncorp Group, is a leading, specialist commercial insurer available solely through insurance brokers and agents. Vero’s brand challenge ten years ago was to engage with their broking audience in a way that demonstrated their support for brokers and lifted their marketing communications above the transactional – a classic B2B marketing conundrum.

And thus, the Vero SME Insurance Index was born. The idea was to conduct a piece of research to help brokers and brokerages understand their SME target audience, and to share insights to help brokers better service this important group of clients. It was, in essence, a classic piece of content marketing before the term had become widely used.

The first Index, which launched in 2012, was based on a simple telephone survey with 600 SMEs. Since that first year, the Index has evolved to become an anticipated yearly event on the insurance broking calendar. At its core is an annual online survey of 1500 respondents, brought to life through a series of reports, webinars, and panels, and enriched through a series of filmed qualitative interviews to tell the stories of real SMEs. Most gratifyingly, the Index is a core brand asset for Vero which continues to support and enhance Vero’s brand positioning and cement its reputation as a thought leader and an expert.

BrandMatters is proud to have been deeply involved with the Vero SME Insurance Index from its inception. We joke that it is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – as soon as we finish one year’s Index we start working on the next!

From conducting the research, to distilling the key insights, shaping them into a digestible story, and presenting them in a range of compelling mediums, it’s a big job, but always exciting and insightful.

Upon reaching this 10-year milestone, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some key things that we’ve learnt over the last decade.

THERE ARE ALWAYS NEW INSIGHTS TO UNCOVER

Over the years, we’ve feared that the findings would show nothing has changed – but that fear is unfounded. Each and every year, we learn something new.  While this fear hasn’t come to fruition, it has made us focus on asking new questions, finding new relevant topics and following broader market changes to make sure we always have a source of new insight. Each year we devote around 25% of the questionnaire to new topics, and this has enabled us to simultaneously track core trends while uncovering new findings. The feedback and questions we’ve received from the broker audience have been invaluable in helping us to understand what topics are most interesting and relevant.

STORIES CAN DEVELOP OVER YEARS OF RESEARCH

Often a new finding will raise more questions, and one of the advantages of a yearly study is that we can create new questions each year to follow up findings from the previous year. For example, one year we discovered that a large number of SMEs were using a mix of channels to buy their insurance – some policies direct and others through a broker. The next year we were then able to delve deeper by asking which policies they bought direct and why. Through this we learnt that while many would like to buy all their insurance through a broker, sometimes it was easier to buy direct, meaning that brokers have an opportunity to win a greater share of their clients’ insurance business.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH MAKE FOR A MAGICAL COMBINATION

Quantitative data is powerful because it is measurable and accountable. But as much as we love it, charts on their own can be less engaging and memorable than human stories. Each year, for that reason, we film qualitative interviews with Australian SMEs talking about some of the big topics that we’ve uncovered. These interviews are always revealing, surprising and insightful, and provide a compelling window through which to make sense of the numbers. The interplay between the two phases of research has been a rich source of understanding and helped us create insights and actions for brokers to use in their businesses.

DEEP CLIENT ENGAGEMENT ACROSS THE BUSINESS DRIVES SUCCESS

The commitment of the Vero team to make the most of the Index is a major part of its success. While the Index is predominantly a marketing tool, it has also been embraced by the entire organisation, in fact, it has become a valued resource industry-wide.

The ongoing support of all involved has ensured that the Index is not just “nice to know” but is useful, actionable and valued by the people who read it.

Furthermore, the entire team works together to continually evolve and improve the Index. Informed by an additional piece of research, an annual broker survey, Vero ensures it understands what’s working, what’s not and how the Index can better meet the brokers’ needs. We also regularly conduct workshops to come up with new, fresh ways of doing things. At BrandMatters, we value our partnership with Suncorp enormously and are grateful for the commitment the team shows every year to use and evolve the Index.

SMEs are a major engine of the Australian economy, and insurance, while often considered a grudge purchase, plays an incredibly important role in protecting these businesses and delivering peace of mind to small business owners and decision-makers.

Working alongside the team at Vero to understand and tell the story of insurance for small businesses has been an enormous privilege, and we look forward to continuing this journey.

The Australian edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 was released at the end of February and it appears that across the breadth of Australian businesses and institutions, trust is at an all-time high.

Briefly cast your mind back to 2019, and at that point, Edelman’s insights were a stark contrast to what we saw this time around. The 2019 edition showed enormous inequality in trust levels, with a more trusting group building from the informed section of the public, versus a far-more-sceptical mass population. The only real trust to be found was in employers, with Australian’s appreciating their employers and rewarding them with greater loyalty, engagement and commitment. This had significant implications for your employer brand, and in defining an employee value proposition that would resonate throughout your organisation as it evolved across the changing conditions in the economy and society.

Here are our four key takeaways from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, as well as the implications for your brand.

1. The influence of environmental, social and governance competence on trust levels is significant.

Businesses in Australia have looked to align with the significant pressures around climate change and ethics, to the point where they are now trending towards ‘competent’ territory. This is significant as just two years ago, the Barometer reported that no institution was ethical, let alone competent. It appears that climate change is of increasing concern for Australians, and it is certainly of much greater concern than fears over contracting COVID-19.

This puts immediate pressure on businesses who are not putting their corporate, social responsibility and sustainability position on the same level as (or above) COVID-19. We saw enormous amounts of sustained change in response to the immediacy of the pandemic and its impact on daily life, but the pressures of climate change and the impact of ethical reform is a much longer, strategic consideration for brands going forward.

Your brand may need to reconsider its messaging and look to better reflect the changing mindsets amongst potential clients. A refreshed brand positioning or a rethinking of your corporate narrative can help your organisation align to these revised expectations and better reflect your values.

2. Employers continue to be crucial - defining this relationship in the changing context is essential.

Just as it was in 2019, employers remain a crucial bond of trust across Australia. This employee-employer dynamic has changed, however, with businesses being required to rewire their approach to working arrangements and create a future of work that works for all. The national ‘work from home’ experiment has allowed employees to juggle professional and personal obligations and collaborate with colleagues virtually. For enterprises of all sizes, the level of trust required to ensure organisational accountability has remained high, and this has solidified the bond with employees.

It is important to consider your existing employee value proposition and define how it currently turns up through these revised working arrangements and economic conditions. Brands that take a proactive approach and clearly articulate their employee value proposition in this context are likely to see this bond extended. This places an emphasis on their culture and flexibility and helps them be perceived internally and externally as a more enticing employer of choice.

For more information on how to build an engaging employee value proposition, click here.

3. Salient and contemporary thinking will be critical as information hygiene shapes behaviour.

The 2021 Barometer showed that the Australian public is highly conscious of the way they digest information and are increasingly aware of the political, media and scientific literacy they read. This is now seen as much more of a personal responsibility and being informed across multiple sources of news and contemporary information was of increased importance.

Brands that can demonstrate an understanding of this through active and well-evidenced thought leadership will benefit from this renewed awareness amongst the general public. But it is important to remember that this perspective and thought leadership content should be validated with insight and analysis.

Brand research is a powerful tool that can help throughout this process. Research allows your brand to take a deep dive into the state of the new market, to find out what clients expect of you, to discover what their new current needs are, and to establish how to reconnect with them both rationally and emotionally. Brand research will ultimately help to build to this trusted, evidenced perspective throughout your thought leadership thinking.

4. Trust is at an all-time high across all Australian institutions, and it appears that it’s ours to lose.

Trust is one of the most valuable assets for any organisation, and in the B2B context, trust and culture – the values, mission and habits of an organisation – are interdependent. When an organisation has a strong and positive culture and an authentic offer to the market, trust and brand advocacy are built over time. The insights from the 2021 Barometer are a direct reflection of this sustained effort from Australian institutions, but it is important to remember how fragile that trust is, and how quickly a reputation can deteriorate when culture and trust aren’t aligned.

Trust is a crucial pillar in business and as it rises, so does consumer confidence. Organisations that lead with their brand values will be better positioned to capitalise on this rise in consumer confidence. 

Organisations have had the opportunity to transform the very human, day-to-day interactions between themselves and their employees and rejig their existing approach. When this is clearly articulated through a mastered and evidenced EVP, and when trust has become part of a company’s culture, they become known as valuing their employees, and prospective talent is drawn to them. Their existing employees are engaged and committed and trust that what they are doing, matters.

Building and maintaining trust in your brand, matters

First and foremost, brands need to uncover what is important to their customers; once this is established and understood, then your brand strategy should be a promise to deliver this.

At BrandMatters, we understand the criticality of building trust throughout your brand strategy. Whether it is in relation to articulating a strong brand positioning, crafting a differentiated brand narrative, or building out emotionally engaging customer or employee value propositions, everything communicates and has an underlying impact on developing trust in your brand.

Thursday, 21 January 2021 16:19

It would be an understatement to say that a lot changed for brands in 2020. Rapid change and pivots have been a central theme of survival for brands during 2020 and now, with the commencement of 2021, successful brands will need to decide on whether these changes will need to stay as the new normal, or whether they need to consider a completely new path for the future.

One thing is certain, many of the dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour are here to stay and brands need to be more in tune with their customers than ever before. As we discussed in our Guide to Brand Research, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a major fast forward on some of the consumer behaviour trends that were slowly bubbling away. This includes the major shift to predominantly online shopping, learning and meeting and remote working.

The impact on behaviour has demonstrated the criticality of agility within organisations. Some brands were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and were able to capitalise on these changes; others tried to pivot and failed to meet these new consumer needs. Some brands sought to weather the storm and carry on with business as usual.

Adapting your business and brand to the ever-changing needs of consumers is not an easy task even in the most favourable of circumstances. Brand research can help determine the right path, and also ascertain how your brand is being perceived. Understanding customers’ needs and emotional drivers better will help brands to find the right positioning that connects on a deeper level. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, the behaviours, emotions and needs of your customers or clients have changed and now is the time to ensure you (re)connect with them on a deeper level.

At BrandMatters, we believe there are three guiding principles to finding a deeper connection with your clients/customers:

  1. Trust
  2. Purpose
  3. Delivery

The importance of transparency and trust

Whether you are dealing with new clients or existing clients, earning and keeping their trust is vital. There was a remarkable change in the trust landscape since the Edelman Trust Barometer launched in January of last year, trust in government had surged, making government the most trusted institution for the first time in its 20 years of study.

The Spring Update of the Edelman Trust Barometer report conducted to dip into the consumer trust sentiments during the pandemic, shows that 67 percent of respondents believe that those with less education, less money and fewer resources are bearing a disproportionate burden of the suffering, risk of illness and need to sacrifice as a result of the pandemic, and more than half are very worried about long-term, COVID-related job loss.

With the release of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, it appears that consumers do not know who to trust. Edelman believes this is a moment of reckoning for organisations. Transparency and trust come to the fore. Investors and consumers have indicated that environmental and social responsibility factors must play an important role. Businesses must work with the government to ensure they put people before profits as more people struggle with the uncertainty of their financial futures and employment opportunities. 

Articulate your purpose and brand positioning

Earning trust comes down to transparency, a responsibility for brands to act ethically and with a purpose greater than profit. Having a strong brand positioning that is communicated and understood throughout the organisation will mean that the whole team can effectively deliver on this with each and every customer interaction.

Your brand positioning is what will set you apart from your competitors and guide decisions on how best to connect with your ideal customers/clients. A strong brand positioning is a key deliverable of brand strategy and will be the most important tool brands will have in guiding them through these turbulent times when financial pressures can tempt brands to swiftly change course.

We’ve worked with many brands to define their brand positioning. To understand the importance of a well-defined brand positioning, you can read some of our latest articles on the subject or view our case studies.

Exceeding expectations on delivering value

The customer experience will differentiate your brand from competitors. Delivering over and above the threshold of expectations will drive loyalty, repeat business and referrals. Brands need to understand what it will take to deliver on and exceed their customers’ expectations. It is not just at the time of purchase, but the entire customer journey that needs to be considered.

A brand is a promise kept, so ensuring your brand delivers on the promises you make is critical. Developing and implementing proof points that resonate with your customers is vital. Consistently demonstrating these proof points to your customers is an important part of your marketing strategy.

Delivery of your brand doesn’t end at the sale of your product or service. It is essential to continually measure and monitor your brand performance. At BrandMatters, we believe a customer-centric approach will help propel a brand forward and drive growth. Through our proven methodology, we gather customer, market and competitor insights, and then use this insight to develop winning brand strategies.


Get in touch to discuss how you can truly understand and connect with your customers in 2021 and beyond.

As a brand agency, we are always on the lookout for brands to advocate for. We love to see brands do great things, inspire people and in return gain the brand loyalty they deserve.

Each year, we sing the praises of the brands we’ve been impressed by during the year. When COVID-19 hit, we saw many brands pivot or create unique offers to suit the volatile and changing demands of business.

Here is a list compiled by our team, of 10 brands that have impressed us in 2020.

StageKings

StageKings switched from making giant pop-up stages for large scale concerts and events to designing, manufacturing and selling stand-up desks and other 'isolation' office furniture. In recognition of the struggles that the music industry has faced during COVID-19, StageKings continues to donate a portion from every desk sale to Support Act, a not-for-profit which is providing emergency support, including a wellbeing hotline, to people in the entertainment industry.

RESMED

ResMed produces innovative medical solutions to help keep people out of hospital. In response to the global pandemic, the organisation swiftly pivoted to ramp up the manufacturing of ventilators by more than 3.5 times during the first six months of the COVID-19 crisis. ResMed also accelerated the launch of new digital health solutions to help clinicians remotely diagnose, treat, and manage sleep apnea and asthma patients during the pandemic and beyond. Mid this year they also launched a new campaign with Brad Fittler on the importance of a good nights sleep. As part of this ‘Awaken your Best’ campaign you can take a free online sleep assessment.

ING

The banking industry has been under intense scrutiny post the royal commission and ING have continued to hold a strong position in terms of being a trusted brand within the industry. During COVID-19, ING’s advertising featured their team doing their job from home, in an effort to showcase their commitment to their team as well as their customers. They also launched Real Talk, which is a series of films and articles that have been created to cut through the financial jargon, delivered by people who would resonate with their customers, and further support their brand positioning.

AfterPay

It’s hard to go past AfterPay, who have complete category dominance within the buy now pay later market. They have done an amazing job building distribution with retailers and have tightly targeted millennials very effectively as well as worked hard to put in place product features that encourage responsible spending and support for those in financial distress or for those who get their spending a little out of control. AfterPay’s shareholders have certainly been reaping the rewards in the brand’s success. The jury is out as to whether the current share price is sustainable, but in the meantime, it can’t be denied they thrived through COVID-19 via a targeted and potent focus on millennials.

NRL

Despite the naysayers, the NRL successfully navigated the pandemic and delivered an extraordinary 180 game season amid a shutdown of sport globally. The grand final crowd of 40,000 marked the biggest public gathering in Australia since mid-March when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. In terms of sports viewing and participation, it definitely had a positive impact on a sport that has faced a number of internal and external behavioural challenges.

Business Australia

Business Australia, the rebranded NSW Business Chamber was just days away from launching their new website when the pandemic hit. As a result, they quickly pivoted and turned their website into a COVID-19 news hub offering support and vital information to businesses facing the rolling crisis. With small businesses facing an economic nightmare like nothing they have ever faced, Business Australia knew they needed to ramp up their efforts in supporting businesses through the crisis. The dedicated coronavirus news hub has proven a lifeline to many businesses as has the freemium membership model. Read more about Business Australia COVID-19 pivot here.

Cheese Therapy

The bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions have put pressure on regional cheese businesses who traditionally rely on tourism. Cheese Therapy, an online specialty-cheese retailer, came to the rescue. One small town of Milawa in regional Victoria was facing the heartbreaking decision to discard their glut of cheese which was ready for consumption. Cheese Therapy came to the rescue putting an SOS on social media asking its cheese-loving followers to buy a ‘Rescue box’ to help Milawa. They expected to sell 50 and ended up selling 2000 packs of cheese. They continued this approach throughout COVID-19 lockdowns, introducing a monthly ‘Therapy box’ which included regional artisan cheesemakers unable to sell their cheese in their normal channels. Cheeses that were meant to be consumed on Qantas First and Business Class flights were now being shared and enjoyed by consumers in lockdown.

Buy from the Bush

Another regional superhero brand is 'Buy from the Bush'. A movement that started during the droughts and bushfires has continued to grow and evolve throughout the COVID-19 lockdown giving regional towns a way to sell their wares to city folk via an easy online process. The BFTB team has recently launched a sister site Stay in the Bush and both have become beacons for what buying Australian means to fellow citizens, and what can be achieved by consciously choosing Australian goods, services and experiences.

Spotify

Despite initial concerns of how COVID-19 would affect listening habits and subscription products, Spotify has managed to grow their subscriber base significantly. The brand has continued to be very active in the market during the year in terms of advertising and promotions. We enjoyed seeing them release their own version of market research – subscribers could view their own personal ‘Wrapped list’ which gives Spotify users a look back at their listening habits during the year, as well as providing an insight into its users' listening trends as a whole.

Airbnb

Airbnb wasn’t unscathed by Covid-19’s brutal decimation of the travel industry, but the short-term holiday accommodation rental company bounced back quicker than its competitors in the hospitality industry. They introduced a much more localised focus, with their ‘go near’ initiative as well as introducing safety protocols and measures to adhere to COVID restrictions. In the height of lockdowns and zero travel, they introduced a new Online Experience feature, where their customers could enjoy a wide array of activities from the comfort of their home.

This list is of course in addition to the list of our clients, who we’ve worked with this year and over past years, read more in our previous blog about our exciting client brand work.

In what can only be described as an unprecedented year, it has been heartening to see so many brands pivot and persevere through such tough times. We look forward to 2021 and continuing to see brands evolve and grow.

 

It has certainly been an eventful year. Like many organisations, our business has adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic, firstly working from home, facilitating virtual workshops via zoom and collaborating with a variety of clients who have been facing their own unique set of challenges.

In a year filled with uncertainty, we’ve remained focused on our belief that organisations who invest in their brand through research and strategy will survive and thrive.

Brands that take the time to understand their customers, the market and their competitors and subsequently articulated a clear positioning will find a way to cut through the clutter, stand out and resonate with clients.

We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the clients we have worked with during the past 12 months, who are looking forward to a successful 2021. Our team have identified some of the most memorable projects of the year (in alphabetical order as we don’t play favourites):

 

BOULEVARD 

Introducing the new digital destination for private companies and their investors. We really enjoyed working with a passionate client devoted to producing a sophisticated brand expression that spoke to aspiration and transformation within the category. We look forward to seeing this exciting new brand proposition grow and prosper in 2021 and beyond. Here is a sneak peek at the work.

Burrana

We worked with the team to launch the new Burrana brand in 2018. The brand was well-received in the market with much positive feedback. This year, with new products set to launch, Burrana needed to develop a clear, evidence-based product portfolio strategy to launch their latest products to market. Despite the challenging and unparalleled year of disruption in the aviation industry, Burrana launched the latest iteration of its integrated in-flight entertainment platform, RISE. A complex and detail orientated platform that required a robust and well-articulated product portfolio architecture to define the value it brought to both existing and future airline clients. We worked intensively with the Burrana team in Australia and in the US to build the strategy in late 2019 before its launch in June 2020. RISE is a more nimble and efficient solution than the more expensive providers and is now set to take off as the industry commences the journey to recovery. For more details about the development of the Burrana brand and its journey with BrandMatters, view our case study.

Caruso’s Natural Health

Another brand we have had a long association with, Caruso’s Natural Health offers a comprehensive selection of holistic, natural health products. We worked with Caruso’s on the rebrand back in 2012, and consumer engagement and advocacy has gone from strength to strength. This year, we’ve worked on a research project to uncover consumer attitudes and behaviours for taking vitamins and supplements. It was great to get right into the consumer’s living room and for this project we also ran an online community where we covered many topics including shop visits, video diaries, customer journey mapping and an evaluation of all the touchpoints along the way.

Cuscal

As Australia’s leading payments provider, Cuscal sits at the edge of our payment revolution. In March this year, the Cuscal rebrand launched to the market with a refreshed positioning and look and feel, signalling to the market the contemporaneity of the organisation and its forward-looking view. We were thrilled to be engaged across this entire journey, view our case study here.

Interpod

Modular bathroom manufacturer - Interpod, engaged BrandMatters back in 2016 and 2017 to develop their brand positioning, brand story and key messages. Now we are delighted to be once again working with the team conducting some brand research which will determine their future strategy and visual identity.

Vero

We proudly worked with Vero to produce the 9th annual SME Insurance Index. Since 2012, the SME Insurance Index has provided brokers with invaluable insights into the insurance environment along with tools designed to help grow their businesses. The annual index launches each year in March; in the same week that the global pandemic would change business and the world as we know it. As the pandemic took effect, Vero realised that brokers would need additional insights into the impacts and to deliver actionable insights for the current environment. We worked with them to produce an additional SME Insurance Index COVID-19 Pulse Check.

These are just a few of the clients we have worked on this year.

We take pride in the work we do, and at the end of each project, we always feel very invested in the success of the brand. We believe that the strong relationships we’ve built over the years with clients speak volumes about our work. (In saying that, a google review would also be much appreciated)

Given the challenges this year has presented, we know and understand that organisations who have invested in their brand can confidently move into 2021 with optimism. We head into 2021 more determined than ever before to build brands that are informed by research and destined to differentiate.


Contact Us.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 10:22

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.

Measuring and evaluating the performance of your brand and marketing activity is critical in ensuring your organisation is delivering accountability for your business objectives and brand strategy. 

As business decision making continues to be plagued with uncertainty, and as economic conditions continue to waver, being able to demonstrate certainty and assurance and in your brand strategy is essential.

Our new e-Book, the Guide to B2B Brand Measurement, is designed to help you gain a better understanding of brand measurement and evaluation methods, as well as how they can empower organisational growth and business strategy across organisations.

The guide will:

  • Outline the key differences between B2C and B2B brand measurement.
  • Define the unique challenges B2B organisations face when evaluating performance.
  • Provide insight into the various methods to measure and evaluate brand health.
  • Clarify the parameters for successful brand measurement initiatives in the B2B context.
  • Highlight the benefits of ongoing measurement of your brand.
  • Explain what you should expect when you actively measure your brand’s health.
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