brand research

As marketing teams continue to evaluate their priorities for their marketing budgets, investment in brand should always be considered at the top of the priority list. Building and maintaining your brand reputation requires ongoing investment, as opposed to a set and forget strategy.

To ensure growth in brand awareness and equity, factor the following priorities into your annual marketing budget.

1. Brand research

The purpose of brand research is to ensure that your brand is connecting to your ideal customers. It also allows you to take stock of your brand as it currently stands and uncover any insights or opportunities for change that would help grow the brand or attract an emerging audience.

Brand research is an invaluable tool that can uncover insights from both internal and external sources to help shape your brand and business strategy. It allows you to determine how your brand is performing according to your team and customers. It assists in defining what could be done better in the future.

There are a number of different forms of brand research that can be undertaken. You may look to explore qualitative or quantitative research, or a combination of both, depending on your objectives as to which would be most appropriate.

Brand research is what we specialise in here at BrandMatters. If you are uncertain where to start, our comprehensive guide to brand research can help you develop a better understanding of what you need to consider.

Before we start any branding project, we take the time to understand our clients’ objectives and create a bespoke brand research program to ensure we uncover the insights needed to make the next strategic move. Read more about our approach.

2. Brand Strategy

A clearly defined brand delivers strong tangible and intangible benefits to all organisations regardless of the industry in which they operate. Brands born from a deep understanding of their market, business environment, target customers, competitors and employees will perform strongly and facilitate sustained business growth.

Brand strategy incorporates everything from your purpose, positioning, brand story employer branding and organisational values, right down to logo, colour palette, tone of voice, and overall visual identity.

It is essential to review your brand strategy to ensure that it aligns with your overall business strategy. If you’ve undertaken brand or market research, the findings from this research should underpin your strategic decision-making.

At BrandMatters, developing a robust brand strategy is usually the next step that follows brand research as it relies on key insights from the research to inform the strategy.

3. Brand refresh and rebrand

A rebrand should not be taken lightly, however it is one approach an organisation can take to communicate to their audiences the extent of change occurring within their organisation.

A true rebrand is a journey that involves comprehensively analysing what has changed within your business and strategy, bringing that change to life through a defined brand positioning, and signalling the change to the market through a new logo or visual identity.

A rebrand is a major investment, especially if you have branded physical assets such as shopfronts, buildings, infrastructure, or products. For service industries, it is still a major undertaking, however, it would be a lot more cost-effective to rebrand specific assets such as websites, emails and other digital assets.

Some organisations prefer to do these smaller refreshes of their brand over time, and this is certainly an approach we have seen implemented successfully across many major brands.

Some examples of refreshed brands are available in our previous article (link to blog).

Our e-book The refreshing guide to rebranding, focuses on the strategy behind a rebrand, ensuring you embark on a rebrand with all the necessary insights required to make the right decisions for your brand to ignite long-term growth.

If you would like to discuss your rebranding project with us, we can decipher the risks and benefits of this approach with you.

4. Brand partnership and strategic brand alliance

A brand partnership is an agreement between two organisations that would mutually benefit by being associated with each other. Through these partnerships, the organisations help one another to increase brand awareness, strengthen brand positioning or break into each other’s markets.

Brand partnerships can come in all shapes and sizes, but can significantly improve brand awareness and growth, especially if the partner brand has established equity.

A strategic brand partnership or co-branding opportunity can have a range of benefits for each of the brands involved. A key opportunity includes the transference of positive brand association from one brand to another. This works well for smaller or start-up brands, who can quickly grow the awareness of their brand by this association.

A strong brand partnership will only succeed if the brands have common values, each brand is clear about their individual positioning, and the partnership only serves to strengthen these market intent (rather than confusing the situation).

The combined investment by the two brands can stretch the reach and frequency of the brand (and potential campaign activity to obtain a better ROI for both parties.

5. Consistent communications

Over the many years that we have been creating strong enduring brands, consistency is one the most important factors that we emphasise with all our clients. Consistency in brand presentation and messaging across all channels is the key to ensuring your brand resonates and cuts through the clutter.

Consistency in delivering on your brand promise will result in building strong brand equity. Without consistency across all channels and touchpoints, your brand marketing can easily be missed. It is vital that your brand is known and understood by each and every member of your organisation and that they understand what is expected of them when they are representing the brand.

Your customers want to know what to expect from the brand. If you have different messages, visual cues or customer experiences each time a customer interacts with your brand, it will dilute the recognition of your brand and most likely result in a difficult and expensive challenge for your brand to be noticed.

At BrandMatters, when we undertake a rebrand or create a new brand, we recommend a set of templates and a robust set of brand guidelines that will help maintain the consistency of the brand throughout the organisation going forward and ensure the business remains disciplined.


In these challenging times, while many organisations may decide to cut their marketing budget, we suggest that your budget be spent wisely to maximise its effectiveness and your return on investment. If you would like to discuss a brand or marketing project, please get in touch.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022 13:16
Building revitalised financial advice brands that exceed the contemporary requirements of all Australians.

The evolving structure of the financial advice market now requires brands in the sector to strike the right balance between pursuing growth and profitability, whilst also continuing to maintain client focus and internal cultures.

Innovation and agility will become more essential than ever as brands in the industry look to migrate existing ways of business by proactively embracing technology to service the changing face of advice clientele.

In Part Five of the Outlook for Financial Services Branding, we explore the trends impacting upon the financial advice landscape and explain the opportunities that have presented themselves for contemporary financial advice brands.

Part Five: Financial Advice will explore:

  • Preparing your brand for the great wealth transfer and the changing face of advice clientele.
  • The increasing product and investment innovation, and how harnessing technology and adjusting service propositions is critical to sustained success.
  • The importance of a strong employer brand to respond to the mass exodus and reorganisation of advisors.
  • How to authentically position your brand beyond financial returns towards holistic advice and financial wellness.

Download Now.

In the past, financial advice services have been predominantly targeted towards older demographics – those who are closer to retirement, who have more complex investments, and higher net worth.

The historical view of financial advice is that it was too expensive, inaccessible to those without significant assets, and not something the younger Millennial segment would undertake. It was traditionally reserved for those with greater wealth, when the reality is that those who would most benefit from financial advice are those who are less likely to afford it.

In terms of traditional target markets, millennials had not been a priority across the majority of the financial services landscape, which includes banks, lenders, superannuation funds, wealth managers and financial advisors. But in recent times and especially in the context of the pandemic, this has started to change, and the focus on getting in early with your customers and earning their trust by proving your worth has become more important.

Millennials are about to reach their prime spending years, and this is a generation that is not afraid to embrace the importance of financial literacy and the concept of ‘financial wellbeing’. A key aspect of financial wellbeing is how an individual views their financial situation and how much control they believe they have over it. And the evidence is clear that financial wellbeing can have a significant impact on someone’s overall wellbeing.

Financial literacy and the impact it has on underlying financial wellbeing has become a key battleground for financial services brands. Thought leaders such as Scott Pape at The Barefoot Investor were revolutionary at the time, teaching simple techniques to everyday Aussies about gaining control of their finances. This was just the beginning, with active campaigns by major banks such as ANZ that all drive the messaging of the importance of financial security and its positive impact on mental health.

Financial wellbeing has grown beyond just tools and techniques about how you can more effectively save and spend. Millennials are now actively investing in their financial wellness, embracing new technologies that help them discover new ways to earn money, save money and plan for the future with active intent. This audience is increasingly likely to rely on more than one income source with a growing interest in investments, via secondary jobs, ethical investments, ETFs, cryptocurrency or NFTs, all designed to attract this audience to invest, earn and reap financial rewards.

Financial advice brands need to ensure that they capitalise on this opportunity and position themselves appropriately to direct and nurture this audience with the right advice and message.

Tribel Advisory – Building a financial advice brand that prioritises financial wellness

Financial planning in Australia is a crowded market. From sole traders to large enterprises and the retail banks, financial planning is one of Australia’s most competitive industries, where the emphasis on trust and the development of long-term personal relationships between planner and client cannot be overstated.

Seeking to create a dynamic and engaging brand to create swift market impact, BrandMatters was engaged to create a brand strategy, visual identity and development of launch materials for a new brand - Tribel. BrandMatters developed the new brand as a true and authentic reflection of the business, their people and their purpose.

Tribel launched in 2020 to existing customers and the Australian market, with the portfolio’s first major website – Tribel Advisory – going live in May 2021. With Tribel Accountants and other service provisions going live throughout 2022, Tribel is living up to its objective of delivering holistic financial wellness to clients across the country.

What does a contemporary value proposition for Millennial audiences look like?

Building a brand and value proposition that aligns to the expectations of these Millennial clients will be critical to ensure the longevity of businesses in the financial advice sector.

With the ‘great wealth transfer’ on the horizon, where young Australians are set to inherit an estimated $3.5 trillion over the next 20 years (growing at 7 percent a year), financial advisors need to become more accustomed to the attitudes and behaviours of their future clientele.

With greater exposure to the benefits of superannuation than previous generations, there is an increasing appetite for expert financial help in this segment. Beyond the stereotypical components of their personas, there are specific behaviours that advisers need to be conscious of and tailor their approach accordingly.

New research from Adviser Ratings shows most Australians see value in professional financial advice, but few say they would pay what the average adviser charges. The idea of a subscription model such as Netflix and a membership-based payment option for financial advice would be more palatable to the millennial market as this is something they have grown accustomed to. 

At BrandMatters, we’ve recently completed the fifth and final chapter of our in-depth report – The Outlook for Financial Services Branding. Part Five focuses on Financial Advice and the importance of brands in the sector in delivering against this critical need for all Australians. You can download the final chapter or the entire 5-part series from our website.

Within Part Five, we outline some of the key characteristics of this Millennials segment in the context of financial advice. It includes exploring their current and anticipated money behaviours, their attitudes to financial advice and advisors, their communication preferences, and the most effective marketing approaches to reach and engage with them on an enduring basis.

The active consideration of this target market from a financial advisory perspective is certainly going to be a shift from the traditional, conventional way of doing things. But recent times have certainly indicated that this segment will be lucrative if financial advice brands can attract, retain and deliver value to this segment over the course of their lifetime.

The key to ensuring your financial advisory brand can attract and retain this audience is a future-proofed and robust brand strategy. It’s critical that brands in the sector have actively researched the potential pain points and key drivers for millennial audiences and built the foundations throughout a clear brand story and messaging platform.

By embracing the importance of financial wellbeing in their offer, brands in the financial advice space will be better positioned to broaden the appeal of their services and attract new clients. If they are able to position themselves here and are seen by the public as part of a broader, overall wellbeing solution, rather than being pigeonholed as experts who are really only there to help individuals who already have money to invest, they will drive greater trust and equity into their brand and business.

At BrandMatters, our business is to help financial services organisations, including in the advice space, navigate through their changing circumstances and uncover the insights that will guide a successful path forward. Contact us to discuss your unique situation.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 18:04

In any successful B2B relationship, trust, personalisation and consistency are all essential in creating an experience that justifies your customer’s return business.

When considering customer experience from a B2B perspective it is important to consider every customer touchpoint throughout the buyer journey. This includes your frontline sales team, online resources, your advertising and communication via all channels, response times, service levels of technical and support staff - and even your recruitment process. A strong brand is brought to life from the inside out.

All of these experiences contribute to customer loyalty in the B2B landscape, and there are a number of critical components that you should consider for your business to put your brand in a position to deliver exceptional brand experiences and compete in your market environment.

Harness personalised, well-defined and actionable customer personas

In the B2B world, a strong relationship with your customers is crucial. Uncovering powerful consumer and market insights and building your brand strategy from there means you will be one step ahead when it comes to building out B2B customer experiences and ensuring your brand remains consistent and clear. Through brand research, you can uncover your customer’s preferences, their habits, their emotions and their desires from you as a business and beyond.

Once you have a deep understanding of your customer, you can develop specific personas. A customer or buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer – based on the facts you have gathered from research and understanding of your real customers. The development of personas helps you continue to attract and appeal to your ideal audience and build a deeper connection.

The more in-tune you are with your target audience the more likely you are to build a strong relationship with them and develop loyalty and advocacy.

Maintain a clearly organised brand and product portfolio

For today’s increasingly time-pressed B2B customer, an ideal brand experience is one that is quick and easy. Seamless integration and interconnections of B2B brand’s websites and apps have a long way to go, where typically legacy systems tend to slow down service delivery across these newer tech and digital platforms – an issue which B2C brands have been quick to identify and adapt to.

Getting your house in order can help your customers better understand your brand, your offering and assist with cross-selling and upselling between your brands and revenue streams.

It’s one of the reasons why a clearly organised brand architecture and product portfolio is so critical in a B2B service environment. Confusing brand architecture presentation can dilute the potency and depth of your service offering to market. It may mean that certain B2B customers might come to you for one service only, when in fact they could be receiving multiple services through your business.

Presenting your brand architecture in a potent way can be as simple as rationalising your brand and product names, but it also might be more complex if your architecture has developed organically over time and your brands appear to be competing or cannibalising each other. Whatever your unique circumstances are, our eBook on B2B brand architecture will help you along the journey.

Engage your people – your greatest brand ambassadors

In the B2B world, your sales team, technical support team and post-sales team are at the coalface of your brand, therefore it is vital that they understand what your brand stands for and how to deliver an exceptional brand experience that is aligned with your brand’s distinctive positioning, promise and value system.

Brands in the B2C space often spend millions of their marketing dollars communicating these efforts to customers via various channels – but one of the most effective from a cost and efficiency point of view in the B2B space is vocal endorsement via your own employees.

The real power of people to drive up B2B brand equity is often undervalued, as some businesses are more focussed on embedding their brand in the hearts and minds of their clients – external engagement first, internal engagement second. But is this approach skipping over the latent collective voice of those delivering the brand?

The ultimate lesson when delivering exceptional brand experiences is that is those who live your brand, amplify your brand. It creates a brand authenticity that a marketing communications program cannot replicate. It provides a low-cost but powerful expansion of your brands' reach and can further embed your brand in the eyes of your customers and audiences.

Measure and evaluate your success

Measuring satisfaction during the buyer journey is the biggest gap most B2B brands face in understanding what matters to their customers. Continual evaluation of your brand’s performance across these key customer experience drivers is essential. The best B2B brands don’t just make good products or provide good services, they exceed expectations along the entire customer journey.

The use of brand measurement tools throughout the customer journey will enable B2B brands to monitor and make corrections to the areas of their service delivery which is not meeting customer expectations.

At BrandMatters, we integrate measurement activity and brand strategy, deploying a range of agnostic research methodologies to understand how brands are perceived in the B2B space, as well as how effectively marketing activity is portraying the desired messages and communications of your organisation.

Prove yourself and be consistent

A brand is a promise kept, so ensuring your B2B 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 brand strategy.

At BrandMatters, we specialise in helping B2B brands get to know their customers via our proven methodology where customer, market and competitor insights are gathered, analysed and then utilised to develop winning brand strategies.

BrandMatters are experts in brand strategy and have a deep understanding of the interactions between brands and CX in the B2B landscape and beyond. Get in touch to discuss how you can truly understand your customer and drive deep brand loyalty.

The days of mass-market selling are long gone. Customer segmentation analysis is a critical step in your brand strategy to ensure your business attracts an audience that is aligned to your offer and will ultimately convert to sales. As we begin 2022, it’s essential to ensure your business is maximising the opportunities that present themselves through marketing investments, and consistently tailoring your brand to align with the changing needs of your customers.

Customer segmentation is the practice of grouping different sets of like people (customers or potential customers) based on distinct needs and/or characteristics. Various customer segments are defined using demographic information like age, race, or location, or psychographic and behavioural information like interests, opinions, values, lifestyle, risk aversion, or life stage. Analysing each customer segment will assist in the early stages of brand development. Which group represents the greatest opportunity? How can you better understand this group to tailor your brand strategy to resonate with them?

It is important to identify the various segments of the market to then develop personas. Buyer personas bring to life a detailed fictional representation of the various customer segments that make up your target audience. A persona is a fictional character created to bring to life the character of your target audience. 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.

To learn more about personas, read our previous article on how best to develop personas for your brand.

Together, customer segmentation and buyer personas can provide a very comprehensive and accurate guide as to how to best position and market your brand. Firstly, segments can help forecast the market interest and help you with your brand positioning to attract the customer segments you’ve identified as suitable. Once you’ve identified the segments, developing buyer personas will ensure your marketing message addresses the needs, motivations and pain points that will help you convert sales and increase the profitability of your brand.

Segmentation analysis and persona development will assist in achieving profitability not only by accurately identifying who to target but also where and how to reach this audience, and what to say to convince them to convert to your brand.

At BrandMatters, we used segmentation studies to help some of our clients better engage with their prospective and existing customers. Segmentation can be effective for both B2C and B2B clients. We use a mix of quantitative and qualitative techniques in the process.

Begin with qualitative brand research

Starting with qualitative brand research will give your brand some direction as to what differentiates the segments. The qualitative research will explore consumer needs, attitudes and behaviours that may reveal some motivations and barriers of each segment towards your brand.

Quantitative brand research is the next step

Once you have some variables that have emerged via the qualitative research it is time for quantitative research to take place. Quantitative research allows faster answers gathered via surveys that will allow you to identify the distinct segments based on the assumptions and direction from the qualitative research.

This brand research approach using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is the best way to identify relevant variables and execute a thorough segmentation study.

To make the segmentation insights actionable:

  • Create buy-in from the C-suite to be open to change.
  • Prioritise some segments over others (prioritise the ones that present the most profitable opportunities for your brand).
  • Engage a brand research agency for an unbiased study and analysis of the insights.

The aim of the segmentation game is to find your brand’s sweet spot. You can’t satisfy everyone, all the time; attempting to do that will almost always lead to failure.

To learn more about segmentation research and conditions needed to translate its insights into action contact BrandMatters.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 17:03

As brand research specialists, we explore and analyse changes and trends emerging across various industries. The insights we uncover through this research formulate the basis of strategic brand plans, brand design and brand activation plans.

Unsurprisingly, brands face another turbulent year of change in 2022, however, as we look at the role and responsibilities of brand over the past year, some key insights and opportunities emerge around these four key priorities for the year ahead:

  • Authenticity – consumer trust must be earned and retained
  • Positioning – be clear on your brand positioning – find ways to demonstrate this
  • Sustainability and ESG – action is required urgently
  • Employer branding – employees want an inclusive, flexible workplace with shared values

Authenticity – consumer trust must be earned and retained to keep your existing customers happy and returning

Insight: Consumer behaviour is changing at a rapid rate and it is more important than ever for brands to connect with their customers in a more personalised way and demonstrate their humanity. McKinsey’s Covid-19 Consumer Pulse survey indicated consumers have been switching brands at unprecedented rates during Covid-19.

Opportunity: To win back consumer loyalty, brands must meet consumer needs and start by better understanding each customer. Brands who demonstrate their purpose and show their humanity, empathy and vulnerabilities will resonate with consumers. Brands need to support customers and employees during these challenging times – show generosity, kindness and understanding.

Brand tracking is vital to keep an eye on consumer sentiment towards your brand. Download our Guide to B2B brand measurement or contact us to initiate brand tracking to measure your brand health as we head into 2022.

Positioning – be clear on your brand positioning and purpose – then find ways to demonstrate it with action

Insight: It is expected that the purpose of a brand should go beyond maximising profits. During the pandemic, purpose proved its worth, creating a sense of belonging and a much-needed unifying enabler.

Opportunity: Purpose is the reason to exist and will guide brands through the rapidly changing landscape. The most successful brands incorporate their purpose into their brand positioning: What do I believe? What are my core values? What is our single-minded proposition? What keeps our business heading in the right direction? What sustains it? Positioning is about perception—how your customers think and feel about your brand compared to other options.

Generally, we suggest crafting a positioning statement after in-depth research and analysis of your customers, competition and organisation. However, we’ve recently created The Brand Distillery Workshop where you can uncover the essence of your brand within one day. If your organisation has a pre-existing understanding of its customers and market landscape, this powerful workshop is an ideal way to harness the collective intelligence within your team to define your brand’s positioning or reason for being.

Sustainability and ESG – investors, consumers and employees are all expecting brands to play their part. It’s now time to make those expectations a reality.

Insight: It is no longer a 'nice to have'; consumers are demanding brands take responsibility when it comes to sustainability and ESG. But it is not just consumers; employees and investors are also expecting brands to step up when it comes to net-zero targets and ESG commitment.

Opportunity: Brands must practice what they preach and start delivering on their sustainability promise. Not only is it the right thing to do but failing to address the issue will potentially affect the bottom line. See our recent article about some of the different types of actions brands can take when it comes to being more sustainable. Brands can also influence consumers to make better decisions when it comes to sustainability.

We’ve also written a lot on the topic of ESG in the financial services industry with our comprehensive report ‘The Outlook for Financial Services Branding.’

Employer branding – employees want an inclusive, flexible workplace with shared values

Insight: There is currently a significant skills shortage and organisations across many industries are struggling to find talent. If you are hiring in 2022, you will most likely be competing for candidates with the right skills and experience. Employee satisfaction in overall terms is lower than normal and a lot of employees are experiencing burnout in response to the ongoing pressures of the pandemic. To gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent, organisations need to truly understand what’s important to their employees today.

Opportunity: Employees want to work in a company where there is a clear vision and common values, so it’s important to articulate an employee value proposition (EVP) that resonates with your team and is tangible enough so they can proactively embrace it.

In today’s climate, a strong employer brand will help in the recruitment process. Demonstrating acceptance and empathy in relation to an employee’s mental health and flexibility needs is more important than ever as is prioritising diversity and equality within your workplace.

See our recent e-book – The guide to employer branding for more information. This provides tangible tips and suggestions on employee alignment and how to achieve a motivated and engaged workforce.

Looking forward

In 2022, the global pandemic will continue to affect consumer behaviour, trust and loyalty. It is vital to have the right team on your side to help prepare your brand for the next phase of growth.

BrandMatters can tailor a brand research program that will help you better understand your customers, align your brand positioning and priorities and ensure you attract and retain the best employees who will drive positivity and growth for your brand in 2022.

If you would like to begin the process of energising and activating your brand and business strategy this year, reach out to the team at BrandMatters to discuss your unique situation.

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.

Contact us.

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.

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. 

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