Displaying items by tag: brand research

Tuesday, 16 June 2020 10:19

We’ve come a very long way since the time Lord Leverhulme famously lamented: ““Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I don't know which half.” In this era, measuring performance is increasingly important and commercially savvy marketers are required to clearly demonstrate how their marketing investment is working to build sales and meet business objectives. Accountability and effectiveness are key for all brand and marketing activities.

While brand measurement (often referred to as brand tracking) is a valuable way for all organizations to demonstrate this accountability, business to business (B2B) organisations face unique challenges when it comes to measuring their performance. Selling to other businesses is very different than selling directly to consumers. In B2B transactions, the stakes are frequently higher, and getting the sale can be a more involved process. Traditional thinking is that B2B is driven by relationships rather than brand, so in the past very little brand measurement has been performed. However, defining and tracking relevant metrics for a B2B organization should look at both the performance of relationships and the role of the brand. 

Increasingly brand is being understood to have an important part to play in guiding decisions. As humans our ability to process all the information available has a limit, and much of the time we use heuristics, often referred to as cognitive shortcuts, to help us make ‘safe’ decisions. Our professional lives are no different. Brands signify what type of employees you are likely to have within the organisation and therefore what type of relationships will occur (refer to our previous blog on employee branding). Therefore, as with any organisation, whether your clients are consumers or businesses, it is important to have well-defined brand strategies and strong, disciplined brand measurement. Brand measurement for any organisation ensures accountability and guidance moving forward.

What are the biggest challenges for B2B organisation tracking? 

Smaller, more niche target audiences

Firstly, the size of the client base is usually smaller. Instead of reaching thousands of consumers some businesses could have handfuls of business clients and a very niche audience. So, it is common for many B2B organisations to have clients that are hard to reach and difficult to get feedback from. 

Multiple stakeholders involved in decision-making

In most B2B organisations, a range of stakeholders are involved in decision making, either as influencers, users or final decision-makers. So, you need an approach that enables you to understand all the diverse behaviours, needs and attitudes of your business customers. 

Brand is delivered by a broader range of vehicles, including relationships, websites, conferences and events

The way B2B organisations communicate to their clients can be more complex and often rely on a mixture of different methods targeting the same client but at different levels in the organisation. An organisation might choose to target frontline staff through training initiatives whereas c-suite decision makers could call for a more personal and direct sell. Brand measurement for B2B organisations needs to account for these different levels of activity in order to ensure efforts can be held accountable and ultimately enhanced where needed. 

What are common misconceptions about B2B tracking? 

Emotional benefits and messages are only important in B2C. 

Some may argue that purchase decisions in businesses are commonly more rational than purchase decisions made by consumers. We would argue (with clear support from neurological studies on the role of emotional processing in decision making) that in either case, whether professional or personal, decisions are never devoid of some emotion and therefore brand tracking needs to look at capturing both elements as much as possible. 

Relationships are more important than brand in driving sales

While we agree that a good client relationship will usually help sales, we would argue that your employees and the way they deal with their customers is a large part of the brand identity. For more on this topic please refer to our previous blog on employee branding.

How to approach the unique challenges of B2B brand tracking?

Challenge 1: Smaller, more niche target audiences

To reach smaller and at times very specific audiences it’s important to be flexible when it comes to research methodology. It might be more effective to try a hybrid approach to research. For instance, you could have in-depth one on one interviews with existing customers to understand your brand’s performance but also a category read of the general business population using a research panel to uncover perceptions of your brand at large. 

Use client lists. In other words, if you have an email database of existing and ex client contacts you can utilise this to collect feedback by sending out a survey. Research can be expensive if you’re trying to recruit very niche respondents so effectively using what is already at your disposal is vital. 

Accept smaller base sizes. While it may feel more comfortable to make decisions based on 5000 responses, B2B organisations need to do more with less, so accept the feedback you do receive and collect it as often as possible.

Challenge 2: Multiple stakeholders involved in decision-making

We know that there is a lot of complexity when it comes to collecting feedback from multiple stakeholders across each client. However, one of the ways we believe in to tackle this issue is about being methodology agnostic. By this we simply mean that we think research should look at incorporating different approaches for collecting feedback, both quantitative options (i.e. online surveys) and qualitative methodologies (i.e. in-depth interviews). It’s important to consider different ways in which your customers want to give feedback. For some a quick online survey is fine, for others who may be more senior and receive hundreds of emails a day a personal one-on-one phone call or meeting might be the better way to go. 

Challenge 3: Brand is delivered by a broader range of vehicles

It’s important to create the right questions to cover off the different ways the brand is being communicated to your clients. Whether it be delivered through a confidential survey or included in a discussion guide, knowing how to ask and what to ask shows the importance of having the right insight into the brand activities and the experience of crafting the right questions.

Given that B2B brands are also more likely to be heavily reliant on client relationships it’s also important to include questions that address these relationships, whether that be satisfaction ratings, or recommendations. Where possible it helps to link methodology to customer experience measurement. 

A final area to take into consideration is that many research companies have limited experience working with B2B brands and little understanding of how brands work in the B2B space, so insights may not be relevant or actionable. It’s important to work with an agency with deep knowledge of B2B. 

Please speak to our team at BrandMatters if you would like to find out more about B2B brand measurement.

Making business decisions in times of uncertainty is difficult and disconcerting. The economic stakes are extremely high right now and for many this time of uncertainty will lead to a legitimate fear of calculated business risks. It’s understandable that many businesses panic when they see drastic changes, but the key is to remain as level-headed as possible, to make sensible decisions on factors that you can control and objectively evaluate data that can support your future success. 

So, whilst proactive efficiency drives are a commonplace reaction for businesses in a tougher economy, avoiding mistakes through understanding the market has never been more important. To do this, we believe that consumer research is more important now than ever. Understanding changes in consumer mindsets and decision making is critical to avoid market missteps and to ensure your business takes advantage of shifts in the market. This isn’t ‘business as usual’, and cooler heads will prevail.

Here are the main reasons why consumer research is vital:

1. Find your optimal target market

As capex and opex budgets shrink across the board, and consumer spending declines across many sectors, understanding who the most optimal group to target is important. It’s no longer effective to appeal to the mass market for either products or services. Knowing who to connect with and how you can reach them effectively is necessary for success and survival. Without understanding who your optimal target market is, a business has no way to effectively direct its resources to those customers with the highest potential for sales growth and loyalty to the brand. 

The most effective way to identify your target market is by asking questions of those within the market itself. Whether by quantitative or qualitative research methods, it’s useful to uncover what drives their purchase decisions, which brands they consider or are loyal to and which brands they might reject. The goal of any research method always centres around uncovering the underlying needs, attitudes and motivations of consumers to discover which areas align with your brand’s offer. 

2. Understand lapsed users 

For many businesses the value of consumer research not only is about looking forward at which consumers to target but also looking back at those who used to choose your brand and no longer do so. There’s always wisdom in learning from your mistakes and a business that fails to learn is at risk of continuing to make the same errors and therefore not evolve to survive. 

Understanding what might have driven consumers away, whether a more attractive competitor offer or a larger shift in consumer needs, is necessary for a business to move forward. By understanding why you are losing consumers, your business can make key strategic changes to your offer to bring them back to your brand. Without this understanding a business will have to continue making key decisions without data explaining how, and also importantly why, consumers are no longer choosing a brand. 

3. Find who the brand’s new users are

Some might say this point is the same as understanding your target market, because what could be more important in a target market than those who choose your brand? However, while there should be overlap between your target market and your current consumer base, there’s much that can be gained from taking a closer look at those new to your brand. 

Knowing how these new users heard about your brand lets you know which channels are reaching those new markets and are therefore worthwhile to continue investing in. Research also allows a business to uncover what attributes new users associate with the brand. This association gives key insights into what elements are working well for your brand and should be maintained when considering any other strategic, tactical or operational changes the business may decide to make in this time of uncertainty. In the end, research into new users allows you to ensure that the business changes you make tomorrow don’t alienate your newest and therefore least consumers. 

4. Create clear brand distinction in a sea of competitors

In times of uncertainty it’s common for spending to be down and therefore competition in the market to be more aggressive. For a business this means that understanding what gives a brand a competitive edge in the eyes of the market is even more critical. 

Consumer research takes the guesswork out of understanding what makes a business distinct and appealing. It’s not just assumptions made in a board meeting about what makes consumers choose one brand over another. It’s handing the question over to consumers and asking them, using direct and indirect methods, what it is about each brand that drives their purchase decision. Great risk lies in making the wrong assumptions about your brand’s distinctiveness and therefore spending valuable resources communicating the wrong message or even worse making changes that remove the reason existing users choose your brand in the first place. 

5. Make sure your marketing spend is accountable

Last but not least, consumer research during times of uncertainty helps to evaluate whether marketing spend is benefiting the business and what adjustments are needed to optimise the communications strategy. There’s no point in spending money on marketing that isn’t returning anything to a business. While some may argue short-term sales are the only measure of success, brands that build a platform in the current uncertainty are the ones that will foster long term consumer trust and loyalty for the future. And while this may not mean an immediate impact on the bottom line during high consumer uncertainty, effective marketing will assist a business in recovering faster than competitors who have stayed silent. 

In times of economic stability, where the market is strong, the rise of consumer and business spending can compensate for less than optimal branding, positioning, pricing, or segmentation. However, today’s market is anything but certain and the risks of making uninformed assumptions about consumers is very high.

Your business decisions during this crisis are important and making sure you have a clear understanding of your consumers is critical in ensuring you are making the right decisions. So while much of the current crisis is out of our direct control, ensuring you have the right information to make the most optimal decisions for your business is a big part in being prepared for the new world to come.

Please speak to our team at BrandMatters if you have any other questions about consumer research in times of uncertainty.

Right now, markets are anxious and unstable. Competitors are confused and unpredictable. It’s a COVID world and the need to cut through and have your message be heard and understood has never ever been more challenging.

In this context, the C-suite is extremely hesitant to invest in brand and marketing.

In fact, according to McKinsey in B2B, nearly 50 percent of companies have cut their short-term spending in response to the crisis and declining demand, and a similar portion expect to reduce their long-term budgets as well.

Yet marketing industry luminary Mark Ritson has gone to pains to highlight that a recession is a great opportunity for brands to grow market share, if you can make the rest of the C-suite understand that marketing is an investment and not a cost. From Ritson’s analysis of the 1920-21 recession and supported by more recent research work on the 2008-9 recession by Kantar, there is a substantial volume of data to back this up.

So how do you get the C-suite more engaged in the role of brand and marketing, so they understand the difference it can make?

Through BrandMatters’ own research we conducted a few years ago as part of our Brand Leaders report we believe we’ve got several insights that could also be applied in this context. As part of this research we unearthed a broad range of views, the Brand Attitude Spectrum. As part of the research and conversations with some of Australia’s leading CMO’s we identified that Australian organisations hold a wide spectrum of attitudes towards the role of brand and marketing, with three main groups being identified:

1. Embracers – where brand sits at the heart of the organisation.
2. Aspirers – where brand is seen as critical by some stakeholders within an organisation but other stakeholders are more circumspect.
3. Doubters – where brand is a function of the marketing department, seen as a cost and not a strategic asset.

As part of our research we unpacked the attitudes and behaviours of each of these groups and then explore the implications this has on the role of brand within organisations moving forward. By understanding where your CEO and where your organisation sits on the spectrum, you can then devise strategies to support the Embracers, inform the Aspirers and educate the Doubters on the critical role of brand and marketing especially in these times of crisis.

At BrandMatters, we believe that through a deeper understanding of the characteristics of each of the prevailing attitudes, marketers can understand the size of the task and equip themselves to educate the organisation in the benefits and returns in brand and marketing investment at this time. After all, there has never been more at stake to position your brand against an existing, new or evolved audience and communicating that accordingly.

To read the chapter on the Brand attitude Spectrum, or to download the entire report, click here.

During the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve had a number of clients and prospects seeking our assistance as they attempt to cope in these times of rapidly changing business conditions and associated uncertainty. We’ve had clients asking us to rapidly deploy right sized market research studies, assist them to pivot their brand into a different market adjacency with greater growth prospects, or to simply and rapidly activate a marketing and content plan as they seek to grow sales. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and requests from our e-books on our website too, which are available for free at any time here.

Given the success of the proposals we’ve created and the number of requests being received, we’ve decided to create a number of fixed price, productised solutions that address the challenges of brand right now:

1. Market research: In this post Covid world, research is critical for clients seeking to understand their market, what’s important to their customers and how they and their competitors are performing against these drivers. Asking simply, "How am I performing against what’s important to my clients?"

2. Brand Architecture: This market research often informs a key packaged solution in relation to brand architecture and brand stretch too. This relates to a business looking to pivot its business and brand towards a more lucrative Covid market. The question we’re being asked is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far?" Organisations need greater certainty around risk levels of brand stretch into new markets. "Can I take my existing brand in, or would I be better creating a sub brand or perhaps an endorsed brand?"

3. Brand Positioning: With architecture confirmed and resolved, clients are also seeking assistance on how to reposition or re-fresh their brand in this new market context as well. Asking "How can I be clear, unique, relevant and compelling?"

4. Marketing activation: This packaged solution is the most pragmatic for clients and prospects experiencing a downturn in sales demand. This marketing and activation plan is a succinct set of workshops to get their marketing activated and their content created, in an accountable way.

The benefits of each of these solutions are specifically geared to deliver answers quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. They can be executed independently or in unison. Each of the productised solutions we are developing contain a clear, simple and accountable series of benefits and deliverables, within a defined fixed cost and time frame.

Stay tuned as we communicate further on these cost effective, yet flexibly tailored productised solutions. If you are looking to move more quickly, you can reach out to us directly here or contact Paul Nelson on either 02 99547900 or 0413 028766.

See also our blog on 6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 11:25

To rebrand or refresh, that is the question?

Brands need to continuously adapt and evolve in order to survive. The refreshing guide to rebranding focuses on the strategy behind rebranding, ensuring you embark on a rebrand armed with all the necessary insights required to make the right decisions for your brand to ignite long term growth.

Our guide helps you understand the 'what, when, where, why and how’ of a rebrand or refresh, so as to move forward with a manageable, strategic approach that can ensure relevancy in our ever changing, competitive environment.

The decision to rebrand should not be taken lightly, there are a number of factors to consider. If you are considering a rebrand, downloading our e-guide is a great place to start.

The guide will:

  • Provide a clear differentiation between a rebrand vs a refresh.
  • Provide examples of successful rebrands and refreshes.
  • Understand the catalysts for rebranding.
  • Outline the benefits of a rebrand.
  • Highlight the importance of brand research and stakeholder communication in initiating a rebrand.
  • Understand the process behind a rebrand.

 

At BrandMatters, we love the festive season.

In our last blog for 2019, we wanted to share ‘what matters’ to us as Christmas approaches, what campaigns have caught our imagination, what brand needs to consider in 2020, and most importantly, our recommendations for summer reading and listening. We hope you enjoyed 2019 as much as we did.

Storytelling in the festive season

Christmas offers brands a unique opportunity to focus on emotional storytelling and reinforcing values. Here’s what’s caught our eye this silly season.

  • ING has launched a Christmas campaign to support its Corporate Social Responsibility program 'ING Dreamstarter', an initiative that helps to launch and grow start-up social businesses looking to make a real difference in their communities and the world. With 10 million unwanted gifts discarded each festive season, this fantastic initiative asks consumers to purchase ethical gifts they really want.

  • Woolworths 'Discovery Gardens', a powerful promotion that made a very big impact in many Aussie family homes this year, a great alternative ‘collectable’ to the usual cheap plastic throwaway items that quickly end up in landfill. This campaign tapped into the ‘pester power’ of children but also showed Woolworths was listening to the environmental concerns of their customers.

  • The 'Buy from the Bush' campaign encourages city folk to buy their Christmas presents from country vendors to support them during the drought. This simple concept of sharing and supporting small businesses has gone global. Here is the link, we highly recommend it for any gift purchasing you may need to do.

  • Uber Eats ‘Tonight, I’m eating’ campaign was simple, humorous and memorable. It certainly sparked conversation, they have successfully localised the campaign with celebrities such as ‘Farnsie, Barnsie and Ahnsie’ and of course Sharon Strzelecki (Magda Szubanski). It really cut through the white noise with simple broad appeal, it also delivered some PR value to offset the cost of it all.

  • Tourism Tasmania released its new brand campaign ‘Come down for Air’ which is appropriate given the air quality in Sydney and other major Australian cities at the moment. It truly captures the essence of what Tasmania offers visitors.

  • Some brands still run the big-budget festive season commercials, two great examples every year are John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

Where to for brands in 2020

Here are our top tips for brands in 2020:

1. Authenticity and Transparency

In the digital age, access to information and social media sharing has meant brands need to be open books. Consumers are looking for honesty and authenticity, and reputations can be damaged in a split second, via a 144-character tweet. Brands need to take a longer-term view by simply putting their customers rather than profits at the forefront of their strategy.

As a Forbes article put it:

“Your brand, these days, is the community of people that sustains you, advocates you, talks about you and consumes you. Yes, that means they buy you and (this bears repeating) they buy into you.”

It is not just consumers judging brands, employees are also choosing brands who are values-driven. Employees are also choosing to work for brands who align with their own values. In the race for the top talent, authentic and transparent brands will prevail. Our blog, An employer’s guide to (re)building trust in a disillusioned world, outlines the importance of employer branding.

2. Sustainability

Brands need to act responsibly and do more to weave sustainability into their future strategy. The pressure is coming thick and fast, not solely from consumers but also from regulators, employees, investors and shareholders. Our recent blog outlined some great examples of brands who are leading the way in sustainability, as well as some suggested approaches for brands to instigate change.

Another great example is the online fashion retailer, Everlane – their very clear philosophy is: “Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical Transparency.” Throughout the online shopping experience, shoppers can click on links to read about the factories where the products are made, they have a very clear breakdown of the price you pay and what goes where.

3. Distinctiveness

How do you ensure consumers will choose your brand over your competitors? The answer lies in how successfully the brand articulates and presents its unique qualities. Brands need to ensure they leverage their most distinctive qualities and assets in order to drive preference.

A Forbes article described brand as "wholly relevant and as necessary as lungs" and in today's commoditised world, brand is what gives an organisation a distinctive edge. Consumers can no longer be told what to think, they need to feel the connection and whole-heartedly buy-in.

4. Customer Experience

Make doing business with your brand easy and fast. Having a good user experience or customer experience in both online and offline channels is essential. Removing any barriers to purchase and earning the trust of your potential clients when they interact with your brand will give them the reassurance and confidence they need to do business with you.

As an example, think Xero – simplifying and beatifying accounting software was a breakthrough. Xero made book-keeping accessible to small business owners and have focused on supporting small business with each of their software developments. 

Time to relax this summer

Looking for some summer inspiration? Here’s our collective top 10 list for reading and listening that we’ll be doing over the break:

  • The Weekend, by Charlotte Wood. Beautifully written book and groundbreaking in its treatment of ageing and friendship.

  • Zero to One: from the founder of PayPal, by Peter Thiel. The book explores uncharted frontiers and the future of companies.

  • Her Kind of Luck, by Michelle Balogh. A combination of memoir and biography of the writer’s great grandmother.

  • Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins. This book describes the role of the mind and overcoming adversity from a guy from the wrong side of the tracks who went on to be an inspirational Chief of the Navy Seal.

  • On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft, by Steven King. Part memoir, part master class - this book describes his experiences as a writer and his advice for aspiring writers.

  • Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. This book takes us on a tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think.

  • Here’s the thing – a podcast by Alec Baldwin bringing listeners into the lives of artists, policymakers and performers.

  • No such thing as a fish - if you’re into fun and random facts this is a podcast for you.

  • Heavyweight - Jonathan Goldstein’s podcast goes back to the moment everything changed, aiming to give closure to everyday people when personal circumstances took a path that was never resolved.

  • Inside influence - a podcast by Julie Masters a series of interviews with masters of influence, a surprising and diverse series of guests from an FBI hostage negotiator to artists and CEOs.

The BrandMatters team wish you good health and happiness over the holiday season and throughout 2020. We thank you for your ongoing support. We’ll close on Tuesday 24 December and will burst open on Thursday 2 January 2020.

All the best for the festive season.

 For B2B organisations, particularly in the insurance industry, there is a constant need to find new and compelling ways to add value for their clients. A key strategic initiative that can be undertaken is to position the brand as a thought leader, having a strong voice that guides commentary, insight and future trends in an industry. To position itself as a true thought leader, a B2B organisation requires dedication, perseverance, authenticity and the intellectual smarts to generate industry insight.

For over 8 years, Vero Australia has done just this. Their annual Vero SME Insurance Index has built their reputation as a thought leader amongst their key target market – insurance brokers. The Index provides brokers with valuable information about the SME market, and the positive and pain points as perceived by SMEs in procuring their business insurance. Reporting annually, the Index helps brokers understand their own clients’ needs and gives them valuable insight into the trends of broker usage over time.

Amidst the high-profile stories of digital disruption, the impact on the insurance broking industry is less well-documented but no less significant. Insurance companies need to ask themselves how they can support brokers to ensure their ongoing relevance and success. How can insurance companies add value in different ways to ensure brokers feel supported, valued and remain relevant?

Adding value through ongoing research

Vero Australia, part of the Suncorp Group, one of Australia’s largest insurers, provides business insurance products that aim to help business owners cover the risks of conducting business. Vero Australia products are offered exclusively through brokers.

Vero Australia has been a pioneer in using research to provide value to brokers, launching the annual Vero SME Insurance Index back in 2012.
 
BrandMatters was engaged to conduct in-depth market research delving into the SME market to provide insurance brokers with valuable insights into the purchasing behaviour of SMEs and their attitudes towards it. The report is based on an annual online quantitative survey of 1,500 business owners and insurance decision-makers around Australia. Since its inception, over 10,000 SMEs have been surveyed to date.

In delivering the SME Index to brokers, Vero was also able to provide some advice to brokers on how they can demonstrate value to their core audience (SMEs), this advice is relevant for all service-based B2B organisations:

1. Check-in regularly with your clients - the best way to build and maintain a strong relationship

2. Share your thinking - demonstrating your rationale behind recommendations

3. Share useful information - keeping customers up to date with trends and changes

4. Help them manage risk - use your expertise to do more than just sell insurance

5. Let them know you can help - showcase your services and expertise

6. Develop your brand - clearly define your brand and stand out from your competitors.

 

Vero Australia has continued to provide these research insights on a yearly basis. By tracking insurance buying behaviour over time, and then generating market insight that can help guide brokers, Vero is positioning itself firmly as a thought leader firmly at the centre of its industry. Brokers are benefiting from receiving deep knowledge of their own customers, getting a first-hand understanding of the pain points faced by SMEs, their biggest challenges and their expectations for the future.

For more information, read our case study on the work undertaken by BrandMatters for Vero Australia. By committing to ongoing research, they have secured a firm thought leadership positioning in the market as the leader in SME insurance and their Index has become the ‘go-to’ resource for brokers seeking to learn more about their core customers.
 
And it’s not just Vero Australia. For the past three years, BrandMatters has also undertaken research in New Zealand on behalf of Vero New Zealand (see our Vero New Zealand Case Study) to understand SME attitudes and business sentiments. This research comprised of both quantitative and qualitative methods covering over 900 SME businesses and over 300 brokers, and like the Australian Index, the resultant insights have been utilised to track attitudes and buying behaviour over time.

The key objective for both Vero AU and Vero NZ in instigating this research project was to provide valuable insight for brokers to help them improve their business.

Australian brokers reaction to the index has been resoundingly positive: 

  • 61% state the index has positively impacted their business.
  • 97% found the insights useful.

Furthermore, this research has provided brokers with a range of benefits:

Providing access to information not readily available 
Prior to this initiative, there was limited information available to help brokers understand their SME audience.

Research longevity
The longevity of the research has allowed for benchmarking, tracking of changes in sentiment and market shifts. It is unusual for a research study of this size and scale to play such a critical role over so many years.

Action-oriented insights and easily digestible
Not only are the research findings insightful, but the recommendations were meaningful, realistic and actionable. A range of communication tools to cater to all preferences.

Free access to the full report and associated tools for the entire insurance community
Vero has made a considerable investment to ensure the research study is robust, representative, and conducted by an independent research agency (BrandMatters), and not influenced by Vero or any other insurance brand. The full report and all the associated tools are easily accessible and free to the insurance industry, media, and anyone else interested in the study and its findings.

The study is continually referred to by Vero’s major competitors
The Vero SME Insurance Index has been referenced as a source by leaders in the insurance industry, many of whom are Vero’s competitors. This is further evidence that confirms Vero’s thought leadership and positions this research study as a trusted source of information in the insurance industry.

 

Establishing a thought leadership position for your brand

At BrandMatters, we believe brand research is about building a deep understanding of your customers, uncovering the insights that will lay the foundations of your brand strategy. Positioning your brand as a thought leader with deep expertise in the market will instil confidence and build brand loyalty.

For many organisations, offering value through providing insights, data and thought leadership can create a win-win situation for the organisation and their clients. It can also help create a closer relationship with your clients, it can also help you evolve and remain contemporary, gain external validation and enhance your overall brand reputation in the market. 

For B2B organisations, who often have a more complex buying cycle and need to consider the needs of their immediate target as well as the end consumer it is important that the research explores all viewpoints.

BrandMatters specialises in B2B brand research and brand strategy. Contact us to discuss your unique situation. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:24

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Gain a better understanding of brand architecture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Develop, execute and communicate your strategy

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

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

Turning insights into strategy

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

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

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

Call us to discuss your unique situation.

What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? It has a lot to do with ethical behaviour but mostly it should be about telling the truth and demonstrating your commitment to this truth. Consumers are seeking out brands that do more than just talking about how great they are, they are looking for proof that the brand is willing and able to practise what they preach. It is increasingly vital that brands rise up to this challenge and prove to consumers they intend to live up to their brand promise.

Authenticity is not something you can create via a campaign. It needs to be demonstrated across every touch point and every moment the brand interacts with the consumer. Most importantly it needs to be true - not just a gimmick. Consumers are savvy and their expectations are high. According to last year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, the expectation on CEOs to step up and lead change was up to a record high of 65%. CEOs and CMOs can achieve this by working together to put brand purpose front and centre of the organisation.

Not only are consumers seeking out and choosing to support authentic brands, they are also actively calling out inauthentic brands (mainly via social media). The speed at which disapproval can spread is rapid, and the digital footprint left is extremely hard to reverse or repair.

As a brand strategy agency, BrandMatters work with brands big and small, established or start-up, to develop an authentic brand narrative and positioning. A brand’s story needs to be rooted in the brand vision and needs to ensure it addresses the target audience in a way that resonates with them and makes them believe the brand truly understands their needs.

In this time of disruptors and game-changers, no market, industry and category is safe from being called out or completely alienated by consumers. In the wake of the banking royal commission - a recent Roy Morgan Report indicated that 1.3 million Australians are considering opening new bank accounts in the next 6 months. In an industry where the hassle often outweighs the motivation, this number is staggering. ING and Bank Australia are two examples of financial services brands who have stepped up with a message that targets these consumers and are demonstrating how brands, even banks, can be good, ethical and authentic.

How can brands demonstrate their authenticity

Customer centricity 

Putting the customer first. This shouldn’t be a new concept, but for certain industries, complacency has taken over - performance has been measured by profits and dividends alone. This view is incredibly short sighted. Brands need to put their customers first if they want to survive long term. 

Longevity and consistency

Brands need to stick to their guns. Once they have developed and articulated their brand position and brand values, they need to find ways to communicate and demonstrate these values. Examples such as Nike, Lego and closer to home Qantas are legacy brands who have consistently demonstrated their values. They have managed to stay relevant and consumers appreciate this consistency because trust has been developed and consumers know what to expect from these brands.

It doesn’t mean that they can’t change, adapt or innovate - but when they do it must be in a way that is in-keeping with their brand position and brand values.

Purpose before profit

In the past, CEOs and CFOs have been told to put the shareholder first. Now, even their largest stakeholders are challenging this, and realising that ethics and sustainability needs to be part of the equation.

Many brands and organisations have implemented a corporate social responsibility policy (CSR), and actively support a charity or support the community in some way, shape or form. The main issue with CSR is it is often seen as a side responsibility that comes after profits. The values that lead to a CSR policy should be shifted over to become part of the brand values rather than a side project.

Brand research

Brands who care about what their customers are thinking and feeling will engage in brand research or brand tracking. Asking for feedback and continually improving based on the feedback will help brands keep a pulse on the market and the needs of their target audience. It inevitably will help them make decisions about the future of the brand and how to stay relevant. NPS is a great way to measure consumer sentiment. Simply put, understanding the likelihood of your customers recommending your brand is a great benchmark of your brand equity and customer satisfaction.

Many businesses have adopted the Net-Promoter Score as their dipping stick into customer satisfaction - if they see the levels change, this can trigger some more intensive investigation or research and lead to changes in the brand strategy.

Examples of brands that have succeeded in demonstrating their authenticity

Airbnb

Airbnb’s brand positioning is ‘belong anywhere’. The idea behind Airbnb (people essentially opening their homes for strangers to share) was incredibly reliant on building trust. More importantly, the trust needed to be two-way. The owner of the property (host) needed to trust the customer (guest) and the guest needed to trust that the offering from the host was authentic and genuine.         

To many, this seemed like an impossible level of trust and convincing people would be no simple task. Airbnb demonstrated their authenticity by implementing a system of support, connection and safety.

Further to this, they are continually standing up and shouting out about the things they value and believe in. Examples of this were their support for marriage equality and also their protest of the Trump travel ban with their campaign #weaccept. Not only did support for these issues align to their brand, but the message of acceptance is one that underpins the trust they have built in their community (both guests and hosts). Airbnb’s entire business model relies on establishing this trust, building relationships between strangers, which is essentially what every brand needs to do.

Bank Australia 

When reading Bank Australia’s vision and values you may well disbelieve it. Bank Australia was established in 1957, originally as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Union. In 2015 it was renamed Bank Australia and continues its’ focus on ethical and sustainable banking - which is 100% owned by its’ customers.

The timing of the launch of their recent campaign was precise and resonated immediately with consumers who had lost faith in the traditional banks and were looking for a better alternative.

The campaign highlights how the brand is turning its values into action - for example by only investing in renewable energy and affordable housing solutions and not investing in fossil fuels.

 

Trust is earned through authentic interactions

At BrandMatters, we believe relationships matter, a positive relationship between your brand and your customer is fundamental to success. In a world where consumers are bombarded with choice, as a brand, you need to stand for something - otherwise, the consumer choice has no critical path and will end up being about price. Living and breathing your brand values (both internally and externally) will help you develop a strong bond with like-minded customers.

Creating buy-in from your employees - who in turn will become brand ambassadors - is a great first step (read more in our recent blog employers guide to re-building trust in a disillusioned world). Living your brand values internally - with a strong employee value proposition - is a great way to establish how strongly it resonates and will result in your employees becoming strong brand advocates, working from the inside out.

Starting with a strong set of principles, we can help you develop and articulate your brand’s purpose, and most importantly provide the tools to bring this purpose to life through authentic interactions with your customers.

It takes time, investment, integrity and consistency to build a strong brand. At BrandMatters, we often talk to our clients about a brand being more than just the logo or brand name, however, your brand name or brand name used in a logo, can become the most distinctive visual cues for your brand.

One option to protect the value and longevity of your brand is trademarking. A trademark's essential function is to distinguish goods or services of one company from another. They must therefore be of distinctive character and can't just be descriptive of the goods or services sold.

The Australian Government's IP Department defines a trademark as:

“A trademark can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, aspect of packaging or any combination of these.”

As a branding agency, we always strongly recommend a full due diligence process is undertaken on any new brand name or logo. It confirms registrability and identifies any potential threat or infringement that may occur.

 

How registration works in Australia

Trademarking in Australia is governed by IP Australia and comes under Trademark, Copyright and Australian Consumer Law.

Trademarks are registered under classes for both goods and services categories: 34 classes for products covering pharmaceuticals to furniture to food and drinks; and 11 classes of services covering telecommunications to auditing to freight transport.

Classes help expand the volume of trademarks currently licensed – identical or similar trademarks can be registerable once evaluated and confirmed that they are in non-competing industries, for example and hypothetically “Star Plumbing” or “Star Theatre”.

 

What can’t be registered?

It’s best to avoid disappointment. Given the millions of brand names, logos and website URLs in the world, there is a slim chance the name an organisation has fallen in love with is available. Decades of trademarking, defensive trademarking (where organisations register variants of their trademarks) and proactive registration of every possible URL variant means brand agencies need to find inventive circumvents to create brand names that provide not only true market distinctiveness but also trademark registrability and URL domain purchase.

This provides a substantial challenge.  So, what are some pitfalls to avoid from the start? There are some exclusions that can’t be registered:

  • Descriptive brand names, eg “Orange Juice”
  • Names that reference quality or outcomes
  • Geographic references
  • Common surnames
  • Offensive or profane language
  • Commonly adopted words
  • A combination of the above.

 

The right to challenge

The intent of copyright law is to ensure clear use of names, logos and other intellectual property where there are no conflicts. This process takes time. Once an organisation has submitted a trademark application, IP Australia provides the initial pass to proceed based on its own preliminary checks. The application then moves to a period of “challenge”, where other entities can put forth a case against registration of the pending trademark where they feel it is similar or substantially similar to their own. If the pending trademark passes the challenge period, the trademark can operate in the intended market and category with the legal protections in place for the trademark.

 

Why trademarks are important

A registered trademark provides a brand with exclusive rights to use, license and sell the trademark, ensuring the brand is free of any usage issues within the target market and jurisdiction.

And this registration prior to launching in the market is critical. It’s tempting to take the chance and launch a brand without the trademarks being registered. And there might be many reasons for this. First mover advantage. Merger & acquisitions. Numerous other time pressures.

But launching into the market without registration is fraught with risk. The real threat is where, in the absence of the due diligence process, a brand’s name or logo are identical or substantially similar to that of another in the target market or an adjacent market, the market’s geography or another geography.

This opens the brand to the risk of legal recourse from the entities that own the identical or substantially similar trademarked brand name and logo. At best, the unregistered brand and branding will need to be pulled from the market. At worst, it can be argued as constituting misleading and deceptive conduct with inevitable legal ramifications.

 

Brands going international

Registering a trademark in any jurisdiction provides a brand exclusive legal right to use, license and sell within that jurisdiction for the goods and services for which it is registered. Where the rights are for one jurisdiction, eg, Australia, this is straightforward.

However, when brands enter international markets there are a number of other considerations beside ensuring distinctiveness and registrability.

It’s important to ensure from the outset that the desired trademark is registrable in all intended markets. Piecemeal registration, for example registering first in Australia and then in other jurisdictions, may result in availability in Australia, but non-availability in other markets.

A further consideration is that some names and logo marks are culturally specific, and don't always translate as well in the context of other markets. With the availability of names restricted and the use of made-up brand names circumventing this problem, what may sound like a smart brand name in Australia may in fact sound rude, profane or embarrassing in another language.

 

Assurance from the start

Taking the time to conduct a full comprehensive search via IP lawyers is an essential part of due diligence in ensuring an intended mark can be deployed in all intended jurisdictions. Identical, substantially identical, mis-translations, cultural considerations and URL availability all play into the registrability of the desired trademark both in Australia and in other geographies. Best to avoid disappointment, and check from the start.

It is never too early to protect your brand with a trademark, especially when you are planning to invest significant funds in brand awareness and drive your brand positioning in a crowded marketplace. There are a number of resources available to find out more about trademarking – IP Australia is a great starting point. At BrandMatters, we build strong, unique, relevant brands that will become your organisation's most valuable asset – so protecting this is vital.  

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