Brand Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC

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

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

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

Qantas

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

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

Airbnb

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

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

Service NSW

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

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

VERO

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

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

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

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

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

Aesop

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

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

TAL

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

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

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

Xero

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

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

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

A clear brand positioning is a key to success

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

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

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

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

These brands will come out the other side much stronger.

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

Thursday, 30 September 2021 09:29

Evolving your superannuation brand so that it complies and exceeds over the long term.

In recent years, some of the most fundamental changes to the superannuation industry have been ushered in, tasked with transforming business models and delivering enhanced value for members.

Considering the impact of sustained regulatory pressures, combined with the rapid consolidation of funds providers, brands in the sector are facing greater uncertainty and turbulence than ever before.

In Part Three of the Outlook for Financial Services Branding, we explore the key shifts impacting brands in the superannuation landscape, as well as the priorities for brands as they navigate this continually changing environment.

Part Three: Superannuation will explore the:

  • Sweeping reform set to drastically shift the landscape and reprioritise member benefits.
  • Power of culture as a strategic asset, and the positive impact it has on underlying performance.
  • Sustained implications of industry transformation and consolidation.
  • Importance of navigating the increasingly sophisticated expectations of members.
  • Role and future of ESG and impact-driven superannuation brands.

Download Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing your brand positioning to life

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

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

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

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

Brand positioning will feed the other elements of brand strategy

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

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

The importance of brand research in formulating your brand strategy

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

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

Is your brand positioning crystal clear?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you need a strong positioning?

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

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

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

How strong is your brand’s positioning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, it is essential to plan for the brand.

In mergers and acquisitions (M&A), business leaders are often confronted with countless decisions and strategic challenges. Too often, way down on the list of considerations is how to manage the evolving brand strategy of the renewed business.

It’s one of the main reasons that up to 83% of mergers and acquisitions fail. But it doesn’t need to be this difficult. By placing brand strategy at the centre of the strategic decision-making process, organisations will have greater success in bringing their different businesses together.

The brand strategy guide to mergers and acquisitions explores the different considerations for leaders as they embark on this complex journey. This guide will provide answers to one the most overlooked components of successful M&A initiatives, the importance of getting brand strategy right. Download our free guide and get the critical support you need.

Key take-outs from the guide:

  • The criticality of strategic M&A initiatives as a tool for business and brand growth.
  • How to build a well-evidenced business case for brand research through the different phases of the M&A process.
  • The role and importance of a strong brand architecture strategy in helping customers navigate the renewed structure of the brand.
  • Techniques to assist in reflecting and communicating the refreshed strategic intent and culture of the business.
  • How to keep your internal and external stakeholders aligned and engaged, to reduce turnover and uncertainty.

To download, complete the form below:

For contemporary brands, building a sustainable competitive advantage cannot come simply from messaging, taglines, logo design or marketing campaigns. The purpose of building a strong brand strategy is to allow your organisation to differentiate itself from rivals, to stand out from your competitors, to influence your customer’s purchase decision and to allow them to feel disinterested in alternatives. But in this increasingly competitive landscape, not all brands have the capability to become what they desire on their own.

This is why organisations, especially in the B2B and financial services landscape, are increasingly looking to grow inorganically through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Rather than developing these newer or different capabilities internally, the right partnership can provide a tangible addition to a brand’s products and/or services, allowing an organisation to reach a position that makes them more desirable. But there are worrying indicators that brand issues are not being properly built into their due diligence processes.

At BrandMatters, we’ve successfully executed brand strategy initiatives for a variety of clients undergoing periods of change and flux in response to M&A initiatives. In our experience, leaders who see the full potential of brand, well beyond name and logo, gain a significant leg up in uniting companies and cultures with the values it presents to the outside world. Get in touch with the team to discuss your unique branding and M&A situation.

Brand is the most powerful, but sometimes the most overlooked, tool for solving many of the common problems in a merger

In M&A activity, business leaders frequently view brand management during a merger or acquisition as something simply for marketing and communications teams to sort out after the deal is completed. In our experience, integrating brand early and often can provide a clear and concise roadmap that helps guide strategic decision making, across the entire business.

Effective brands help organisations market and sell their services and products, but that is not all they do. Corporate brands drive real value, especially in the M&A process. Whether it is driving monetary valuation, negotiating position, providing insights that support alignment, unifying culture or streamlining integration, brands play an integral role in mergers and acquisitions (Forbes).

Whether your organisation believes it is ready to enter the M&A game soon or not, the stakes appear too high to wait. Regardless of which side of a transaction you may find yourself on, it is critical to get your brand in order and understand that a well-executed brand strategy adds value beyond monetary value, helping to unify your merged/acquired companies. Your brand has a powerful role to play and must be actively considered before, during and after the M&A activity.

The different types of brand activity considerations within M&A initiatives

There are three distinct points where brand should be considered throughout M&A initiatives: During the pre-deal phase, during the brand transition phase, and during the post-deal phase.

When brand is actively considered throughout these phases, your organisation will be in a position to determine the optimal brand strategy and architecture for your refreshed entity.

Pre-deal phase

In the pre-deal phase, senior and strategic leaders from both parties come together to determine the brand strategy and architecture for the merged entity. Whether you are buying, selling or merging, in this pre-deal phase it is important to understand that the existing brands typically own a relevant, genuine and impactful position in the market.

That value must be considered because the inherent goodwill will likely provide a benchmark to quantify the deal against. It is important to give your brand some objective scrutiny through research and evidence. Could your brand be outdated and stale? Is it telling the story of your company well, or is it still the best-kept secret? If this is the case, your organisation would benefit from an initial discussion with BrandMatters, where we can help craft an authentic brand that will help maximise value in the pre-deal phase and lead to long-term success for your renewed entity.

Brand transition phase

The brand transition phase differs because it requires more functional thinking about how the refreshed brand will manage things such as inventory, budgets, and communications. In this phase, it is important to ensure your brand is clear, concise, and consistent, so that all stakeholders have an understanding about how the business and its brands will be managed going forward.

In this phase, strong brands provide an internal indication for both companies on each side of the table, as well as insights into company culture and personality. A well-articulated brand will clearly communicate the value proposition of the company, which makes it easier for stakeholders to see the strengths, areas for improvement and areas where the companies compliment/overlap with each other. This is powerful ammunition that can help inform negotiations as you navigate beyond the brand transition phase in the M&A process.

Post-deal phase

Once the transaction is completed, that initial euphoria usually gives way to the laborious process of integration. In the post-deal phase, a number of activities need to be carefully coordinated to help ensure the brand is successfully implemented and rolled out in the market. This again requires more functional thinking as your organisation begins to redesign and implement different corporate and brand structures.

Effective branding in this phase helps to unify your renewed organisation by aligning your leaders and holding them accountable to the stewardship of the brand structures that they have decided upon. In this context, brand should operate as the North Star, a focal point that helps guide cultural differences, close gaps in shared knowledge, and set the agenda for successful and sustainable integration.

The final consideration for brand in this phase is in the ongoing measurement of success. Continual evaluation and monitoring through brand measurement can provide evidence about whether the M&A initiative was a success or not. This type of brand research also gives businesses an indication of how they can improve in further M&A activity down the track.

Brand decisions, made early and often, are critical to M&A success

In mergers and acquisitions, business leaders are often confronted with countless decisions and strategic challenges. With so many moving parts, initiating and integrating organisations together can seem like assembling a complex puzzle with thousands of unique pieces.

By placing brand strategy at the centre of the strategic decision-making process, organisations will have greater success in bringing their businesses together, creating meaning and enduring impact for the refreshed entity.

Bringing in an independent perspective to assess the current position and make a recommendation on future strategy from a brand perspective can make or break the success of the post-M&A organisation.

Whether you are mid-M&A or at the beginning of the process, BrandMatters can help you uncover and articulate the right brand strategy and brand architecture to lead your organisation to success. Explore our case studies to see how we’ve helped other organisations or get in touch to discuss your unique situation and stayed tuned as we will be releasing a comprehensive eBook exploring the Principles for M&A Branding Success.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021 12:42

Navigating an entirely different market.

With renewed debate surrounding the culture, remuneration and reputation of some of Australia’s most significant financial services brands, the industry has been challenged with instilling a sense of value and purpose back into some of its largest players.

When combined with the uncertainty surrounding the pace, scale and breadth of the past 12 months of disruption, the outlook for brands in the transactional banking and payments landscape appears drastically different than in the 20 years that preceded it.

In Part Two of the Outlook for Financial Services Branding, we explore the key shifts impacting brands in the banking and payments landscape, as well as the priorities for brands as they navigate this entirely different market.


Part Two: Banking and Payments will explore:

  • The implications of revised distribution channels that are reconfiguring traditional banking products and services.
  • The decline of vertically integrated business models and the new roles of brands in the sector.
  • The impact of shifting demographics and the rise of digital natives.
  • The pressures of regulatory requirements across the payments and buy now pay later landscape.
  • The cautious renaissance of reputation as values, trust and employee culture moves front and centre.

Download Now.

Preparing your organisation for an IPO (initial public offering) is an extremely significant moment for any business. There are several factors that need to be considered in the preparation stages and one extremely important, but often forgotten factor is the strength of your brand.

Brand and marketing have a significant role to play in preparing for an IPO; it impacts everything from investor relations, company equity, value and consumer trust. In many instances, brand can be an organisation’s most valuable asset, especially in the case of digital first businesses where no physical assets are owned by the company – Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, AfterPay and Airtasker to name a few very well-known examples.

When looking at these specific examples – the brands have become household names prior to the organisations announcing IPOs. Investors already know and like (or dislike) the brand, they understand the brand and what it promises, and they already trust that the brand will deliver on these promises.

When preparing for an IPO, you should be viewing your ‘potential investors’ as a customer segment that you are trying to attract. Investors are looking for companies with a story to tell and they are buying into this story when they choose to invest.

While the financial side of the IPO takes the focus of senior leaders and board members, there is a strong argument to ensure brand has a place in the IPO planning process.

What steps do you need to take to ensure your brand is ready for an upcoming IPO?

Whilst a strong brand is essential for all businesses, preparing for an IPO places even greater visibility on your brand and increases the necessity on having a strong, clear and powerful brand that will be able to stand out and attract investor attention.

It is vital that the following five questions can be answered to ensure your brand is investor-ready…

  1. Does your organisation have a purpose, and a unique brand story?
  2. Is your brand positioning clear both internally and externally?
  3. Does your brand have a distinct and current visual identity?
  4. Can your brand stretch and grow within its existing brand architecture framework?
  5. Is your brand consistently applied and executed across all channels and communications?

Evaluate your brand by engaging in unbiased brand research.

Clients often come to us at BrandMatters to provide an unbiased measure of their brand. From the inside, there are several reasons why organisations find it challenging to self-evaluate. Often the company or the market has evolved but the brand has remained the same. When you are working with your brand on a regular, day-to-day basis, you may miss the obvious signals that your brand is no longer resonating with your customers or that there is an opportunity to evolve the brand to meet new expectations.

It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is why we recommend an evaluation process including brand research on both internal and external perceptions of the brand as an extremely important first step in ensuring your brand is going to stand up and stand out during the IPO process.

Make strategic brand decisions based on what was uncovered in the research.

Once you have the insights from the research, it will be a lot easier to understand the next steps that may be required from a brand strategy point of view. You may have discovered insights that point to opportunities for you to either stretch, refine, restructure or refresh your brand from the inside out.

If your brand positioning is not clear, it is likely that your brand story is not resonating with your audience. Or you might have discovered that you simply need to refresh your visual identity to ensure it is distinctive and stands out in your market.

Research provides insights that help identify opportunities to grow and stretch your brand within your marketplace, or opportunities to potentially extend vertically or horizontally in your industry. If this is the case, you will need to assess your current brand architecture framework to prepare your organisation for future extensions in your portfolio. A key component of the IPO process is to provide the initial investment to fund growth, so it is important that your brand architecture can support this growth.

At this point in time, it is important to consider your visual identity. Does it reflect your positioning? Is it distinctive and memorable? Is it reflective of your brand and does it symbolise confidence and success? The logo and visual identity of your brand is often the first thing investors will see when reviewing an IPO prospectus. In preparation, you may need to consider a refresh or tweak of your visual identity prior to taking the next step. It is important that the visual identity of your brand represents your brand at its best.

Develop a robust brand platform and brand architecture framework that will guide the team in implementing the strategic decisions of your brand.

Once you have uncovered the clear strategic direction for your brand, the next step is to implement the necessary changes. This is where a brand platform comes into play. Developing a brand platform that articulates your brand positioning, brand story, key messages and core customer value proposition is a vital tool in communicating and executing these changes both visually and verbally across all channels.

This brand platform can be used, to navigate the entire organisation through the IPO process, from the investor communications documents such as the prospectus, to your public communications strategy, website and social media content.

An effective brand architecture framework will enable your company to grow and expand as opportunities arise. Brand architecture helps your organisation confidently organise, manage and go to market with your brands. With an IPO comes opportunities to grow and expand. It is important for an organisation is set up for success in terms of this growth by ensuring that each and every brand within the portfolio has a purpose and performs a specific role. To learn more about brand architecture download our e-guides "An introduction to brand architecture" and "B2B guide to brand architecture".

Ensure all your touchpoints are updated and your brand is presented consistently across all channels.

Executing the necessary brand changes across all of your channels is both a significant and extremely important process. Consistency is incredibly important in executing these changes to your brand. If there is inconsistency, this can cause confusion (both internally with your employees, or externally with investors, clients and customers). Any confusion due to inconsistent communication of your brand and its messaging can cause distrust in the investor community, which could in turn impact negatively on the results of the IPO.

A strong brand drives IPO success

At the end of the day, a strong brand will allow potential investors, clients and customers to understand what your business does, what makes it different and what will drive success in the future. Preparing your brand must be one of the first steps your organisation should consider if you are either preparing or considering going public.

As we approach the end of a rather tumultuous financial year, the FY21/22 planning cycle provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to assess the current strength of their brand and determine which investments could be made to better prepare their organisation for what lies ahead.

As marketing teams begin to solidify their strategic planning for FY21/22, they should look for ways to support their brand and brand strategy, to underpin the efforts of the past 12 months and drive an effective and more sustainable return for marketing investment going forward.

So, with this in mind, we’ve explored the opportunities for investments that marketers should consider as they continue to strengthen their brand and bring it further into focus amongst key stakeholders.

Take stock of your existing brand(s)

It is important to conduct a review of your brands; to do this we recommend a combination of internal desk research and an external brand audit.

An internal desk review process is a cost-effective way to review the data and information that already sits within your organisation. Many organisations view this an overwhelming task, and often find it difficult to review this information with an objective eye. BrandMatters can help by reviewing the data and providing an external perspective on the most important outputs relevant to your brand(s). An internal desk review often gives a good starting point to a more extensive research project – by establishing a comprehensive understanding of where your brands are today – we know where the gaps are and what questions to ask if we were to conduct qualitative or quantitative research.

An external brand audit looks to ensure the representation of your brand identity is consistently accurate, and that it reflects an instantly recognisable brand. A brand audit can provide valuable insights into inconsistencies in your brand presentation and how to improve or realign your brand with your brand positioning. An external brand audit can demonstrate how widely your brand is understood and valued by your organisation. A brand that is continually being compromised visually could be a sign of a brand that is not universally embraced inside your organisation. Conducting an audit prior to the end of the financial year means that you have the opportunity to allocate budget to address any particular problem areas.

For more information about what a typical desk research review and brand audit involves, download our comprehensive Guide to Brand Research.

Reacquaint yourselves with your customers

Despite a more optimistic budget outlook, uncertainty remains. Customer needs have inevitably changed over the past 12 months, as have their expectations and requirements of brands.
The ongoing turbulence and rapidly changing marketplace have seen new and different competitors and technologies rise to the fore, just as quickly as customers themselves have evolved. The way customers previously interacted with brands may have changed, their personal priorities may have altered, and even their attitudes to value for money won’t necessarily be consistent with a year or two ago.

It is vital to invest in keeping your knowledge of your customers up to date.

Many organisations believe brand research should only really be conducted when there is a problem that needs solving – but this is a very small part of the larger and more important role that research should play.

In this ever changing landscape, smaller, more focussed ‘check-ins’ with your customers will ensure your brand continues to remain relevant and will act as a solid foundation upon which you can continue to strengthen your brand.

Refine and solidify your brand positioning and customer value proposition

Every role within your organisation becomes easier with a clear brand positioning and customer value proposition. Everything from strategic decision making, product development, marketing communications, customer service right down to closing the sale.

For your sales team, an understanding of the clear and unique offering that your business presents, as well as how this turns up for each customer segment, can help ensure the sales process is smoother and delivered with complete clarity every time.

Equipping your team with a customer value proposition for each target audience will empower them to outline the exact benefits of your product and service in a way that strengthens your brand and allows them to deliver a better experience for your customers.

If you would like to read more about crafting a compelling customer value proposition, especially in the context of financial services organisations, click here.

Make the investment to imbue your brand with your employees

A strong brand is brought to life through its people. Every employee within the organisation needs to live and breathe the brand on an ongoing basis if they are to deliver the brand experience daily to your customers.

An effective employee value proposition (EVP) is the cornerstone of any employee engagement strategy – it gives your team a ‘reason to believe’. It helps your employees understand who you are, where you are all going, and what role they play in the future of your organisation.

A well-articulated EVP will help you both attract and then retain employees who are a good cultural match for your organisation.
Building a strong employee brand offers an incredible opportunity to extend your brand’s reach, reduce recruitment spend, attract the brightest and best, build relationships with clients, and drive business growth. If you would like to read more about developing a strong employee value proposition for your organisation, click here.

The new financial year presents an opportunity for brands to hit the reset button

The measures outlined in this article are designed to ensure your brand is positioned optimally for the next financial year and beyond. By ensuring brand plays an important role in any planning cycle, you can achieve more sustainable, ongoing brand health.

A well-evidenced internal strategy, a consistently applied identity, a deep understanding of your customers, a strong brand positioning and a workforce that is armed with the tools to be brand advocates for your business will help drive tangible sales outcomes, improve recruitment and retention and drive overall business growth.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a position of budget surplus as we wrap up FY20/21, you should consider reaching out to BrandMatters and explore these measures which will help position your brand optimally for the next period of economic growth.

What does it take to succeed in this complex landscape?

A clearly defined brand delivers strong tangible and intangible benefits to every financial services organisation.

Brands born of a deep understanding of your organisation’s market, business, customers, competitors and employees will perform strongly and facilitate business growth via increased numbers of referrals, shorter sales cycles, reduced price sensitivity and a lower interest in competitive offerings

Part One of the Outlook for Financial Services Branding explains the role of brand strategy in financial services organisations, ensuring your business can capitalise on the benefits that only a well-built brand can deliver.

The role of brand in financial services will:

  • Explain the importance of brand in the financial services sector.
  • Provide a well-evidenced business case for brand and market research.
  • Articulate the role of brand architecture strategy in helping customers navigate the financial services landscape.
  • Highlight the difference between a refresh and rebrand, as well as explain where they are necessary.
  • Help identify and finesse the potency of your brand’s positioning in its competitive context.

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