Brand Strategy

A clear-minded, structured but flexible brand architecture can offer significant value for B2B organisations. In contrast to B2C mass consumer market, B2B audiences are smaller and often segmented into micro-niche audiences which can be complex. Those offering a B2B product or service provision need to have an in-depth knowledge of the specific audience they are targeting – where expertise, reliability and consistency all play an important role in buying decisions.

For many B2B organisations, brand architecture will become the framework in which the brand strategy lives, and defines the hierarchy, relationship and investment for your company’s products and services. Without a framework in place to manage the product/service portfolio, the impacts on market share, reputation and revenue can be significant.

At some stage in the business journey, organisations that have evolved over time need to evaluate their brand strategy, identify adjustments that are required, and allocate time and resources to make any appropriate changes. The challenge of disrupting the status quo, the risk to revenue targets, the pain of change, and the fear of creating market confusion are all very real concerns when addressing brand architecture. However, in our experience, the challenge is outweighed by the benefits, over time.

At BrandMatters, we’ve worked with many B2B organisations post M&A activity who are faced with a complex portfolio of brands, which are potentially competing, sometimes cannibalising and often confusing to their customers and stakeholders.

The first step is to decide which brand architecture model will be most suitable to ensure the newly acquired brand/s fit within the portfolio. Conducting a brand architecture review is a logical approach to ensuring each brand has a purpose and performs a specific role that is immediately evident to the end client.

Choosing the most appropriate brand architecture model will depend on your existing brands and the strength and equity they hold. When adding brands to your portfolio, you may consider one of the following options:

1. Stretch your existing brand into new markets (master brand)

By deploying one consistently applied brand as the driving force behind the portfolio, the master brand strategy is ideal when a strong robust brand is the unifying factor of all the products and services offered by the organisation. This architecture approach is generally used when the brand can deliver the brand promise without confusion or dilution.

2. Share your existing brand equity across the new brands (branded house or endorsed brand)

Utilising your parent brand as the dominant identity for each product or service allows the new products or brands to borrow the brand equity and trust already established by your parent brand, whilst still offering differentiation within the portfolio.

3. Allow each brand to stand on their own with a specific positioning (house of brands)

In some cases, it is better to allow each brand to stand alone and do what it was created to do. If the brand is strong enough to stand out in the market and has enough equity to maintain its position in the market, then this would be a case for a house of brands. While this approach would involve a lot more investment in brand and marketing, it can have its benefits, especially if one part of the businesses is outperforming other sectors. It is also beneficial if the business is looking to divest or sell a specific part of the business.

Why getting your brand architecture right matters?

Optimising brand architecture ensures that all of your brands within your portfolio are consistently adding value and justifying the costs required to sustain them. It will also allow you to maximise your organisation’s use of time and resources towards those brands that are worthwhile investing in.

How many brands do you need?

A disorganised and inconsistent brand portfolio can evolve organically over time with little structure or discipline as to how brands are to be treated, presented or managed. This can lead to a multitude of inconsistent identities and possibly a lack of ‘daylight’ between brands.

The development of new brands for products, services or programs can become costly and make it difficult to grow a company’s profile and brand awareness due to lack of consistent branding and messaging.

How well do your brands fit together?

Understanding how all brands fit and work together enables companies to better target their key audiences as well as their internal stakeholders. It enables them to build brand awareness more effectively and avoid brand overlaps and the duplication of internal effort. Brand distinction, in terms of quality or features, is one way to ensure that customers aren’t interpreting your brands as too similar, whereby the price becomes the determining factor in decision-making. When customers experience difficulties understanding the full scope and relationships between brands, they are restricted from fully connecting with the brand and are more likely to make price-based purchasing decisions or search elsewhere.

How clear is your brand structure?

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

Is it flexible enough to grow with?

A brand framework that has been designed for today without adequate thought given to future considerations – mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations and product shifts, just to name a few – inhibits the growth of a company and isn’t responsive to industry trends or the ever-evolving landscape of the marketplace.

Brand architecture is a critical factor within the context of acquisitions, where companies intend to grow their scale, competencies and geographical presence. An inflexible brand structure, one which has failed to consider future business expansion and is too fixed to accommodate any kind of change, can hamper a company’s potential to grow strategically and maximise the value of its acquisitions.

Brand architecture is the framework of your business portfolio

Getting your brand architecture right will result in a clear path forward for decisions relating to your brand and business strategy. When executed effectively, brand architecture will help your customers and stakeholders better understand your business offering.

The benefits of investing in brand architecture can far outweigh the costs. Trying to manage a soup bowl of brands post M&A without a brand architecture framework or model will not only be inefficient but could potentially damage all the brands within your existing portfolio.

To learn more about brand architecture in the context of B2B brands, download our eBook here. If your organisation has recently undertaken a merger, acquisition or divestment, BrandMatters can help uncover the most efficient brand architecture framework that will ensure your business portfolio evolves with clarity and certainty.

When undertaking a rebrand, a critical part of the process is communicating what has changed. It is vital that the strategic intent of the rebrand is clear, both externally, to your customers and internally, to your employees.

Change can be daunting, especially for long serving employees and loyal customers who have developed an emotional connection with the existing brand and may be reluctant to embrace the change. A rebrand can only be successful if each and every member of the organisation is on board and stands behind the rebrand. This includes the C-Suite right through to the front-line staff dealing directly with customers. A team that is part of the process and fully understands the journey of the rebrand will be more likely to embrace it and advocate it to customers.

A rebrand announcement needs to create excitement, but it also needs to be clear and consistent.

If a rebrand is well planned and executed, then the communication part should be a lot easier. Ensuring that all of the assets are up to date and internal stakeholders are fully briefed, with a clear understanding of the new brand and expectations, will smooth the roll out of the new brand externally to your customers.

There are 7 crucial steps in the communication process that your organisation should consider when explaining a rebrand.

1. Communicate the strategic intent behind the rebrand

It is important to explain the strategy behind the rebrand decision. For example, this might be through M&A activity, a consolidation within your brand portfolio, a new strategic direction, a new product/service offering or in response to a changing business environment. Ultimately, explaining why a change has occurred is as important as explaining what is changing.

2. Communicate what is changing as part of the rebrand

Brand changes can be confronting for both internal and external audiences, especially if there isn’t clarity around what is changing. Whether it is a proactive or reactive brand change, setting clear expectations about the role of brand in your organisation going forward and then providing reassurance throughout the change process is critical. Some organisations like to showcase a before and after approach, so that consumers and the internal team can associate the old with the new and get an understanding of the strategy behind the rebrand.

3. Explain the critical elements of your business and brand that won’t change

There are certain fundamentals of your business and brand that should very rarely change, such as your purpose and the reason why you exist for your employees and your customers. A rebrand signifies a significant change in your market positioning, but it shouldn’t change the intrinsic and enduring aspects of your organisation.

4. Acknowledge the relationship to date and thank them for their ongoing support

A brand change is a unique opportunity to thank your internal and external audiences for their ongoing commitment to your business. Brand changes represent a different direction for your business and their ongoing, enduring support through the process will be critical in the success of the launch.

5. Build the excitement and make a splash

A rebrand gives you a positive reason to communicate and they are often used to build renewed interest in your brand and to remind your customers of your offering and the benefit you bring. Why should your audiences be interested in this change? What is the underlying benefit that they receive from this change? Often, this benefit is as simple as a renewed energy from employees, and for customers the sense of engagement with the brand they are choosing to align themselves with, which will positively influence their service experience.

As part of your rebranding launch communication, there may be opportunities for increased exposure for the brand via PR and media exposure. Key messages should be clearly communicated to media via a press release. It may also be useful to put together a brand kit for media and partners to access the assets they need to keep the communication consistent.

Your budget will drive how quickly the message will resonate to the market; however, some organisations may not want to make too much of a splash at this early stage.

6. Bring people on the journey

A rebrand is often one of the first elements in a changing strategic direction for your organisation. There are many more exciting things to follow on from the initial change, and this is an opportunity to keep them engaged by teasing for further exciting initiatives within your organisation down the track.

7. Monitor the response to the rebrand and track your brand health

Finally, your internal and external audiences will have questions (and potentially concerns) that still remain unanswered. Demonstrating accessibility at this point is important and transparency from your business leaders in this period of change is essential. Once the rebrand is launched it is important to monitor the responses, not just immediately, but over time. Some brand measurement may also be required to determine how the rebrand has been received or whether you need to further tweak the messaging or ramp up the communication to have it embraced further.

When you are sick of saying it, your audiences are only just hearing it.

A rebrand is a significant process and should not be taken lightly. It is critical to get the communication and messaging right in order to assure your customers that the pain of change will be minimal, that the best characteristics of your organisation will stay, and that the attributes they value most will continue on.

It is also important to engage your employees in this process and ensure they are taken on the journey. They will act as advocates for the new brand if they understand and believe in the process and have been communicated throughout.

At BrandMatters, we specialise in strategic rebranding, which includes planning how to best communicate your rebrand to all of your key stakeholders - shareholders, customers and your employees.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022 08:43

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To see Tribel Advisory, click here. 

To see Tribel Accountants, click here

To contact BrandMatters click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 27 January 2022 09:29

Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations that empowers researchers to identify ways to treat, prevent and cure multiple sclerosis (MS).

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 18:04

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

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

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

Harness personalised, well-defined and actionable customer personas

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

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

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

Maintain a clearly organised brand and product portfolio

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

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

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

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

Engage your people – your greatest brand ambassadors

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

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

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

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

Measure and evaluate your success

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

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

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

Prove yourself and be consistent

A brand is a promise kept, so ensuring your B2B brand delivers on the promises you make is critical. Developing and implementing proof points that resonate with your customers is vital. Consistently demonstrating these proof points to your customers is an important part of your brand strategy.

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

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

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 17:03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward

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

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

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021 16:18

The Australian asset and wealth management industry as we know it is changing, and it is changing fast.

Whilst navigating the immediate pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has dramatically accelerated in a digital and workforce transformation, both of which have had a significant impact on the future propositions of traditional asset and wealth management brands.

Not only has the mechanics of the industry shifted, so too has the target audience, from the baby boomer, a male-dominated, white-collar audience to young, financially literate, tech-savvy investors, who expect more collaboration and a deeper connection with the brand they choose to align themselves with. 

Part Four: Asset and Wealth Management will explore:

  • The accelerated digital transformation
  • Embedding ESG across investment approaches
  • The Impact of cost pressures and profitability
  • Transforming business models and ways of working

In this transformative period, there are powerful opportunities for asset and wealth management brands to capitalise upon.

It is time for brands in this sector to pioneer a new way forward.

Download Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building your ideal client personas

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

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

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

Some of the demographic data may include:

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

Some of the psychographic data may include:

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

Behavioural considerations include:

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

Targeting Your Ideal Clients

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

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

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

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

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.  

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