Displaying items by tag: Brand Strategy

In this crisis, very few organisations will be unaffected. What is now important is how brands react and how they handle this uncertain and unprecedented situation.

How can organisations lean on their brand in order to get through this crisis? And which brands are already demonstrating this?

It is easy to get distracted, panic and make drastic non-strategic decisions in times of crisis. But for those who hone their brand strategy and focus on communicating the appropriately toned message at the right time will be better placed to see this through.

With the long term effects of the COVID-19 outbreak still to be realised, and the short term interruptions felt by the hour, it is vital that organisations manage their brands and messaging very carefully so as to ensure the continued health of their business.

“What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviours and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting and help them to look ahead.”

In the recently released Edelman Trust Barometer for 2020, there was clear evidence that consumers are looking to organisations and their leaders to take action. This report was conducted before the current COVID-19 crisis took hold, with 78% of respondents acknowledging the role CEOs play in taking the lead and making decisions when it comes to environmental decisions.

Many brands are already demonstrating some amazing examples of brand values, purpose, customer care and empathy in action.

Some notable examples include:

  • Zoom is supporting businesses through the pandemic by promoting tools that ease and facilitate home working, virtual meetings and video conferencing, it is also allowing students to use its premium functions for free.

  • Google has also made its video conferencing service, Hangouts Meet, available for all G-suite customers until July 1, 2020. Hangouts Meet allows for up to 250 participants and live-streaming to up to 100,000 viewers per domain. You can also record and save meetings.

  • Louis Vuitton has announced it will be converting three of its perfume manufacturing facilities in order to produce hand sanitiser, which will be given, at no charge, to French authorities and the largest hospital system in Europe.

  • Coca-Cola has diverted some of its advertising spend towards a health message on the importance of social distancing by way of a creative execution on their billboard in Times Square.

  • IGA, Coles and Woolworths have managed the distribution of scarce goods by introducing the rationing of toilet paper and some food items, as well as the initiative of an exclusive shopping hour for the elderly and disadvantaged.

  • Time Out temporarily rebrands as Time In. Their editorial direction will pivot from dining out, to entertainment avenues closer to home such as ‘best Netflix new releases’, restaurants offering home delivery and other content to keep people feeling positive about being confined to their homes. 

  • Online social platform Nextdoor is helping people connect with their neighbours to assist with buying groceries for those in isolation, share toilet paper and walk people’s dogs when they can’t leave the house.

  •  Many businesses are taking the opportunity to promote their products and services that can be enjoyed from home. Some have found innovative ways in offering these services, such as virtual museum tours, 14-day online fitness programs and restaurants adjusting to include home delivery (if they did not before).


Brand as a defence strategy

In any crisis, brand can be the backbone of your defence strategy. It is the one thing your competitors cannot copy, and it is the one thing that will differentiate you in the eyes of consumers. We don’t know what the road ahead looks like in this unprecedented time, but we do know that a strong brand will recover quicker than a weak one, so maintaining your brand equity in the minds of customers, stakeholders and employees is critical.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020 17:33

Rebranding an organisation can be a minefield of potential pitfalls if not undertaken with expertise.

For many successful organisations, brand is one of their most important and valuable assets. The decision to rebrand should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the more common mistakes to avoid when undergoing a rebranding project:

1. Not engaging in brand research

Brand research is a key component in uncovering the attitudes, perceptions, gaps and opportunities for your brand prior to rebranding. A rebrand will only resonate with its key target audience if the brand has invested in getting to know their customers’ needs and pain points.

There are many benefits and risks to undertaking a rebrand. Insights from brand research can help organisations mitigate risk and inform decision making. A rebrand represents considerable investment from a financial and time perspective, not to mention the risk of losing customers who were loyal to your existing brand. This factor is particularly pertinent when transitioning from a well-known established brand to an unknown new brand.

As a research-led brand agency, we may appear biased on this point, however, without the insights that come from researching your customers, competitors and the market, a rebrand will simply be a wardrobe change.

2. Not having a solid strategy behind your new brand

Don’t undervalue your current brand equity; ignoring what you have already built and the trust you have earned with customers can have a negative impact.

“Stay true to your values. That’s why you were a success in the first place, and that’s how you make incredible things happen.”

Rafe Offer

After conducting research, mapping out a brand strategy to clearly define and articulate your brand values, brand positioning and key points of difference is the next step. The insights uncovered in your brand research will assist in defining your brand positioning which can then inform the development of your new brand identity.

3. Copying a competitor

As tempting as this may be, replicating the activities of a competitor can be one of the worst mistakes you can make, essentially creating less differentiation, less recognition and may result in some legal hot water.

In today’s commoditised market, brand is often the only thing that differentiates you from your competitors. If your competitors have done a good job with their branding and it resonates with your target market, then your rebrand needs to resonate even more.

Remember, a brand is more than a logo; you can showcase your brand by delivering on your values and positioning and then demonstrating these through your brand visual identity and throughout all of your customer interactions. 

4. Following a design trend that doesn’t relate to your offering

Trends come and go. Take a short look back to the ’80s and ’90s to realise that if you follow trends too closely you will soon be outdated.

In the world of branding, there has more recently been a trend of minimalising design, and unfortunately, this can result in brands becoming devoid of personality and can risk losing their identity. If your brand positioning is strong, it can hold its own with a minimalist design. A good example of where minimalist brand design has been successfully deployed is Apple; the brand appears to have stayed consistently simple since inception, however, if you review it more closely it has been refreshed and reinvigorated several times.

The minimalist branding has been effective, in that it allows the non-design elements of the brand to shine through, such as brand positioning.

Brands that dare to be different have the opportunity to create their own visual language.

5. Not being bold enough

Swimming in a sea of sameness will not allow your brand to showcase its distinctiveness. While being bold can sometimes be seen as a risk, daring to differentiate has definitely worked for many brands who have opted for an impactful approach to branding.

There have been some really great examples in recent times. Who Gives a Crap, a brand that disrupted the ‘undisruptable’ - toilet paper. The use of fun branding, the convenience of home delivery and the drawcards of not-for-profit plus environmentally friendly packaging, made this toilet paper brand extremely attractive. Another example is The Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, after getting annoyed by traffic in Los Angeles. The Boring Company, a fun play on words does exactly what it says - boring as in tunnel boring.

6. Not rolling out the rebrand comprehensively

“Having a vision for what you want is not enough. Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Thomas A. Edison

An effective roll-out plan is paramount to the success of a rebrand. If a rebrand is well planned and executed, then the communications phase should be a lot easier. Ensuring that all brand assets are refreshed and internal stakeholders are fully briefed, will create a clear understanding of the new brand and a smooth rollout to your customers.

Conducting a full audit of all your assets, assigning a project manager and working group to the task, is a great approach to ensuring consistency and accountability.

7. Not communicating a rebrand effectively

A saying we often repeat in marketing is that ‘when you are sick of saying something, your customers are only just hearing it’. This is particularly important in the case of a rebrand. The rebrand must be clearly and consistently communicated both internally and externally.

A rebrand announcement can easily be missed. It is vitally important that this message is heard and

understood so that it does not result in a loss of effectiveness when you launch into general brand awareness marketing. Launch loud and proud and get 100% behind your new brand.

To rebrand or refresh? That is the question.

A true rebrand is a journey that involves comprehensively analysing what has changed within your

business and strategy, bringing that change to life through a defined brand positioning and visual identity that signals the change to the market.

Our latest e-book, The Refreshing Guide to Rebranding explores the catalysts, benefits and risks of rebranding. Feel free to download it or call us to discuss your unique situation.

In the past few years, the financial services industry has faced some extensive challenges. Since the Australian Banking Royal Commission’s recommendations were handed down, there have not been many brands within the sector that have escaped completely unscathed, even if by the simple association of being within the financial services sector. Consumer confidence and trust in financial services brands have been greatly affected. New entrants including neobanks such as Volt, 86400 and Xinja, digital fintech brands such as PayPal and Tyro, subsidiary brands of the major banks such as Ubank and BankWest have all emerged to take advantage of these gaps in consumer trust with the traditional players.

For financial services brands, it is time to listen, learn and act. There has already been a major shift from a sole focus on profits and share prices to a focus instead on customer needs and breeding a positive culture and community.

With significant rewards for customers, brands and shareholders, it feels like this is the moment to take positive action.

In a brand sense, this could result in a rebrand or a refresh with a new positioning, values and brand story. It will take some time to rebuild the trust lost, however, looking at the examples of some financial services brands such as ING, Bank Australia and Future Super, being values-driven is definitely resonating with consumers.

When reviewing the business case for rebranding, financial service brands need to start from the inside by understanding the state of play within their organisation:

  1. What are the internal perceptions of the brand?
  2. Is the vision, values and positioning of the brand clear to the team?
  3. Does the culture accurately reflect the brand’s positioning?
  4. Is the business willing and able to invest appropriately into rebranding if required?

The opportunity to rebrand presents a number of benefits for an organisation and it’s critical to weigh the benefits against the risks. Undertaking brand research can provide the answers in understanding both the positive and negative perceptions towards a brand which informs both strategic and tactical brand decision making. 

The importance of brand research in the rebranding process.

In the world of marketing and branding, everyone (absolutely everyone) has an opinion or personal preference. With an objective, external evaluation of a brand to inform decision making, brand strategies and tactics can turn into a nightmare of the loudest voice or strongest opinion. Employing the objective outputs of brand research ensures a brand can position itself appropriately within its competitive context and take advantage of any identified areas of positive differentiation.

Conducting brand research can help mitigate the risks associated with a rebrand. It starts with gaining a deep understanding of the market, customers (both current and potential) and competitors (existing and new entrants). For organisations with long-standing, loyal customers, research can evaluate how these customers will react to a new brand. Understanding the response of current advocates can be the difference between success and failure of a rebrand.

The general sense in the financial services market is that consumers are hungry for positive change. One year on from the recommendations of the royal commission, forward-thinking financial services organisations have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition by considering an investment in a rebrand.

Rebranding presents an opportunity for an organisation to align and clarify its brand message, create or redevelop a new positioning and values. It also presents an opportunity for organisations to realign internal culture and create a magnet to attract new talent.

Once a rebrand has commenced, it is vital to ensure it is executed efficiently and communicated effectively. A smooth roll-out of a rebrand with minimum overlap between the two brands will avoid confusion both internally and externally. Central to this is always referring to the outputs of external, objective brand research, the critical analysis that will keep a rebrand on track and on message.

If your organisation is considering a rebrand, we have recently released an updated Guide to Rebranding, feel free to download it as a good starting point in the consideration process.

Tuesday, 04 February 2020 11:25

To rebrand or refresh, that is the question?

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

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

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

The guide will:

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


With more than $200 million dollars raised to aid the Australian bushfire disaster by everyone from celebrities and organisations to local fundraisers, it is truly incredible how people, in times of crisis, come together to support and help one another.

Generous donations aside, we have also seen a number of brands respond to the disaster by using their core products and service offering to help those affected by the ongoing fires – brands acting through their core brand purpose.

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there is an increasing request, need, drive and sometimes even demand for companies to take action and have a voice around important current affairs, may they be social or political, or in this case, environmental. It is predicted that this will continue to be increasingly the case throughout the 2020’s.

A multitude of brands are responding to the current crisis:

  • Banks: Having finished off last decade with quite a negative reputation generated from the Banking Royal Commission, the Australian financial services sector have started on the right foot by being quick to roll out a natural disaster program for customers in communities impacted by the bushfire and drought emergencies.

The Australian Bankers Association announced a suite of fee-and-loan-repayment changes to help customers get through the crisis. Member banks include the big four banks and a host of other lenders, including Macquarie, AMP, Rabobank, Suncorp, ING, Bank of Queensland and ME Bank.

Some, such as NAB, have gone further and set up a $4 million fund to help customers and staff displaced by the bushfires. NAB customers who have lost homes, including affected business owners and farmers, this bushfire season can access $2000 grants, to help cover costs such as temporary accommodation, food and clothing. Westpac and other banks have provided similar offerings.

Telstra has also offered a number of other relief packages to aid those in need, including: Satellite Cells on Wheels to boost coverage where is needed, assistance packages, free payphones in affected areas, pre-paid handsets, recharge vouchers, access to broadband in evacuation centres, improvements to Triple Zero (000) and assistance with family and friends of those affected, who currently find themselves outside of the country and are wanting to check up on their loved ones.

  • Coles: have given $3 million in gift cards to over 6000 rural fire brigades across Australia.
  • Woolworths Group: almost $1.3 million raised for the Salvation Army in the months to Christmas, since surpassing $3 million including donations from its own customers.
  • Milky Lane and McDonalds: offering free burgers and meals to all fire-fighters.
  • Arnotts, Freddo, Mars Australia and Coca Cola: have all made generous pledges whilst also providing and distributing, through organisations such as Foodbank Australia, their products to all those affected by the fires. Coca-Cola Australia is honouring Australia’s firefighters with the creation of a limited-edition Share a Coke with the Firies.
  • Sports: both Tennis Australia and Cricket Australia have used their upcoming and current events to donate and raise money for the, with many players pledging to donate money according to the number of aces or wickets they receive during their respective events.
  • The Arts: from comedians and knitters, sewers and crafters, to jewellery makers, designers, ceramic artists to fundraising gigs across the country – the art scene have using their skills to raise and donate money where possible. The line-up for bushfire fundraiser concert is a smorgasbord of Australian talent as well as some huge international guests.
  • Architects: a new volunteer organisation called Architects Assist, comprised of over 130 architecture studios, has formed to help bushfire victims rebuild, offering pro-bono design and planning assistance to people whose houses, businesses and community centres have burned down.

These great acts of kindness will help bring some relief to those who have been affected by the fires. However, it is important for brands to ensure the way they respond in times of crisis, or when taking any stance, is not seen as an opportunistic move to increase sales in the long run. In order to be successful in doing so, brands must ensure the following:

  • Authenticity

Consumers can see right through brands that don’t respond authentically or with integrity, which in turn can convert to distrust towards the brand. What could be perceived as a kind gesture or widely applauded stance to a social crisis, if perceived as hollow or opportunistic, can turn ugly very fast.

For instance, P&G’s brand, Gillette, received a lot of backlash when they released their 2019 campaign “The best Men Can Be’ against toxic masculinity. Consumers saw it as an attempt to capitalise on the #MeToo movement, when this brand had little history in having this stance in the past. Some could say that the brand was known for disfavouring women at times, by adding premium prices to their women lines. The decorrelation between their brand purpose and values with the pro-social message lead to the campaign’s overall fail.  

  • Timing

Acting fast, especially in times of crisis, is crucial and in some way is also linked to authenticity. Brands need to lead when it comes to taking a social stance and not appear to be jumping onto a bandwagon. Gillette’s campaign came the #MeToo movement had gathered pace. Being too late can be perceived as being inauthentic, and therefore can cause a negative image in consumer’s minds.

  • Empathy

In an age in which understanding your customers and building relationships with them has become key to standing out in crowded marketplaces, empathy takes on a new level of priority. Empathy allows brands to build an emotional connection with their audience, to engage the people who use their products in real conversations and to inspire connection. A lack of empathy can in turn lead to…you guessed it, inauthenticity and distrust.

Empathy and authenticity must also be perceived by not only the brand and its communications strategy, but also from its people, otherwise a disconnect between both of these can end disastrously as well.

Consumers are looking more and more at brands to take action. The recent climate change protests and the ongoing fires, have been good examples of how companies across Australia have done so, creating deeper and stronger connections with their consumers than what advertising and campaigns have ever done in the past.

For brands wanting to respond to the bushfire crisis, empathy is delivered not just in donations of money or goods (however gratefully received), but in how the products and services they deliver can contribute to the recovery effort. The question brands need to ask is “what can we do to improve the conditions of those caught in the fires? If they need one things from us, what is that one thing?”

Whether that one thing is free burgers, scoring aces, mortgage repayment suspensions…brands are able to contribute authentically from within their own products and services to support the recovery effort.

If brands focus on doing what they do best, in an authentic, trustworthy way – it is more likely to be perceived as part of their core values rather than an opportunity for promotion. It has been truly heart-warming and inspiring to see so many brands put their hand up and offer help in their own unique ways.

At BrandMatters, we love the festive season.

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

Storytelling in the festive season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to for brands in 2020

Here are our top tips for brands in 2020:

1. Authenticity and Transparency

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

As a Forbes article put it:

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

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

2. Sustainability

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

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

3. Distinctiveness

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

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

4. Customer Experience

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

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

Time to relax this summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best for the festive season.

On 20 September 2019, Strike4Climate occurred across the globe. It was reported that over 6 million people worldwide, including over 300,000 people in Australia attended the strike.

This global strike movement is one of the largest ever seen across the world since the protests against the Iraq war in 2003, but it wasn’t just the sheer number of people that caught everyone’s attention, but also the vast number of organisations and brands that backed the cause.

To name a few, Patagonia, Ben&Jerry, Lush and Greenpeace were just some of the companies to align their brands with the cause, dedicating full pages on their websites to show their support. In an unprecedented alliance started by Australian company Future Super, together with Atlassian and KeepCup, called This is not Business as Usual, companies came together to pledge their support for worker participation in the climate strike. In just over a week, more than 2,800 companies across the nation joined the pledge.

This kind of support and public display of brand purpose is becoming more common among successful brands. There have been many that have led the way, and now others are redefining themselves with clear purpose and focus.

In fact, the heat from climate change is becoming a reality that brands cannot ignore. The pressure for businesses to act responsibly is stronger than ever - consumers are moving to support brands that take a stand. The pressure is coming thick and fast, not solely from consumers but also from regulators, employees, investors and shareholders.

Brands now need to be seen as responsible global citizens. A recent Garner report stated that “Employees, in particular, millennials are seeking to have a socially meaningful impact through work that aligns with their own values.”

The global market research company, Forrester has reported on the impact of climate change and how it is altering the world of business.

“Today, consumers explicitly consider factors such as company values and commitment to certain causes or beliefs when choosing brands to associate with or products to buy.”

Source: Forrester

There is definitely a recipe for success when it comes to the brands positively presenting themselves as a champion for climate change action. Brands must practice what they preach - they cannot simply advertise the fact. Brands must articulate their values throughout their brand strategy, brand story and communications.

In a previous blog, we highlighted some brands who are successfully incorporating sustainability into their brand values. These included:

  1. IceBreaker. Not only are their products living up to their promise, but they also commit to sustainable agriculture. They use merino wool from New Zealand and promise that the wool can be traced back to the farm it came from. They have created a sustainable business model that is built to support the farmers and is based on genuine trust and mutual concern for animal welfare and protection of the natural environment.
  2. Le Creuset. Quality and longevity of the product is what makes this brand stand out from a sustainability viewpoint. For almost 100 years, their brand promise has come with a lifetime warranty with a focus on building products that last, rather than throw-away short-lifecycle products.
  3. Who Gives A Crap toilet paper. Not only is the product and packaging made from environmentally friendly material, but the company also donates 50% of its profits to help build toilets for those in need.
  4. Sukin is an Australian, all-natural skincare brand. Their promise is - “what we leave out is what makes us special.” Their products are made of all-natural ingredients and no chemicals. 

The questions being asked, what does it mean to be sustainable; what do brands need to do in order to ensure consumers trust and value their contribution to environmental causes, in order to support them? Brands need to look at all angles, consider all options and put the planet on their agenda.

Business Insider recently interviewed four Australian brands who are weaving sustainability into their values in unique ways that resonate with their brand positioning. One example listed was Future Super.

“We won’t invest super into coal, oil or gas — leading sources of climate change — as well as any banks that finance fossil fuels, and companies that provide polluters with essential services,”
Kirstin Hunter, Managing Director of Future Super.

Many brands are coming up with unique ways to incorporate sustainability in their brand. Some of the initiatives that brands are committing to include:

1. Eliminating single-use plastics
2. Recycling programs in the workplace
3. Investing in biodegradable and earth-friendly packaging
4. Eliminating the use of chemicals in the workplace or in production processes
5. Reducing energy and water consumption
6. Ensuring environmentally friendly waste management systems
7. Measuring carbon footprint and offsetting carbon
8. Developing a climate action plan
9. Setting emissions targets
10. Initiating corporate social responsibility programs

This list is not exhaustive; ideally brands need to find the right initiative that will fit within their brand narrative - and be authentically and honestly executed. If companies fear that implementing these sustainability initiatives is going to be costly and impact negatively on their bottom line - they need to think of the alternative, and that is that climate change will damage economies, reduce the availability of finite resources and increase the cost of doing business. So it is for both business and humanitarian reasons, that companies of all sizes take action.

The below model graphically depicts the relationship between sustainability and profit. When implemented well, it will have a positive effect on market share and profits.

Sustainability Profit Relationship Model



Source: Sustainability-Profitability Relationship Model

Climate action offers companies the chance to connect with consumers in a way that demonstrates a common goal. It provides an opportunity for brands to weave this message into their brand story and communications.

It is not only customers who will support brands who actively and authentically weave sustainability into their values. This year's Edelman's Trust Barometer showed us how employees are relying more and more on their employers to lead the way on social responsibility, and with this comes the power to act on important political issues, such as the environment and its preservation. Brand purpose and aligning your brand to employees' values is becoming increasingly more important in winning the war on talent.

It is undeniably evident that brands have the power to move individuals towards positive change, in fact, some of the most successful brands have even managed to start the movement. Consumers will choose a brand they resonate with, a brand they feel represents their views. BrandMatters specialises in brand strategy; finding the right approach to incorporating sustainability into your brand strategy is imperative, and this is something we can help you uncover.

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Many organisations house more than one brand within their portfolio. This may have been strategically planned or may have come about as a result of a merger or acquisition. It is important that each brand has a specific purpose, does not overlap or cannibalise other brands within the portfolio and maximises the market reach for the organisation.

A brand architecture review can help organisations streamline their brand portfolio so as to maximise return on investment and minimise confusion in the market.

There are a number of brand architecture models that may be appropriate; a review of your brands can help ascertain which model is right for your organisation.

To learn more about the various brand architecture models, download our e-book – An Introduction to Brand Architecture. This e-book outlines the various models, along with the pros and cons of each. Understanding whether your portfolio suits a master brand, branded house, house of brands model or something in between will unfold as you delve into the considerations and review the specific roles of each of your brands. 

Some of the key considerations you will need to assess when undergoing your brand architecture review are:

1. How many brands are appropriate for your organisation?

The more brands you have the more thinly spread your marketing budget will become. A good first step in a brand architecture review is to logically assess the number of brands you need verses how many you currently have.

A disorganised and inconsistent brand portfolio may have evolved organically over time with little structure or discipline as to how brands are treated, presented or managed. This can lead to a multitude of inconsistent identities and possibly a lack of ‘daylight’ between brands. The development of products, services, campaigns or programs can become less cost effective and the lack of clarity can make it difficult to grow a company’s profile. Low brand awareness and equity will often stem from managing multiple brands, as audiences generally find it easier to remember fewer brands.

Depending on your strategy and starting point, in general terms, less is more when it comes to the number of brands required to be managed.  A master brand strategy presents a singular brand promise, consistently applied. It offers efficiencies for new product development complementing brand-building initiatives. In a master brand strategy, the approach to singularity of message underpins all brand decision making, maximises cohesiveness across the offer and provides the decision-making mechanism for brand extensions. Additionally, the application of a singular visual identity system minimises the investment required and makes it easier to manage. These efficiencies of a master brand strategy also come with compromises and limitations as it relates to entering new markets, launching new products and reaching new audiences.

For global B2B professional services organisations such as Deloitte, the master brand strategy offers the opportunity to provide a suite of services across functions, sectors and geographies with one voice. It allows the flexibility to add new services over time without diluting its brand or confusing the market. Aligned, integrated and well-coordinated, the master brand strategy allows organisations like Deloitte to earn the right over time to add ever more divergent services to its suite under the existing brand.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the house of brands model, it is the individual product or service brand - rather than the central, owning parent or corporate group – that is the source of brand identification for target audiences. This model allows for flexibility, as each brand under the parent brand operates independently under their own individual business strategy. As such, each standalone brand feeds back to the parent and feeds into their business strategy as one component of many. The owner, umbrella or corporate brand often remains invisible to consumers, as there is little inherent value in highlighting it. The model requires greater levels of investment in new product development, marketing and ongoing maintenance.

For example, Google introduced its parent brand Alphabet to function as a corporate holding company that enables Google and other entities within the portfolio including Calico and YouTube to build their own equity. Alphabet is, therefore, free to acquire and expand its portfolio as the opportunities arise.

2. How well do your brands fit together?

Understanding how all brands fit and work together enables companies to better target their key audiences, including internal stakeholders, and build brand awareness more effectively to 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 also more likely to make price-based purchasing decisions or search elsewhere. Attention spans are undoubtedly low and brands need to be aware of this when it comes to the organisation of their brands.

A branded house, endorsed brand or sub-brand model may be suitable in these cases – allowing the brands to borrow equity already earned by the parent brand and enable consumers to gain more clarity on the distinction between each of your brands.

A good example of this is Virgin Group, the core brand equity is dispersed across a portfolio of non-competing offers. Virgin’s portfolio scope is enormous, yet its core brand capabilities are never lost, despite continually extending into new markets. Each brand generates an immediate market positioning based on the perception of the parent brand, a unified identity that is easy for consumers to recognise and recall.

3. 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.  This may lead to internal competition and conflicting views that 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.

Testing your proposed new brand architecture structure through brand research will help you ensure you succeed in implementing a model that works both internally and externally.

4. Is your brand architecture 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. Unrealistic expectations surrounding acquisitions; that the new entity can merely co-exist alongside the company’s existing brands, can negatively impact organisational efficiency, as the costs often outweigh the benefits without a suitable architecture strategy to integrate and leverage the new brand assets.

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

For house of brand companies, achieving market dominance with a large number of brands has resulted in companies like Unilever pruning their portfolios by reducing costs and complexity to increase efficiency. It is always worth articulating the costs of inefficient brand architecture, as this has a ripple effect. 

How to kick off a review?

At BrandMatters, we specialise in simplifying complex brand architecture so that it provides a positive return on investment and ensures the essence of each of your brands is clearly articulated and understood.

Contact us to discuss your brand portfolio and how it can work more efficiently and effectively.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:24

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Gain a better understanding of brand architecture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Develop, execute and communicate your strategy

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

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

Turning insights into strategy

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

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

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

Call us to discuss your unique situation.

Mention any organisation that has excelled in branding such as Nike, Apple or Lego and you’ll find they have much in common. Consumers understand clearly what these brands stand for, how they are different to their competitors and bring expectations on purchasing value when dealing with the brand. For each of these organisations, brand is the champion that sets them apart and drives their business growth. More importantly, brand investment sits front and centre when it comes to budgeting and business strategy. Shareholders and the C-Suite value investment in the brand. The role of the CMO and their marketing team is clearly valued as contributing to the bottom line.

Communicating the impact of brand investment on revenue and revenue growth can be a tricky task - especially if the Board or investors/shareholders are used to viewing the business through a profit/loss lens. CMOs need to work together with the C-Suite to communicate the value of the brand and how it helps build and improve the overall performance of the organisation.

A recent McKinsey study highlighted that 83% of global CEOs agree that marketing can be a major driver of growth. There are still many who believe marketing falls under discretionary expenditure and would not attribute it to growth. The report concludes that the opinion of the CEO and Board is heavily influenced by the reputation and rapport of the CMO with the C-Suite and their ability to build deep, productive relationships and win over the sceptics in the C-suite.

McKinsey divides CMOs into three categories – Unifiers, Friends and Loners. The unifiers are 1.4 times more likely to be viewed as having a clear role in driving growth, be mutually accountable in delivering on this growth and be given the right resources and tools needed to achieve this.

It is vital that CMOs ‘seize the day’ in proving the value of marketing in driving growth for the organisation. They must unify the team and leverage the CEO’s support in order to drive growth. The challenge placed on CMOs, is to ensure they can effectively showcase the value brand and marketing has on business growth.


CMOs can take ownership of driving positive growth via 4 key deliverables.






1. Direction - a clear vision and set of values that align with your brand positioning

CMOs can lead the way in creating a clear vision for the entire company. A vision that is easily adopted at all levels of the organisation and that aligns with values and brand positioning.

A clearly defined vision and brand positioning can not only help unify the organisation but also help in making informed decisions, understanding where the company is heading and setting a clear path on how to get there together. An effective brand positioning will not only provide a guiding light for the team - it will should also clearly differentiate a business from its competitors.

How does this directly impact the bottom line? There are some clear-cut examples. The recent Nike campaign which, as reported by CNBC, created a surge firstly in shares, likes, followers and fans across social media - followed by a surge in sales and stock prices. The campaign initially prompted a boycott from some consumers, but the values behind the brand and the campaign proved more positive than polarising with their customers and the general public. An increase in sales followed in the immediate days after the campaign release.

2. Differentiation – setting you apart from your competitors

In this commoditised world, brand is often the only factor that differentiates an organisation from its competitors. A well-articulated brand story and brand identity can set a brand apart and build an affinity with your customers. It takes time, investment and patience to build a strong brand. A commitment from the C-Suite and shareholders to this process is vital.

When an organisation commits to building their brand in a consistent and authentic way, brand awareness will grow, consumers will develop an understanding of the brand, which in turn builds trust and loyalty. Subsequently, awareness and trust positively impact overall profitability. A CEO or business owner who understands this will accept the fact that investment in brand, especially in the early days, will lead to long term profitability and a reduction in the marketing spend, once the brand is well established.

Unfortunately, only a small number of board members or CEO’s (McKinsey noted only 3%) have a marketing background. This does not, however, stop them from having an opinion on marketing. CMOs need to bring real data and evidence to the table – start talking the language of CEOs and CFOs to ensure their message is taken seriously above simply ‘opinions and gut feelings’.

Bring data to the table. Evidencing results such as the volume of traffic, engagement rates, search engine rankings and organic search queries for your brand name can be proof that investment into your brand strategy is resulting in growth in sales. Proof of your brand being selected over your competitors and other examples of quantitative data can prove the importance and performance of your brand.

Other research, such as survey results on your customer sentiment, or using social listening tools to track how a brand is being perceived by potential customers, or alternatively engaging in brand tracking research on a consistent basis, are all ways that you can incorporate results into your quarterly or annual reports. In this way, investors start to get used to seeing these results and beginning to understand them.


3. Demand Generation – driving direct business via campaign activity

Demand generation is probably the most resourced area of the marketing team – an effective marketing campaign should result in instant gratification in the form of sales, leads and brand awareness – all of which can be measured.

Providing the C-suite with a clear understanding of the specific objectives of each marketing tactic and where it sits within the buyer journey is also extremely important. Not every dollar spent is about sales – consumers need to know you first before they will be willing to purchase from you – so an element of your marketing investment needs to focus on brand awareness.

According to Gartner, 80% of the buying process will occur without any human interaction. The challenge for brands is to position themselves with brand strength and understand the role of marketing in the lead nurture process. The marketing activation strategy needs to ensure the right message is targeted to the right consumer at the right stage of their buyer journey.

4. Devoted advocates – brand loyalty is alive and well worthwhile

The Pareto Principle, or “80/20 rule” as it is frequently called today, is often used to point out that 80% of a company's revenue is generated by 20% of its customers.

Put simply, if customers are happy, you will find them coming back to you as well as sharing their experience with others. Consistently high retention has a twofold effect on the bottom line via increased sales and reduced cost per sale.

Relationship marketing, customer retention, loyalty programs – these strategies all sit squarely with the CMO. Consistently high retention can create a strong competitive advantage.

Brand loyalty, and its effect on the bottom line, is one aspect of brand where business owners and investors can also track and measure performance. It is evident that shareholders, investors and business owners are well aware of the positive impact of brand loyalty, hence loyalty programs and other reward strategies that have been put into place to retain existing customers. It is hard to ignore the scale of the cost differences in acquiring versus retaining customers.  It costs 6 times more to gain a new customer versus keeping an existing one. The value in retaining existing satisfied, loyal customers is hard for anyone to ignore.

Brand loyalty and retention of customers can not only increase profit, but it can also decrease costs through referral and advocacy. Building great relationships with your customers means that when prompted (and sometimes unprompted) they will refer you to others without hesitation.  

CFOs and CEOs are increasingly accustomed to reading and interpreting the Net Promoter Score (NPS) therefore it has become an extremely efficient tool for CMOs. Sharing this information within your quarterly or annual reporting will also be extremely beneficial in helping financial investors understand the importance of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty to the overall picture.

Getting everyone on the same page

At BrandMatters, we have seen the evidence of the positive growth results of our clients who have made significant investments in their brand. Research and data underpin all our recommendations and provides the much needed demonstrable proof.

For CMOs to become unifiers – they need to ensure they effectively collaborate and earn the respect of the C-suite and key stakeholders. We can also help facilitate this, through depth interviews and stakeholder workshops and track subsequent campaign effectiveness through brand tracking research.

All of these strategic brand measures should be considered when analysing an organisation’s results. As outlined, brand can positively impact sales, help you increase profit margins and reduce costs in the long term through loyalty and advocacy.


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