Time out, the festive season, brands and where to next for 2020

February 13, 2023
Consumer Financial Services Brand strategy

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.

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