I had the pleasure recently to mark the award submission for the Australian Marketing Institute for the Brand Revitalisation category and thought I would share my insights and learnings.
This was a bigger job than I anticipated. There were 30 submissions with two stages. First stage was reading each submission, providing general feedback and then selecting my top 9 to go through to the second stage. The second stage was reading and scoring each section of each submission. In total I think it took me 25 hours. I was one of many judges for this category. Why am I telling you this? If you decide to enter the AMI awards next year, it’s a very thorough and valuable process to experience. All submissions receive feedback from multiple judges.
I will also say, despite the time this took, I loved every minute of it. It reminded me why 25 years ago I chose marketing and why I love brands so much. Especially Australian brands. We have a tone of voice that no one in the world can replicate. Go Aussie!
INSIGHTS & LEARNINGS
(Some of which are taken from Australia’s best known brands):
1. Don’t wait for your brand to experience a downturn to take action. All but one brand waited for declining numbers, e.g. brand scores, sales, etc, before giving attention to their brand. Your brand is an asset and it should be treated accordingly. Don’t let it get to the stage where you either need to knock down the walls or the entire building. Brand maintenance is crucial if you want your brand to sit on both your balance sheet and business valuation.
2. Invest in great creative. Creative that your audience cannot miss. Creative that sings in harmony with your brand. Creative that is entertaining and memorable. Quantity does not equate to quality. Better to go with less and get the quality right, then be the brand that adds white noise.
3. Measure twice and cut once. The great brands are tracking results. Brand scores, sales, analytics, etc, on a regular basis. A much better alternative to the guessing game – which is usually skewed to a personal bias. Tracking progress brings the facts to the surface and makes life much easier and more exciting for everyone involved.
4. Research before strategy. The award submissions that really stood out to me were the ones that have invested in research. Understanding the customer and all stakeholders involved – before doing anything or suggesting solutions. It’s from this research that they have been able to uncover compelling insights that then became a solid foundation for the brand strategy.
5. Stand for something but not everything. A brand revitalisation often comes off the back of an identity crisis. Who are we again? What makes us unique? What will people say about us versus our competitors? Why would someone come and work for us? With good brand strategy comes clarity. Clarity that sets the scene for the next 3, 5, 10 years.
6. The winners know that brand marketing isn’t just about advertising and promotions. It’s a lot broader. It encompasses every touch point. The product, the process, pricing, distribution, online, offline, customer experience, creative, media, community, suppliers, staff, etc. Don’t limit your marketing and brand efforts to advertising and promotions. Most people in my experience don’t know how extensive marketing is, and why would they, unless they studied or worked in marketing. If this is you, find yourself a switched on marketing partner. The returns will work in your favour.
7. Make a difference – that’s bigger than your bottom line. The brands pulling the heartstrings in a genuine way got my attention. They are talking about how they are impacting a wider community. The world is evolving. We want more than transactional – we want to support brands that are not just for themselves. We want to wear a brand with pride. A good example of this is – Gucci is proud to be recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion”
8. Marketing is a team effort. Ownership shouldn’t be limited to one person or a department if you want to maximise effectiveness and longevity. Everyone in and outside the business plays a part in the evolution of your brand. Great brand strategy sets the framework for each stakeholder and then leads from behind – providing support on support, to steer the brand in the right direction. The best results come from a united team commitment.
9. Brand is a long term game, but every stepping stone counts. Every decision you make about everything is linked to your brand. What you pay your staff, how you speak to your customers, whether you have a hybrid working model, if you are investing in AI, the relationship you have with your suppliers, etc. The stepping stones are tiny parts of a bigger story. If you don’t have a decision making system, it could very well mean that you don’t have a bigger story / brand story, i.e. the answer to ‘where are we going?’
10. Brands that inspire! Everyone of the brand award submissions were inspiring change. To inspire change requires a level of excitement and trust – and that’s even before change takes place. The first step most brands adopted was collaborating with key stakeholders. (As marketers we can get really excited about ideas – and then forget to get people on board – and then the idea falls flat. It could be the best idea ever, but it’s worthless.) The power of collaboration is not simply about bringing people along the journey. It’s about getting them so involved that they build the journey. This is where the true value of collaboration lies.
11. Really think about your marketing budget. The marketing budgets of the award submissions ranged from $30,000 to $12million. The brand with a $12million budget was able to do things the other brands could not. But in their case they actually needed to. They are a national sporting brand/event that competes with other very big sporting brands. When thinking about your marketing budget, know that it is relative to:
(1) The impact you want to make
(2) The quality of the impact
(3) The timeframe of when you need to make the impact by
Please let me know if you would like more information about the Australian Marketing Institute or any of the points listed above.
Have a great day!