In this guest post, BWM Dentsu’s group head of brand, Moensie Rossier (pictured below), casts her eye over the current marketing landscape and says it needs to rediscover its “swagger”…
BrandZ data indicates fewer than one in 10 brands grew between 2014 and 2017. Staggering, given that growth is the number one objective of just about every company in the world. Meanwhile, trust in brands is at an all-time low, with leaders under the spotlight of prominent Royal Commissions.
Evidenced by Peter Field and Les Binet’s analysis of IPA Effectiveness case studies, the tactification of marketing over the past decade has seen more companies chase short-lived sales spikes at the expense of long-term brand building, rather than finding the right mix of both. Now they’re reaping the harvest; albeit the booby prize of zero growth.
Marketing is increasingly being demoted, as new Growth or Transformation Officers and CTOs climb the C-Suite pecking order.
This year is proving to be something of a ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment, with twenty-five of the highest-profile international CMOs convening in Cannes for the 2018 Festival of Creativity to define a growth agenda and restore the ‘swagger’ to marketing.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Andrew Thorburn, CEO of NAB has promised transformational and accelerated change, and spoke to the Australian Financial Review of a ‘burning platform’ to reimagine what banking can be, moving into the future by going back to basics and restoring community trust.
Nothing short of step-change transformation is going to fit the bill in these testing times for brands. This kind of radical change has to begin inside the organisation and spread outwards. It’s not enough to fix the external brand or fix the culture, nor should they be addressed separately. There can’t be any wiggle room between what companies do and what they promise in their communications because that’s where the trust gap lies and its exactly where Royal Commissions shine the spotlight.
This adds credence to a new (actually, old) definition of ‘brand’ – one that is not just a communications construct, but a central business philosophy. One that manages organisational behavior and change as well as communications. One that means a Masterbrand, with a simple, long-term, emotionally resonant ‘Organising Idea’, which rallies staff and serves as a promise to customers.
Think of Kmart’s promise, ‘We make low prices irresistible’, which transformed the brand from a dowdy discount department store to an exciting and desirable shopping experience. Such transformation is possible when the Organising Idea drives a cohesive and meaningful brand experience, not just a generic customer experience. We call it a Unique Brand Experience, or UBX. The core idea is consistent over time but allows for a refreshed experience to constantly surprise; for example, Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’, or Qantas’ ‘The Spirit of Australia,’ recently manifested in ‘The Passport Take Off’ which gave US citizens a passport to experience the spirit of Australia for themselves.
The combination of the Organising Idea and UBX together forms a Modern Masterbrand and it’s the central tenet of our philosophy, to prove the power of creativity to transform brands and business.
This strategic model fuses classical brand thinking with agility to build long-term brands. It employs consistent rituals, recognisable brand assets and mass media while, at the same time, drives targeted conversion, and integrates all marketing levers (including NPD, advertising, technology, CX and PR, to name a few).
A Modern Masterbrand acts as a rudder to navigate complexity and manage brands successfully in an omnichannel media landscape. It is classical brand thinking – the kind that has fallen out of fashion lately because marketing has been buffeted by the latest ‘big thing’, whether it’s big data, the addressable consumer, programmatic media, AI; the list goes on.
All are useful tools in the marketing mix. The problem is that each has been hailed as the ‘new world order’, replacing all that’s gone before, including the primacy of brand. And, without the brand to harness all the tactics and drive real growth, you’re left running around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly.