Why defining brand strategy is vital to capitalising on quick wins

Troy McKinnna

  • Co-founder, Agents of Spring, Calm & Stormy
  • Website
Troy McKinna is an entrepreneur and brand building specialist. He is the co-founder of Agents of Spring and Calm & Stormy. A sought after innovation consultant, facilitator and speaker who helps senior leaders and teams build customer-led growth strategies. He is also the author of Brand Hustle – 4 critical foundations to accelerate brand growth.

Big brands were once protected from small brands by high barriers to entry. Big brands had the resources to employ big agencies, to crack big ideas and to invest in big campaigns. They had the luxury of time to debate strategies and work on long-term innovation pipelines. Retailers used to partner with big brands.  

However, the dynamics of business have changed. It is no longer a game of size, but one of speed. The old advantages are now disadvantages. Supply chains have been democratised, media channels have exploded, and retailers are thirsty for innovation. To thrive in the new world order, brands must act fast against a clear strategic direction.  

Even before the banking royal commission highlighted the disconnect between the big bank’s offers and their customers’ needs, ME Bank knew there was a significant customer problem to solve. Former ME Bank CMO, Rebecca James, helped define the bank’s core purpose – “to help all Australians get ahead. Everyone is highly anxious about their finances, so we rallied against financial anxiety. We were a financial coach for Australians”.  

With customer clarity, ME Bank made quick decisions about communications and new products, accelerating the brand’s growth. They developed products designed to reduce financial anxiety, and as Rebecca called them ‘weasel-free’.  

“Weasel free products have no “gotchas”, are clean and have a simple design,” she says.    

A great example of the voice ME found for the brand was an April Fool’s day prank that launched the ‘Cardashians’. A range of credit cards with no limit, called Cim, Chloe, Courtney and Cris. The tagline: “ME’s new family of credit cards for when you need to keep up.”  

Four Pillars Gin is another high-growth brand with clarity on what it stands for, and what it stands against. Two of the brand's key pillars are to elevate the craft of distilling, and to share the craft of modern Australia.  

“We recognise we’re part of a movement,” Co-founder of Four Pillars, Matt Jones, says. “It’s to sort of push against the clichés of Australia overseas and celebrate modern, creative, diverse, contemporary, urban Australia in all of its weird glory. It can serve up the world’s best coffee, but not bother putting shoes on.”  

So when the team behind the re-opening of St Kilda’s iconic Espy raised the idea of a developing a gin, they jumped at it and developed Sticky Carpet gin. As Jones puts it, the gin was a “a tribute to Australia’s great hotels and their front bars, the carpets sticky with beer and thick with stories”.  

For Jones, brand building is an act of improv, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Improvisation is about acting quickly with a natural fluidity, he says.  

Developing brand hustle is not just for young brands either. Diageo turned around the fate of the Bundaberg brand by focusing on the customer and clearly defining the brand’s direction.  

In its Queensland heartland, sales of Bundy and cola cans were declining by 20 per cent. Nationally, the brand was declining at 9 per cent. By using a combination of new consumer-led products such as Lazy Bear, impactful communications and sales presence they were able to turn around the brand.  

To do this, former CMO of Diageo Australia, Adam Ballesty, says the team first identified Bundy stood for ‘celebrating the best of Australia’. When the Australian cricket team were found to have tampered with the ball, “five of us sat around a table, and went, right, do we have a voice? Do we need to go out with something? What is it?” Ballesty says. “And the guy running the brand, he said, No, no, no. We’re about celebrating the best of – not pointing the finger at the worst of. So I’m like, great, end of meeting, and we’re done.”  

In contrast, when three-time surfing world champion Mick Fanning retired, “you quickly get the distillery to create the Mick Fanning blend, and you send him six bottles saying, Thanks for a great career. We have loved you. You stood for this, as we do,” Ballesty says. This authentic gesture was rewarded with Fanning posting a picture to his 1.1 million followers on Instagram.  

In a business era where speed is the new scale, brands need to be clearly defined to facilitate quick decision making, just as ME Bank, Four Pillars and Bundaberg have done. Can you articulate the problem your offer solves? Are you building a presence in the sales channels that deliver the best customer experience and are you consistently embedding memories in the minds of your customers?

Tags: brand strategy

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2021

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at gauging how ...

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Blog Posts

Why if marketing is all you do, you’ll never be very good at it

OK, so you’re probably thinking: “Here comes another article to badger me about living in my bubble.” And also, “I bet this bubble-bashing piece will go on to explain how I can achieve better results through some heady dose of new life experiences, new routines and annoyingly different opinions on social media.”

Dane Smith and Toby Harrison

Ogilvy Australia

A leader’s role in rebuilding a culture of confidence

Every day, there are new predictions and studies on the future of work, the state of the economy and the unfolding global pandemic. All of which creates uncertainty and heightens the imperative of effective leadership.

Michelle Gibbings

Workplace expert, author

Confused About Your Customers?​

​I've worked in brand and marketing for more than 20 years. But there’s one area where I’ve found myself going around in circles and I must admit I'm becoming increasingly confused.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in