BRANDING : Brand Power – Why it matters

At the end of the day, Hell Pizza makes pizza just like Coca-Cola makes fizzy brown drinks. What defines these companies is their brand and the term ‘brand’ might as well be redefined as ‘organisational reputation’. So when Hell Pizza’s advertising agency included condoms in letterbox campaign, new owner Tasman Pacific Foods (TPF) felt the Hell Pizza brand, or its reputation, had taken hit. (The condom campaign generated nearly 10 times more complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority than any other advertising campaign in 2006.) Some customers vowed not to buy from Hell Pizza again, and TPF was alarmed enough to want to change the way the brand was being communicated and to take more conservative approach. The ad agency and the business parted company soon after, timely reminder that branding, which is tied up with business identity and reputation; and marketing, which is concerned with communication and promotion, can be at odds and even when in sync remain separate entities.
“[Ad agencies] can push the communications around brand further than the brand itself. They tend to be driven more by the marketing function of the business than strategic alignment, whereas brand consultants work in close partnership with the owners of the business to articulate an organisational strategy first – it’s longer term, quieter relationship,” says Sven Baker, creative director for brand consultants Designworks.
This may be helpful for managers approaching formal branding exercise for the first time. Whether or not business engages expert guidance on how, when and why to brand, managers should know development of brand strategy is ideally completed by senior management and involves all staff, rather than being ‘silo’d’ out to the marketing department.
Stephen Murray, general manager for aged care provider Guardian Healthcare, says when his organisation initiated re-branding campaign in 2006, the organisation’s 3200 staff were involved from the outset.
“Our previous brand was too abstract and said we were all about infrastructure rather than what makes us unique, which is how much we care. We knew we needed to move from brand that was about the head to one that was about the heart, and also from corporate brand to consumer brand,” says Murray.

Branding.101 Before we get any further, it’s worth defining the concept of ‘brand’. There are many definitions, but what most have in common is an agreement that brand is promise, set of principles recognised and understood by anyone who comes into contact with the company. brand is also largely intangible – that is, it exists mainly in the minds and hearts of the consumers and internal staff.
For example, if mobile phone company brand is centred on ‘youthful innovation’ then people interacting with that company will expect to come into contact with youthfully innovative company wherever and however they interact with it.
John Varcoe, director for brand strategy company Scenario, says brand is “everything people think, feel and believe about an organisation or product” and becomes strategic business tool when used to interest consumers in goods or services; to distinguish products from competitor products, and to create market.
“[Brand strategy] encompasses the development and application of brand identity, PR, advertising, media planning, web design, direct marketing, pricing, distribution, packaging, fit out, sales management, recruitment, staff training, and rewards and recognition. It provides everyone associated with the brand with clear vision about what the brand represents and where it’s going. It adds sense of purpose to people’s work,” says Varcoe.
Getting Started – Annie Dow, director for Dow Design, says brand needs to encompass an organisation inside and out and well-written brief is an important part of ensuring the business gets off to well-aligned start on brand strategy.
“Questions to consider include what mood, tone or emotion you think your brand needs to take. We ask customers to outline exactly what they want from brand, and its expected impact. We can work through this process with clients if they need us to, using workshops and reviewing similar-industry international or local brands,” says Dow. (For more on writing brand briefs, see “Writing branding brief”. )
Dow says it’s also important to set realistic branding budget – these often form part of a marketing budget, yet brand is business asset rather than an expense, and saleable one at that (brand experts estimate the Coca-Cola brand makes up more than 60 percent of the entire business value of the parent bottling company and its subsidiaries).
Chris Meade, business development manager for Designworks, says business asking “should I throw money at branding?” should know that good branding strategy delivers business clarity and value and helps managers to act upon ideas they may have had for while.
“If you get it right, you will be carving out position in the market and you will own that position,” says Meade.
Baker says what client is prepared to invest in brand consultancy will probably be determined by how persuasive or convincing the return on the branding investment is. This is borne out by Guardian Healthcare’s Murray, who uses Designworks for brand consultancy. He says while Guardian Healthcare initially spent more money on re-branding than it thought it would, the extra investment was worth it.
“The initial cost was over our estimates by 20 to 25 percent, but this was something Designworks came back and talked to us about. lot went into the internal brand launch because Designworks stressed the importance of aligning our internal culture with our brand values. We consider what we spent real investment in the business,” says Murray.
Sell to staff first – Internal alignment is certainly crucial component of successful branding campaign. Murray says Guardian Healthcare used Designworks to ask employees what they liked about the organisation and what they thought it stood for. Views and perceptions were also gleaned from consultations with the Ministry of Health, individual doctors and Guardian Healthcare facility residents and their families. The resulting feedback allowed the organisation to analyse its existing brand and identify inherent strengths, says Murray.
“We really wanted Designworks to tell us how we were perceived, warts and all. What we learned was you need single organising idea in order to have an effective brand – one central idea that binds everything together, drives the business, and supports the brand’s values.”
He is impressed with the internal re-branding strategies the consultancy developed. These include visits by senior managers to every facility to discuss brand values developed as result of staff feedback, and the launch of 36-page booklet called Wholehearted Care, containing stories of outstanding care provided by Guardian Healthcare staff with their photos.
“We also made DVD of some of our people at work and put it to music to help bring the new branding values to life – the staff all loved it,” says Murray.
Baker says because brand programme must align everyone in the organisation, the benefits of good brand strategy will usually be felt within the internal business culture first, and one way to measure the success of strategy is by how engaged the workforce is.
“The great story we like comes from NASA – politician went into NASA bathroom and asked the janitor working there ‘What do you do?’ The janitor said ‘I help put guys on the moon’.”
Murray says re-branding externally is more of challenge, particularly as Guardian Healthcare has traditionally operated in ‘silos’. To help present ‘one face’ to its external market, strategies included the distribution of ‘branding packs’ containing the Wholehearted Care booklet, chocolates and reinforcement of one 0800 contact number.
“We developed whole brand strategy around people needing to memorise “one number you should know

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