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Natalia Perera

Brand architecture matters: When the CEO becomes a bigger brand than the organisation

By | Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News | 2 Comments

It was a cold and rather dreary day and I was in a rush. I headed into the warmth of the subway between Southbank and Flinders Street Station. There were countless people inside, some on their way to catch a train, others like myself walked by quickly, using this subway to cross over into the heart of the city. The faint sound of an off-pitch busker sitting at the entrance to the subway resonated through.

I looked sideways as I adjusted to the light subway light and noticed a billboard, a face of a youthful looking, clean cut middle aged man. I recognised him instantly – it was Alex Malley. Malley’s face greeted me at various points in this subway and there he was as I walked into Flinders Street. A professional yet friendly presence. It seemed as though he was hosting a new show.

Alex Malley In Conversation

Alex Malley In Conversation

As a former Financial Accountant turned Professional Marketer, this had me thinking – ‘what will happen to CPA Australia if Alex Malley is no longer part of it?’

It was another rather cold and dreary day when I heard Malley’s contract with CPA Australia as their CEO, had been abruptly terminated.

For the past two years, CPA Australia has been facing governance issues with members raising concerns about the conduct of their CEO and the board. These issues are not uncommon and should not be viewed in isolation.

In promoting the Alex Malley brand, CPA Australia took a huge gamble on marketing risk.

When I was at University, CPA Australia was promoting itself to aspiring accountants (such as myself) as a lifestyle. Malley later came as an extension of this brand, personifying the potential of CPA accreditation, at a time when there was a high degree of job uncertainty.

Malley made the organisation appear youthful and ready to engage, however, it also shifted the focus to himself rather than the organisation. His book “The Naked CEO” focused on leadership, perseverance and Malley’s personal story.

Personally, I knew that the day would come where Malley would be removed from CPA Australia. His brand was becoming bigger than the organisation, with CPA Australia fading more and more into the background. The value of the organisation was being communicated less, with Malley’s value being promoted more.

The Naked CEO Instagram

The Naked CEO Instagram

Looking at CPA Australia’s annual reports it appears as though Malley has met most of the metrics that were set by the board. However, the marketing metrics such as increasing social media engagement and being a thought leader, do not necessarily lead to more members successfully sitting exams, which brings additional revenue to the organisation. These “feel good” metrics do not optimise revenue growth and member engagement.

These metrics also do not necessarily consider stakeholder needs, such as the needs of members and the organisations that support CPA Australia. It is often a chain of activities that ensures stakeholders are engaged, which often goes beyond social media and a charismatic CEO. It is clear that risks were not fully identified, with internal stakeholders (including members) feeling increasingly isolated by the organisation. Furthermore, strategic risks exist through the dilution of the CPA Australia’s brand and value as distinct to Alex Mally.

Ignoring the magnitude of stakeholder risk proved costly to CPA Australia, with members becoming increasingly critical of the organisation’s direction.

CPA Australia will need to reposition itself to recover from the removal of Malley. A new marketing plan and brand refresh, as well as the brand architecture of the organisation, will be required to position itself following the departure of Alex Malley.

Join us as we explore Brand, Reputation and Risk: Managing Marketing Governance in partnership with the Governance Institute of Australia on Wednesday the 26th of July 2017 in Melbourne.

Registration details available at www.synekamarketing.com.au/riskworkshop

Brand and marketing – how they fit together

By | News | One Comment

There is an increasing level of confusion between branding and marketing, with the two terms often being used interchangeably to communicate the visual or strategic objectives of a business.

We have come across many businesses and organisations recently, that have undertaken branding and marketing in the reverse order. This has resulted in a brand being created without a marketing plan, often then requiring the brand to altered when the strategic rigour provided within the marketing plan identifies misalignment.

Branding is a potential output of the strategic marketing planning process and not the other way around. At the base level, a brand enables the differentiation of one business from another, providing a conduit that builds common ground between stakeholders and personnel within the business.

The marketing planning process determines the overall marketing direction of the business. Branding and identity is a potential output and tactic that may be considered. If this is the case then a brand strategy is created which determines the attributes and essence of the brand, as well as guideline around the brand name, presence and brand promise. From this comes the visual identity and complementary creative materials that support the communication of the brand.

With marketing being ill defined, it can be easy for businesses to become confused between the two terms. This is compounded by the fact that Australia is dominated by tacticians of marketing such as the digital agency, creative agency or advertising agency.

2016-06-03 Pencil 1000px x 1000px

For non-marketers, particularly those on boards, it can be easy to take the branding option first rather than to invest in a marketing plan. Often a marketing tactician will show visual examples of their work and draft concepts, causing boards and other decision makers to often ask the wrong questions and hence confuse branding for marketing.

The strategic insights through marketing should always be the first aspect you consider when you look at your marketing mix. Once this step is undertaken, you can then consider what is required to develop a brand that resonates with your marketing direction.

Do not overlook your products and services

By | Advice for Businesses | No Comments

The marketing mix, or customer experience, forms the foundation of a strategic marketing approach. Each element within the mix needs to be considered from a strategic perspective to ensure alignment between business goals, market value and marketing outcomes.

While many businesses understand the core of what they offer, they often overlook the other attributes that consist of their product or service. A product or service will typically have three core components:

  1. The Core  – the fundamental need you provide. The core is the generic need that that is fulfilled by utilising your product or service. For example in hospitality you are satisfying hunger, or shelter for accommodation. This is often cited as one of the reasons for the failure of Kodak, since it failed to consider that its products provide story telling or memories, not photography.
  2. Actual product – the tangible components that customers interact with. This is the physical configuration of the product or service, including packaging, staff interaction and the product itself. Hospitality incorporates the setting of the restaurant, cuisine selection and attitudes of staff. In the case of Kodak, the product included the film quality, packaging and store interaction. Had Kodak considered its product as storytelling or memories, then the actual product would have encompassed digital storage, cameras and photography sharing.
  3. Augmented product – additional components you can offer to differentiate yourself from competitors, which reinforce your value proposition. A fine dining restaurant may incorporate an additional course in a degustation menu for regular customers, while a hotel may offer valet parking or extended check outs.
Product components

A product consists of many components – all of them need to be part of the marketing mix

Failing to incorporate a holistic view of your products or services will cause fragmentation within the marketing mix and diminish outcomes. Marketing needs visibility and influence into product development and service composition to ensure alignment across each element of the marketing mix.

Online retail – just another channel to market

By | Advice for Businesses, News | No Comments

With the growing popularity and proliferation of the internet, there is an increasing perception that online shopping is the key to success in retail. Retailers such as ASOS and The Iconic have achieved mainstream success, and have often been targeted by retailers as the reason why they are losing both sales and relevance.

An online store, from the surface can seem like a simpler, more cost effective way to run a retail operation. Visual merchandise, hiring competent customer service staff, securing the right location and gaining customers can often seem like an afterthought when running an online store but are often still necessities in the online space.

Running an online store does not guarantee success, particularly when there is a single channel and tactics based approach to marketing. It is worth noting that ASOS and The Iconic invest in offline communications, including PR and outdoor advertising.

Running an online store has its own challenges. While some operational costs can be minimised, running an online store attracts its own costs across the supply chain, including warehousing, distribution and freight charges. An online store also faces the issue of attracting the right target audiences to its store and enticing them to commit to a final purchase. This is critical given how easy it is for an online consumer to compare prices of the same product across a variety of channels, including bricks and mortar stores.2016-04-29 online or bricks and mortar

Furthermore, pricing is not always a key incentive, given that some bricks and mortar retailers, actually charge more for some of their products when purchased online.

The reality is an online store is one component of the marketing mix and should not be viewed in isolation. This is why retailers such as Coles and David Jones are encouraging their customers to return to their bricks and mortar stores to pick up their online orders through a “click and collect” system. A bricks and mortar store provides the ability to engage the five senses, and for the customer to develop brand loyalty that goes beyond price comparisons.

Engaging a customer across the marketing mix means that a business has the ability to establish its point of difference, and develop ongoing relationships with its customers. Digital should be viewed as a tool that assists in this success rather than the ultimate solution. Digital needs to reinforce the overall customer experience rather than be considered the only channel to market. Virtual shopping assistants, online communities and digital activations can help bridge the gap between the bricks and mortar presence and online store.

Successful retailers understand the role of place and distribution in the marketing mix, as well as the need to engage customers throughout the journey. A single channel approach, whether physical or online, is destined to fail.

Visit Brisbane ad

Is it Visit Brisbane or Visit Melbourne?

By | Government | No Comments

As a strategic marketing agency it is our role to assist clients in determining their unique value proposition, which in turn informs their target markets and marketing mix. Over the break I encountered this billboard at Southern Cross Station:

 

At first, I thought that it was perhaps an advertisement for a restaurant at South Warf, given it is approximately 1 kilometre from Southern Cross Station and has almost the exact same look and feel as this advertisement.

On closer inspection, I realised that this was not an advertisement for South Warf, but for Brisbane.

Visit Brisbane ad

Visit Brisbane ad

Brisbane, unlike other areas in Queensland, is the urban centre, with a population of 2.3 million. It doesn’t have the glitzy beaches and hotels like the Gold Coast or the pristine scenery of the Whitsunday’s; and in many ways it is a lot like Melbourne.

Brisbane Marketing is the official tourism organisation for Brisbane, with one of its goals to increase interstate tourism from Melbourne. Unfortunately, this campaign has not understood this target audience.

South Warf Melbourne

South Warf Melbourne

Riverside dining at South Warf Melbourne

Riverside dining at South Warf Melbourne

There is no point creating a tourism campaign that looks like it was shot in Melbourne and then sold to people in Melbourne, when they can get the same experience walking 12 minutes from Southern Cross Station.

Tourism exists to generate a return, and while this campaign goes beyond the typical flora and fauna approach it does not look at how to position Brisbane’s strengths relative to Melbourne.

We encourage Brisbane Marketing to look strategically at their target audiences and start creating campaigns that these audiences with value.

General Assembly Warehouse Party

By | Advice for Businesses | No Comments

General Assembly is a learning centre based in the Melbourne CBD that focuses on delivering courses on technology, business and design.

General Assembly held an end of year warehouse party and we were in attendance. The party attracted a young and vibrant crowd.

We look forward to reconnecting with General Assembly in 2016.