Australian CMOs struggle with branding in an uncertain world, says report

Australian marketing managers can be split into three groups ranging from those embracing the value of brands throughout their organisations, those aspiring to and those with grave doubts about branding in general, claims a new report.

The ‘Brand Leaders Report 2017: Does brand need a rebrand?’ released by Sydney based brand strategy and marketing consultancy BrandMatters, interviewed senior marketers from some of Australia’s largest organisations to get a picture of the challenges facing them.

Paul Nelson of Brand Matters

“We spoke to 14 individuals from different companies.” Brandmatters’ managing director Paul Nelson told Mumbrella, “to really find out what the state of play is in the marketplace today, what’s the temperature of brand, marketing, digital experience, customer experience and what keeps them awake at night.”

Those interviewed included  senior marketers from some of Australia’s most prominent brands including Perpetual, KPMG, Suncorp, NRMA, Wesfarmers, Macquarie Investment Management and Rubik.

Nelson found the broader themes of market disruption are focusing marketing executive’s minds: “They are very concerned about changes in the digital context, in the financial services sector they are worried about robo advice for example or algorithms setting strategies,” he said. “In the legal fraternity now there’s software doing what was once lucrative junior work.”

Generally Nelson believes organisations can be split three ways: “It’s challenging to divide them specifically but it’s fair to say there are three groups. The Embracers are those who get brand right through the organisation, the CEO gets it and it’s often through a tough experience.

“They’re the embracers who absolutely understand it and it infects the entire organisation all the way from the mail room to the CEO.

“The aspirers understand the criticality of brands but tend to still miss the disconnect between brand enabling the business strategy. Frequently there are pockets in the business that think brand is the marketing department’s responsibility.

“The doubters are the most challenged as they tend to live in the old world, they tend to be more focused around that used to be. In the retail context in particularly and this is where Amazon may have some advantage.”

“I still think they are struggling to come to grips with a low growth market. The other key thing is the C-suite tend to understand the old ways, the relationship centric approach and traditional marketing channels that the younger marketers understand the digital channels.”

Even the marketers most serious about their brands are finding the current environment challenging, found Nelson.

“All of them are in a state of flux, even with the deepest embracers they are still coming to terms with what it required of them as marketers. They have to deal with old-school executives who believe that marketing equals brand equals logo and that this all happens in the marketing department where they produce the sales collateral.

“They’re dealing with the ambiguity around how do I demonstrate my marketing is making a difference, they’re dealing with disruption and new entrants entering the marketplace with completely different business model while struggling with traditional competitors in a low growth environment.”

Nelson’s advice to marketers is to have a deep understanding of their brand and organisation’s purpose.

“Understand what your true purpose is, we talk at Brand Matters about telling a really clear and compelling brand story – who you are, what you do, how you do it, why you do it and how you’re different.

“If you have that central unifying thought then it enables you to stay on track and buffet these headwinds of disruption and digital change.”



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