Branding Masterclass

Left to right: Roger Pride, Jenny Smith, Steve Sulley and Anna Lewis
Back (left to right): Sameer Rahman and Beth Cummings

The latest in a series of Masterclasses from the CIM Wales focused on Branding.

Continuing the theme of accountability and demonstrating return on investment covered in the Analytics Masterclass this was now the turn of the creatives. With a stellar line up including speakers from branding and marketing agencies, creative consultancies, sport, financial and insurance companies, the breadth of branding knowledge and experience from across sectors was extensive. The key theme throughout the day was “cutting through the noise and creating successful brands”.

As always, the Masterclass provided an interesting insight into the world of marketing. The range of organisations and campaigns the speakers had worked with was amazing and being able to tap into this was a key benefit of the day.

At CIM Wales we are keen to encourage the next generation of Marketers and as we had some students in attendance we thought we’d ask them to write the blog! Here are some of the highlights:

Sam Day, Chief Marketing Officer provided an honest insight into the challenges and opportunities at comparison website confused.com, highlighting how they were the first to enter the market place but then found themselves the challenger brand. Sam took us through how their brand name became their biggest problem, and how they have turned that into their biggest asset. Navigating the noise, clutter and confusion through promoting clarity, “Don’t be confused. Be confused.com”.

Recommending The Long and the Short of It: Balancing Short and Long‑Term Marketing by Binet and Field (2013). Sam explained that it is important to balance head and heart and to build the emotional brand associations. Key to understanding that is through pitching your ideas to customers to get their feedback and be prepared to start from scratch if they don’t like what you are saying – although with the caveat “don’t base this on one person’s next door neighbour!” make sure you listen to the majority and talk to a lot of people.

Sam finished his presentation by sharing how they work with partners such as Google to collaborate in growing the confused.com business for mutually beneficial outcomes.

A successful brand is a lodestar. It guides the development of products and services, the culture and the direction of organisations. It also shed a light which improves clarity and visibility within target audiences.

Continuing with the clarity theme, Roger Pride Managing Partner at creative business consultancy, Heavenly followed Sam’s talk by setting out the importance of a successful brand as a “Lodestar”. Roger highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing marketers in a digital world and like Sam focused on how we can cut through the clutter. Roger identified three trends that are shaping our consumption of media and the impact on brands.

  1. We are creators of information as well as consumers. 80% of consumers contribute some form of content through social media channels – Successful brands must harness the creativity of their audience.
  2. We can questions authority and bypass institutions. For example President Trump curating his own content via Twitter.
  3. We are taking control of our time – consumers are choosing what to see and when. Successful brands need great ideas that are communicated quickly and with brevity.

Next up was Jenny Smith, Head of Marketing at the England and Wales Cricket Board. Working with a different kind of product Jenny started by asking, “Why brand a sports team?” “The audience needs something to connect with” she told us, there is often inconsistency in sports teams sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, it is up to the marketing team to boost the team’s publicity and put them in the eyes of the fans when they are winning and losing.

Jenny explained that commercial partners also questioned whether they want to be connected to a losing team, but through creating a strong brand with clear brand values the fans and partners buy into more than just the outcomes on the field. Therefore, when they lose we can forgive the team because we’ve bought into the brand.

Taking us through the range of campaigns Jenny highlighted one of the biggest challenges the marketing team faced was being able to translate the seven different cricket teams branding into unique campaigns to engage the supporters and players. Not wanting to homogenise the brands too much, this was challenging. One of the slogans that they created for the ad campaigns was “Sporting pioneers adventuring together”. This campaign supported their brand identity and helped develop the brand values, they then when on to develop the #GoBoldly advert, which was aimed at generating publicity around the female cricket team and their journey to the cricket world cup.

Kick starting his presentation with an obligatory black and white headshot wearing an agency T-shirt and heavy specs, Steve Sulley Managing Director at Stills branding agency told us he knows what he’s talking about because he’s dressed the part. After the humorous introduction the focus of Steve’s presentation was having an emotional connection through branding. Branding is more than just an advert, it’s being able to make people feel a certain way towards the advert and finding those hidden messages within the advert.

After a whiz through some of Steve’s favourite ads and examples of the campaigns they have worked on as an agency, Steve’s take away tip was to keep emotion at the heart of every customer touch-point because Emotional Connection = Excellent Customer Experience.

After a quick break for lunch and networking next up was Sally Alan Chief Marketing Officer for Wealthify. Wealthify is a group of like-minded investment experts, software engineers and entrepreneurs with a shared ambition to shake things up and make investing easy and affordable for everyone. We're challenging people to think differently and do more with their savings.

The theme of Sally’s presentation was building a brand on a budget. Sally provided insight into the nitty gritty of launching a business and some of the do’s and don’ts of using advertising. With an honest account of what they learned from the advertisements that were not as successful as they’d hoped and what they did to improve them to build brand awareness, Sally explained that a clever use of the companies name as a verb…

“It’s time to Wealthify”

proved to be the little gem in their communications campaign.

70% of candidates look to company reviews before they make a career decision.

Anna Lewis, Director at brand communications agency Marsden/Mee rounded off the day by introducing us to employer branding – how well your brand connects with current and future employees.

Anna emphasised the attributes of creating an attractive workplace, which in turn creates motivated staff. Highlighting how job seekers and employees scrutinise the company like any consumers would.

“50% of employees post messages, pictures or videos on social media about their employer often or from time-to-time.”

Anna gave some great examples of companies doing their bit to improve the well-being of their staff such as Ella’s kitchen (A baby food company), who introduced a health cash plan, life assurance and free weekly lunches. Anna told us that although these seem like small benefits, this gives employees the assurance that they are working for a company that takes their personal life and health very seriously. Another of Anna’s examples was the craft beer company, Brewdog and their “Pawternity” benefit. Which includes a week off work to settle in your puppy.

Anna closed her presentation by reiterating the importance of employer branding and the benefits including:

  1. Helping to attract the right people
  2. Allows prospects to self-select
  3. Increases long term commitment

The key theme from all sessions was breaking through the noise and creating stand out brands that deliver on their promise to meet their customer needs.