Last week's GDP numbers have painted a less than flattering picture of manufacturing outputs in South Africa, and the dreaded 'R' word has also started to pop up in more conversations than makes one comfortable.
Particularly if you're in Marketing.
As a marketing professional, the recent 0.6% decline in national productivity - the first decline since 2009 - might mean you're already in a similar slump, and expecting a couple of things to happen shortly (if they haven't already happened):
A call from the CEO to say that your budget has been cut by a third. Some people will probably be removed from your team in the interests of 'synergising' the business, or some such euphemism. Oh, and No, your sales targets for the year haven't changed to reflect the downturn in the economy.
It's not a great place to be. How can you still ensure that your brand is going to stand up to the headwinds and still resonate with consumers? You had a big brand campaign planned for the second half of the year and that will now be shelved in favour of a sales-focused campaign?
Make your money work harder
You have to make certain that every one of your marketing rands is working even harder than ever. This means looking at every single touch point where your brand appears, questioning if you really are maximising your spend. Essentially you need to clearly understand the entire brand experience, as seen from the eyes of the customer.
A quick win can be achieved by following the steps below
Analyse every single-touch point of the brand and identify the ones that are not traditionally associated with building brand equity. Once identified, look at how you can ensure that you have not only maintained the function of the touch point, but also ensured that it communicates the brand positioning or story.
Taking a different tack
An example would be broadsheet advertising. Traditionally it comes on low quality paper, puts as many products as possible onto the page, has huge price flashes and is generally not something pleasant to look at. It has a single purpose: communicate price of product.
This needn't be however. In the past year Woolworths has gone into broadsheets. Instead of following the same formula as everyone else, they looked at this as a critical brand touch point and asked how they could ensure that it clearly reflected and communicated their brand as well.
It is formatted to read like a newspaper, is called "The Daily Difference" (clearly linking it to the purpose), is printed on a quality paper and is distributed not on a metal rack, but on a neat wooden newsstand.
Woolies has turned what was never seen as a brand communication touch point, but a sales driver, into something that achieves both ends. They have done this because they have complete clarity on their brand positioning, and are able to link the positioning into every single touch point because they understand the assets that they own.
Too many brands classify their communication channels and campaigns into ones that drive brand and build equity, and ones that drive sales. If you are going to make your marketing rand go further you had better start trying to achieve brand equity growth with your sales driven communication by always linking it back to your positioning. In this way you will provide the customer with a coherent brand experience at every turn.
Gary Bryant is Managing Director at The Brand Union. The agency, part of WPP Group since 1986, is a global brand agency with deep expertise in brand strategy, design, interaction, brand management and employee engagement.
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