All fall down

All fall down - image for article by Greg Alder

NAB is a large Australian bank. The bank’s communications tag line for the past few years has been “More give, less take”. That’s a lofty ideal to live by. More give and less take is something that most people would hope from their bank. When the bank started using this tag line, I waited to see evidence. Shortly after the tag line was revealed, Australia’s Reserve Bank lowered the official interest rate by a quarter of one percent. NAB chose not to pass on the full interest rate cut to their mortgage customers. At that moment, NAB’s tag line was revealed to be a fraud.

One of Australia’s big supermarket chains is Woolworths. Since 1989 Woolworths has used the tag line “The fresh food people”. It was a smart move for the supermarket. Supermarkets weren’t associated with fresh food. Shoppers went there to buy cleaning products and packaged foods. They went to a greengrocer to buy fruit and veg, a butcher for meat, a fishmonger for seafood. By promoting fresh food, Woolworths sought to become a true one-stop shop.

The focus on fresh foods connotes a healthy lifestyle. That was also a smart move. An ageing population was starting to visit gyms more frequently and choose semi-prepared fresh foods over frozen factory foods.

The first commercials to feature “The fresh food people” tag line showed Woolworths employees cutting fresh meat and stacking rosy apples into produce bins.

Every Woolworths staff member should have been a living breathing ad for the benefits of fresh food. This is where the campaign fell in a heap. You’d go into a Woolworths supermarket post “fresh food people” and be served by obese acne scarred teens who were the antithesis of the healthy fresh food lifestyle Woolworths promoted.

Businesses around the world take their brands seriously. Many go to the trouble of analysing their brand’s culture and identifying the core attributes that make their brand unique.

Here’s where many of them fail. They select characteristics and behaviours that are a wish list that they cannot deliver. They fail to ensure that their brand characteristics are reflected in every part of their business.

Banks aren’t loved by their customers. “More give, less take” was always going to be a hard sell. The bank needed to do something dramatic to prove that they were different from other banks. They didn’t.

Woolworths needed to ensure that the benefits of fresh food were reflected in everything they did. If that meant that they had to hire fit and healthy staff, that’s what they needed to do.

Having determined your brand’s DNA, you need to analyse every aspect of your business to ensure that it’s consistent. Does your new business presentation speak the same language? Do your staff members live and breathe your brand values – your sales reps, your delivery van drivers, your customer service centre staff? Is your business strategy working to bring your vision closer to realisation?

Is your current suite of products and services at odds with your umbrella brand’s attributes and personality? What products and services should you introduce? What should you drop?

NAB and Woolworths can afford to invest millions in their communications campaigns. Most business owners can’t. If a client or potential client has an experience that’s at odds with your brand’s personality, attributes or values and vision, then your brand message, products and services will go unheard and unseen.

Your whole brand campaign comes crashing down in one inglorious mess.

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