What I do

I help companies build brands from the inside out, using customer driven not creative driven strategies.

In every business that I’ve been involved in at management level, I have stressed the importance of targetting and building relationships with prospects, identifying their requirements for value and matching product attributes to those requirements for value. And once those prospects have become customers, I have ensured a culture of ongoing collaboration and engagement to ensure increased share of wallet and referral development. I found that this type of differentiation was more effective than any creative campaign, no matter how original.

When I set up a marketing consultancy in Malaysia in the mid 1990’s, I knew that I had to apply the same rules if I wanted to build a brand. I also new that technology would play a major part in the growth of the business. But building a business is time consuming and I realised early on that I had to outsource my branding. But every so called brand consultant that came to see me talked about fluffy stuff like ‘positioning’, ‘reach’, ‘awareness’, ‘brand personality’ ‘logos’, and so on.

I knew about positioning but didn’t understand how a concept developed almost 40 years ago would cope with the digital age. What did it have to do with the digital world in which we work in today? How does a company position a product in a small, flat, multi cultural, dynamic, technology driven world like the one we live in today? I then thought about awareness and realised that I am aware of numerous brands, many of which I never engage with. I reasoned that many of those brands were spending a fortune making me aware of them and HOPING that I would buy something from them.

As for the logos, well I have to say, there are some great logos out there but I have never, ever bought a product because it has a great logo! And anyway, what of those companies that don’t have a logo? And as for brand equity! I have never stood in a supermarket aisle looking at a range of comparable products and thought to myself, “which one of these products has the greater brand equity?”

I realised that these concepts apply to a mass economy that no longer exists. An era when there were few TV channels, limited conduits to consumers, minimal leisure time activities and far less competition for consumer’s hard earned disposable income. Essentially a time when people did the same thing day in and day out. A time when people watched the one or two TV channels or listened to one radio station or read one newspaper.

All that was required was to reach them and reaching them was easier as the majority of them, certainly enough to turn a product into a brand, were watching TV. Furthermore, limited competition meant the product was often the only one in its category that was advertised. Consumers ofter wrote down the name so as not to forget it!

But things are different now. I realised that we are now in the “Customer Economy.” Now, companies no longer have the exclusivity to make the rules and control information by “positioning” products or promoting “brand equity” through advertising and PR like they did in the mass economy. I realised that the balance of power has shifted from the seller to the buyer. Now when the ads come on (assuming the consumer is watching TV), he reaches for the remote and changes channel. Indeed with up to 5,000 messages being received every day, and many of those messages making absurd promises, customers have learnt to ‘tune out’ and actually ignore many of the messages they receive.

I also noticed that customers are having more and more influence over the design and manufacture of products and the ultimate success of products and failure of others. I noticed that if products did not meet individual customer requirements, customers would shun those products, irrespective of what the ads claimed. I felt that in this new customer economy, companies playing by mass-economy rules are going to do more than lose the game. They are not even going to be given the chance to compete.

Their customer will simply go elsewhere. Even the biggest brands now understand this. Bill Lamar, Jr., who was then Senior Vice President of marketing at McDonald’s, said, “Reaching our consumer targets is no longer TV-driven. The days of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on TV advertising are over.” RIP TV advertising.

I also realised, along with many others, that these concepts lack the ability to be measured, a critical failing when shareholders are demanding accountability for the resources branding requires.

So I decided to set up a brand consultancy with Nick Wreden, the guru of data driven branding based on customer requirements. That company is FusionBrand.

Fusionbrand understands the new realities better than most. While others still insist, at best, on talking about branding in terms of new logos, slogans or expensive advertising and other increasingly ineffective methods of acquisition, FusionBrand concentrates on structured programs that transform products into brands that customers buy again and again and again.

FusionBrand can help grow your profits by increasing the effectiveness of acquisition branding, expanding the profitability of existing customers through retention branding and ensuring the most efficient allocation of marketing resources. Now I’m dedicated to building brands for companies based on emotional, experiential and economic value that the consumer gets from the brand. This value ensures they come back and buy again and again and again. As a company has a 50% chance of selling to an existing customer and only a 15% chance of selling to a new customer, this focus on retention rather than acquisition makes total sense.

Unless of course you are an advertising agency!

So if you are tired of listening to agencies talk about immeasurable tactics such as reaching millions of consumers or building a brand that everyone is aware of or pushing the creative envelope or raising the creative bar and so on then drop me a line and we can have an informal chat about your business and how we make it a profitable brand.

What do you have to lose?

13 thoughts on “What I do

  1. Branding is about engaging prospects AND existing customers & delivering economic, emotional & experiential value to them. This applies to both the private sector and the public sector, and both B2B and B2C.
    I work with companies and governments to identify and develop the strategies required to deliver this value, based on customer needs.
    I call it data driven branding & it should not be confused with creative driven branding.

  2. Dear Brandconsultantasia,

    Excellent post on positioning. You know, every couple years there’s a new business or marketing theory. The latest one may be “Management by Objectives.” A lot of these theories sound great on paper and very logical. Unfortunately, I just don’t think people act logically and I often find that to be the limitations of many theories.

    Now I’m not a branding expert, but I do know a bit about website strategy and the number one rule I’ve always stressed is that you design your site according to what your customer is looking for, not how your product line is organized or how your company is structured. This follows within the idea that you brought up of opening communication lines between the company and the customer.

    Good luck in your endeavors and I am so jealous you get to live in Asia.

    Dave

    • Hi Dave

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment and for your kind words about the post.

      I agree with you that there are numerous new theories, tools and other activities announced every year or two that are trumpeted as being the solution to all our marketing needs. Companies that buy into them then invest significant resources only to find that the old way was the best (for them) way.

      But I sincerely believe that positioning a product, which essentially assumes that we’re all the same and the product must find a space in a person’s mind and park itself in that space is no longer a viable option in today’s fast paced, segmented, global, cluttered, competitive, instant and digital world.

      I agree with you too that you design your site according to what are your customer needs but you should also remember that all customers are not equal. You should also remember that you have a 15% chance of selling to a new customer and a 50% chance of selling to an existing customer so it is imperative that you look after those existing customers. You should also remember that a website is not enough to keep a customer.

      I am eternally grateful for the fact that I live in Asia. Although I love my country, (the UK), I am the fifth generation of my family to live in Asia so it is definately in our genes!

      Go well
      M

  3. Hi,
    It was really worthwhile of my time to visit your blog site and learn more abt branding in general.
    I wish to ask you few questions as i m still a learner.
    How do you see branding of a consumer(motorist device say for eg: a Navigation device( PND) in Asia in specific for a small country & market like Singapore, what should be focus more on. To get started its dominated by Garmin and Mapking.
    Thanks!
    Shriek

    • Hi Shriekanth

      Thanks for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment.

      The first thing you need to do is research the market. Singapore is a small place and relatively easy to get about. Roads are good, signs are abundant and if you get lost, the roads are relatively forgiving and it is easy to get back on track (unlike here in Malaysia!). I’ve seen PND’s on sale in Singapore, but is there really that big a potential? You also need to know who buys PND’s and what are their key influencers. Research should provide many answers. Make sure you carry out Qualitative and Quantitative research.

      Where is your product manufactured? If it’s a Singaporean product, you should be able to get lots of free publicity on TV and in the mainstream and segment relevant media. Leverage this.

      Other recommendations would be based on research findings.

      Whatever you do, don’t try and build your brand with a positioning program! It won’t work!

      Best of luck
      Marcus

  4. I’m interested in your idea and articles about Brand. I am looking for a consultant whose expertise on Brand. Is it possible if you organize an in house training for our company ?
    Please advise more.

    Thanks.

  5. Hello Marco.

    Loved your realistic and encouraging article.
    I am a Malaysian model living in Italy starting as a Buyer as of next year for the Asian market kicking off in Malaysia.
    I honestly feel like a stranger as I have been away from home for the last 15 years.
    I need all the info and expert advise insight and feedback on asian market esp Malaysia.
    I found your article helpful.
    Good job!

    Best regards
    Shama

  6. Hi Marcus,
    Great article, thanks for the insight.
    I am from India, am into land development. I have just started my first project and would like to get some help into this.
    What could you advise me to increase my network. I also totally believe that the media awareness model is not measurable and makes me feel that the money put into advertising in any form of media is a waste of my money.

    Looking forward to your feedback.

    Regards,
    Udit

  7. Hi

    We’re an SME in manufacturing Natural & Organic bath and body care products. We’re looking for a brand consultant to help us in strengthening our brand position and extending distribution channels.

    Would like to connect with you via our email
    Many thanks and hoping to hear from you.

    Kind regards

    Le

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