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I am continually fascinated by corporate marketing. In my day (oh I sound so old) communications strategy was all about ‘above the line’ and a bit of ‘below the line.’ You would tell the agency the problem then they would tell you what you should stand for and create a campaign around that.

Given that I am no longer a corporate marketer – I remain fascinated by how it all comes together. So I felt excited to hear directly from the marketers at CommBank who were accountable for the creation it’s most recent campaign. As I sat and listened to Monique Macleod from CommBank share about the banks 10 point strategy – I thought to myself how amazingly different to the recent NAB campaign about ‘breaking up with the other banks.’ One campaign is positive and uplifting – the other you are left wondering ‘so’. The NAB campaign seems to be all about them rather than the customer – and as a non NAB customer I was just left thinking ‘how is this relevant to me’. I am also not a CBA customer, yet I find the energy and simplicity of the campaign energizing.

I’m sure each of the banks spent a fortune on research and testing – but all marketing this century is about ‘how did I make the customer feel’ – and if the communication leaves the potential customer feeling ‘nothing’ then as far as I’m concerned (no matter what media they use) it is very last century.

10 Key things for any Campaign – according to the CommBank’s Monique Macleod – General Manager, Brand and Broadcast

#1 Start with a purpose – “CBA enable progress and potential”. That is CBA enable customers to ‘move forward’. This is internal focus – the real question is ‘How do customers feel about this?’

#2 Be clear on the audience.. not about demographics it is about what people want in their life – get to the end benefit. How do we add value to people?

#3 Define what matters – what motivates them versus important.  There are table stakes that are expected of the brand – and they do not make people emotive or feel anything (of course a bank will be safe).

#4 Tap into the Zeitgeist
If ever there was a time when Australians needed inspiration, belief and heart it’s now. Maybe the CBA role is to rise above the status quo – the feeling of the people – how do we bring positivity to the brand and what we stand for. We knew we wanted to rally the nation… but we couldn’t preach..

#5 Listen and Learn, Customers don’t want to be told what to do. “You don’t tell me to do it. You certainly don’t do it for me. But you do help me.” CBA listened and changed the execution.

#6 Get People Talking.  The campaign felt more active – because there was the teaser. It was a risk to get attention. Staged many events all over the country and got people involved.

#7 Make it Local – Sometimes central marketing tries to protect a campaign so much that we don’t let our people get involved.  Let your people own it. Giving them permission to do with it what you want.  Having a place to tell us peoples CAN stories.

#8 Invest more in employees – we treated the 52,000 employees as importantly as the external campaign – created brand ambassadors. A lot went into making them live and breath it from day one. They were a priority and had a crack team – INVEST in your employees – they are the one’s that ran with it

#9 Mobilize Supporters Early: Employees, Industry, Media, Partners, Supplier. CBA brought in influencers to include them and let them know what they were trying to achieve with the campaign. So they understood it – and they could help leverage it.

#10 Drive engagement; relentlessly keep people talking about it – the positivity. The minute you are a CAN person then you are no longer a CAN’T person.

“We took time to get the brief – and refined it over and over. Each of the agencies had to be aligned.  We created the brand positioning we did not let the agency do that. Visual identity was evolved.” Monique Macleod.

I suppose I did not get the same insights into the strategy behind the NAB campaign – but what I do know is that I would rather feel good and uplifted  – than either numb or worse, disinterested.

Customer centric customers who authentically listen and respond to customers will be the winners this century.



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  • Happiness:
Think less, Feel more;
Frown less, Smile more;
Judge less, Accept more;
Watch less, Do more;
Complain less, Appreciate more;
Fear less, Love more....
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  • In the 90s I left my cushy job at Apple.

I’d be a squillionaire if I still had my stock options.

I don’t regret it. Here's why:

After 10 years of corporate, I wanted to ‘do my own thing’. I started with freelance marketing.

My strategy? Hard work and build strong brands.

It seemed to work - new clients came from referrals.

But after 18 months, I came to a realisation:

All my clients wanted was “more customers”, not complex branding plans.

SO I thought I’d build a brand of my own. Something to get them “more customers”. RedBalloon was born. The purpose? Give people amazing experiences.

16 years on, RB has delivered 3.8 million customers to 2000 small businesses.

Now, when I give talks, I always get the same question: “How did you build such a strong brand?” Funny how it comes full circle.

I can’t answer that with a time limit.

Though I think I found a way - an online course. “How to Build your Business Brand” - years of experience in one place (link in bio if interested). But, that’s not the point of this post.

If I stayed with Apple I’d be unbelievably wealthy.

Quitting was still the best thing I’ve ever done.

So if you want to take a leap of faith, do it.

All I ask you is this:

Trust yourself and never underestimate the power of brand.
  • #tbt the originals circa 2004 🎈 it reminds that an entrepreneurs journey is long and full of twists and turns. What a ride! @redballoonexperiences
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