31 July 2006

DIFFUSION talks brand at PRIA.

Discussion points from the 'Senior Practitioners' Cocktail Roundtable Event', 1 August 2006, Public Relations Institute of Australia.

DIFFUSION director Stephen Byrne discussed the importance of developing a brand strategy as a primary business requirement against the context of effective public relations and communication planning.

Brand strategy within business and communication planning

The idea of integrated communication, which holds that all communication emanates from a single strategic platform, has largely failed. A number of underlying currents have been largely responsible for this:

1. Agencies are constrained by their media bias
2. Business structures don't mirror integrated communication planning
3. Development is too far down the value chain to be effective, and
4. Brand strategy is silo-ised by being viewed as a marketing and communication activity

Most companies are focussed on action and tactics, rather than an actual brand or communication strategy. The need to demonstrate branding success through empirical evidence, often replaces planning. So a brand strategy, if it exists at all, becomes synonymous with a set of tactical communications developed by tactical specialists often working in isolation.

A holistic business strategy, with brand as an essential part of it, provides strategic intent which can help unite and integrate all communication activities - such as public relations, advertising, investor relations, interactive or internal communication.

Any brand strategy must begin with understanding the role of brand within the business model and determining how best brand can help grow and sustain the business. Brand strategies should engage the highest level of management because it brings strategy, finance, marketing and communication together, to manage the brand.

Towards a business brand strategy

Ten steps necessary to build a successful a brand–based communication program:

1. Understand, formally define and acknowledge brand in your business planning; have a formal brand strategy
2. Understand those factors that contribute to the creation of brand value
3. Identify and understand all your audiences
4. Define your point of difference and build value propositions around that
5. Work out how you can clearly enunciate your point of difference so that audiences understand it
6. Create messages
7. Identify and define the role of each medium in changing perceptions and sustaining communication momentum
8. Determine an appropriate communication mix
9. Only develop those communication activities that support brand
10. Review and revisit from 5.

Brand’s role in holistic business planning is an organic process. Always return to your strategy to check whether all the assumptions you have made are still valid and correct.


20 July 2006

Is Coles still Myer for Xmas?

Picking up a bottle of wine in our local Vintage Cellars this week, DIFFUSION was interested to notice a flyer for casual positions available at Coles Myer brand stores during Christmas 2006. While we are not sure about the copy, “Be more than just a decoration…Be a star” (what exactly does this mean?) we were more interested to note the inclusion of the MYER logo on the flyer. Now we know that festive season recruitment starts early but with the confirmed sale of MYER happening in March, we'd like to think that by mid-July they might have had an opportunity to think about a reprint? That said it's nice to see Coles Myer with a new cleaner, brighter and more functional website (with not a MYER logo in sight)!

Cadbury appeal: short a full glass and a half.

It seems Cadbury's love of the colour purple knows no bounds [see DIFFUSION blog 28 April 2006, ‘Cadbury see red, not purple’]. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the company is lodging an appeal “against a Federal Court ruling that it does not own the colour purple”. The justification used by Cadbury according to its Corporate Affairs Manager, is the significant investment “in marketing our products using Cadbury purple in Australia”. Once again, the target of their ire is Darrell Lea, who no consumer would accidently put in the same shopping basket as Cadbury. At DIFFUSION we believe that Cadbury would see a better return on their now considerable legal fees if they focussed on developing marketing activities that encouraged ownership of the colour purple in the consumer's (rather than the Court's) mind. This was, in part, one of the comments made by the judge in the original suit. Surely this would resonate more with customers and is, after all, what really counts. But then perhaps if that fails they could return to their original shade of 'lavender'.

13 July 2006

Tsubi begets Ksubi.

Following our 18/4/06 post 'A Fashion in Names: Tsubo vs Tsubi', the wacky boys at Tsubi have reached an out of court settlement with US shoe label Tsubo following a trademark infringement dispute.

Tsubo argued in a New York court that Tsubi's use of the first four letters of its name was a breach of its trademark, which was established in 1998 and had been registered in Australia in March 2000, two years before Tsubi.

The dispute settlement terms means Tsubi will keep its name in Australia but will now be known as Ksubi in the rest of the world.

It's an interesting result as DIFFUSION shared the view that Tsubo's case was, in part, mischievous, as both operated in very different parts of the fashion world. However, now Tsubi faces the daunting task of rebranding for the rest of the world and creating a new identity and name recognition for the new brand name, Ksubi. Let's hope they did their homework this time on the new name.

10 July 2006

Opening up communication with doctors.

We were pleased to hear about the “new wave of students upon whom educators have pinned their hopes for a generation of communicative, motivated and engaged doctors” (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/2006). After our critique (see blog ‘Doctoring language’ 16/9/2005) of doctors who practice what we referred to as ‘ethnocentric’ communication; a view of the world where members of their own group [other medical and related health care practitioners] are valued and understood, while nonnatives/others [patients] are as seen as “fundamentally different and therefore deserving of different treatment” (Grimes & Richard 2003).

While University of NSW Professor Rakesh Kumar points out that the new entrance interview procedures have produced “students who are much more willing to get engaged in the learning process” and according to Newcastle University research, students who are “more likely to perform well”, DIFFUSION would like to know if communication (as a professional practice) is an integral part of the course?

It is commendable that, as Professor Tiller states, the interview procedures gauge if “they (the students) have an ethical background… they (can) decide what's honest and dishonest", here at DIFFUSION we know that being an effective communicator is much more complex than this.

And we're sure that if you asked the majority of doctors if they practiced their profession without prejudice, they would say resoundingly ‘yes’. Yet, as we have pointed out, ethnocentric communication is much more complex than this…it acts to keep others [patients] behaviour predictable (and safe) through the use of simplified scripts. As a result, we often feel ‘spoken down to’ or ‘discriminated against’ when visiting our local GP. Often without realising, doctors make a pre-judgement about their patients, based on the learned doctor/patient societal roles. It is these roles and related communication that needs to be challenged.

Here’s hoping that the new breed of doctors take their communication as seriously as their Hippocratic Oath.