Romaniuk: Seven (costly) sins of brand marketing


Jenni Romaniuk showed at the Brand Management conference what marketers can increase in price to boost their brand growth.

“No marketer wants to destroy his brand,” said Jenni Romaniuk of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, who is trying to collect data for evidence-based marketing and is also behind the book How to Build Brands, said at the outset. Even so, marketers often destroy their entrusted brand when they let themselves be carried away in their strategies by “intuition” or common belief that something works, even if it is not. The mistakes made by marketers are manifested not only by the loss of money and time, but also by wasted opportunities and, last but not least, by clearing up competition. 

Seven “costly sins of brand marketing” to watch out for, Jenni Romaniuk showed at this year’s Brand Management conference

Read the full article and interview on MediaGuru.

Posted on October 4, 2019 .

Interview with Jenni Romaniuk

Festival of Marketing

Jenni Romaniuk is a Research Professor of Marketing and Associate Director (International) at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute - the world’s largest centre for research into marketing.

Hi Jenni, thanks for chatting with us! Firstly, we’d love for you to tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I am a Research Professor at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, based at the University of South Australia.  My primary goal is to discover and share new knowledge in marketing science. I specialise in how the stuff people hold about brands in their memories affects the choices they make, and how marketing activity affects the stuff in people’s heads. 

More specifically, my research areas are Mental Availability, Distinctive Assets and Brand Health measurement and metrics.  My research hobbies include Word of mouth and Buyer behaviour. 

You’ve recently written a book about future-proofing your brand’s identity which will be available at Festival of Marketing. What are some of your top tips for building distinctive brand assets?

Yes, brand identity is an area where I see actions taken with the best of intentions, but unfortunately many mistakes are made due to lack of metrics and long-term strategy.  The aim of the book is to bring together, in one place, an understanding of strategy, measurement and tactics to Building Distinctive. 
The three headline tips I would have are:

  1. Don’t make life hard for yourself through poor asset selection – Use metrics and knowledge to avoid assets that will be more difficult to build.  There are no best assets, but there are definitely worse ones. 

  2. Think menu rather than meal – Select your set of assets like you would a restaurant menu, so you can choose the best one each time for the branding context. Too often assets are treated in isolation, rather than how the set of assets work together in all branding contexts. 

  3. Make ‘no’ your default response to change – If you select smartly, your brand’s Distinctive Assets should outlast you.  Too often investments in Distinctive Assets are abandoned for no valid reason.  Only change if there is a strategic advantage in doing so.

Read the full interview on the Festival of Marketing blog.

Posted on October 3, 2019 .

Marketing Journal Podcast: What the Marketing Bible 'How Brands Grow' by Byron Sharp says

Focus Agency

The most important source of information marketers can read in their lives. This is how renowned marketing professor Mark Ritson refers to the book How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp. In this podcast, you'll learn the most important things you can find in it.

How to build brands? This question has many answers. There are a number of approaches, and this diversity sometimes resembles the "school of thought" in the field of psychology. Experts argue which way is the right one. The layman (but also some marketer) is surprised. Is there any compass in this mix of uncertainty showing what really works? Yes, it's called " How Brands Grow ". This book was published by Byron Sharp in 2010, followed in 2016 by Jenni Romaniuk as its co-author.

In the Czech Republic strongly resonated performances Mark Ritson at the last Festival Marketing and its expertise is also involved in making this year's lineup. In his Making a Marketer document , the first question is: “We marketers like to say that our decision is based on evidence. Where to go when looking for data, what works and what doesn't? ”

Ritson then replies: “Lots of marketing is not based on evidence. It is either based on ignorance of empirical data, or was created on distorted half-truths designed to sell one thing to marketers instead of another. Since I have a Ph.D. in marketing, it is natural for me that when you say something, you have found empirical evidence to support it. This will take you to certain places . This will take you to Byron (Sharp) and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute , because they have everything fantastically empirically grounded. The quality, application and insights of Les Binet and Peter Field's work, together with ' How Brands Grow ', form the most important corpus of information.”

And much of this most important information is available today . It was exactly what the "How Brands Grow" books said I was talking to Jan Patera, a former long-time marketing journalist from Marketing & Media and later Marketing Sales Media, who is now helping Blue Events design their conference program. Thanks to him in May of this year, he performed in Prague Les Binet and already in the Wednesday, October 2 at the conference have Brand Management in 2019 a chance to hear one of the main characters Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and co-author of the second edition of "How Brands Grow" Jenni Romaniuk.

Read the full article on Focus Agency.

Posted on September 29, 2019 .

Iconic Australian shopping centre brand Westfield to expand across Europe

The New Zealand Herald

What started in the backstreets of Blacktown is now coming to Paris and Prague after winning over London and New York. But there's a drawback to this Aussie success.

When the residents of Paris and Prague, Stockholm and Warsaw head out for some retail therapy this weekend they'll notice a new, unfamiliar and very Australian name taking pride of place on their local shopping centre.

Westfield, a brand born in Sydney's western suburbs, is taking over Europe.

Already a big deal in New Zealand, the US and UK, it's now on the march to France, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Poland, as it becomes one of Australia's most successful retail brands.

Jenni Romaniuk, a research professor at Uni SA's Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and author of Building Distinctive Brand Assets, said bringing Westfield to major centres across Europe was a smart move.

"Even the people who like online shopping also like going to a shopping centre because it's a social event. So having a strong international brand in that space creates economies of scale," Prof Romaniuk said.

Read the full article in The Herald.

Posted on September 22, 2019 .

Effectiveness, innovation and the future of marketing: Marketing Week at The Festival of Marketing

Marketing Week

This year’s Festival of Marketing will see our key editorial themes come to life across two days on the Marketing Week Strategy and Leadership stage and beyond – with the help of some of the biggest names in the industry.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson, Ogilvy UK vice-chairman Rory Sutherland, WPP CEO Mark Read and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’s Jenni Romaniuck are among the big names that will appear on Marketing Week’s Strategy and Leadership Stage at the Festival of Marketing next month.

Returning for a second year, the stage will bring to life key strategic and leadership issues including marketing effectiveness and measurement, innovation, and the future role and responsibilities of the marketer. Elsewhere at The Festival, we will tackle key challenges including attracting young people into the industry, as well as showcase best practice.

Read the full article in Marketing Week.

Posted on September 11, 2019 .

Study finds larger creative more likely to engage

Biz Report

According to new data, size does matter where advertising is concerned. but, is simply having oversized ads enough? We asked a digital expert to weigh in on how size matters - but so do other aspects of a campaign.

"The best advice for digital creatives is to use simple animation with large brand assets and a clear visual hierarchy. While Adelaide is focused on the quality of media, we're impressed by the research from System 1 on fluent devices and Jenni Romaniuk at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute on distinctive brand assets. As attention data becomes more integrated in to marketing decision systems, innovative marketers will use media quality as a guide for what type of creative they should use. For example, in low attention environments a simple logo might be best," said Guldimann.

Read the full article in Biz Report.

Posted on August 19, 2019 .

Want to be more effective? Here’s five ideas to consider


As the marketing industry descends on Cannes, David Tiltman says it’s time to raise the level of debate around effectiveness.

Today WARC launches a new white paper: Anatomy of Effectiveness. It’s a distillation of the current evidence, case studies and thinking around effective advertising.

Why do this at Cannes Lions, a celebration of creative excellence?

Well creativity, as the report shows, remains one of the most powerful tools for driving effective marketing – when it is properly applied.

But what sort of creativity? And what kind of framework should it sit in? With what budget behind it? In what channels?

Those are the kinds of question that broad-brush studies of the business impact of creativity tend to ignore. But they’re exactly the sort of questions WARC’s clients in both agencies and advertisers come to us with. They’re the questions we try to answer in the content we commission, the analysis we produce, and the sessions we run (including at Cannes). And they’re the questions we try to address with the new white paper.

Read the full article on WARC.

Posted on June 16, 2019 .

Anatomy of effectiveness: A white paper by WARC


Summarises current thinking about how to advertise effectively, given the current sense that advertising is not driving the growth it should be.

  • Brands should invest in excess share of voice, but the biggest driver of results is brand and market size.

  • The general optimum split of marketing investment is 60% for long-term brand building and 40% for short-term activation.

  • Creative emotional campaigns drive long-term effectiveness but even short ads can drive certain emotions.

  • Reach is still the foundation of media effectiveness, multi-channel integrated campaigns are more effective than single-channel campaigns, and the frequency capping techniques online are a growing trend.

  • All researchers emphasise simplicity, distinctiveness and uniqueness to improve brand recognition; fluent devices and distinctive brand assets are examples of assets that help brands stand out.

Read the full article on WARC.

Posted on June 3, 2019 .

The Sydney suburb with a secret Woolworths hiding in plain sight

This Woolworths is so small and behind the times, it doesn’t even say Woolies on the store. It’s a mystery why it even exists.

On a tidy shopping strip in a quiet corner of Sydney sits something that, in retail terms, is now unique.

Locals pop in and out all day long, some oblivious that their local supermarket is something you’ll see nowhere else.

But it’s not some newfangled concept store — a glimpse into the way we’ll shop into the future. Or the first Australian opening for an international retail giant.

Rather it’s a look back into the past, a glance into the world of supermarkets’ past. The residents of Jannali, in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, are picking up their groceries from the last of its kind.

The name above the door may be unfamiliar, but the company behind it is one of Australia’s biggest — Woolworths.

Jannali is the suburb with a secret Woolies. And it’s one of the country’s strangest Woolworths at that.

Welcome to Australia’s last ever Flemings supermarket. There were once scores of stores; now this single branch remains.

Read the full article on

Posted on May 3, 2019 .

Red C’s shortcuts to brand choice

Marketing and Media Matters

It is surprising how often we test ads for brands that simply do not make it that easy for consumers to know which brand it is being advertised. The ads bear little resemblance to the brand that consumers know and unfortunately it is true to say that the money spent is often wasted as the communication does little to help build easier shortcuts to brand choice.

Being able to stand out has been a cornerstone of advertising impact since the practice was first established.  But equally as important is the need to make it easy for consumers to link the message quickly with the brand. If it is not, then the money spent is wasted because even if it is commutating a strong message, it is not linking that message to the brand behind it.

The importance of brand recognition as a key mental shortcut or heuristic to brand choice has been explored in many books, articles and papers in recent years. Behavioural economist Gerd Gigerenzer found that people rarely make decisions following detailed consideration, but instead make “fast and frugal” decisions to arrive at “good enough” choices.

Recalling brands in context: The availability mental shortcut is discussed in Byron Sharp’s How Brands Grow. Mental availability is something marketers must measure carefully. If a brand is easily recalled in context, it becomes a good choice for consumers.

How do we know which choices are good enough? Not by careful comparison. Instead we use heuristics, or mental shortcuts. In 2003, Daniel Kahneman identified “baseline” heuristics involved in nearly every human decision. Of these, three baseline heuristics are particularly useful in explaining brand growth and the three are availability, affect and processing.

Read the full article in Marketing and Media Matters

Posted on March 18, 2019 .

Is it time to reposition positioning?

The Drum

Quick! What’s the difference between a positioning statement and set of brand values?

Or a value proposition and a brand’s DNA?

What about a brand promise and a brand essence?

If you answered ‘er’ to any of the above, then you are not alone.

Week long workshops have been spent parsing out the distinctions between ‘DNA’ and ‘purpose’. Cut through the froth, however, and we are talking about positioning.

But whatever we call it, positioning is central to what marketers do. Yet, here’s a scary New Year’s thought: is it time to reposition positioning?

Positioning faces an even bigger challenge. Jenni Romaniuk of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute has pointed out that the way we think about positioning is back to front.

Read the full article on The Drum.

Posted on January 18, 2019 .

Mastercard does some…. branding…!

Not the most exciting headline I suppose, but I am a bit bemused by the furor about the decision to remove the brand name from the logo. This decision been called ‘smart’, ‘masterful (nice pun)’ ‘bold’. I call it business as usual. This is what any brand with a strong Distinctive Asset can do - use the Distinctive Asset to replace the brand name. It’s not brave, bold or brilliant, it’s just good branding - assuming you have a couple of foundations in place.

1. It is really a strong asset with (close to) 100% Fame and 100% Uniqueness

Marketers often over-estimate the strength of their Distinctive Assets because they have a skewed view of the impact of their own asset building activities versus competitors. Mastercard are reported in the Forbes article as saying 80% of consumers recognised the logo without the words accompanying it (I assume they linked it to Mastercard, not just had seen it before!). This does, of course, mean 20% or 1 in 5 consumers don’t think Mastercard when they see this logo. Perhaps these people don’t need credit cards?

Some forms of measurement can also give misleading results. For example our research, published in the Journal of Advertising Research, shows that prompting people with the brand name when measuring the strength of Distinctive assets can inflate Fame scores by up to 20 percentage points.

2. There is a new buyer education process in place

Even if you have a strong asset now, new buyers are constantly coming into the category. Distinctive Assets are not innate knowlege, we learn them through the (successful) activites of marketers. New category buyers need to be taught that this Distinctive Asset is synonymous with Mastercard or over time, even the strongest Distinctive Asset will erode in Fame.

3. There is a competitor monitoring system in place

While you might have some control about your brand’s asset building activities, you have limited control over competitor activities. For a global brand like Mastercard, its important to monitor the Uniqueness of their asset, and check no competitors are encroaching into its mental territory. Lack of Uniqueness is when competitor brands are also linked to your brand’s asset. And once lost, Uniqueness, is very difficult to regain - as you can’t tell category buyers not to think something!. So picking up encroachment is early is really important for keeping a Distinctive Asset strong.

4. You have a full Distinctive Asset palette and not just rely on one asset

A visual asset will not work in all environments. Any brand needs a set of diverse assets to draw on to use in different media and retail environments. Putting all your eggs in one basket with one asset is a risky strategy.

Mastercard’s choice is not something to be applauded, celebrated or even criticised in itself. Thousands of brands make this same decision for branding moments in an advertisement, on a social social media post and other places where category buyers experience brands. It’s just often, unfortunately, a decision made without the right foundations in place. Hopefully this is not the case for Mastercard.

Posted on January 11, 2019 .

Kraft peanut butter is back in Australia, but Bega says only its spread is the original

The Advertiser

After more than a year’s absence, Kraft peanut butter is back on supermarket shelves. Or is it?

That’s the question facing shoppers with archrival Bega insisting that only it now owns and produces the “never oily, never dry” spread Australians grew up with. Whatever is in the new — and almost identical — Kraft jars, it’s not the real thing, the Aussie firm has said.

It’s the latest chapter in an increasingly bitter breakfast time battle between US giant Kraft, now owned by Heinz, and NSW dairy Bega which bought most of Kraft’s Australian operations for $460 million last year.

The two are due to face each other in court this week over allegations of trademark infringement.

The victor will likely go on to dominate the $110 million Australian peanut butter spread market.

Jenni Romaniuk, a research professor at Uni SA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and author of Building Distinctive Brand Assets told the spread stoush was “a bit of a mess” and it could ultimately be “bad news for Bega” if shoppers flocked back to the familiar Kraft name.

Read the full article on The Advertiser.

Posted on August 8, 2018 .

Brands need distinctive assets


Brands relying on the quality of their content to get noticed may be neglecting the significant marketing opportunities offered by having a set of distinctive assets, according to Jenni Romaniuk.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, the associate director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science likens the strategy of getting attention first then branding second to using darts to tackle a swarm of wasps: “you might hit a few, but you will miss the majority.”

Further, “The more attention-grabbing the creative, the harder the branding has to work to succeed,” she notes.

One way of creating branding that cuts through the environmental distractions external to the advertisement, including mental clutter, is to deploy “distinctive assets”.

Read the full article on WARC.

Posted on May 22, 2018 .

The Four Commandments: future proofing a brand’s identity

UniSA News

Think of M&M’s and you get an instant visual image of the characters Red and Yellow; a flash of bright green in the haircare aisle can draw you to Fructis; and when I write the words ‘Aussie kids are….’ a good number of you would have finished that sentence in your mind without prompting (probably also with the music to accompany it!).

Each of these factors are Distinctive Brand Assets. They’re the non-brand-name aspects of a brand that form its identity. Built up over time and embedded in your memory, Distinctive Assets trigger the brand in the minds of buyers and help them identify the brand with ease – online, in-store, in the street or on your phone.

Distinctive Assets are created by the brand’s marketing activities, and when done well—like M&M’s, Fructis and Weet-Bix—they can activate a rich vein of thoughts. Yet there are also risks. The appeal of Distinctive Assets can lead marketers to make poor choices about assets for their brand, particularly when they’re considering (or have been told) it’s time for a change.

The following four commandments help you focus on the important, and avoid some common traps that damage the brand.

Read the full article here.

Posted on May 15, 2018 .

Why mass marketing is still vital

Stuart Anderson, Alpha Public Relations

Book review: How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp and How Brands Grow Part 2 by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp

I love these two books. Over the last decade or so I’ve heard enough to last me a lifetime about how the key to growth is to focus tightly on a precise customer type, eschewing mass marketing and targeting those customers directly to the exclusion of all others. The consultants who propound this idea never seem to notice the irony that they themselves live on Twitter and would sell their own kidneys for a three-inch quote in a low-circulation business mag.

Hurrah and huzzah, therefore, for Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia. They are proper, serious researchers and their findings, published in these two books between 2010 and 2016 should make every public relations practitioner’s heart leap with joy.

Read more

Posted on July 13, 2017 .

University of South Australia expert Jenni Romaniuk says brand is all important, but missteps are easy

Building a brand is an ongoing challenge, whether your budget is small or large. Brands with big budgets can afford a few misses, but for small and medium businesses, wasting money is particularly damaging. Strategic errors lead to tactical mistakes, and leave your business vulnerable in the long run.

Fortunately, new R & D into brands and buyers give us robust evidence-based knowledge that we can use to create smarter brand strategies. However this knowledge is not yet widely known — which means avoidable mistakes are still common. Here are three common branding mistakes, and how to stop making them:

Mistake #1: Paying too much attention to too few customers

Think about your customers — do you focus on a special few, sending them offers, worry if they don’t buy from you for a while? This is a mistake, because while you are stalking these special few, you neglect many others who do or could buy from you. Neglected customers won’t hate you, they will just stop turning up. You won’t even know they are gone until you look at the bottom line at the end of the quarter and wonder why sales are down. Many customers stop buying from you for reasons out of your control, such as moving. If you are not looking for the next customer to acquire, your brand will slowly wither away. Don’t spend too much time on a select few customers, it’s smarter to have a broad acquisition strategy.

Mistake #2: Forgetting the fundamentals

Do you worry about how you are different from your competitors? What you can offer that they don’t? Are you constantly tweaking your products or services to offer that extra special new thing that will lure customers to your door? This is a mistake because when you focus on being different from competitors, you can easily forget that buyers want the whole chocolate sundae — not just the cherry on top. Remember every day you battle for buyer attention, when you win that battle, use that time well. Buyers have busy lives and easily forget, so remember to focus on the fundamentals — such as the range of services you offer — these help make it easier for the buyer to remember to buy from you.

Mistake #3: Getting bored too easily with the brand’s identity

When was the last time you were tempted to change your logo? When you live and breathe your brand, it’s easy to get bored and feel like a change — but your world is not your buyers’ world. Your buyers’ world is one of constant clutter, distraction and a desire to make buying as easy as possible. Your (current and potential) buyers remember things like your logo to make your brand easier to find in the future. Each time buyers use this knowledge it is reinforced, it gets stronger. Don’t ruin all their (and your) hard work by changing your brand’s identity. It’s like inviting someone to dinner and then moving house (without telling them). If you are bored, don’t change your logo, change your thinking.

Posted on May 3, 2017 .

Book review: How brands grow: part two, by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp

Peter Mouncey

This book review looks at 'How brands grow: part 2' by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp, the 2015 follow up to Byron Sharp's 2010 'How brands grow'. Like the first book, it attempts to challenge the reader to recognise the fundamental errors in contemporary marketing thought. The first two chapters reiterate material from the first book and throughout the work there is reused material. The third and fourth chapters, 'Building mental availability' and 'Leveraging distinctive assets', are the most valuable, compared to some of the more basic later chapters. The reviewer's reaction to the book was mixed, while some of it was insightful it didn't live up to the first book though some readers of the first book may find more detail on its key concepts.

Posted on December 5, 2016 .