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 .

The Love Issue of ‘Marketing’ - MarketingMag

The Love Issue of Marketing, for June-July 2016, is out now! We think you’re going to really like it.

There’s an interview with Mark Earls, who says stealing ideas is the smart way to market, and an exclusive extract of Byron Sharp’s new book How Brands Grow Part 2, which expands on his seminal first book to include emerging markets, services, durables, luxury and new brands.

Read more.

Posted on June 13, 2016 .

Only 4% Of Aussie Men ‘Love’ Their Beer Brand (So What Hope For Other Brands?), May 2016

According to Professor Jenni Romaniuk too many marketers want their customers to love their brands when the stark reality is most couldn’t give a stuff.

According to Romaniuk, this idea that customers should love a brand is “romantic by nature” but adds, “romance doesn’t pay the bills”.

Recent Ehrenberg-Bass research found that only four per cent of Australian males said they “loved” their favourite beer brand and “if you can’t get Aussie men to love their beer, what hope do our shampoo, canned tomatoes or toilet cleaner manufacturers have?” adds Romaniuk. >> read more

Posted on May 19, 2016 .

Is word-of-mouth more powerful in China?, April 2016

The sheer size and increasing wealth of the Chinese population makes China an attractive target market. There is no doubt that Chinese culture and history differs from the western world, but how do these differences translate into differences in Chinese buyer behaviour? And are there differences that should affect a brand’s growth strategy? This is a question we examine in How Brands Grow Part 2: Including Emerging Markets, Services and  Durables, New Brands and Luxury Brands. Here I briefly discuss a topical area: word-of-mouth (WOM). >> read more

Posted on May 4, 2016 .

Slaying marketing myths, April 2016

This article was published in issue 46 of Contagious magazine. Contagious equips companies across the globe to achieve the top 1% of marketing creativity through its research platform, consultancy, quarterly publication and live events.

by Raakhi Chotai

Byron Sharp’s seminal 2010 book How Brands Grow is one of the most influential marketing texts of recent years. In it, Sharp put fact before faith, using empirical data to contest the industry’s long-held belief in seemingly deeply flawed principles.

While the first instalment provided a critique of targeting (less is better) and differentiation (it doesn’t really exist), the second, How Brands Grow: Part 2, lays out practical commandments designed to help its readers achieve the holy grail of growth. Sharp’s co-author, Jenni Romaniuk, research professor at the University of South Australia and associate director at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, talks to Contagious about her quest to provide actionable insights for converts, and even more empirical proof to persuade the non-believers…. >> read more

Posted on April 18, 2016 .

Read This First, January 2016

Back in 2010, two of the brightest CPG marketers I have ever worked with brought to my attention a new marketing book, How Brands Grow, by Byron Sharp, professor of marketing science at the University of South Australia.  Sharp's book took an evidence-based look at the question posed in the title and, more specifically, whether marketers should invest in driving penetration (acquiring new customers) or driving purchase frequency (loyalty). >> read more

Posted on January 19, 2016 .

Global marketing guru shares trends and insights, December 2015

Marketing guru, Professor Jenni Romaniuk, is in South Africa. Hosted by SPARK Media, the academic, whose research concentrates on understanding consumer behaviour and marketing trends, is in the country to launch her new book, How brands grow part 2 and pass on some of its insights to media professionals. Michael Bratt attended the launch and sat down with her to find out what the latest marketing research is telling advertisers.  >> read more

Posted on January 6, 2016 .

How to grow brands, November 2015

Prof. Jenni Romaniuk, Associate Director (International) at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, the world's largest centre for research into marketing, will be in South Africa early next week to launch the sequel to her best-selling marketing book 'How Brands Grow'. She will be sharing a few insights from it and will be hosted by Spark Media, to offer clients and partners 'insights that ignite'.  >> read more

Posted on January 6, 2016 .

Marketing science expert tells brands to forget focus groups as ‘no good will come of it’, July 2015

Marketers must stop asking consumers to help shape key elements of the brand as they will risk losing “distinctive assets” that can make the product stand out in a cluttered market, a conference has heard.

Jenni Romaniuk, research professor and associate director at marketing institute Ehrenberg-Bass, said brands must not get hung up on what a colour means to people, or what is popular, as she argued that “uniqueness” is a critical element of marketing. >> read more

Posted on September 22, 2015 .

One Product, Many Markets: The Secret of Pan-Asian Success, September 2015

Asia offers enormous potential to both established and start-up brands. To succeed, however, marketers must carefully navigate the broad array of Asia’s nations and regions, which encompass radically different levels of sophistication and are studded with cultural nuances that can easily trip unwary marketers. >> read more

Posted on September 3, 2015 .

Product placement taking centre stage at the movies

The Advertiser, 02 November 2012.

NEW Bond film Skyfall has attracted plenty of hype, much of it centred on the growing number of commercial brands on and around 007

This has made some who have seen the film to rename the spy James Brand.

But it is big business with the latest Bond movie Skyfall's producers reportedly having raised a third of the film's budget about $43 million from product-placement deals. >> read more.

Posted on November 2, 2012 .