There has been a massive shift in the markers that hold a company’s value in the past 40 years, according to one of Australia’s leading brand strategists.
Adam Ferrier is the founder of Thinkerbell, which is an agency owned by four of the country’s most well-regarded communications people, with experience in research and data, strategy and creative execution. He spoke recently at the Australian Banana Industry Congress, where he explained that the large majority of the value of the fruit is in how it is branded and marketed.
“There has been a shift in where the value of the company is from the 1970s, where 85 per cent of the value of a company was in what it did,” he said. “For example, what a factory/producer did and what it made. Now about 80 per cent of the value of the company is in the brand; so, reputation, trust and all the intangibles. That’s a massive shift. A brand is a centralised organised thought that is carried throughout the entire business. It is not just made up, there is a whole world of market science and behaviour economics that we are drawing upon. It is not just that ‘creativity is cool’ we are studying a lot, and getting a lot of data, so we are starting to understand what is marketing and what is a brand. Marketing drives business growth and well-branded businesses do better than non-branded businesses.”
Mr Ferrier notes that there is not a lot of differentiation between bananas within the category, apart from the Ladyfinger variety, and the wax-tipped fruits. He says the category is massive, but there is currently not a lot of choice for consumers, so there is a huge opportunity for the industry.
“Everyone knows bananas are healthy, people got that message years ago,” Mr Ferrier said. “The thing is there is not a clear implicit meaning at the moment for bananas. You can either set that at a category level, a business or if you are a producer, you can select your own version of it – in the same way, Australian lamb kind of implicitly means ‘connection’ and getting people together, having a BBQ with friends. They have done it well over many years. So, create better brand codes, packaging is probably the easiest way, but don’t think that you have to do it through packaging. So, think about what codes you can integrate into your brand. You can also find a way to raise the price because bananas are fairly cheap. It’s the placebo effect; the more you pay for something, the better you think it is, and you enjoy it more. As categories get better branding, the prices increase.”
He added that brands not only drive growth for the business, even primary producers because it creates value, but it also changes consumer behaviour. So, looking at brain patterns, people have to process more things when it is a brand that they have not heard of – therefore, less processing means humans are more likely to buy. The best brands, according to Mr Ferrier are the ones that are instantly recognisable, famous and clear what they stand for.
“We need to make really clear brand codes, to make it simple to the consumer to buy my brand as opposed to everyone else,” he said. “So, in advertising, a lot of messages rhyme, there is alliteration, it is bold, there are big images. It is very easy to process information. (Ask yourself) what are the brand codes for bananas? Are they famous and unique to your particular banana? A few examples of bananas that are starting to do it are the ones with the red wax tip (Eco Bananas). Another attempt is ones with elastic or wrapping around (the bunch). Creating these codes are important if you are trying to create a brand for yourself.”