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Risk vs opportunity: Why saliency can hinder brand growth

By September 12, 2019 No Comments

It is probably safe to assume that most brands want fame. But that can come at a cost if they rely too heavily on their fame without paying attention to how the wider consumer landscape is evolving.

Kantar’s 2019 BrandZ ranking of the UK’s top 75 brands reveals a number of well-known British brands are currently in a “dangerous and exposed” position. They are ripe for disruption and it is their saliency that is the problem.

“A number of brands are trading on their prior fame, their existing reputation, rather than moving with the times as much they should be and really underpinning and retaining that meaningful difference with consumers,” says BrandZ research director, Martin Guerriera.

Take Woolworths, Staples or Comet, which have all disappeared from the high street. Consumers knew who they were but not why they’d shop with them.

“Over-exposure and not being able to back it up with meaningful difference is a potential risk factor for UK brands,” Guerrierra adds. “If, as a brand-builder, your brand is much more salient than it is different or meaningful, that is a problem.”

By comparison, the top 10 fastest risers in this years ranking, which includes Deliveroo, Costa, BrewDog and Ocado, score much higher on meaningful difference (109) than they do saliency (104).

We have an advantage of being able to execute at speed in a way that traditional banks are not able to.

Tristan Thomas, Monzo

“This is the ideal situation to be in as a brand; to have that very clear point of difference but not be particularly well known at present,” Guerriera says.

“That should be a much easier job; your job is to grow your profile rather than actually build your brand. The difference job is done, everyone knows why these brands are different. So rather than a risk of being over-exposed, this feels like an opportunity for these brands to grow and build their profile.”

The other 65 brands in 2019’s ranking, meanwhile, score much higher on saliency (119) than meaningful difference (109), which means their growth potential is less of an opportunity than it is a risk.

Why Deliveroo, Costa and BrewDog are growing faster than other UK brands

This is especially evident in the UK’s finance sector, where banks are fast losing relevance in the face of competition from newer players like Monzo and Starling Bank.

Over the past five years, HSBC (-2%), Barclays (-10%), Lloyds (-7%), Standard Charter (-13%), RBS (-8%) and Bank of Scotland (-11%) have all declined in value.

Overall, the eight consistent banks in the 2018 and 2019 rankings have declined by an average of 7% and lost $2.1bn in value.

Monzo, meanwhile, is going from strength to strength. While the four-year-old bank isn’t quite valuable enough to make the BrandZ ranking, BrandZ analysis shows it scores much higher on a number of measures compared to other UK banks.

MonzoOther UK banks
Will gain importance125103
Shaking things up134102
Leading the way106100

Salience isn’t one of them but meaningful difference is, which according to Guerriera puts Monzo in a “great place”.

“Monzo has built its brand proposition, made sure from a servicing perspective it is absolutely bang on, and now it’s got to a point where it needs to build salience and it is starting to amplify and spend above-the-line to do that job,” he says. “It just needs to tell people now and that is the easy bit.”

Indeed, Monzo launched its first TV campaign this year, which the bank’s head of marketing and community, Tristan Thomas, says was undoubtedly a “tipping point” in its growth.

“We’ve combined what we’ve had for the last few years of a product that people really love to use, together with a brand that they are really invested in – both emotionally and for some people monetarily. And now being able to level up from a marketing growth perspective by combining that with some more traditional marketing roots,” Thomas tells Marketing Week.

A call to arms for brand building: What the UK’s top 75 brands says about marketing in 2019

“It’s working out what customers actually want and how they interact with their money and building a product that reflects that. We’re now taking that next step and thinking about how else we help people with their money?”

This has most recently included the launch of an energy switching service that allows customers to change energy providers through Monzo to get a better deal.

“It’s not something a traditional bank would ever imagine they should think about offering to their customers,” Thomas says. “And we have an advantage of being to execute at speed in a way that traditional banks are not able to.”

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