Biggest range, lowest prices, and good service are three brand pillars that underpin the Bunnings Warehouse business.
Consistent branding of these key attributes through its catalogues and mass media advertising, delivering on the brand promise, and massive growth in retail outlets gives Bunnings Warehouse a formidable profile in Australia and New Zealand.
The hardware retail giant has beaten BankWest to take number one place in WA Business News’s annual advertising industry survey of the State’s most recognised brands.
There are more than 120 Bunnings Warehouse stores and nearly 60 traditional-size hardware stores.
London immigrants Arthur and Robert Bunning founded the now multi-million business in 1886.
They called their hardware store Bunnings Bros Pty Ltd, which later became Bunning Ltd and publicly listed in 1952.
A series of acquisitions during the next 40 years made it an attractive investment for Wesfarmers, which bought the business in 1994 and set about launching the Bunnings Warehouse brand and concept.
The Brand Agency had developed creative for Bunnings prior to Wesfarmers’ acquisition. The agency has held the account for about 14 years.
It was a big account to win at the time and has grown substantially since.
The Bunnings business was the catalyst for The Brand Agency establishing its Melbourne office, now a significant revenue stream for the Western Australian advertising agency.
The Bunnings Warehouse concept resulted in new brand and creative work for The Brand Agency, however, consistent brand messages remained the same, according to The Brand Agency chairman Ken James.
“The creative has changed over time but it’s been very consistent,” he said.
“There have been about three or four changes but the line illustration man, or Lionel as we know him, has been around for about 10 years.
“We were already using line illustration at that point and we needed a unique selling proposition that made us stand out.
“What we wanted to do with the line drawings was set Bunnings apart from other hardware stores. If you looked at the others they had photos to show the products and everything was in full colour. We thought line drawing fitted well with hardware.”
Mr James said changing the Bunnings advertising subtly over time had provided the hardware retailer with strong brand recognition.
“We have always been strong believers in trying to have creative and strategy that does not change but gets fine tuned, and those brands will always get strong brand recognition,” he said.
For example, there are hundreds of different Lionel drawings that keep the brand interesting but maintain its strengths.
More colour was introduced to television and print adverts this year, but the style of ads largely remained the same.
Bunnings advertising manager Simon Lodge said the Bunnings Warehouse brand was paramount to the ongoing success of the company.
“Through consistent massaging, the brand represents the following benefits in the minds of the consumers: lowest price promise, biggest range and best service, which impacts strongly on which hardware stores customers choose to shop at,” Mr Lodge said.
“The company’s brand image is influenced by every touch point with its customers – the store layout, the store location, store livery, interaction with staff, price, product, availability, consistency of offer, advertising and more.”
Mr Lodge said this helped position Bunnings as a low cost operator.
“All communication is framed around a collective set of consumer benefits that embrace price, range, and service,” he told WA Business News.
Mr Lodge said everything from consistent store layouts to consistent communications drove brand longevity and profile.
“Extensive nationwide customer research was conducted late last year to determine consumers’ perception of Bunnings Warehouse advertising and provide a sound platform for campaign development,” he said.
“Overwhelmingly the research found that the current advertising direction strongly supports the brand positioning of Bunnings Warehouse as a low cost operator.”