10/07/2007 - 22:00

Changing fortunes of local business brands

10/07/2007 - 22:00


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Recognising Western Australia’s brands has become something of an institution here at WA Business News, with the paper having held our survey for the past six years.

Recognising Western Australia’s brands has become something of an institution here at WA Business News, with the paper having held our survey for the past six years.

This year, like every other, the list is dominated by the same few brands that have held sway since we launched this process in 2002.

Back then, BankWest was the clear leader, followed by Bunnings.

Both had very different stories, in the sense that BankWest held a strong franchise in WA as a big provincial player in a heavily regulated market, whereas Bunnings was very much seeking to become a national brand from a strong local position in a very competitive retail market.

Both companies have maintained positions in the top 10, but more recently BankWest has been marked down by advertising and marketing professionals, as the brand’s management has increasingly moved eastwards under the ownership of Britain’s HBOS.

In contrast, Bunnings seemed to have remained in favour with our respondents, despite the brand being all-but managed out of Melbourne, albeit ultimately owned by WA’s Wesfarmers Ltd.

RAC, on the other hand, has stealthily moved up the rankings over the years, clinching top spot in 2007 after a very strong consumer branding campaign.


Best sales pitch

This year we chose employer brands as a subject for obvious reasons.

In the middle of a skills shortage, it has become clear just how much companies have to pitch their offer to prospective employees beyond salary and a job description.

Just look at the recruitment advertising pages in the weekend press and you’ll get the drift.

But actually working out who’s doing best at this is very difficult.

While we asked advertising executives for their rating, we also thought human resources consultants would have a lot to say in this area, so we asked them specifically about this kind of branding, almost to no avail.

Regrettably, HR and recruitment people approached by us had virtually nothing to say about this.

So our survey fell back on the perceptions from advertising and marketing professionals.

While these people don’t necessarily have much knowledge of the inner workings of the employment market, they have their ears to ground and can tell which companies are best at getting their message across to people who may not even have experience of the market they are being sought for.

Arguably, this is the whole point of this exercise. In a skills shortage, you can’t rely on your traditional recruitment base – those people who may have a working knowledge of how your company works due to industry experience.

That means communications, including advertising, can play a greater role than it used to in attracting the right people.


Another boom time

Our Briefcase columnist, Tim Treadgold, is employed to be our resident cynic, and he does the job very well.

This week, if you take a peek at page 26, you find he’s making connections between 2007 and 1987. It’s a fair point with all that boom talk we’ve had for the past two years.

I can only hope Briefcase is wrong. We really don’t need a repeat of the late 1980s.

If you look within our branding feature, another story highlights the 1980s. Looking at the brand of WA on pages 18 and 19, leading advertising and marketing consultants point out the damage the entrepreneurs two decades ago did to the reputation of this state.

It is not something that anyone would want to happen again, because it’s not only the resources industry that gets burned.

Let’s hope the much-talked about super-cycle is real and that we really are enjoying real growth, not a windfall from speculation that can burst at any time.


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