09/08/2005 - 22:00

Corporates judged in brand survey

09/08/2005 - 22:00

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Intangible assets they may be, but there’s no doubting the value brands bring to those who operate in the commercial world.

Intangible assets they may be, but there’s no doubting the value brands bring to those who operate in the commercial world.

In Western Australia, the creep of the branch economy has taken away many of those once proud state brands – especially at the consumer level, where this form of identity is most widely recognised as having value.

Fortunately, there have been no major brand losses during the past 12 months, as we offer you our annual branding survey.

It seems the power of the BankWest brand – number one for the third time in the four years of the survey – has survived the takeover of UK-based HBOS.

It will be interesting to see how the British use the existing brand in the future, particularly outside WA where it is less well known.

Of course, brand power is not just about gaining consumers’ attention in the shopping aisles or high streets.

Brands are simply a reputation packaged into an identifiable form, and they have value – even if a company can count its consumers on one hand.

Companies such as Multiplex, Wesfarmers and Woodside have strong brands where they need them – at corporate level – even though they’ll never have to sell a packet of breakfast cereal.

These brands are typically strongest at stakeholder level – customers, employees, investors, analysts, regulators and govern-ment. In effect, their consumers are different because their products are different.

They don’t make fizzy drinks for individuals to consume, they make asset allocation decisions.

Yet the same issues, if not a little more sophisticated, arise. Consumer brands aim to win the public’s respect and trust, or at least recognition in a quest to be the first choice for something in particular – be it a fast meal or refreshing drink that you can slam down fast.

Corporate brands tend to sit behind those consumer brands, either directly or indirectly.

Alinta is one example of a local brand that works at both consumer and corporate levels. Sometimes those brands are interwoven.

For instance, if Alinta had a bad accident in its gas retail network, you could hazard a guess there might be a flow-on effect to its corporate brand, which is watched by investors, regulators and other decision-making stakeholders.

Woodside simply doesn’t sell direct to the public, so its brand management is totally different.

Asking advertising executives about corporate brands may not be a perfect survey methodology. However, leading advertising figures are sensitive to nuances of the corporate world, which many of them inhabit in their own right.

In some way they are the perfect disinterested observer. They watch from afar with the eye of an expert yet, professionally, there is little in it for them beyond the theory.

The same cannot be said for the consumer brands we survey.

Ultimately, all those we survey are either agents for the brands, or would probably like to be.

To work around this, we ask respondents to identify the brands they are involved with and we discount this heavily.

In effect, the winners are chosen by their rivals – the ultimate flattery in my view.

Little prospect of a ride on this train

IT was with some surprise that we discovered on the day after Diggers & Dealers that the popular Prospector train has been replaced by a bus service so that the track can undergo routine maintenance.

I don’t think anyone would consider a bus ride the equivalent of the train – especially the new faster version, which has shaved hours off the journey.

Didn’t someone notice that the train was booked solid a year in advance before deciding to do work on the track?

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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