Top performers stay on message

23/07/2009 - 00:00

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THE Brand Agency has cemented itself among the state's leading creatives after two of its key clients filled first and second positions in the 'WA's best brand' category in this year's branding survey.

Top performers stay on message

THE Brand Agency has cemented itself among the state's leading creatives after two of its key clients filled first and second positions in the 'WA's best brand' category in this year's branding survey.

Incumbent best brand, RAC slipped from the first spot, which it held for the past two years, to make way for Bunnings Warehouse, which sits at the top of the branding tree for the first time since 2003.

Bunnings has played bridesmaid to RAC, HBF and BankWest in the best brand list for the past five years.

The Brand Agency managing director Steve Harris said the top two brands are very recognisable in the Western Australian marketplace thanks to their extensive histories.

"Both of them have probably been in the top five for the last 10 years, which shows their power," Mr Harris said.

"Once you establish a long-term brand, if you manage it well the power of it is significant."

However, peers of Mr Harris do not necessarily agree with the final best brand listing.

Marketforce chairman and chief executive John Driscoll said the leading brands were very active in the market.

"With Bunnings, you've got one message and they're out there with the biggest advertising spend simply saying the same thing over and over again - price and product to a formula, so they've got one message," Mr Driscoll said.

"RAC have been pretty strong with their yellow campaign and that has brought together what they had as different messages into a more consistent branding message."

Mr Driscoll highlighted LotteryWest, one of his key clients, which came third on the best brand list, as having a deliberate change in strategy, bringing some of its product brand values into alignment with its corporate brand.

Meerkats clients, HBF and iiNet, came in 4th and 5th respectively.

Meerkats creative director Mike Edmonds said it was difficult to select a top brand due to the downturn affecting his business.

"For me there's no clear winner; I found it quite hard because of the economic situation," he said.

"There's not a lot of brands out there trying new things, they're all battening down the hatches."

Mr Harris suggested clients were being much more careful in their spending.

"Our business is doing well and we're travelling ok, but what it means is clients are focusing on quality and building their established brands; they are much more judicious in how they spend money and what they do," Mr Harris said.

"In the current recessionary environment, times are tough, so it's going to be interesting to see what this list looks like next year.

"I can't see a lot of launches of new products and rebrands happening in the next 12 months."

Mr Harris is adamant that, a year ago, his agency was making $1 million a year in fees from walk-in projects, but this business has disappeared.

"I was doing a million bucks a year out of that and that's gone," he said.

"And anyone telling you that's not happening is telling porkies," he said.

Mr Edmonds said clients were shifting priorities.

"This environment means a lot of brands put off rebranding, reinventing their brand, fixing any inconsistency in their brand image," Mr Edmonds told WA Business News.

"They tend to put more of that income into more reliable areas like sales and customer retention."

Mr Harris also contends that the WA agencies are set to consolidate as clients seek financially solid and creatively proven business partners.

"I'm firmly of the view that you are going to see some advertising agencies go broke, and what I'm seeing is clients are more conscience of where they take their business," he said

"The other aspect is that clients are more circumspect about the media brands they deal with.

"They want to spend money with companies with reputations and in programming with reputations and in newspapers with reputations."

One brand worth highlighting is that of internet service provider iiNet, which has cemented its position in the top 10 brands this year, taking fifth position as it did the year before.

The Perth-based company, the third biggest nationally after Telstra and Optus, has worked hard on its image in recent years and remains a stalwart in the emerging brands category as well.

Despite dismal onfield performances, the West Coast Eagles has held its ground as a top brand.

It has been regularly among the top 10 since the survey started.

Consumer brands Rick Hart, Red Rooster and Hungry Jacks filled the last few places. Rick Hart is no longer WA-owned, while the national two fast food brands started their life in WA.

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