Category Archives: Branding

Types of Client-side Marketers – Part Three

Brand Marketers
In Financial Services terms, in a client-side sense, this is a pivotal role which supports the other Marketing functions.  The breadth of this role is considerable and is likely to include the following areas:

  • Defining the brand story – including its values, tone of voice and creative execution guidelines.
  • Defining (non sales/lead) campaigning to tell that story to the target audience.  This will include delivery of creative, typically only above the line.
  • Holding the delivery lines (Marketing Comms and Operations) to account as regards alignment to the brand story and values externally and, in a best in breed structure, running internal comms.
  • Proposition development ensuring an outside in approach.  This is an important function to separate out when the Comms function is acting in a Marketing Services role.  It will harness Product thinking alongside Customer need thinking rather than falling into the trap of clever people building clever products that customers do not need, demand or even understand. 
  • On this point, and in line with my constant desire to promote outside in thinking, research and tracking of brand level metrics should sit in this function.

    Public Relations and Public Affairs are often in this role holders remit – this is my preferred position and whilst in larger organisations this can be a separate department, it works best in my opinion when it reports in to the Brand Marketers.

In my experience this role also provides a bridge into HR as the internal proposition and branding is as important as the external one.  Its manifestation may be basic (templates, branding internal documents etc) and/or more profound in synergising the values for colleagues with the external values.

Purpose of this role

It is quite easy to define the purpose in marketing theory terms but my interpretation is as follows;

“The purpose of the role is to build awareness, trust and advocacy of the brand with target customers in a manner that makes the direct campaigning and sales activity more effective.  In short it is the conduit between your business, its commercial offer, what the business (brand) stands for and its Customers.”

Is it really that simple?

No, certainly not, the breadth of this role aside, the role will be managing a natural tension with the Comms function as regards guidelines and with internal teams whose inventiveness in attaching clip art, stretching and distorting logos and images is quite remarkable and extensive!

It is a role that demands great stakeholder management skills and to be successful demands a substantial budget which may well include mainstream TV channels, outdoor and press as well as digital. 

I have worked with some great people in these roles and the common ability they have in abundance is to be able to ‘think up’ strategically and juggle the multiple, different, demands and critical success factors.

Critical success factors

This is hard to be specific on as I can only talk in general terms, each brand being very different, but consistently the following have enabled great decision making in my experience;

  • Brand tracking of advocacyNPS at a non transactional level if you like – possibly expressed as a customer engagement score 
  • Brand tracking of awareness
  • Customer growth trajectories going in the right direction – overall or in target sectors, there is no shame in supporting the non retention of non-attractive customers, if it does not knock on to your target customers 
  • Customer cross holdings as a proxy for growth in value terms.  Your category may discount this as a solus metric – if the business is only offering long term investment policies it may have a different feel than if you are offering annually renewable commodities such as Travel Insurance.
  • Campaign metrics will be relevant, not just RoI but specifically reach in TV is crucial alongside detailed measures such as Gross Rating Points and CPM by audience segment.

As you can see this is a varied role and the breadth of skills required explains why this is a separate role in most Financial Services organisations. Click the links below to look further;

Product Marketers
Marcomms Marketers

So do you agree?  Let me have any comments when you get a moment.

Paul Hemingway
04 March 2020

Image: Courtesy of Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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Types of Client-side Marketers – Part Two

In Financial Services, and many other categories in fairness, there are typically two models followed as regards Comms Marketers.  If the overall sales / leads target is owned by the Product Marketers then there is a clear option to create a Marketing Operations or Marketing Services function – where the Comms Marketers ‘do to order’.  That works well for many large financial organisations where the complexity of products drives a significant investment in skilled and insightful Product Marketers. In these circumstances the business is in essence using their expertise to carry out the forecasting activity.  For more information see my earlier post on this subject.

The second option is to develop bottom up marketing plans based on the expertise and resources available to the purer ‘Comms Marketer’.  There is a realism and level of tension with the Product Marketers which, for me, works well based on this approach. In practice it works best in direct marketing terms, be that digital or traditional media.  I’ve successfully added ATL into this mix, but I benefited from support from external media planners/buyers to really make it sing.

Following the approach I took in my previous post – I will look at accountability first;

Marcomms Accountability variances.
Copyright: Paul Hemingway. Feb 2020

Picking out a few of the differences before looking at the critical success factors (CSFs) is, I hope, helpful.

  • Bottom up planning of marketing is, in my experience, more realistic.  Comms Marketers can pull on a deep understanding of the responsiveness of the database to different media.  Having attention to the creative triggers and nudges helps frame the plan with RoI at its heart, but crucially based on ‘outside in’ thinking. The approach to forecasting by Product Marketers will often focus on market share and where ‘we should be’ rather than where we can get to in the context of, customer base size, the brand spend, the direct spend and the ATL spend.   In both role types though the management task is to ensure compromise and understanding in negotiation, rather than to entrench in positional terms based on a perceived greater knowledge and expertise.
  • In budgetary terms there is a significant benefit to empowerment, especially if there is a corresponding ownership of gap closure actions.  For the Marketing Services Manager there is less flexibility in terms of rephasing spend, switching media and even product focus.  
  • The single biggest obstacle to making a Marketing Services approach working  brilliantly is often a myopic approach to Product Marketing. If Product Marketer A has a budget to spend on product A then in all likelihood they will insist on spending it, the same with Product Marketer B on Product B and so on.  The real benefit of empowering the Comms Marketing function is to remove this bias and to enable the most effective deployment of resources, be that time, money or people.

I am straying into CSFs, so let’s get into those:

  1. For a Marketing Services Marketer; Having the right balance in the team is crucial – there is less need for planners and more need for campaign delivery support.
  2. For a Marketing Services Marketer; Speed of delivery is crucial, being accountable to a separate team/function places stress on the model and having a team able to deploy tactically to order is essential. A SWAT team is always a good option, something I have deployed in the past.
  3. In both functions a consistent and strong understanding of the Business’s compliance and risk appetite is crucial, alongside a common brand understanding.
  4. For the purer Comms Marketer there is a need for a planning function or planning skills alongside the delivery of creative assets – without it the relationship with capacity planners suffers and flexing the plans becomes difficult.
  5. Great creative is a given, but there is a need not to think creative is the only, or first, solution.  Check out my post on when to change creative for more information.

This is my top 5 CSFs, I know it’s not exhaustive, so let me know your views and opinions if you have a moment.

My next post will be on Brand Marketers.

Paul Hemingway
19 February 2020
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

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When to change marketing creative

As a client-side marketer this has been a constant balancing act for me over the last 30 years.

It is easy, on the one hand, to suggest the only time to change creative is when you have evidence it is no longer working as you would expect … or is it as it once did … or is it as it did last year … or even the year before.  I hope you see my point, context as well as rational argument is required.

At this point I will say that I am steering clear of brand identity creative, iconography and logotype in this post.  After all where would we be without those brands who have been so consistent since the birth of modern advertising such as Pears, Coca Cola and so on? 

I will assume the brand is in rude health and that the consistency of its delivery is at the heart of why the brand is successful.

Over the years I’ve seen a number of drivers of change, but the timing of when to ‘press the change button’ is perhaps just as important as the drivers of change themselves.

In direct marketing terms your key goal will be to generate a lead, a sale or some other form of conversion, so the key driver of change is likely to be ineffectiveness or at the very least declining effectiveness.

This can however take many forms, I hope my check list below may be helpful in establishing whether you should indeed change creative;

  • Increased Cost of Acquisition in the sense that it is no longer on plan – this likely to be your most important internal measure.  There is a tipping point where the marketing pound can be better spent elsewhere either in a different channel or on a different line.  Your task is to determine what is driving the downturn of course, the answer may not drive a creative change, it may drive a channel change or a targeting change that is more appropriate, at least in the short term.
  • Response rate falls – in a pure math sense this still may be giving you an acceptable cost of acquisition.  In a mature business with a longstanding creative, or one with integrated high cost assets alongside such as TV, this is a complex challenge because you may not be getting the volume to support your business plan.  Looking at targeting and channel is crucial because if one element is not working to plan but other channels or targeting are, there may be a compromise to be had with creative, or your cost of acquisition target.
  • Customer feedback – a difficult one as this is very subjective.  Complaints about creative (over time) are most often driven by external changes in my experience.  There may be an emerging risk around climate change and sustainability for any advertising which does not reflect the current societal view/mood as I write this post.  In my experience customer feedback driving creative change is infrequent and rare in practice.

    This could of course be related to the answer you give to the question “Do you ask your target customers what they think?”  I have done this consistently in the past on only one of the brands I worked on, with a dual objective of looking at TCF ‘compliance’ (note small c) as well as being driven by a desire to demonstrate “outside in” thinking.  It was refreshing and drove change, but came at a cost of course.
  • In some cases creative change will be driven by a need to express the proposition differently, this is most common where either a product changes for the better internally or there is a market shift which necessitates a refresh of the positioning of the product or what element of the proposition you are highlighting.
  • I did say earlier I would ignore brand, but if there is a change in branding or brand standards then of course your direct creative will need to be sense checked.  If it jars in any way then you should invest in a refresh that can leverage your fresh new brand assets and/or design.

So, there are my five checkpoints for positive creative change, but it is worth looking at what drivers of creative change are (likely to be) inappropriate or at the very least less valid;

  1. Executive whim/new broom – usually a new ‘Head of’ or New CMO and often a symbolic act and usually not grounded in the metrics but based on their last brand.
  2. Silo’d working – where a solus asset stops working as expected and drives wholesale change. Your risk here is of being backed into a ‘consistency corner’.
  3. New Year new challenge – there is a temptation to make a change just because you think it’s time. That’s dangerous unless it is backed up by hard metrics that show a decline in effectiveness.
  4. Old creative. This could also be called ‘New Agency New Creative’. There are many reasons to change creative agency and many reasons to review creative that has been around for a while, but please, if you are going for the shiny new agency pitch creative, remember they will in all likelihood know less about you than you’d like (so make sure you immerse them in the business before changing the creative … in this instance pitching can be dreadfully misleading). If a creative is old but still hitting your effectiveness measures then save yourself the extra time, cost and effort of changing it.

As ever if you have any comments on my post I would love to hear them.

Paul Hemingway
27 January 2020

Image courtesy of @bamagal via

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Personalised Marketing

Marketing as a discipline thrives on buzzwords, how many times have you heard or seen ‘Content is King’? ‘Big Data’? or even ‘nano-influencer’ or ‘geofencing’?

One term though has been consistent for a number of years and remains the Holy Grail for many a Marketer: Personalisation.

The body of evidence is clear, the more personalised marketing is, the more responsive it is, be that driving sales, enquiries or some other form of conversion.

This post is not about how to personalise per se, maybe that will be a later post, but it is about providing inspiration as there is growing ubiquity for meaningful and engaging personalisation in very simple, straightforward ways, often using nudge theory or our natural bias to make the ‘point’.

Let’s look at some examples;

Nike set the tone in 2014, a full 5 years ago now, but the benchmark it set has long lasting reach.  Nike are always a brand on the edge, one which concentrates on engaging its audience with quality marketing across the mix.

Their fitness app, and running monitoring / mapping have become a staple for Nike over the years but their use of personalisation in 2014 was ground breaking.  It ticked many a marketing box, but at its heart it is great creative execution harnessed to great data insight.

Simply, they crunched everyone’s training data from the year and created a personalised video, and then shared it with their users – easy and devastatingly simple. 

The personalisation aside – I liked the element of challenge added by Nike – a real life example of a well located ‘nudge’ and one where the context matches the theory neatly.

Have a look…

Spotify have been doing something similar and extended their idea in 2019 with some great engagement driven marketing that had two plays really … they created ‘my playlist for the year’ (see Nike inspiration) and then gave subscribers the opportunity to share their most listened to tracks and artists.

This is powerful and simple, and it was designed to enable everyone to share their own lists, and so support the bands and artists they love, the trick to success was making it very easy to download the visuals and then click to share.

This facilitated a broad engaging conversation between the artists and their fan base … and no doubt pushed streaming up at the same time.

Check out the detail here it is a great leveraging of the story bias … ignoring the cost of the subscription and crafting a story that you can share, and it plays a little, in the sharing element, to the confirmation bias we love as Marketers. This was noticeable to me as one of my top played artists in 2019 was Honeyblood, who shared lots of insta screen shots of people’s top 5s with them in it. This made me feel closer to the band and made me think I am listening to the ‘right’ band (they are great by the way, trust me).

The prompt for this post was the simple email shown below ..

How good did this make me feel! Yep, pretty smug as you can imagine.
It ignores the actual cost of my spend but focuses down simply on the amount I saved using their 20% off vouchers (whenever they come through).

I feel £97.30 richer, so it’s worked. On another level the Sparks card needs greater relevancy, something M&S have been open about. This use of data and the improved ‘birthday bonus discount’ are steps in the right direction in my view.

Perhaps the cutest personalisation I have seen for a while is from McDonalds. A simple app let you film your own living room and superimpose a reindeer – a lovely extension of the TV advertising running at the time featuring the carrot hungry reindeer. The idea being you can then share with your children as definitive proof Santa does exist!

This is a long term play; parents will think better of the brand and children will love it and, I would suggest, remember it as well.

As always please feel free to leave any comments on my post.

Paul Hemingway
20 January 2020

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Brand development in California

On vacation in Cambria, California, last month I came across a lovely example of branding in action. One that I think so exemplifies certain areas of brand success and risk that it’s worth thinking about in some detail.

First of all some background:

Cambria is a lovely little seaside town in San Luis Osiba County in California, USA. It’s population is c6,000 but that is swelled somewhat during the summer season each year as surfers and ‘west coast road trippers’ use it as a stopping off point. It’s location next to William Randolph Hearst’s castle and Moonstone beach make it a great place to overnight.


Branding means many things to Marketers it has categories such as sub-brands, brand extensions, product as brand and so on. It is however, most Marketers believe, much more than mere communications and messages. It is an end to end experience of a company or in some cases of a product. For an example of the latter, think product as brand like Hoover or Google.

Town ownership or control by a family is somewhat more common than you think. In the UK we have Bournville the West Midlands town created by Cadbury’s for its workers and Port Sunlight on Merseyside, created by Lever Brothers. In the USA it is most common in agricultural or industrial towns. Wilson in Arkansas is one example – owned for 125 years by the Wilson family and run for years by Boss Lee (I’d like to apologise to his family if you now have an image of Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard in your mind … I know I do). Interestingly it shares a common, strange, architectural preference for mock Tudor buildings with Cambria.

Oregon State University is in Corvallis, Oregon and has an enrolment that dwarves the population of Cambria at c27000+. It has a tradition grounded in agriculture and in developing sports stars – NBA, MLB and NFL especially. Significantly for this post it has extensive and significant levels of research funding.

Ok, so those four pieces of background information, seemingly disconnected are a simple set up to a story of The Linn family and Olallieberries in Cambria and their brand and the brand experience. I found it fascinating and I hope you do … It’s a tale of innovation, branding and marketing with lessons aplenty.

I am indebted to the Linn family for providing the following background to their story and how they have developed Cambria, their brand and their brand experience. I will summarise the story but you can find more information here.

IMG_0623 IMG_0624

In the early 1970s John and Renee Linn determined that they wanted to be farmers. It took a lot of hard work and planning to create the reality In 1977. The intervening period involved buying a gas station, finding a plot of land in Cambria during a visit for a friend’s wedding and stretching their finances to the limit. Their 5 year plan was coming together.

Farming is a tricky business and despite all of their graft and commitment, by 1979 things were becoming a little ‘sketchy’ as Californians are wont to say.

The turning point was turning the farm into a ‘pick your own’ concern, both vegetables and soft fruits. It was the latter that kick started the dynasty they have now created. At this point you know why I talked about Cambria.

To the University of Oregon now; in 1949 the University, funded by the US Dept of Agriculture developed the Olallieberry They are a cross of a Loganberry and a Youngberry, in essence 2/3rd blackberry and 1/3rd raspberry. The Linn family farm specialised in this crop, it took an innovation and turned it into a commercial success for them. It was, and still is, a rarity, so the competitive advantage and brand experience is fairly unique. It provided them with brand differentiation and a USP.  Now you know why I talked about the University of Oregon.

The Linn family has a heavy presence in Cambria – it has a Olallieberry monopoly and four distinct businesses – a cafe, a homewares store, a restaurant, and a gourmet foods business as well as their farm and farm shop. So a little way off town ownership but they are on their way I would contend. Now you know why I drew your attention to family owned towns.

f830b538858aa973eb2f6897fbcf6bb9 linn-s-fruit-bin-restaurant

So, to the brand lessons themselves.


It is clear that the choice of Olallieberry gives the family a clear and almost unique advantage. The soft fruit is still rare and it lends itself to multiple uses as well as supporting the core PYO business. This will allow pricing advantage and the development of a cult following; gold dust in engagement terms.


From the simple fruit comes jams, and other foodstuffs, the fruit pie is truly outstanding by the way,  I have first hand experience. The opportunity to build out into the deli and into gifts is natural and the restaurant is a clever way of offering Olallieberry gifts alongside fine dining. This increases the value engineering off a simple soft fruit crop. It also allows a degree of balance that smoothes the cropping season challenges (in income terms) across the year.

Interestingly I think the next category, whilst on the surface contradictory, is actually still supportive…


Simply, the law of branding contraction states that the greater the focus the brand becomes stronger. I would contend that in this instance the brand extensions reinforce the focus rather than take you down a riskier brand expansion route. The tightness of the extension and its roots mean the dominance gives a clear focus …


The brand dominates the town, it feeds off Cambria and Cambria feeds off it. The multiple family outlets, and the brand extension work to ensure the Linn family and the Olallieberry are synonymous with each other, interchangeable almost.


Clearly Olallieberry is a sacred word for the Linn family brand and the abbreviations, the pies and jams continually reinforce this. I am a big fan of the Primal Branding approach, and that theory from Patrick Hanlon, fits this brand really well: there is a clear creation or heritage story, obvious sacred words and Icons ie the berry itself. The development of a creed is inherent in the family’s decision to embrace farming and is central to its creation story.  Finally there is a clear use of the berry as an icon and that is reinforced with offers to have your photo taken with a life-size ‘cuddly’ Olallieberry at one of the family venues. The pie itself is an icon to and trades on the law of publicity…


Brands that are borne of publicity and word of mouth last longer and are generally more successful – as well as being very cost-effective in revenue to advertising cost terms. The publicity courted by the family on TV and entering it for accolades was a wise move.  It has allowed a supportive tribal following and enabled the brand to extend further by selling branded goods through other stores in wider California. The Food Network TV channel has been a rich seam, well mined.

This has also given rise to third-party brand credentials that are very believable…


The whole operation is driven by authenticity and the family connection and heritage story play well alongside the publicity to make this a very authentic brand. The understated packaging and shop fittings as well as the restaurant decor suit the town of Cambria and are not too modern or over designed, so they fit well with the brand rather than jar. There is a feeling of homespun authenticity that works really well.

I hope you found this post interesting, the brand, the product, the experience itself is an interesting one due to its uniqueness of offer, its clear sacred words and icons and it is a brand that ticks many boxes that a good brand marketer would strive to achieve. I suspect that the Linn family know exactly what they are doing but may not have expressed it quite as I have here. I have mixed and matched brand theories from the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Primal Branding, the Philosophy of Branding, and others, and I have tried, like Plato, to look below the surface of this brand.

I’d like to leave you with these final three thoughts:

1.  If you are passing then explore Cambria and just check if the family ownership of the town has grown
2.  Try the Olallieberry- the pie is delicious, trust me
3.  Avoid the pre-starter in the Linn Family restaurant! I’m used to bread and butter before my starter but this was bread and jam !! A brand extension too far in my view !!

24 June 2015
PS try Mozzi’s saloon over the road from the Linn family restaurant for a truly great beer (the 805) served icy cold

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