Why branding is just as important as innovation

  • Voices
  • June 26, 2017
  • Simon Wedde
Why branding is just as important as innovation

New Zealanders tend to be obsessed with ‘innovation’ when better results could be achieved faster with ‘branding’. Don’t believe me? Look at what Geoff Ross achieved with 42Below. He didn’t invent vodka. Or Rod Drury, with Xero – accounting software existed already. What about Trade Me? Sam Morgan didn’t come up with the idea of auctions, online or otherwise.

‘Innovation’ is just a fancy term for a new idea. And while new things are important, the amount of effort invested in them and the amount of money allocated by government to them, through organs like Callaghan Innovation, is surely excessive. Instead, I’d like to see more attention paid to taking existing ideas, making them better, branding them right and taking them to the global stage.

It’s not like there isn’t ample precedent for branding over, or before, innovation. Take Apple, for example. Apple didn’t invent the portable media player; it just took major strides to perfecting it for the masses with the iPod. Apple didn’t invent the tablet computer – Microsoft did. Apple didn’t invent the mobile phone, either. And it most certainly didn’t invent the watch, or even the smartwatch. It just made all these things simple to use and, through branding, extremely attractive to own. Yes, Apple is innovative, but that imaginative thinking has always been driven by a singular brand idea – to humanise technology.  And therein lies the nub - brand leads.

What all these companies, and indeed most successful businesses (see Best Global Brands 2016), have in common is that their singular focus has fallen on improving products with which their customers are already quite familiar.

How is that to their advantage? Other than the obvious margin and shareholder value they create: Apple tops out the Best Global Brands with an estimated brand value of US$178,111 million - not bad for a company with essentially no factories.

Part of the trouble with new ideas and whole new categories of products or services is that they are inherently risky. While inventing the next great must-have widget might appear to have the advantage that a whole new market is created – and hence there isn’t any competition – it just isn’t quite that simple. The potential customers don’t know that they ‘need’ your new gadget (or service), so you must get out there and tell them about it. Creating a new market isn’t a simple matter. Your great ‘innovation’ might end up being the next Facebook. It might. But it probably won’t.

It is also fiendishly difficult to come up with a truly new idea that is commercially viable. Even the bible said (in Ecclesiastes) ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. While that could be debated (not in a pub), the sentiment nevertheless holds true.

Which brings us to another structural reality of the New Zealand market. We simply don’t have the scale of other nations. If it is tech innovation, anyone who has been to California’s Silicon Valley will instantly acknowledge the massive disparity in that hotbed of technology when compared with, say, Wellington. Without knocking our ‘best little capital in the world’, there can be no question that the scale is very, very different. The streets of California aren’t paved with gold, but when it comes to innovation and venture capital dollars, it might as well be.

And then you have London, Paris, New York. Even Sydney. It might sound like a fashionable T-shirt, but with the scale of sheer numbers of people and the resources they represent, well, it is hard to match.

This Kiwi preoccupation with innovation over branding means there is less oxygen available for the latter. Just for a moment imagine if more entrepreneurial minds – for that is something New Zealanders have plenty of – were turned towards taking clunky existing things, and making them beautiful and appealing. What we have is the freedom and distance and cultural heritage of doing things differently. We should see a bigger focus on creative ways to adapt, market and build brands; that is the future and that’s what some of our top exports have done.

Take Rockit apples as an example. They most definitely didn’t invent apples, not even red ones, but their simple tube of apples packaging concept made the stalwart fruit all of a sudden coveted and highly attractive. 42Below made a quintessentially Russian drink fantastically Kiwi; and speaking of which, we’ve managed to completely and utterly rebrand the Chinese gooseberry (that’s right: now internationally known as Kiwifruit).

And, I mean, who describes accounting software, of all things, as beautiful?

Rod Drury and Xero. That’s who.

  • Simon Wedde has spent twenty years as a strategic lead across both global corporates and start-ups. He thrives on solving vexing problems for businesses, sometimes a little surprisingly but always with a commercial focus.
  • This article originally appeared on Idealog.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Paul Catmur: The Death of Stalin

  • Voices
  • October 23, 2018
  • Paul Catmur
Paul Catmur: The Death of Stalin

The time between leaders is a dangerous one. In medieval times they’d gloss over it by having messengers shout ‘The King is dead! Long Live the King!’ Which roughly translates as: 'Yes, the king may have snuffed it, but don’t even think about getting uppity because the new one has already moved into the castle and is busy sharpening his favourite axe.' BC&F Dentsu chief executive Paul Catmur takes a look at industry's changing guard.

Read more
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term agency partnership: Subaru and BC&F Dentsu
news

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term agency partnership: Subaru and BC&F Dentsu

These days, a brand-agency partnership lasting, say, five years is impressive. Yet, at 22 years, Subaru and Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu’s working relationship has lasted a small lifetime. We take a look at this year's long-term agency partnership winner.

Why aren't we doing this? UK marketing strategist Peter Field explores long-term brand building

  • Advertising
  • October 23, 2018
  • Caitlin Salter
Why aren't we doing this? UK marketing strategist Peter Field explores long-term brand building

Announced at the Effies on Thursday, the Commerical Communications Council has launched a new book by Peter Field which urges marketers and business leaders to understand how overly sales-led advertising is negatively impacting their business in terms of long-term growth and profitability.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and StopPress have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

topics
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...

JustOne managing director Ben Goodale to leave agency

  • Advertising
  • October 23, 2018
  • StopPress Team
 JustOne managing director Ben Goodale to leave agency

Ben Goodale, managing director of JustOne, will leave the agency at the end of the year to take a career break. This change means JustOne is taking the opportunity to relocate to Richmond Road and co-locate offices with 99 and Raydar.

Read more

Movings/Shakings: 23 October

  • Movings/Shakings, brought to you by Marsden Inch
  • October 23, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Movings/Shakings: 23 October

Industry happenings at Ipsos New Zealand, Ogilvy and Harvey Cameron.

Read more
voices

Ads of the week: 23 October

  • TVC of the week
  • October 23, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the week: 23 October

A round of applause for Warehouse Stationery, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation and Kathmandu.

Read more

Cutting above the noise: Colenso BBDO call on family members for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  • Advertising
  • October 23, 2018
  • Caitlin Salter
Cutting above the noise: Colenso BBDO call on family members for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation and Colenso BBDO had to quickly alter their latest campaign after receiving complaints about the use of the word ‘contagious’ – but Colenso BBDO creative director Maria Devereux doesn’t want the controversy to take away from the campaign’s message: every eligible woman in New Zealand should be getting mammograms.

Read more

Effies 2018: DDB shines golden, takes home Grand Effie and crowned Most Effective Agency of the Year

  • Awards
  • October 19, 2018
  • Georgina Harris
Effies 2018: DDB shines golden, takes home Grand Effie and crowned Most Effective Agency of the Year

Auckland’s Shed 10 was taken over by advertising and marketing folk last night, excited to celebrate the country’s most effective marketing campaigns at the 2018 NZ Effie Awards, organised by the Commercial Communications Council in association with TVNZ.

Read more

Tonkin + Taylor’s Briana Miller talks carving out her niche in the industry

  • Marketing
  • October 19, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Tonkin + Taylor’s Briana Miller talks carving out her niche in the industry

Tonkin + Taylor customer experience advisor Briana Miller continuously upskills to put as much as she can into her work. After starting in an administrative role, she’s worked her way up and has already proved herself be a real asset to the industry and was one of this year’s TVNZ-NZ Marketing ‘Rookie Marketer of the Year’ finalists. We chat with her about the journey so far.

Read more
Values, impact and purpose: why marketers should be paying attention to culture
Sponsored content

Values, impact and purpose: why marketers should be paying attention to culture

The ideas, systems and social behaviours of people come from the context of culture. As large cultural shifts take place globally, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to stay on top of the constantly evolving changes as they land on our shores. StopPress spoke with marketers from ANZ New Zealand and Westpac New Zealand, as well as Colleen Ryan, partner at TRA, about the importance of culture in marketing, how to use culture to make impactful messaging, and the results that come from companies looking outwards.

Kathmandu travels the world in latest in-house campaign

  • Advertising
  • October 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Kathmandu travels the world in latest in-house campaign

Kathmandu has set its sights on the world, with its first-ever global brand campaign, ‘Kathmandu World Ready’, developed by its in-house creative team.

Read more
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term marketing excellence winner: Trustpower
news

TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018 long-term marketing excellence winner: Trustpower

Innovating and staying ahead of the curve in the electricity market isn’t easy. Trustpower knew it needed to act quickly if it wanted to slow its customer churn rate – and that’s when it found its 'light bulb' idea. We take a look at this year's TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards long-term excellence award winner.

Stationery ranger comes to the rescue for Warehouse Stationery

  • Advertising
  • October 18, 2018
  • StopPress Team
Stationery ranger comes to the rescue for Warehouse Stationery

Warehouse Stationery has launched its latest spot featuring a stationery ranger and a horse made out of Blu Tack.

Read more
Bauer Media launches online beauty community: beautyheaven.co.nz
Sponsored content

Bauer Media launches online beauty community: beautyheaven.co.nz

The publisher’s new digital platform is the ultimate destination for all things beauty.

VTNZ leaves a mark as September's Ad Impact Award winner

  • Ad Impact
  • October 17, 2018
  • StopPress Team
VTNZ leaves a mark as September's Ad Impact Award winner

With summer on the way, September showed us a whole hoard of new campaigns being launched. While there was plenty to choose from, it was VTNZ with its 'Road Commander gets a WoF' TVC by FCB that picked up the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2018 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit