Magazine article Marketing

Integration: Neil Henderson St Luke's - Set the Agenda. Mobilise the Business

Magazine article Marketing

Integration: Neil Henderson St Luke's - Set the Agenda. Mobilise the Business

Article excerpt

Agencies can help clients discover and articulate core brand values that can galvanise an entire business.

So integration just got interesting. Clients have decided that it is so important that instead of making it the responsibility of their agencies - or their one-stop shop - they have done something about it themselves.

As Jeff Dodds explains in his article (page 41), Virgin could not achieve real integration until it had integrated its own departments Agencies do not often get the chance to reorganise their clients, but there is a huge amount they can do to assist clients in this more fundamental form of integration.

Agencies can provide the idea leadership that helps clients unite and inspire their various departments, and so support their move towards a more integrated business. Simply harmonising communications is not enough.

Every business is on a journey of furious innovation, battling to put its resources to the best possible use, determined to find the set of levers that give it the advantage. Assembling the team and providing the inspiration to strive constantly for not just an advantage, but a branded advantage, is a massive challenge. It demands creativity, passion and pride from everyone within the client business.

After all, every brand is a service brand today, and a clear brand agenda makes all the difference. It gives your team a shared view of what success looks like. It tells you what innovations to progress with and which to shelve. It brings clarity to decisions about where to invest - whether that's in your service, your people or your marketing. It gets everyone focused on what will make your brand win.

Aligned messaging

A clear agenda, built from the unique culture and capability of the company, should be the starting point for every decision about a brand's activities. Why? Because as everyone knows, the motivation of the staff makes a dramatic difference to performance, so it is critical that the external messaging and the internal messaging are truly aligned.

The vision of the founder? A unique business model? A unique access to a specific audience? A rich heritage? These aspects of a business are what the staff recognise and work with every day - and they are so often a source of powerful differentiation. It is by making this insight about the company important, and aligning it with how the business meets customer needs, that a powerful and distinctive brand idea can be defined. We think that this is so important; we call these ideas 'agenda-setting ideas'.

At St Luke's, we have been investigating how far an agenda-setting idea can determine the way a business behaves; can the insight and creativity used to create campaigns also develop ideas that can improve business performance?

For Littlewoods, the biggest brand in the Shop Direct Group empire, we worked with the team to articulate the real value of a business that combines an exciting online department store with a responsible credit proposition. Importantly, this was work done a long way before we went on to develop a new creative idea and advertising.

Dual promise

The question was: how does Littlewoods clearly express its unique dual promise? The answer lay in the origins of the brand. Since 1832, Littlewoods has meant that people can buy new, up-to-date stuff exactly when they want it, without having to save up first. And for a customer, that feels great. 'The exciting feeling of new, now' is how we articulate the benefit of the Littlewoods business.

It is a real agenda for the brand, that the Littlewoods brand director is using to inspire his team every day. …

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