Jamming brand and change
Scott Oxford 0:03 G'day and welcome to brand jam, the podcast where we jam about brand because brand is our jam.
Today I'm jamming with Debbie Richardson. Deb's the founder of 3by3 and the former head of marketing for US, UK. She had the great privilege of working across all four titles in the business. And a key project was managing the transition of the times from broadsheet to tabloid. So Deb's, a regular international speaker, facilitator and advisor to CEOs and business leaders, and she's developed a unique 3by3 methodology called the nine boxes, which is how Deb and I met at a workshop where we went through the nine boxes of marketing and strengths and weaknesses of my business and and every other business sitting around the table. So g'day Deb and welcome.
Deb Richardson 0:55
Thanks, Scotty. Good to be here.
Scott Oxford 0:57
So one of the most powerful things that I remember from first hearing you speak when you introduce the nine boxes was that it was all about aligning marketing strategy with business strategy. And I think I kind of always knew that but for me too, as a purveyor of brand that made total sense for us too to align a brand strategy with the business strategy it you know, the brand is what it is, but aligning that in. What have you seen when, when that happens?
Deb Richardson 1:30
So, what have I seen in terms of what what the what the results of that happening?
Scott Oxford 1:33
Deb Richardson 1:34
I think for me, the biggest thing I've seen is leadership teams actually take a note of marketing. So one of the things I experienced in corporate was, you know, marketing was very connected to the business strategy and the leadership teams and, you know, fact in one of my corporates I worked in almost nothing would be done unless it had been run via marketing. I think as you get into smaller businesses, what I've seen they think marketing is quite a fluffy thing. So you know, it's some websites or brochures or you know, something that's not measurable. And I think the whole idea behind the nine boxes is how do you attach numbers to numbers? So you know, how do you attach your marketing strategy to your, to your business outcomes and to your results? That's what that's probably the biggest thing that I've seen.
Scott Oxford 2:22
Yeah, when I run brand workshops as well, particularly with leadership teams, the real lightbulb moments are where people, you know, a CEO or equivalent suddenly realises that solving a brand cultural issue or recognising that what brand actually is, which can be the people that take the phone calls for new business, are the most pivotal roles and yet they've got the lowest paid person in there, and that's a brand issue, that's a major impact on potentially the business and I worked with a school recently who had exactly that. Their enrollment calls go directly to somebody who technically is at the bottom of the food chain. And yet, you get someone a private school and that's gonna be at least 12 years of schooling if they're a prep, but if they've got siblings, there's probably decade's worth of income. And that's all coming back to the, to the brand and how will that brand's represented when someone calls in?
Deb Richardson 3:25
Yeah, I think two things that are for me, the first one is possibly one of my biggest frustrations around brand is that people talk about brands as though it's a logo. And I know people like me say this all the time, but it's just incredibly hackneyed for me that, you know, they just look at it as the visual identity. They don't even look at it as you know, tone of voice or values. So there's a lot of education to be done around really educating them that brand, you know, sits at the heart of the people business. What they also fail to realise is that everyone in their business is is a representation of it represents their brand or is a marketing person. And one of my favourite stories is I used to go to a business down in Sydney every month. And they're one of their values, I can't remember all their values are but one of their values was friendly. And I just remember every time I walked in, or I remember thinking, they forgotten to tell the receptionist that one of the values is friendly, because literally, I walked from the lift. She made me walk right up to the desk, didn't acknowledge me, didn't look up made me literally stand for that second too long. And then said, "Who are you here to see?" and it's like I came I went to the same person every single month. They just forgotten to tell her that one of their values was friendly. They just they don't see a lot of businesses don't really get that brand is behaviour. It's at the heart of culture. It's not about you know, you like your logo or not.
Scott Oxford 5:01
Yeah, it's a major, major brand flat. Yeah, totally. So would you call that the biggest mistake you see around brand?
Deb Richardson 5:11
No, I'd say it's one of the biggest mistakes. I actually think, not communicating that and not communicating your brand strategy across the business is a fail. But actually think investing and really, as a leadership team, looking at, you know, under the bonnet of brand, or what what do our values really mean? How do we talk? How do we represent ourselves? I think just the the whole scale failure of understanding the depth that brand is in in a business, I think that's, you know, I think that that's up there as well as a major, but then also thinking that, you know, we've got, you know, a 16 year old nephew, he can draw us a logo. We see that constantly. So, I'd say there's couple out there thinking you can do it yourself, not communicating it across your business, and really not fully understanding and enhancing what brand strategy can bring to your business. I think those are the probably my best fails.
Scott Oxford 6:15
And you're saying, you know, in terms of, you know, your brand is not your logo. What other misconceptions Have you seen around brand? I've got a long list, but I'd love to know yours.
Deb Richardson 6:25
I thought, yeah, the logo. I'm not sure I could reel off a whole I just think for me. The, I think for me, just the whole lack of acceptance, the lack of understanding of what it really does, and I think that impacts just through the business. I'm just not sure how bigger you know, you can't get any bigger than that. Really. It's sort of like if, if you're not I think things like you know, the whole friendly is an example. You know, just forgetting that everyone in the business is a touch point. You know, whether it's internal or external, I think I you need to understand who your stakeholders are as well. So, you know, often, you know, the, the types of clients that we work with think that, you know, it's only about the customer. It's actually about the prospects, the customers, the suppliers, the suppliers, the employees, the future employees. Um, you know, it's all about brand for me is about what what do people know and think about your business? So I just think a general, it almost it all always goes back to that, you know, all we need to get our branding done, generally means we need to get a new logo, and I think to me, that's super frustrating.
Scott Oxford 7:39
Yeah, it's probably in the couple of decades that I've been, you know, the head of a brand agency is we used to be seen probably 10–15 years ago, as as the logo guys, you know, I would get called a designer, and that's, you know, I, I'd love to be at a design but that's not my you know, I'm about ideas and about you know, strategies but it is all of that thinking it's all of that getting all of those details right understanding, you know, gathering evidence, I think, you know, to act on and we let's let's talk about your, your role in news UK and particularly in helping the Times transition from broadsheet to tabloid. I remember, when our papers did that here I was, you know, probably probably happened about a similar time in Australia. There was massive uproar, it was almost like there was a massive credibility change. And to my mind, it's all the associations with tabloid which we don't really think about anymore, but at the time, it was sort of taboid was low class and you know, broadsheet was was high class and you're taking a high class product and transitioning, that's a huge brand exercise. Tell me about that. What was the what was the, the key, key challenge of air
Deb Richardson 8:55
I think for us as well because we're in our stable, we also had to fairly significant tabloid so we had the Sun and the news of the world. So really we got we got labelled with dragging, you know, dragging one of the oldest quality broadsheet newspapers, into our, into our tabloid world. And we had to, we had a lot of stakeholder engagement internally as much as externally. So, you know, there were lots of, I think, I think people think that, you know, you just do these things on on a whim. But there was actually a whole pile of research that we did before we actually made that decision in terms of what was in it, there was some operational decisions. There were some journalistic decisions, there were some us trying to shift the market slightly, you know, and you really have to think about the UK newspaper market. It's, you know, we are, you know, 70 million people and I think there's something like 60 newspapers That, you know that that serve that population, you know, a bunch of tabloids, a bunch of mid markets and a bunch of of broadsheets all Monday to Saturday and Sunday. So it's a fairly busy market. So we were really an ad broadsheet daily was probably our weakest newspaper. And what we're actually trying to do was take some from the mid market. So there were very, you know, significant, we wanted to have a significant impact on the market and improve our own circulation and readership. But we had a lot of work to do both internal and mainly internally before we actually even you know, executed the strategy.
Scott Oxford 10:41
Yeah, but internally, these are the people who live the brand. They, you know, they create the paper every day, you know, they, it's the it makes such great sense to do that. And yet, I don't know that in this country that we see that level of investment except in larger organisations whether we see that as as valuable yet it seems vital. Yeah.
Deb Richardson 11:05
I mean, I think I mean, just remembering those times, you know, the newspapers were so I worked on all four newspapers, I was lucky enough to work on all four newspapers. But there was very much the area, the Sun journalists that in one area, the news of the world, journalists sign and they even, you know, they dress differently. So, you know, they were very much you know, you knew a sun journalist and you knew a Sunday Times journalist, so, you know, they're, they live the brand. And so, so us actually shifting the brand internally was was a pretty big deal to some of those people and you know, you've had and we'd also at that time, before we did that, we'd have moved from Fleet Street which is the home you know, the sort of the the home of the UK newspaper market. And so we'd already made some fairly major shifts within the newspaper market. And, you know, and then we and then we, you know, the oldest, I think it was 1780 or something like that. So the oldest newspaper, we're then changing it, you know, almost, you know, unrecognisably. So it's pretty, pretty massive.
Scott Oxford 12:21
Yeah. So, how did the people cope with it internally?
Deb Richardson 12:26
And how did they cope with it? There was lots of conversations, lots of presentations, lots of, you know, collaboration, and then it comes to a point where there's no collaboration, and this is what we're doing commercially. You know, we had printing presses. There were a whole pile of commercial reasons. We had to do it too. So, yeah, there was you know, it didn't it wasn't all you know, happy Christmases at the time we did it and, and also, at the, at the time, we, we looked at a marketing strategy that was actually really reducing the cover price as well. So we were seem to be doing lots of things to an institution that were pretty interesting.
Scott Oxford 13:07
Yeah, obviously reducing cover price was the external market. So the people buying the paper every day. And it sounds to me like you, you had the brand itself didn't have a massive stronghold in that broadsheet market anyway, so it was actually about moving it to a market that were more willing and open, which is a different cover price, a different format. What about journalistically did that change?
Deb Richardson 13:30
Yeah, and I think that's sort of where the as a product so I mean, one of the reasons I I loved that time in my career was if you can imagine every day we're delivering a new product. So you know what one of the things we did every morning was we'd be in the office at seven o'clock and we'd be looking at competitive product. And we know they would be looking at as and we looked at circulation every day based on what our headlines were on the newspapers. So, you know, it was it was an exciting time, you know, we were looking at a, you know, we're looking at we're building a product every day. And we were and we're looking at a compound so were our competitors, but the times in in that market so we were competing against the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the Independent, that they're all pretty strong newspapers. So in our other markets, we were, you know, in the news of the world, best selling tabloid Sunday tabloid Sun best selling daily tabloid Sunday Times by far best selling broadsheet. It was our weakest market. So we were looking at really switching that market up and we were looking at taking readers from the Daily Mail, which was the mid market. So yeah, we were we did lots of different things really take some take some market share. And you probably understand that there's a lot of loyalty around which newspaper you which newspaper you choose to buy. You know, it can be it can be really, you know, you can buy a newspaper for political reasons for tone of voice for journalists, for whatever reason you buy it, but you know, you're pretty loyal, you know, to your newspaper brand, that that's certainly what we found.
Scott Oxford 15:16
Well, it's a nice segue into brand loyalty, you know, you're obviously aiming to, to to damage the loyalty to other brands in what you're doing, but also build loyalty in your own—
Deb Richardson 15:27
Wouldn't call it taking market share. I don't think we ever wanted to damage them. Maybe we did sometimes.
Scott Oxford 15:34
Yeah. So how do you, how do you build brand loyalty in in a newspaper title?
Deb Richardson 15:42
I think, you know, it's the way you do it in any any way by being authentic, being genuine, being who you are. And I think that's one of the most frustrating things for me with some of the clients that I work with when you go in and ask them oh, where did you get these values? They'll say, we saw them on the Microsoft website, we quite like them. So we've, you know, whatever you think about NewsCorp anywhere in the world, you sort of knew why you were there. And it has a very, it has a very, a very vivid way of living it to values and all passionate journalist communicators. You know, we all knew why we're there. And for that period in your career, you loved it. But I think, I think you need to understand what sits at the centre of your business and that and we all knew what's at the centre of our business.
Scott Oxford 16:41
And that was a relatively, it was really just about embodying it and capturing it and expressing it.
Deb Richardson 16:47
It was sort of how did that, you know, how did we be here? You know, it's, it's interesting to just talk about things like so I sat on various committees. And represented our newspapers you know, we all sat together in it so I sat I sat you know on a committee with the Financial Times for example or with the Guardian and you know, we just fought hard for what we will you know, we were very obviously they were on brand I was on brand and it was just it's it's what sits at the heart of the business and I think that's to me the bit that people fail to understand about brand it's like what's the fire? I'm even think I'm even feeling like it now. I'm even just looking back and going, what was the fire in our belly when we're sitting on a research committee?
Scott Oxford 17:38
It feels to me like AFL clubs to me. Like it's like they're all in the same business, but they're, you know, they they all have a reason to be very proud of themselves and what what sort of makes them you know, kind of unique and surely for the average punter, newspaper, any product if you're going to make a decision between them if you've got to align your yourself with them, there's going to be some sort of connection there.
Deb Richardson 18:03
And then I think you say a couple of things, I think for me, and they have got me thinking about the, you know, that was the passion. I love, you know, whatever you think about Newscorp I just loved working there because we did live the values, you know, it we lived, you know, we're at desks at seven o'clock, we were like looking at, you know, we're looking at competitors every day. We were, you know, we wanted to smash it, we were just super competitive and super passionate as a group of people. You know, and I think that's, to me what brand is, you know, and it's sort of, it's the reason why it's so important to have it sitting at the centre of your business, you know, in my own business now, you know, we're just about to go through a period of scale, and I'm looking for a group of people that are gonna, you know, go on that scale journey with me. And I'm only going to find those through, you know, how do they How do they connect to our values and how we do things around here? What's our purpose? What's our vision? And to me, you know that that's what brand is all about. So we're looking at, you know, how do we how do we attract high performing teams, you know, who do we want sitting around the table with us? To me, all of those things are brand.
Scott Oxford 19:24
Hmm, yeah, well, there's those shared values leading to human connection. There's a great quote by Stephen Covey, and he says, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated to be appreciated. And when you listen with empathy, you give that person the psychological air to be all those things. So it's like brand gives you a reason to connect. You don't just wander across it and think it's okay. You know what you're talking about. There is real deep connection drives. It's like a relationship?
Deb Richardson 20:01
Totally. And I think, you know, whether you're a purchaser or an employee or, you know, you want to know why you're there, you want to know why you're doing what you know, as a brand, you're asking someone to behave in a specific way the buy would buy me engage with me, you know, work for me. And I think it's, you know, as a brand you you've gotten, you know, an opportunity and obligation to tell people what you stand for. And I think there's a lot and once I think once you're on board, you're on board, you know.
Scott Oxford 20:35
I like what you said before about, you know, values and the difference between organisations who found it basically on a cereal packet or actually developed it properly and finding all the brand strategy work we do really beautifully, authentically crafted values is the starting point for where the brand happens. And, you know, I've got a client, they're about to embark on their values process. And I think they've, I think it's been given to the CFO to manage, which is no disrespect to the CFO. But it's, it kind of it shows where they how much that means to them, I guess in terms of or where they where they think it originates from, but it's, it's hard to imagine a CFO is gonna lead culture in an organisation.
Deb Richardson 21:25
Are you concerned that they giving it to the CFO as a job? Its in his his or her job title? Or are they giving it to a warm person? Because when you said that, I was thinking, why are they giving it to one person? It's actually you know, it's actually a whole of business conversation. It's just where does the responsibility sit?
Scott Oxford 21:43
Yeah. And that's a different there are organisations who recognise that representation from every corner of the business is vital to that and there are those who see it as a necessary evil and I think for me, that's the big, big argument around brand and it says anyone here in marketing as well, you know, you've described it before as people see it. Soft skill or as of soft and fluffy and brands the same, you know, I have clients who have these lightbulb moments that brand can be medicine, not vitamin, you know, it's it can actually create massive change. And depending on what your business strategy says and what success means for you. It's not just about bottom line, it's actually about happier people, more meaningful alignment of clients, all of these things, if you don't know what your brand is, or you can't articulate it, how can you make decisions?
Deb Richardson 22:26
I would say to you, don't you think they are bottom line, you know, it's sort of happier workforce, more engaged clients like that. That's the bit that, you know, I feel passionate about in terms of, you know, if they're more connected, if they're more connected to your brand, ie, an employee, they're gonna stay longer, they're gonna work harder. You know, if they're connected, it's the same with a customer. You know, if they're connected to your brand, they're gonna look at buying product two, product three product four from you, rather than shopping around. So when people say, you know, there's no bottom line, I disagree. I think those are absolutely, you know, if you've got a member of staff that stays five years instead of one, that's a bottom line impact to me if you have a if you have a customer that buys five products rather than one, that's a bottom line impact for me. So I think, you know, I just get slightly narky when you know people talk about the either marketing or branding that fluffy weighing This is a million ways I can show you in terms of how you know that really adds to the bottom line. Totally.
Scott Oxford 22:39
I'm gonna ask you something completely different. Now. I'm gonna take you back to childhood. And I want you to tell me a brand that somehow found its place in your heart in childhood, you know, something that's stuck early on, what was it and why does it stick?
Deb Richardson 23:54
I've got three. I've got three. I've got three because I was thinking, I was really thinking about I was really thinking about the three and on what they meant to me So, so there were three and — do you mind me using all three? So the first one these are very these are very UK 70s You know, I'm slightly cringing but I'm going for it. So one of them was, I don't know if you had it here in Australia it was Vesta curry. Did you ever have that it was this horrible for Easter, if any, if it still exists, I'm sorry, Vesta. But it was this like freeze dried curry that when you think of all of the beautiful curries that we can get today, but to me, that was Friday night, you know, it sort of morphed itself into take away nights, you know what I mean? It was sort of like, but the first sort of It's Friday for our family was we had Vesta curry, and I just remember dad coming home from work and it was like, you know, Vesta Curry and it just I was thinking about brands from My childhood that was one.
Scott Oxford 25:02
Is it like a curry powder?
Deb Richardson 25:04
Yes. It's like yeah, it's just like it's a bit like Pot Noodle
Scott Oxford 25:08
It's yellow powder
Deb Richardson 25:11
It's very specifically horrible but you know who have curried eggs and, and a curry made with pineapples. So I had sort of like dried vegetables and tried dehydrated chicken and stuff like that. And it was pretty hideous. But for me, that was Friday night in our household.
Scott Oxford 25:28
Isn't that interesting that the way a brand goes beyond its own story and becomes part of yours, and that place that it finds in your heart isn't necessarily anything to do with with what the people that made that product or branded or told this story. What you're saying there is that this was a moment in time this is like the smell of cut grass that takes me back to when I was seven years old lying on the lawn. And there is no but that is there's such story in that you evokes so many memories of beautiful things of your family.
Deb Richardson 26:04
And it was Friday night a weekend you know even though I didn't really understand that at the time, it was Friday night the weekend started you know dad dad comes home from work or having a Vesta curry it's like that was accompanied I didn't have this but accompanied by a glass of lead for a meal in a brown bottle. That's that sort of just we used to make. It just reminds me of my mom and dad. So that was hilarious. So Vesta, she can tell the sort of childhood I had. And then my my other one was my very first bottle of grown up perfume, which was Charlie, by Revlon. And it really is disgusting. And I actually see it in pharmacies now. And I'm just like, it just makes me smile. But it was that sort of I think I must have been around 11–12 ish. And it was like, oh god, I'm a grown up. I've been given this atomiser of perfume and that was my first one.
Scott Oxford 27:03
But everything that that stood for then meant that when you receive that your parents knew to buy it for you. Yeah, you knew how much it meant you basically were having a gorgeous little brand experience. Yeah when that became an every time you put it on I'm sure you used it sparingly as well make it last because it was precious. Why is a relatively cheap bottle of perfume?
It's no Tom Ford. So what what is it? And there's no snobbery here at all because it clearly I know the specialness that you're talking about to what how what was so special then how did that brand find its way into your heart?
Deb Richardson 27:51
It was my that was my mom saying You're a grown up girl. You're a grown up girl. You know you're I have a younger brother so and he's significantly younger than me. And so it was that and we always knew he was slightly irritating you know when I was 11 and he was five and so it was that you know, you're a grown up girl and we expect you to be a grown up girl and here's your bottle of perfume and I think it was about the same time you know, when I got my first handbag, you know, it was sort of just edging my way into teenager hood. And interestingly enough because I'm still pretty connected to my school girlfriends mine was Charlie there's was some some of the other girls had just musk which you can imagine how that smelt so there's me my Charlie my best is in there just musk and but it was just that rite of passage into sort of early teenager who don't think but pretty significant. And I still smile at it now. I don't see Vesta curries anymore. But you know, when I'm sort of meandering my way through a chemist sometimes I see Charlie. And it just makes me smile.
Scott Oxford 29:03
So they managed to create a story behind that product and express that really powerfully. I bet they sold a lot of bottles of Charlie, and clearly a lot of a lot of Vesta, curries. And they were meeting, I guess a need that your, that your family had that you that you had. So they're, they're fulfilling that need the Todd to sort of say, well, were they authentic brands were they? You know, I'm curious around the topic of authenticity, because your experience was very authentic and it delivered that. Did it deliver it because the smell was right, or did it deliver it because the brand story was so real and it tapped into something in you? I guess what I'm asking is, is that a brand is not just a thing that exists. It's a dynamic that happens when you come into contact with And you have your very own experience of that. And it's very personal and it's very unique. Even if every other girl on your block dreamt of Charlie, your personal one was.
Deb Richardson 30:12
I think, and as you're asking me that question, I was looking at you and going, why? I just think they fitted into where our family was at that time. And that's, uh, you know, I remember it was and this was like, we were 70, whereas this was in the 70s. And we just started travelling overseas as a family. So I think that you know, and, and the UK was opening more to sort of international foods, you know, with and I don't know if it was just my family, but you know, my probably my mom's family, my mom's parents, you know, they've lived on pork chops and, and you know, and vegetables and what we'd consider traditional, and now you know, my family were travelling overseas, we were thinking about more exotic foods, even though clearly Vesta curry isn't very exotic. But in the 70s you know, we were tasting new things. And so I think it just fitted into where my family were going at that time. You know, I think my parents family had been very well worked really hard and, you know, very working class, whereas I think my, my mom and dad had sort of, we're just going for some of the nicer things in life and I think the, the the Vesta curry, or maybe just examples of that. So I think they just fitted into our life at that time. I don't know that when you asked me that question terms a lot. Yeah, I think we were. Yep. It was like that. That's, you know, that's where we were as a family. And I think it's funny they fitted us.
Scott Oxford 31:54
That's exactly it, you know, it's it. They didn't try too hard. They didn't you know, it just it just sort of naturally worked for where you were at the time. And I think that's a really interesting I had a conversation just the other day about things like cars, you know, a car. The Mazda 6, for example, was the top selling car, I think one of the most hugely selling cars around the world about 10 to 15 years ago. And the follow up version of that went from being top selling to being just, you know, somewhere mediocre somewhere down low. It's like, arguably, the new one was better. Yeah. But at that time, in that place, that was the right car for where the world was that for where people were at, for people wanting at the time, and it changes in the same way as you no longer have an appetite for Vesta curry or wearing Charlie anymore, although you'd probably do it for all time.
Deb Richardson 32:49
I might wear Charlie secretly. But yeah, absolutely. And it's just at that moment in time at that age. That's what shaped me, you know? And, and I think that's, that's where you'll look, you have a you have an image of yourself or you're at a place in your life and you look at your look and you go, you know, what are the things that you want around you? You know, what are the things you engage with and and what's the enjoyment and the value you get out of those brands? And you know, not every brand is for everybody, as we as we know.
Scott Oxford 33:25
Yeah, let's talk about today then, what's a brand or brand if you've brought a list of brands today that you would say that you trust? Me personally, I'm a big believer that if a brand can get you to trust it, you know, it's won you over and it's a big deal to trust something not somebody. So it's a brand new trust.
Deb Richardson 33:48
I think and this is really, this is a really a neat because I'm not really a car person. So you know, I'm not I'm not at all a car person, but VW for me is something I trust and I was totally disappointed with the, you know, the problems they've recently had with admissions and lying about. And that really and for me, I was disappointed even though I'm not really a big car person, I cared about that. So I think, you know, even though it's sort of like, you know, I don't live and die by the Vauxhall brand, I just felt it was something I really trusted and the fact they were lying bothered me. So I think, and I'm, as I say, you know, I've said it a couple of times, I'm not really a car person. But it was disappointing that they'd lied.
Scott Oxford 34:36
But then you know, you're not trusting a car, you're actually trusting a brand and totally when you hop in a vehicle, when you buy when you spend that much money on something, and when you hop in it every day to drive it. You want to trust it.
Deb Richardson 34:49
And I wasn't actually I wasn't particularly bothered about the safety element of it that that hadn't worried me. It was actually the admission. It was Something that's important I think to me personally and the planet and you know they lied about so I had no issue around how safe I felt in that car. I just had more issue around oh my god they're lying about you know they've all they'd almost hoodwinked us so i think that you know, with a brand as well you need to think about it's not just the the and the reason I mentioned the car is because I I do want to say no attachment to cars, but I do have an attachment to the planet and I do have an attachment to safety. They didn't they didn't erode my trust around the safety piece but they did disappoint me around the planet peace.
Scott Oxford 35:49
To know how that actually affects sales. I'm sure we can do some research and find the link to pop in the notes.
Deb Richardson 35:56
I just think it's like he think about you know, I think with your brand, you need to think about actually, this is what you think you're selling, but what are you really selling? And I think that that, that, again, people are way more attached to not the core reason you think you there. But you know, for other reasons, too. That makes sense. So I think I think so, that for me, that was pretty interesting. And I just think it's I think one of the things that I find slightly worrying at the moment is that is the news cycle and how quickly stuff gets buried to the bottom of you know, that they think we're going to forget really, and I think we need we need to look at the brands that we respect and and remember the things they've done that are not quite right, because I do think that you know, brands need to be if you want to be a great brand, if you want to be a world class brand. It's not just for you know, 180 days of the year. It's it's 361 For days of the year you've got, you've got to be on all of the time and anything that you do any behaviour, you know, is that how is that how it any behaviour is going to impact on your brand reputation?
Scott Oxford 37:16
Well, that's authenticity isn't attention, you know, being living. Did I explain that properly? Oh, yeah.
No, you did. And that's well, that's, you know, really my last question is around how brands can be truly authentic. I think what he's saying there is that is that consistency, you know, it's you know, being rock solid being consistent being being honest.
Deb Richardson 37:37
But also I think just being you know, if you get something wrong, just say you've got something wrong. I mean, I think that says a lot about you as a brand. You know, it's to me that's because we don't we don't get things right all of the time. It's just, you know, if our intent, you know, people make mistakes brands, businesses make make mistakes, but there's a difference between your intention To make that mistake, and it's actually a mistake. So I just think you're not just a car brand, you're not just you know, you've got to be really honest around what it is you're actually representing.
Scott Oxford 38:13
I'm going to end every podcast with a quote from my favourite famous fictional character, Don Draper from Mad Men. It's a phrase that I live by and i'd love your input into it. He says if you don't like what's being said, change the conversation. Yeah. And how can a brand
Deb Richardson 38:34
do that? That's what that is a really good quote. How can a brandy that
I actually think by you know, it goes it all goes back to that looking within like, you know, what, Who who are you as a brand and what role Are you playing in that market segment or in that sector or, and you know, if you're there to if you want to win influence and market, you've got to change the conversation. And I, you know, I think what's great about current operating markets is there's a lot of disruptive brands, I mean, you know, I'm trying to disrupt the the marketing sector myself. But I think it's absolutely true. It's like, if you're looking, don't be afraid to have a conversation somewhere else, and it's the, you know, somebody's got to lead the pack. And if you don't like the conversation, be the one to lead out of it. That would be my interpretation. There. I just wanted to ask
Scott Oxford 39:32
you about one of the biggest brands in the world at the moment, and it's a big brash brand that seems to know its market really, really well and doesn't seem to care less about those that don't subscribe to his way of leaving the United States of America or running his businesses. So Brand Donald Trump,
Deb Richardson 40:01
like authentic connected? I would suggest that he i would i do think he's authentic, whether you like his authenticity or not is is your choice for me, he's he's, it's gonna be really I'm just cannot wait for the elections this year. I mean, love him or hate him. He, you know he had he's having an impact. I think what we're going through at the moment with COVID Black Lives Matter. I think we're actually I think we're going to see that we don't like it. There's more people that don't like your style. He's always going to appeal to a group of people at that, and that will be his base. I think that what we're going to see in the next couple of months before the November election is, we're in a time where he's brashness. He's lies. He his general demeanour. And the way he goes about doing things is just no longer, no longer valued by that country. If it is valued by that country, I think we'll all be really quite disappointed that you know, in a country that we've all grown up with and respected for a long, long time. I do think though, we were sent Donald Trump for a reason. And maybe we're just going through that reason at the moment. Let's just hope he doesn't get in in November.
Scott Oxford 41:33
So let's talk about customers tell me how a brand impacts its customers.
Deb Richardson 41:38
I think I think the way you know how you impact on your customers is to actually speak to your customers. I think one of the one of the aspects that so many businesses Miss is actually talking to their customers. So, you know, at NUS we had a fairly large group Such budget so we we literally looked at our customers that we would not make a change in that in any of our newspapers without doing some research, whether that was a focus groups or readership surveys or, um, you know, we're really connected to what our customers wanted. We seem businesses may, you know, they make assumptions, business owners leaders, they make assumptions about what their customers want, you know, oh, we hear so many times, oh, no, we don't need to speak to our customer. We know them. And actually, you know, one of the things that we do is speak to our customers, customers and the insights and nuggets that you can actually get from speaking to your customers and that could be something that you're doing, that's annoying them that you could be doing differently, like just a small service change. Or it could be you know, something that's keeping away them awake at night. That fun Mentally your business could deliver to them as a project or a product. So what one of the one of my favourite questions when we're talking to customers is what keeps you awake at night, there's a product opportunity in itself. And I think what they think about you, good or bad, you know, what opportunities are there in their business for you to better serve. But I think just generally, isn't it polite? Just to ask, how are you going? You know, we take a lot of money off our customers, and it's sort of, you know, just a quick question in like, how could we do anything better? How we going, you know, do you enjoy working with us? You know, I just think people fail to speak to their customers on a regular basis.
Scott Oxford 43:45
It's not just nice, though. People love to be asked their opinion. They say dude, yeah, they've, they've they feel special. They feel important. They feel valued. It's almost like it this is not a sales technique because it's really vital. To separate research and sales, you know, not confuse the two but but we have people feel very special when you choose to ask them. And I think it's how you ask them as well, I think I've heard so many times are we send out surveys, we do a survey every month. It there's not a lot of thought as to what goes in that survey. It's a whole different thing to have a personal conversation. And also, I'd stress too that you know, where you and I talk to our customers, customers, we are removed and independent enough to a not leave the witness, get the answers that we want, because we don't have that agenda, but be to actually be able to drill into some truth. So it's like if I asked you what you think my greatest weaknesses are, hmm, you were friends? Yeah, you're actually going to be you're going to take the time to put an answer together. That spares my feelings. Yeah, we're good enough friends that you're still telling me some truth, but we It'd be more valuable if I could use the whole truth. And this is what I'm saying is if we could actually, you know, when someone independent asks, and they know how to ask questions, how to drill down, they actually can get to the truth. And anytime we've done that talk to our customers, customers, about brand or my, you know, marketing, we always come back with major operational or strategic changes that are outside our remit. But that have made a huge difference to that business, one
Deb Richardson 45:27
of my favourite quotes. So when we do insights for our customers, we spend sort of 25 to 35 minutes on the phone with their customers. And we booked a time and we have a defined list of questions that are all impact on impact that will impact on brand or operations or service. And we were doing a piece of work for one customer and we rang to make an appointment. We said, well, we'll you know, 25 to 35 minutes. Yeah, no, that's great. We turned up to do the call, an hour and 45 minutes later. We're still on the call. And we always check in we're like, Hey, you know,
Scott Oxford 46:04
we're up to our 2025
Deb Richardson 46:06
are you okay to keep going? And this guy I never forget, he turned around to me said I love this brand, and they've lost their way. And I want to help them. Like literally, I was thinking, let's keep let's keep going, you know, and we finished out we were probably on that call for two hours and he just wanted to give, he'd worked with this brand for a long time. He had had great surface over the years, they'd lost their way and he wanted to help them right away. And I just thought how incredible he he loves this brand so much. He wants to spend two hours on the phone with me talking about it.
Scott Oxford 46:42
Pretty I thought that was amazing. So if you could work for any brand, any call it a fans question, any brand in the world that you could work with. This has got to be something you can care about. Believe in, get your teeth into and make difference within,
Deb Richardson 47:02
but what would it be? I think for me, it would need to be very cost driven. So I think you know, once I've built the three by own Don't forget I'm building a brand myself at the moment. So when I've built the three by three brand, you know, when we're done with that one's got a, I think it would need to be very cost driven. So I know the World Health Organisation is pretty dominant at the moment in the news, but something like medicine, some frontier a, something like that, that was cost driven, I think I'd like to go and, you know, work alongside those people
Scott Oxford 47:38
is interesting, World Health Organisation because their brand has taken some hits, certainly some big high powerful, high powered political hits in terms of, you know, countries coming out and saying they no longer trust them that they they're serving a Chinese agenda. This is a whole brand, take issue, and I haven't heard anything from who on that? Yeah.
Deb Richardson 48:02
Yeah. Oh, I think I think possibly you know that they haven't they haven't been under fire, I would possibly suggest that they don't have a crisis management team or a brand reputation team. Because they certainly are. They may do. But remember just lying. Well, yeah, they may be just like, waiting for deputy governor or waiting for Donald Trump to shut up. You know, it's like, but no, I think that, you know, I would imagine there's, I've not, they've just not had to deal with anything like this before.
Scott Oxford 48:34
Like, a lot of organisations don't have a crisis. commas play, they don't have a crisis.
Deb Richardson 48:39
They've never will. When was the last time we had a pandemic? So, you know, I think we've all been caught a little off guard here. But I had a great question from a client last week about you know, in, you know, what, what, in case of an event, any event, or elements of our marketing should, you know, should continue with you know, Despite whatever the event is, and I thought that was a really, really great question, and I think this whole situation we're finding ourselves in at the moment is is, you know, what is that crisis plan? What do we you know, what's our continuation strategy?
Scott Oxford 49:14
Well, we absolutely know brands have to pivot. You cannot keep going the way you were before or even during you have to realign somehow I
Deb Richardson 49:24
just absolutely think anyone that thinks what they will do I even think this before COVID but anyone that thinks what they were doing yesterday is going to you know, is actually going to serve for the future then is sadly wrong, you need to be looking you know, part of your you know, we talk about business strategies and market marketing strategies need to be looked at on a regular basis. You know, so does you know, your brand strategy and your and your reputation. I think one of the things I just want to add this came into my head and I don't know how useful this is, but one of the things I'm really struggling with at the time moment on from the Trump piece is all of the fake news. So, you know, for me, you look at the World Health Organisation it did, do they just duck down while Trump throws all his stuff at them? Do we challenge Trump? How do we, you know, when he, you know, anything he doesn't like, just tends to be seen as fake news. And, you know, and I think we're about to go in into a period where, how do we how do we know what we're hearing is true? Because for me, that was some of the some of the few things that Trump says that actually seem to
Scott Oxford 50:40
make a bit of sense. So that's the danger is when fake news is so cleverly masquerading as, as real news, you know, it's like an email scam. Most of them look like email scams, you get something through that's authentic. I had to question my bank the other day, and some of that came through because it was genuine. And actually, it had a whiff of Yeah, fake about it. So, no wonder it's difficult for us to determine what is real and what's not and a big brand, like who a big brand like the United States of America, if you call that a brand, these are impacted by these things where nobody really knows what to believe and what not.
Deb Richardson 51:15
And was and we're seeing, you know, I think, I don't know, if we're in the age today, where, you know, we're uncovering more. So you look at the, you know, you mentioned banks, you look at the Royal Commission, you know, I mean, really, that none of them have come out of this, well, have they, you know, they're looking, you know, like, not very truthful organisations. And, and then we're, you know, we've got the whole fake news is constantly thrown at us. So it's sort of where we're really struggling to understand what's a lie and what's truth and
Scott Oxford 51:48
what's the hard truth as well. You know, that's what the banks did during they they automatically reduced their repayments to help us and you might say, Scotty being cynical, you But I would suggest that in fact, they reduce those repayments to extend the life of the loan and increase their profit. And maybe it's a bit of both. But if it is a bit of both...
Deb Richardson 52:11
it see how you're thinking like, that's already, you know, you're not trusting that, that offer that opportunity. You're actually going why are they doing that?
Scott Oxford 52:21
and uncertainty will undermine a brand. Yeah. And uncertainty. There's enough doubt in my mind about the World Health Organisation enough. And I'm not a conspiracy theorist. Yeah. But I'm like, Yeah, I probably need to get to the bottom of these things. And, you know, if the truth can be found
Deb Richardson 52:36
granted, and I think I just I really do, you know, I was listening to the news this morning, or one of Trumps henchmen. Yeah. And it was just really interesting in terms of, you know, it was almost like we had something in black and white that he'd actually done this thing. But everyone was saying it was fake news. So even if you have something in black and white, when are we going to stop? When do we stop believing?
Scott Oxford 53:01
Well, that all comes back to personal discernment, doesn't it? and education? Yeah. Our role in interacting with brands and our ability to teach generations coming through how to discern and how to use it a whole other conversation how AI can come in and help us do that.
Deb Richardson 53:21
But actually, I would ask you, I, you know, and Isn't it? Isn't that the job of brands, you know, that's their next job. But, you know, we've, we've sort of that, that that's what they need to help us understand them not just keep putting out you know, or this is how we've always done it. Maybe you know, it's time for you know, brand strategy to turn itself on its head and go there's a different way of doing if we want to cut through the fake news tag. What is it we have to do as brands
Scott Oxford 53:50
Deb, it's been glorious, thank you so much. Thanks. Thanks for joining us today. I would love it. If you would jump on and subscribe to the podcast, and if there's somebody you think we should be interviewing a good guest who has something to say on the topic of brand, please connect us. We'd love to talk to them. And a physic brand question. Anything burning that you want to know about brand, around culture around strategy around internal, external, you name it.
If there's something we can talk about, we'd love to put a podcast together especially for you. So in the words of the famous and fictional Don Draper from Mad Men. If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation and do it with your brand.