- Category: Our Blog
- Written by Brent Williams
If New Zealand is to be successful within international markets, then the view of ‘ourselves’ and how we present to the rest-of-the-world, needs to get smarter ...much much smarter. This seems to be the main take-away from Brian Richards presentation “NZ and Beyond” at the recent Dome Winter Series. As one of NZ's foremost brand strategist Brian is the specialist working behind the scenes of small Kiwi start-ups, like Icebreaker and Orca, and helping them gain traction in international markets.
In a nut-shell, Brian reminded us that we are small fry when it comes to international trade. So, we can either continue our current approach, of lumping ourselves with everyone else - with current mediocre financial and damning environmental results speaking for themselves - or we learn a better way of communicating. A Way that will allow us to command ‘more’ by occupying the premium end of our markets.
Brian’s ‘way’ seems relatively simple and well thought out. It is to develop a national ‘brand story’. A story borne from our unique lineage, our history, our kōrero tuku iho, our pedigree if you will. It would also require us to get smart on how we tell our story and who we tell it to. An area where many Kiwi organisations get cheap, particularly on the ‘creative’ side. Without a strong brand or differentiator, we can only compete on price or convenience. Both being mass-market strategies which, in order to be successful, requires production volumes of which we simply can not compete.
Developing a brand is also to understand the market, its gaps, segments, and its needs. Brian used the example of our famous butter export to illustrate the point. Generally we are aiming at the mass-market, where we compete on volume and price. Here the consumer experience of ‘brand NZ’ is summed up in just one word, “cheap”. Instead of the masses, we should be aiming at the smaller percentage of people who will appreciate or value our brands. Conveniently these people often live in the worlds largest cities, from Shanghai to New York. Our aim should be highly focused, by developing our markets within cities, not countries, where Ironically, this comparatively smaller market segment would still absorb all the output our little country could generate!
Collectively we should work towards the development of a national brand and ‘recall’ - in much the same way that people associate with brands from countries like Switzerland or Germany. International Kiwi brands like Anchor or Montana wine do little in developing or raising the equity of NZ as a premium brand. For instance Montana, to the rest of the world, is the flat and dry place where dusty cowboys roam, not a great association with NZ wine! Once ‘brand NZ’ is established, then much like brands from Germany or Sweden, we must always deliver against it. Create an experience that is consistent with the story. Only then will people who use or consume our products truly remember ‘it’, want ‘it’ and most importantly pay for ‘it’.
Brian’s story might be a story of growth but it is also one of sustainability. It is about making more from less. This means it is not about being the most “efficient” or intensive at what we do. Rather, it is a focus on quality and of rebuilding our green credentials. Less intensive farming/manufacturing means less inputs like chemicals and subsequent damage to the environment. In other words, not sacrificing our own country and values by trying to feed the world as cheaply as possible, and polluting our rivers and lakes in the process. Killing perhaps or key differentiator with other countries brands, the most unique and precious asset we have.
The Dome Winter series is aimed at bringing together some of the innovators and change makers in Hawkes. To stimulate discussion and develop the conversations that will help move us forward.
NURVE is a Napier based company specialising in online marketing strategy. We are proud to be a sponsor the Dome Winter series, and we look forward in playing a part in a new series planned for late summer.
Brian Richards is the Principal Strategist and Director of Brian R Richards Ltd, Brand Strategists and Design. Brian uses his extensive knowledge of national and international branding to ensure the best possible fit between each company’s brand and its business objectives. Brian’s combination of business acumen, branding insights and creative ideas offers clients a rare blend of left and right brain thinking.