Having just returned from another great Brainy Breakfast put on by the Marketing Association wiser (and fuller), thought I'd share a summary with you!

The message I’m seeing over and over this year, in particular, is a drive to tell your brand’s story and increase customer engagement– and this is surely reflected in the shift to customer experience roles we’re seeing across the board, and in the way our clients are adapting to these new challenges.

Today’s topic was a twist on that theme with ‘Challenging brand perceptions to (re)engage customers’ - in other words, what happens when your brand has started losing customers and being perceived negatively in the market? We were lucky to have speakers from 3 leading NZ brands – Lion Breweries, AMI Insurance and Fonterra.

In the case of (no pun intended) our ‘national beer’ Steinlager, they experienced cratering sales in part to the popular craft beer market (sorry Steinlager, I’m partially to blame here!) and also losing relevance with the new generation of consumers. The success of the Steinlager Tokyo Dry campaign was a brave venture embracing a radical shift from our national flagship lager to more of an international brand. To do this, they used extensive collaboration with agencies and consumers in a more direct way than ever before – listening to the ‘average Joe’ drinker and involving them in the process. It was great to get the 'behind the scenes' view of the myriad of layers there were to this rebranding process, and the ownership all the parties took collaborating in this epic re-imagining of an iconic product.

Following the tragic Christchurch earthquakes on such an unprecedented scale, AMI was in the unenviable position of not being able to deliver their promises to many customers and losing business as a result. With many of the staff (including the speaker) personally affected by the earthquakes they were able to engage and reconnect with the community at a grassroots level in an authentic and ethical manner and as a result strengthened their connection with the customers, and net result was turning the brand around significantly and regaining customers trust.

Finally Fonterra as our primary leader in dairy production/ exports was also in a position of having a very low public perception, so a campaign began to change the tone and inform the public (literally) at a grassroots level – telling the brand story, highlighting that our (generally likable) farmers are in fact the stakeholders and driving a concerted effort to not be perceived as a business run out of Auckland, far removed from the rural heartland. Launching a plan to involve the public in helping to clean our waterways, delivering the 'milk for schools' initiative, being able to share our leading methods of animal care, technology, and convey stories of the respect for our product internationally helped move a sizable 1.5 million NZers to change that perception positively.

The message unified across all speakers was: 'trust in your brand takes years to achieve, seconds to shatter and a lifetime to rebuild.' 

Food for thought. Speaking of which, I'd better go and walk off all those frittatas and mini croissants!

A link to the event is here