NMBS 2014: Focus on the core urges brand expert

Merchants and suppliers should focus on growing the core of their business in order to build the success of the brand, said brand expert David Taylor at the NMBS Conference 2014 in Tenerife last week.
The core, as Taylor explained, is the source of authority and source of profit for a business. It used to be easy to define the core, he said, using the example of EasyJet copying Southwest Airlines and Lynx with its ‘Get sprayed, get laid!’ tagline.

But quite often when focusing on innovation and stretching the business for it to grow, companies can get distracted and forget what made them successful in the first place; the core.

Taylor said: “How about thinking differently, instead of thinking outside the box, why not make the box bigger and focus on making your core business better?”

Taylor, founder and managing partner of the Brandgym, said the risk with innovation is companies can lose sight of the core, using the example of British fashion house Burberry, and that the threat is not always from the outside, but in this case the inside. The company started out with the trench coats, its most iconic clothing, but the business was struggling when CEO Angela Ahrendts first joined in 2006.

During her first meeting, she found that no one from within the company was wearing Burberry clothing. They went back to basics, with the focus on the trench coat (the core of Burberry) and built it by making it in different colours and design.

This model can be easily adapted by the builders merchants business, stressed Taylor and added: “You have to grow the core before you add more.”

There are three ways in which you can build the core of the business, Taylor explained. Firstly, improve the distribution by getting your service into more areas. The best examples according to him were Greggs opening a store inside a Travis Perkins branch, as well as Domino’s pizza introducing social media apps for customers to order from, which now accounts for two thirds of all pizzas ordered.

Secondly, businesses should look into extending the core. Rather than introducing something completely new, Taylor said that introducing a new range which enhances the company’s core business is as beneficial. An example of this is with Wates Construction, which used its core capabilities to go into affordable housing.

Lastly, companies should create distinctiveness, in through what you look like and how you communicate. By looking at the way in which cat food manufacturers Felix and Whiskas advertised their products, Taylor said that Felix took over Whiskas in terms of brand growth due to its catchy memorable slogan ‘cats like Felix like Felix’ and catchy theme tune.

Taylor also urged that fresh consistency is vital in order to grow the business core. The brand expert used the example of James Bond, where the producers recognised a few years ago that the film series of Jason Bourne and TV series 24 with Jack Bauer had made Bond look outdated.

They decided to go back to the core and update the 007 logo, the girls, the Aston Martin, the gadgets, the baddies and of course saving the world. “If want to grow the core, you have to keep going with the refreshing and keep getting it better,” concluded Taylor.

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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