Driving Top-Line Growth

How to Grow Your Brand - Lessons from the IPA Winners

Dominic Twose
Millward Brown

The job of the marketer has never been tougher. Globalisation, massive media fragmentation, and market saturation are just three challenges today. While there is plenty of advice for brand owners, much of it is based on empirical evidence of success.

In the 1970s, the UK's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) launched its Advertising Effectiveness Awards, designed to rigorously demonstrate the role of advertising in brand building and profit generation. This unique body of work, covered in the thirteen volumes of "Advertising Works", represents an incredible source of information on what winning brands have in common.

'Driving Top-Line Growth', published by WARC on 15 November 2005 analyses 52 winners from the last ten years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards. The report is written by Dominic Twose, Global Head of Knowledge Management at Millward Brown. It looks at brands which doubled their share, brands that increased profits by over 80 million and brands which increased volume sales by 70% while increasing price relative to the market. Drawing from that analysis of real success, here are 10 tips for growing your brand. 

1. Understand where you are. Qualitative research provided an essential means for understanding the market, the brand, the product and the surrounding social issues. This understanding provided the insight which was the bedrock of all successful campaigns.

2. Growth can come even for brands in trouble. It is not just successful brands which achieve even greater success. Many of the winning brands were caught in difficult circumstances - such as increased competition, own-label threats, changing social trends. The marketing team took advantage of these circumstances to refocus the brand.

3. Differentiate yourself. A distinctive positioning was a common step. Sometimes this was achieved through a rational proposition; often, though, it was achieved through a personality or tone of voice.

4. Aim for rational or emotional affinity. Some debate the importance of emotional over rational advertising. The answer from these cases suggests both can be highly effective. Kellogg's promoted Nutri-Grain, a cereal bar, as a breakfast alternative, Dairylea advertised its new formats. Whereas others emphasized emotional values; Felix featured a mischievous cat, Walkers used the services of the popular footballer Gary Lineker. Safeway used both - promoting its family shopping facilities through the eyes of the much-loved child Harry.

5.Commit to the Plan. The majority of brands substantially increased their marketing budget. There is increasing evidence of a relationship between increased marketing spend and share growth.

6. Increase your share of hearing. Even without increased spend, some brands increased their 'share of hearing' by shouting louder - with more impactful activity.

7. Be consistent. The most successful brands tended to use the same campaigns over many years and many executions.

8. Pre-test your campaign. Roughly three-quarters of the winning campaigns quantitatively pre-tested their ads. If you do intend sticking with your campaign over the long term, you need to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy before you set off.

9. Maximise your activities with PR. While far from all brands used PR agencies (and some, such as Halifax, achieved strong PR without a PR agency), it is clear that increasing weight is being put on PR within the overall marketing mix, to generate fame. 

10. Set up a tracking study. The vast majority of winners had tracking studies in place, to help the brand teams and the Planners understand the market, and to understand how the brand was achieving its objectives.

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Dominic Twose