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Karl Treacher is the CEO of Brand Behaviour

- one of Australia's leading human communication and employee branding groups. You can contact Karl via

Brand Grimes and the Ga$e of dog pizza Karl Treacher is intrigued by company held to account.




Order: Criminal Intent... one of the two.

DetectiveGorenhas,""*.i;J" involvingacrackaddict,a u.izzaan.d half a dog found in the back seat of a squad car. The case was going nowhere until canine DNA was found on a towel belonging to the junkie, implicating him in the making

oi'dogpizza'. Apparently the dog had suffered blunt force trauma and was then added to an old Nerv fersey family pizza recipe, tail first. The plot of the episode - and the fact that I may have elaborated somewhat on the details - are not important; however, it is worth noting that it was DNA that solved the case. In modern marketing, brand DNA is an everyday tool with a variety of applications. Most organisations use their brand's DNA to encourage consistency of communication and activity (endorsements etc.). In human terms,

DNA (deoryribonucleic acid) is a micro material found in all organic cells that controls the function and instructions given to a particular or group of cells. It ensures that things work together and that each individual cell is developed and behaves in accordance with the host and all surrounding cells.

Without DNA human cells would: a) not function at all, or b) mutate in a way that seriously interferes with adjacent cells and the host entity. A good example is watching skin


CEOs who

don't know enough of their own brand's DNA when


Neill's brand is significantly compromised throuqh his disjointed brand behaViOUn tt grow back after a graze. Due to your specific and unique DNA, your skin grows back the same texture, colour and shape as the rest of your skin, and in a way that cooperates 100 percent with the cells around your entire body. The outcome is a more functional, efficient group of interrelated cells - your body. 'So what'you say? Well, brand DNA and human DNA perform the very same function ensuring consistency and functional efficiency. Despite the concept of organisational DNA being used widelyby most companies, the way in which it is applied to modern marketing is generally very average and, in some instances, nothing short of 'brand crimel Brand crime is

simply a marketing activity or organisational action of some sort that interferes with, or in some instances discredits, a market's image,

understanding and value of a brand. A very good example is the human brand Sam Neill (yes, the actor). He's a man who prides himself on environmental awareness, yet actively promotes the single leading contributing factor to global warming - eating red meat. Before you succumb to your ego's reaction to that statement and get defensive

(because mum made you roast lamb all


life and there surely can't be anything wrong with that), understand that the United Nations has very clearly identified that the production of livestock for human consumption contributes more to global warming than anything else, including transport emissions. Therefore Sam Neill's brand is significantly compromised through his disjointed brand behaviour. This is not only hypocritical and bad for his own brand, but it is grossly unhelpful for the larger community and the planet. One more commercial affront is Toyota, a terrific automotive brand that makes great reliable cars. As we all know, it tags'Oh what a feeling'to its brand. Last time I drove a Toyota I thought,'Mmm this feeling is the very same feeling I have when I drive a Nissan and Mitsubishi.'Furthermore, the feeling I got from interacting with its dealers was a mixture of irritation, boredom, coupled with an urge to check my wallet regularly... brand crime.

wHY rs rT so? It

seems unfathomable that skilled, educated marketers would make such an elementary



error in the management of their brands. To understand why this issue is so prevalent, we have to: a) go back to uni, b) understand organisational structure, and c) take stock of how traditional marketing performance is measured.

BACK TO SCHOOL Brand management and channel marketing are core subjects offered in all marketing degrees offered by Australian universities. The content of which is relatively comprehensive and helpful in outlining the importance of brand consistency across channels. The lack of integration of this into the other areas of the course syllabus, however, interferes with the application of consistent branding. What's more, the idea of incorporating

'the customer experience' in terms of human interaction and in-store design are concepts left off the syllabus altogether as they are seen as belonging to human resources or learning and development.

ORGAN ISATIONAL STRUCTURES There is a very simple rule when it comes to the structure of organisations - the larger the organisation, the more robust the departmental silos. Meaning that large companies often have greater difficulty working sideby-side and all in accordance with the brand's DNA. In most instances,'brand'lives under the marketing banner and excludes 'people'and customer experience. Brand also rarely has any form of relevance to human resources or the educational departments of an organisation - the result is a very disjointed brand image/experience from clients

and/or customers. The American Marketing Association has stated that effective brand integration is the single greatest obstacle faced by most

organisations post-2007. Furthermore, a recent survey in the UK found that CEOs have become painfully aware of the need to

be'brand-led', but fail in their understanding of how to achieve this under a conventional organisational structure.

MARKETI NG EFFECTIVENESS CMOs and marketing directors are judged largely on brand awareness scores. With this being the case, there is very little impetus for marketers to get involved in the delivery of the brand promises they make through their

o D


communication efforts. There is, however, great motivation to make memorable brand statements to bolster brand awareness, which then places even greater importance on the delivery of the brand at all customer touchpoints... including the human touchpoint. Despite this, the performance of the departments who are charged with the human touchpoint responsibility (HR, sales and L&D) often have absolutely zero idea what brand DNA means, let alone understand what emotional expectations have been created through the latest marketing com-

munication. In short, traditional organisational structures have very little chance of effectively creating a consistent brand experience for customers. The result is an incessant struggle

to gain control over the projected brand image, and therefore brand equity. Compare Microsoft and Apple over the past few years as an example.

THE WRAP The current day CMOs (and CEOs) must be fully conversant in their organisation and brand's DNA profiles, philosophies, strategies, personalities and tactics. They must fuse the working relationships and accountability of their marketing and HR teams, and they must

understand that what marketing promotes is only valuable when it can be delivered at all customer touchpoints, every time. A brand's DNA was once a funky brand tool. It is now a highly valuable organisational asset that has the power to grant or deny market share and brand equity. Its value is immeasurable and uses endless. As we know, however, humans never change just for the sake of it and are only ever motivated to attempt change when there is either something to gain or to lose. Know this - if you don't begin to use your brand's DNA in everything you do, you are a dead-set dinosaur and should consider early retirement or a nice job at RailCorp. M


Marketing Magazine | Brand Crimes | October 2009  
Marketing Magazine | Brand Crimes | October 2009  

Brand Behaviuor MD Karl Treacher shares his insights into the effective use of brand DNA.