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What are some of the key skills needed in branding and advertising? • A strategic approach, keeping to the key elements of successful marketing – what is the objective? who is the target market? identifying a measurable outcome and ensuring all is achieved on time and on budget. • Be flexible and open minded when judging creative work - it’s easy to slip into thinking you are looking for something new, when in fact you have already decided what you want. Give agencies the space to surprise without unnecessary restrictions, allowing them to work to their best ability. • If you’ve chosen a creative route, be prepared to defend the work from colleagues’ interference. Work that is ‘watered down’ or put together by committee will always be compromised. The phrase ‘why go to a restaurant and cook yourself?’ always springs to mind in these situations! • However it is always worth running the work past non-stakeholders whose judgement you respect, as they will comment without agenda and are often a good sounding board. Often by being close to a project the marketer can miss something simple, which might have adversely affected the communication. • Be sure to keep an eye on the budget and spend it wisely. Engaging in a high profile outdoor advertising campaign may be great for the ego, but actually targeted DM or PR could have got you better results.

Which methods of advertising do you FInd most effective? • British Land rarely uses advertising – and if we do it is trade press advertising as this is the most effective way to find out target market of agents and potential office occupiers. • There is no easy answer to this, but any advertising, be it outdoor, press, TV, radio or online, has to be a balance between production and media costs. Too little on production and the lack of creative or production quality of your ad will undermine your brand, (which is bad news as lots of people will see it), too much on production costs and you will have a terrific ad but the campaign will not work as it won’t get the required exposure.

Do you use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to market a product and if so, how? • It completely depends on the product. It has been shown to be highly effective for brands whose demographics match those of people using social media, but the demographics between Twitter and Facebook are diversifying significantly so you’ve got to be careful not to just put them together. • As regards to British Land, so far we are using Facebook and Twitter to help build a community at one of our main office locations, but as of yet we have not used either in a building launch, as so far, our target market do not use it day to day, so it would result in a poor ROI.

In the industry, do you aim to set trends in terms of your approaches to branding and advertising or do you stick to what works and avoid risks? • As we rarely advertise, I will answer in terms of branding. The marketing of commercial property is essentially formulaic, with our target market needing key information that is presented in a standard and simple to understand way. Therefore the branding is where I am able to bring in a fresh look and feel. I aim to set the building apart from its competitors and also position it favourably with our market through the use of good design. • This is achieved by the engagement of design agencies that often have little experience in the property sector. They therefore bring a new way of communicating with our market. • In answer to your question, I do not feel the need to ‘set trends’, but I use innovative design to position essentially standardised content in an interesting way.

How is branding beneFIcial to your company? • Branding our company enables the consistency of approach across our business in terms of its standards, ethics and integrity to be conveyed in a controlled manner so that the market understands what we stand for. • Then creating individual brands for our buildings enable each to have the right look and feel for its particular market. For example there is a subtle difference between the design approach used on our City versus West End buildings, as our West End buildings are more likely to attract creative or media industries so the design needs to reflect that and ‘talk their language’.

How do you create a brand? • Take time to understand your product. Often we carry out a brand positioning exercise in order to gather all the thoughts from the team regarding a building. • Find the right design agency. As discussed earlier you can either find one with experience in your sector, or one that is unfamiliar with your type of product. This second type of agency may need a more lengthy briefing process, but you can sometimes get the best work. • Create a written brief that can be understood and signed off by the whole team. This inclusive approach avoids unnecessary and sometimes distracting debate during the creative process. It also gets the best work out of agencies as they know exactly what you need. •

Be clear on budgets, so that they know how much time to allocate.

Give the agency enough time to do their job.

Be prepared to have a period of refinement, and manage expectations internally.

• Ensure that all elements of a product’s communication are covered, from logos, to colour palates, graphic treatments, tone of voice and online use etc. • Ensure that everyone using this new branding deletes any reference they might have to an old design – give them a copy of the brand guidelines to further cement the use of the use branding. •

A brand is created over a long time but the more exposure it gets the quicker it is established.

Be sure to keep adhering to your brand guidelines.

What makes a good brand manager? • Someone who thinks strategically and has a long term approach. Every action, and therefore element of expenditure, needs a clear purpose and will support overall marketing objectives. Good creative judgment. •

In addition they need to have strong organisational skill in order to prioritise and keep things progressing.

Be able to work in a team, as marketing should include and reflect every area of a business.

Have a strong attention to detail and appreciate how important this is in conveying high quality.

Are there any previous campaigns you have done that have stood out to you? • I enjoyed a residential development sales campaign that I did couple of years ago for British Land as we had to launch an apartment tower into the worse possible market, when British Land hadn’t marketed its own residential developments before. By creating a strong brand, really understanding the target market (in this case mostly from overseas and buying for family studying in this country), creating a great website, literature and proactively targeting key media for PR opportunities, we were able to sell all apartments off plan, without discount within six months of launch.

Are there any campaigns you haven’t done that have stood out to you? • I think that the Red Bull marketing has been particularly strong as they have stuck with one objective – to be associated with extreme sports and activities to support the premise that ‘Red Bull gives you wings’. This they have done for a number of years, retaining a +40% market share of the very competitive and ever changing category of energy drinks.

Do you think that the Internet and cable/satellite TV have become more important than national TV for advertising products? • As long as you still have mainstream channels screening TV programmes with mass appeal such as the ‘X Factor’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Downton Abbey’ or some of the key soaps, the penetration that an ad can achieve when using breaks between these, still makes them an important means of large scale, yet targeted exposure to a brand. • Where the next era of TV viewing comes into its own is through systems such as ITV Player, 4OD etc. which can further endorse a brand’s association with a particular TV programme and use of internet based social media, which can extend a viewer’s interaction with a particular programme. Rather than one media channel be more important than another, I think it’s a case of smart use of all of them can now create a highly focussed, interactive and therefore compelling brand experience for the target market, rather than just a 30 second ad which could be missed.

Advertising, Branding & Marketing: An interview with Hilary Forrester  

An interview with Hilary Forrester, marketing executor of British Land on advertising, branding and marketing.