Over 700 industry leaders tuned into a live online seminar, Branding – Vital for Ireland’s Economic Recovery, which was jointly hosted by The Institute of Directors in Ireland and IAPI (The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland).
The line-up of speakers included David McRedmond, CEO, An Post; Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer, Three UK & Ireland; Paul Kelly, CEO, Fáilte Ireland and Rory Hamilton, Chief Creative Officer, Boys and Girls. The event was moderated by Charley Stoney, CEO, IAPI and facilitated by the creative events agency Catapult.
All speakers urged other leaders to take the widest view of their brand and not to abdicate responsibility to the marketing department alone but to make their brand health an executive and financial imperative. “Brand is business. Build your brand, build your bottom line,” as Elaine Carey noted.
The speakers were selected due to the inspiring nature of their brand journey in the past number of years and especially throughout Covid-19. All agreed that their passion for bringing brand into the heart of their business strategy has had a hugely positive impact on their organisation’s financial health, despite the obvious recent challenges.
In addition, all the speakers agreed that doing the right thing by the Irish public and consumers has not only been a huge boost to the internal team’s morale but it has positively impacted their business commercials.
Paul Kelly, CEO, Fáilte Ireland kicked off the keynote speeches with an example of “Ireland before organisation”. At the outset of Covid-19, he sat down with his team and agency, Rothco -Accenture Interactive to determine how they could help out in this crisis. This resulted in the very speedy creation and production of two ads made for the HSE which helped to get the country behind the lockdown and educated about safety protocols. At the time, he felt it was inappropriate to make these efforts public so many in the audience were unaware that this initiative was provided by the Fáilte Ireland team.
He went on to urge other leaders to think strategically about the role their brand and organisation plays in our economic recovery. He believes that brands “belong to your customers” and as a CEO, you need to see yourself as the “custodian of your brand”. Giving attendees an insight into the strategic thinking that went into the development of Ireland’s regional brands such as Wild Atlantic Way and Ancient East, he clearly demonstrated how important it is to merge the business and the brand strategy as one.
Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer, Three UK & Ireland and Rory Hamilton, Chief Creative Officer, Boys and Girls, combined to tell the two part story of Three’s brand journey over the past number of years. “I knew the executive team in Three had bought into my brand ambition when they agreed to the island project on Arranmore. That was a turning point”, says Elaine Carey. “The emotional connection and trust we have built up with our customers does reflect directly on the commercials. We measure everything so we know that, The Connected Island resulted in a 23% increase in Connected Solutions sales year on year.”
“This level of buy-in from the board enabled Boys + Girls us to deliver on the island project and to remotely produce a standout piece of brand communications for Three in the early stages of the lockdown. The ad, known as ‘Monster’ is one of the nation’s favourite ads of 2020 and was even the subject of a priests’ sermon who spent 15 minutes discussing the 30” film”, commented Rory Hamilton. “That’s the power of emotional connection and brand entertainment when it is rooted in the brand’s purpose and completely authentic.”
David McRedmond, CEO, An Post, urged Irish business leaders to use the crisis as an opportunity to test the muscle power of their brand and to use the “remarkable, unparalleled talent available in the media and creative industries in Ireland”. He believes “great brands are born or revived in a crisis. A crisis gives an organisation a burning platform on which to reinvigorate the entire organisation.
“Having an executive team who all believe in what the An Post brand stands for helps bring our brand purpose, tone and values throughout the organisation.” David clearly believes that if you look after your workforce top to bottom you have your biggest brand advocates,” said McRedmond.
“Our brand isn’t ours – it belongs to the country to be proud of. We must leave no-one behind. We are in Ireland, of Ireland,” he said when discussing the Address Point initiative for the homeless that An Post launched in 2019 as well as implementing the zero emissions policy for all An Post delivery vehicles in Dublin.