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Expert Insight: 'As Brand Guardians, We Should Always Challenge Ourselves To Tell The Brand Story'

We talk to John Lui, Brand & Marketing Director, Pizza Express

24Mar

Ahead of his presentation at the Digital Marketing & Strategy Innovation Summit on April 26 & 27, we spoke to John Lui, Brand & Marketing Director at Pizza Express

John has worked with PizzaExpress for 5+ years; first as the Brand & Marketing Manager for Hong Kong, then as the Brand & Marketing Director for Greater China and currently as the International Brand and Marketing Director. His extensive experience in connecting marketing strategies to customer insights has led him to creatively develop successful, digitally heavy, integrated marketing campaigns -- fast tracking PizzaExpress into a household name.

What do you think are the main components of a successful brand strategy?

I believe a successful brand strategy is a long term plan that is borne out of answering a fundamental question: 'What is the common purpose for our existence as a business for all our stakeholders: our target audience, our employees and our investor(s)?' To accurately answer this seemingly trivial question, we must first consider and force ourselves to dissect and understand what ‘success’ means through the lens of ALL our stakeholders. Once this has been determined, some creative analysis is applied to further distil and ‘cut through the noise’ to reveal the common insight(s) behind the true purpose of the brand’s existence. It is with the revelation of this common insight that a successful brand strategy can begin to take place.

How can companies remain agile with their brand, whilst still having long term goals?

With modern technology in its prime, having a brand remain agile shouldn’t be a problem. Whether you have endless budgets or not, tools and information are readily available at our disposal to constantly monitor and validate the relevance and importance of these long term goals. Sound long-term goals are nothing more than a framework in which everything we do in the name of the brand should fall within, and it should always factor in the realities of an ever-changing world. So long as these goals are grounded on some common unifying insight that can stand the test of time and resonates to all stakeholders of the business, I don’t see any clash between the need for short-term agility vs. having long term goals.

How difficult is it to maintain a strong brand identity when you have to maintain a presence on so many diverse channels?

As diverse as communication channels are these days, different customer groups are more receptive and resonate better over different channels. As such, I believe which channels to use should be dictated and thus be considered by the usage behaviors of the specific target audience you’re after. If the demographics and psychographics of your target audience are clear, coupled with a solid understanding of what channels work best with them and why, then I don’t believe it’s too difficult to maintain a strong brand identity. Sure, the said identity might be executed slightly differently across the different channels, but I view that as the creative aspect of our job that all marketers should happily taken on as a fun challenge.

What have been the main challenges you have come across in the digital transformation journey at PizzaExpress?

I think the digital transformation journey at PizzaExpress might not be as challenging as other brands may have experienced. Primarily because our overarching marketing strategy has always been to drive awareness through word of mouth amongst our customers, and within that context, the creation of the digital world has in fact worked in our favour better. It's provided customers with a digital community where sharing and collecting information is often instant and cost-efficient (and sometimes even free!).

What can the summit audience expect to take away from your presentation?

What I hope the summit audience can take out from my presentation is simple. As brand guardians, we should always challenge ourselves to tell the brand story in the most compelling and relevant way - at all cost. With some creativity, craftiness, and a little bit of effort, at any budget we should be able to achieve this; so long as we identify the right insights that lead to sound strategy.

You can catch John's presentation at the at the Digital Marketing & Strategy Innovation Summit on April 26 & 27.

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