Friday, 29 August 2014

Wayfinding: Where behavioural psychology mixes with business

Have you ever had that experience where you arrive at a new airport and walk out of the jetway only to follow the streamline of people flowing from the gateway towards baggage claim as if they have all done it and been there a million times? Well turns out, airport architects, construction personnel, behavioural psychologists, business managers, and marketing directors have all put their brains together to find a way to make sure you know which way to go no matter which airport you arrive at and despite how many times you've been there. This technique is called “wayfinding” and has been developed to create subtle cues which direct us to the places they know we’ll need to go.


Pictured above is the new international terminal, terminal F, at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). Here it appears that colour has been used to highlight and reflect traffic flow from the left side to the right side to direct passengers towards security check points after check-in. Light can also be used to emulate a calmer mood throughout the check-in or bag-drop process.

More recently, wayfinding has been finding its way on to our cell phones to make for easier directions and more comprehensible traveling experiences. Subtle cues in signs or on floors already help direct traffic flow, but being able to project three dimensional directions to your phone can one day help improve wayfinding significantly. Companies in Australia already implementing these techniques include Westfield for example. You can test out their wayfinding developments by using directories throughout their shopping centres.


So, no matter where you are, or if you get lost, be it in the airport or shopping centre, which now-a-days are one of the same, you can always look for the signs that show you where to go unless one of the digital kiosks are available or you have the application on your mobile device. Also know that in order to get you where you need to go, business personnel thought very long and hard about the best way to plan their airports, shopping centres, even roads, all for your convenience.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The McDonald’s ‘McMate’ – The Burger Created by Australia

Back in May 2014, McDonald’s Australia posted an opportunity on their Facebook page to allow fans to help create a new edition to their menu. The ‘Build Our Next Burger ‘ campaign allowed fans to select ingredients from a range provided by McDonald’s, and the most voted for ingredients/burger combination was selected. In addition to the ingredients, the name of this burger was also voted for by fans (through a Facebook poll), and the resulting ‘McMate’ burger is now available in stores across the country.

(Source: McDonald’s Australia Website)

What we’re seeing here is another prime example of co-creation – a concept well documented here on this blog.

Although on a global scale this isn’t the first time the brand has co-created with consumers (a similar campaign was launched in the UK, but it allowed fans greater freedom to select ingredients and to also name their own creations), it’s still a great example of how a brand can get their fans involved in a promotion that has the potential to create a greater sense of loyalty towards the brand. As fans are given a say in the production process of this new burger, they may consequently feel a greater level of ownership towards the brand; which has in turn been encouraged by the company through the copy on their advertisements (as seen above), and through various PR communications.

As mentioned by a spokesperson for the company, “We wanted to highlight our fans’ ownership of the burger, and felt there was no better way to demonstrate this then by flipping the restaurant on its head and letting Australians take over the kitchen and showcase the ingredients they selected for our first ever crowd sourced burger, the McMate.”

The brand, which has also been trialling a home delivery since last year, is clearly dipping its toes in new waters across Australia, so it’ll be interesting to see if they continue with this more collaborative approach in future campaigns.

To read more about their latest campaign, visit

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 22 August 2014

Traveling the world with your personal brand

What if your whole personal brand as a university student was being an athlete and a student at the same time? And, what if that brand got to represent your country and your university all around the world? It must be an extremely challenging role to play, but the University of Sydney students representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, make it look effortless.

Seen above is student-athlete Matthew Mitcham as he competes in the Men’s 10 meter platform diving event in his third games. While he is studying Arts and Sciences at USYD, he has built the personal brand of a professional athlete and role model. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Matthew at a closed practice in July 2014, as he was preparing for the competition. He was so unbelievably focused, yet polite and friendly – as it is an extreme talent to calmly greet curious bystanders all while striving to reach his goals. He later won gold in the Men’s 10 meter synchronised diving event with partner Domonic Bedggood.

Another student-athlete, Anneliese Rubie, who studies Arts at USYD, has previously spoken to USYD representatives about effectively balancing her university work with her focus and demanding preparation schedule for competitions. The level of mental toughness this portrays in her personal brand is immense, and is a quality many employers look for.

All in all, student-athletes are marketing and personal branding geniuses. By combining elite athleticism with prestigious academics, they display perseverance, drive, self-discipline, time management skills, adaptability, and flexibility, not to mention well-roundedness with all the traveling they do. Congratulations to my peers for all your hard work.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

If your mum were a professional, what would her role look like?

It's easy to take for granted the most important people in our lives, forgetting what they mean to each of us. That is, until we are reminded and given the opportunity to be grateful.

That's the insightful brilliance of the World's Toughest Job campaign by the agency Mullen for American Greetings. In the build up to mother’s day, the greeting card company tapped a universal consumer insight to develop an emotionally resonating ad to drive behaviour. What they ultimately created was a viral sensation gaining over 21.4 million views, for a rather mundane product, the humble mother day card.

So what consumer insight drove the ad and which consumer effects were targeted?

Consumer insights help to explain the why of a consumer’s action and can result in a new way of looking at an old problem. It's the revelation when you uncover a seemly obvious truth, which marketing can use to create ideas that resonate with the audience. In the World's Toughest Job, the consumer insight centres on the role of mothers in all of our lives. Mothers are the unsung heroes of the world, giving everything and expecting nothing in return. American Greetings is here to help you show your mum how grateful you are.

The objective of the online ad touches upon some of the aspects of integrated perception, having multiple effects on the audience. Firstly, it plays to emotions, driving an affective appeal by evoking the love we have for all our mothers, particularly in the moment when the job of Director of Operations is finally revealed as the work of mums.

Secondly, it leverages perception, using fly on the wall art direction and a reality driven narrative to draw the audience into the unfolding narrative, rewarding engagement with the punch line.

Finally, it drives behaviour, encouraging customers at the end of the ad to make a card for their mums, showing they are grateful.

This delightful ad is a clear standout for American Greeting. It's a new take on celebrating a mother’s thankless role, and a call to action for every child at heart to show their love.

Duncan Bell
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 15 August 2014

Umbrella Companies

Have you ever been shocked to find out that some of the brands and products you have been so very loyal to for ages were actually subsidiary companies to a larger, potentially less customer centred holding company? Well, Unilever is attempting to be one of the first to break that shock by incorporating all of its subsidiary companies into their newest logo, as seen below.

Research has recently found that customers are becoming increasingly aware of these company relationships and are therefore also becoming more interested in the intentions of their preferred brands and their holding companies.
It has therefore become pertinent to large companies such as Unilever to show their intentions and the success stories they are able to help create through their subsidiary brands. Although critics claim that the corporate figure should stay out of the advertising, Unilever is having success creating loyalty for the corporation through the inter-brand relationships that are now being recognized by consumers. This change in marking strategy will take a long time, but is ultimately hoping to increase consumer trust immensely.

Proctor & Gamble has taken a very similar approach with their Olympics ad which can be seen below:

This ad really helps show how P&G has contributed through all of their products to the Olympics and its athletes as well as their families. This type of campaign is really to identify the intentions of the larger company, their positive effects on consumers, and can really help create trust.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Key to Luxury Brand Revival - Is Evolution the Solution?

When it comes to luxury fashion brands I have this overwhelming need to be in the know; whether it’s following changes in their corporate line-up, or obsessively waiting for new campaign images to be released – it’s been somewhat of an obsession of mine to consume this information and catalogue it for later use. So when I recently read about some of the challenges that the Italian luxury brand, Tod’s, has been facing (they’re experiencing a continual slump in sales, profits, and the brand’s share price), it really got me thinking about how other fashions brands have turned things around when they were on a similar downward spiral.

In fashion, as veteran model Heidi Klum has been known to say, ‘one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out’ – the industry is notoriously competitive and brands need to consistently re-invent their products, the customer experience, and sometimes their brand ethos to stay relevant. There are very few brands (if any) that have the ability to get away with making very few changes to their business (think Rolex), but then they are often in a very niche market, and have products for which there is unwavering demand, and little competition.

Tod’s, which is predominately known for making high quality driving shoes, has in recent years branched out into designing luxury ready-to-wear clothing lines for both men and women, and has also been making accessories since the early 90s. The problem however is that footwear still accounts for around 75% of the Tod’s Group’s total sales, and when there is slower growth in the luxury market, there is greater reliance on this portion of it’s business to perform well. As mentioned in an article by The Business of Fashion, footwear is generally a lower margin product, and so most luxury brands diversify their product lines across several categories to stay profitable. Perhaps where Tod’s falls short on this strategy is that it has a reputation for producing high quality driving shoes, but perhaps not much other than that. The same article quotes Mary-Ellen Field, an intellectual property management and licensing expert, who sheds light on this problem from a consumer perspective – ‘Tod’s makes driving shoes. If you’ve been telling people you make great loafers for decades, it’s very hard to change their minds.’

Tod’s Iconic Driving Shoes (Source:

This is a problem that many other brands in this industry have faced, and the most recent example of this is Coach, which has a long-standing reputation of selling ‘affordable’ designer bags and accessories. Although it was once a leader in this segment, it has failed to keep up with rivals Kate Spade, and Michael Kors, which have now gained more popularity among consumers in this market. Admittedly the situation with Coach is multi-layered, and attributed to several factors, however the challenge it now faces is similar to that of Tod’s, in that how does a brand known for one thing, begin to sell something else just as successfully?

The answer perhaps lie in the past, in that other fashion brands have notably built successful empires from a single signature offering. Burberry began with their iconic garbardine trench coats, Louis Vuitton had their flat bottom trunks, and Diane Von Furstenberg had her wrap dress - the list goes on. Fashion in itself is about reinvention and an evolution of ideas, so it can only be expected that brands in this industry be held to the same standard. But as simple as this idea sounds, the challenge most brands face in expanding their business is doing it in a way that is both logical to consumers, and still relevant to the brand.

It’ll be interesting to see how successfully Coach and Tod’s can turn things around in the next few years, but it’s probably safe to say that taking a step forward is still better than staying put where the fashion industry is concerned. I’ll issue a –watch this space – for now, but keep your eyes peeled for what is sure to be an exciting new chapter for both of these brands.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 8 August 2014