The Four Pillars Gin Strategy Unpicked: Part 3
Brand isn’t Marketing
“Long & Co thinks of brand as a way of winning hearts and minds. And marketing as a way of selling more products and services”. Our Director, Cat Long, continues her talk with Matt Jones, Co-Founder of Four Pillars Gin. “Spot on”. Matt leans in. “This is precisely how we think of it. In fact, we prefer not to use the term ‘marketing’ at all, and instead talk about brand and sales”.
We’re getting into the final stages of our chat with Matt Jones, co-founder of one of Australia’s leading gin brands. In a three part-series we have looked at what sets Four Pillars apart, how the brands’ three founders complement each other and now finally how they see brand and marketing as different disciplines – and why this is important to Australian business leaders.
Marketing is a Dangerous Term
Long & Co often see clients tangled in the distinction between brand and marketing (probably because of industry professionals!). Matt agrees:
Marketing is a dangerous term. The average person who wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I’m responsible for ‘marketing’ doesn’t know what they’re doing that day.
Interesting. What Matt means by this is that for a marketing person, they don’t know whether success today is to win more hearts and minds (branding) or if success today is to turn that existing equity into sales.
If marketing people are confused out there, imagine how Sales and Marketing people feel – they’re responsible for sales and… creative sales. Meanwhile, no one is responsible for the brand.
Confusion – Especially in the Wine Industry
Take the wine industry as one example, where you find people in sales and marketing roles. Matt: “Are you responsible for sales – in which I get it. Or are you responsible for brand? In which case I get it. But sales and marketing – I don’t know what you do every day”.
The wine industry is increasingly homogenous, and the strongest brands in that industry today are ironically retailers and cellar door experiences.
A remedy we discussed with Matt is vineyards looking to hire brand managers. Jones: “As soon as a wine maker reaches enough scale to be able to invest in a person who focuses on their brand, the better their results”.
Matt argues that our short attention spans and lack of ability to focus means that clear roles and responsibilities will enable the business to thrive because the brand custodian knows their role is to build equity, not focus on short term sales.
Two Secrets to Success
“There are two secrets to the Four Pillar Gin success. Our focus on purpose. And our focus on brand”. The return-on-investment (ROI) on these two aspects is a gin portfolio with a healthy margin, and brand that’s gone from zero cases sold five years ago, to 40,000 cases sold over the past year alone.
First, purpose. Purpose is the reason why you deserve to exist. “A lot of business people say: ‘I exist to drive profit’. That doesn’t answer the real question”. Matt is challenging business leaders to answer the harder question:
Why do you deserve to exist? Why would you be mourned?
Matt: “If you can answer these questions, you’re in great shape”.
Next, brand. We are united in our quest to get people to think differently about brand. Too many people don’t understand what brand is, don’t value brand or don’t think brand is part of their job.
Matt: “Brand is simply bias. It is the irrational side of why we choose to buy something or why we choose to be loyal. Bias is formed through the experiences we have. Especially influential are the experiences we hear about from people we trust”. These experiences etch a deep bias in our hearts and minds.
When business leaders start to realise that everyone in their business shapes experiences, they realise brand is everyone’s role. You may not put together the marketing campaign, print ad or social media post. But everyone has an impact on the experience – for better or worse.
Earn a Seat at the Top Table
An issue we see in our industry today is businesses not giving people responsible for brand a seat at the table. When asked who Matt believes needs a seat around the table, the answer is clear:
You need the person who is responsible for creating bias to join the top table.
When the talk around the table spans numbers, operations and commercial model – someone needs to speak up about the experience the business is offering. Matt challenges: “Yes numbers are up. But why? Is it because people want it or is it because we’ve secured the distribution to push our products out? Do people love our products? Would they photograph them and talk to their friends about them?” These are the softer metrics that builds or undermines a business’ results over time.
As an industry we have to own our role to deserve a seat at the table. We need to start with the business strategy and link our disciplines to how we deliver results. Business leaders on the other hand, could benefit from understanding brand better and create opportunities for their brand custodians to demonstrate their impact on the bottom line.
9 Key Takeaways:
We hope you enjoyed this strategy series and trust that insights from one of Australia’s leading brands can help take your business to its next level. We’ve summarised the key takeaways from our 3-part series below:
- The three components to Four Pillar Gin’s strategy: Purpose, product and intimacy.
- Use your purpose to guide your brand, product and engagement strategy.
- Let your brand strategy expand your product portfolio in a meaningful way.
- A key to success is identifying the 100 most influential people around your business.
- Today is busy. Intimacy is important. You can scale it via micro acts of generosity and amplify it in social media.
- Brand is hearts and minds. Marketing is sales and performance. They’re different disciplines.
- You’re in great shape if you can answer the question: ‘Why do you deserve to exist?’
- Everyone is responsible for brand because brand is experience. Delivering a great experience is everyone’s job.
Make sure you have a strong voice around the top table speaking about the experience your business delivers. It can be the difference between mild success and a powerful brand.
Matt Jones Talks About the Difference Between Brand, Sales and Marketing
Watch the video below for Matt’s take on why there’s so much confusion around brand and marketing.
Filmed by Tony Whittaker, Carnivore Films.
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