Creative, brand identity, and automation are just some of the most vital elements within any successfully working marketing strategy and campaign. The first two deal with external execution, while the latter refers to operational efficiency.
In a rare opportunity that gathered Philippine marketing leaders representing diverse industries, MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with Celtra, delved into a discussion on how brands in the market best approach their marketing strategies in the region. In this discussion, we dived deep into what it takes to deliver high-performing creatives and unique brand identity, while harnessing the power of automation to achieve marketing agility.
In the industry event which carried the theme, ‘Visual2Vision: Leveraging Creativity As Your #1 Marketing Performance Lever’, marketing heads from brands Cambert (Pilipinas), Inc., Canon Philippines, Cebu Pacific Air, Decathlon Philippines, dentsu Philippines, foodpanda Philippines, Generali Philippines, and L’Oréal Philippines each shared how they are keeping their brands top-of-mind in a period where digital has accelerated the bar for which brands are deemed worthy of support and favorability.
Authenticity at the heart of the marketing creative
During the discussion, marketing leaders agreed that at the core of any marketing creative is authentic narrative and messaging. Danielle Eleazar, foodpanda’s head of marketing for new verticals in the Philippines, said that it all boils down to authenticity because beyond making sure that any creative asset or communication resonates with the market, the consumer has to ‘understand’ the message.
“As long as that creative consideration lies [in] authenticity, it’s something that really resonates with the consumer,” said Eleazar.
Canon Philippines’ Anvey Factora and Decathlon Philippines’ Jessica De Leon both echoed the said insight. Factora, Canon’s head of marketing communications, e-commerce and retail, said that amongst others, their topmost consideration on the creative side when launching a marketing campaign is building a strong and authentic narrative. Meanwhile, De Leon, Decathlon’s direct marketing lead, believes that a brand’s creative must be “memorable [and] authentic” with tailored messages based on audiences’ needs.
Meanwhile, for L’Oréal Philippines’ Chief Digital & Marketing Officer, Isabel Falco, building the creatives still goes back to whether it’s able to answer the ‘creative brief’ to be done.
“The topmost consideration for the creative is still going to be whether it successfully answers the creative brief or the job to be done,” said Falco.
However, marketing leaders also stressed the importance of balancing the genuine appeal of creative implementation with execution aimed at achieving business goals. It was Factora who said that in tandem with serving creativity, it’s important to make sure that the overall marketing and communications are aligned with the business direction.
“At the end of the day, we will always be evaluated [on] the business results and impact,” he said.
In the same vein, Patricia Bucag, Cebu Pacific Air’s marketing manager, believes that a marketing campaign must, above all, answer to the business need, which in the airline’s case is getting people to purchase.
At a stage where brand awareness is already high for a company such as Cebu Pacific Air, Bucag said the objective of any marketing initiative becomes purchase-led results.
Yet, brands today are struggling to meet the speed for campaigns to be launched across the funnel. Brand marketers don’t have the luxury of time to spend on the design craft for each and every asset while managing prompt campaign launch times. In order to meet the needs for personalised consumer experiences without burnout, marketing and creative teams must be equipped to successfully launch full-funnel campaigns at scale.
Managing the branding identity of international brands
In a world where every impression is a brand impression, the PH roundtable discussion dove into the main topic of brand identity, the umbrella strategy which creative would fall under.
A number of leaders in the discussion represented the PH leg of international brands such as Canon, and as expected, an entity like Canon Philippines needed to be very strict when it comes to the implementation of all things related to creative to ensure the quality reflects the brand at large.
How Canon Philippines remains effective in its strategy, Factora said, holistic planning is key.
“Coming up with a holistic identity is very, very important because Canon is not just operating in a particular segment or in a particular region, we’re operating in different continents in different countries,” he said.
Factora believes that every great campaign remains to be backed up by holistic planning, and by this, he means integrating not just one function in marketing, but including those from, for example, distribution and sales. This is taking into consideration the sales agenda and channel mapping in the overall strategy.
Meanwhile, we also learned how a local arm of a global insurance brand decides on and manages its branding. For Generali Philippines, it’s all about making the brand’s purpose the compass to draw what steps are best suited to deliver its brand identity.
Milca Javier, the brand’s head of marketing, said, “The purpose of everything that you’re doing in terms of the creative [and] in terms of your campaign [is important]. You want to craft something that emphasises or, you know, heavily promotes all elements of your DNA, of your brand DNA.”
Javier raised questions like, “Do we want to evoke something?” and “Do we want to say something to the audience?” So for example, insurance is strong, but then the brand may want to show that it’s not too stiff or that it’s not too serious, and can also invoke fun, so this is where the little details such as typography and brand colour come to make a big difference.
Ultimately, she said, the buy-in of the branding must come from within before it can even be accepted by the general consumer.
“It’s really valuable that Generali Philippines, the colleagues that I have within the company, know the importance of the brand [and] the brand identity,” she said.
“It’s very, very important that all of the people within Generali Philippines are buying into [our] brand identity. This is the core and we have to stay true to our core,” Javier added.
On the other hand, Cambert Pilipinas’ Jenny Arcellana, its head of marketing, shared about how, overall, marketing strategies, including putting branding identity in place, have evolved through recent years. Arcellana said it’s the influencers and the content creators of today that have been the biggest change.
“So it’s still the same, you know, you have to drive awareness [of] your brand, you have to tell your audience what the brand is, [and] your product – why would it appeal to them, to the target market,” said Arcellana.
But that the change, she said, has been with how you promote the brand and the media available. As a leader in trade marketing, Arcellana commented that amidst these changes, availability and visibility in trade are still very important because a product that cannot be seen cannot be sold.
“But of course, you have to talk to the right person to whom your brand or product is relevant to,” she said.
The power of automation in building personalisation in marketing
Realising creative and branding initiatives cannot be discussed without talking about the role of automation in their development. With a wide range of tools and marketing tech platforms at marketers’ disposal, the matter isn’t whether to utilise what but how to strategically harness these enablers to deliver a brand’s marketing strategy best.
The marketing heads were in unison to say that personalisation is what is made possible by automation–and at scale. Isabel Falco, L’Oréal Philippines’ chief digital & marketing officer, said that there are many different ways to communicate a product’s relevance to a consumer and automation helps in creating many different versions of a creative or marketing campaign to find what is best fitted to a specific audience.
“We really see the value-add of having the capability to automate, [enabling] us to [do] A/B [testing] at scale,” Falco explained.
The power to automate tedious design tasks speeds up time for marketers looking to amp up their creative testing roadmap. With tools like creative automation, brand marketers can iterate and update their highly-customised creatives independently without losing time on manual updates for individual creative versioning. By allowing teams the freedom to produce creative variety at ease, marketers can get campaign refreshes out of the door and initiate the purchase journey quicker.
For Mako Chaves, dentsu Philippines’ MD and Head of Media, one of automation’s top benefits is being able to gain and firm up the ‘audience understanding’, which he believes is the foundation of all great campaigns.
“It all boils down [to] one thing, which I think is consumer truth. And at the heart of every campaign that we do at dentsu is about deep consumer understanding,” said Chaves.
He added, “Without every campaign latching onto a deep consumer insight, I think everything will fall, everything will not be genuine and everything will not be authentic.”
Meanwhile, Decathlon’s De Leon wanted to emphasise how automation eventually gives way for the team to have a seamless and smooth working process.
She said that just like being a brand for sports, efficiency and performance are important to them and utilising the tools that are available makes it possible to deliver personalised and targeted ads to customers.
“Automation really empowers the team to be able to clearly see their next steps and to be able to analyse what’s working and what isn’t…automation allows us to be able to make the work not just efficient, [but] also sustainable for our future customers,” stated De Leon.
In the PH-focused industry discussion, while marketing leaders shared their customised approaches to creative, brand identity, and automation, common themes remain such as balancing ingenious creative campaigns with business-oriented marketing communications. Marketing leaders have also spoken that although brand identity is the main responsibility of the marketing team – effective branding that resonates with consumers is one that is developed and integrated through the cooperation and buy-in of other functions within a company – proving that belief in the brand identity must emanate from within teams, empowered by tools that aid brand governance.
Amidst marketing leaders lending their views and thoughts on external execution, the brand and agency heads also shared what role marketing tech like automation play in bringing marketing campaigns home. While leaders cited different areas of marketing they see automation being the most beneficial, they all agreed that essentially, it’s the ability to deliver targeted and tailor-fit campaigns to consumers that makes it easy for brands to achieve marketing excellence.