A successful brand lives inside people's heads!

Lenja Faraguna, entrepreneur, mom and ass-kicker, as she likes to call herself, didn’t leave the participants of her two-hour workshop at Venture Factory indifferent. She sincerely shared all the shitty and glory moments of her story and the discoveries that arose from them.
Marketing is dead – long live marCAREting
This is how Lenja explained her concept of marCAREting, which she developed through 12 years of work in marketing: “You always need to take care of yourself first. You need to care of yourself most. Because when you love yourself, when you take the time for yourself and work in a way that suits you, only then can you help others.” Your marketing should be a reflection of you, not the society’s expectations. Send an email when you have something to say, not only once every two weeks because that’s how you set your strategy. So what if you send it twice a day. “F*** the rules,” were her words.

Lenja said that 20% of success is strategy and 80% is mindset.

Lenja said that 20% of success is strategy and 80% is mindset. We can give someone all the strategy, all the texts for the website, opt-in forms, mailings etc. and yet this person won’t make anything out of it because she doesn’t believe in herself. Because she doesn’t believe she’s worthy. Because she’s thinking about what others will think. Who is she, someone from the small country of Slovenia? Who will listen to her? Listen to her entire lecture. If you use at least 10 percent of what Lenja says, a big change in life and business awaits.

How a brand gets under a customer's skin?
Meanwhile, the guests of this Start:up Müsli – namely Gregor Lednik from Zavarovalnica Sava, Tine Lugarič, creative director of agency LUNA/TBWA, Goran Radinović from the Aritmija ad agency and Bojan Kujavec, cofounder of the startup Organics Nutrients – talked about brands, their design and transformation as well as how they can get under your skin. A good brand is a complete unit that clearly communicates its value and understands itself as well as its customers. No matter whether it’s a multinational or a young company, the common challenge for all players on the market is how to tell a story in order to weave a nearly personal relationship with the customer, causing the customer to not only see the brand as a product but also as part of their identity.

KIB Kibla was once again bursting at the seams during the discussion on building a successful brand
and there was no lack of questions on how the guests tackled their own branding challenges.?
Emphatically against the colour change
At the start, the guests explained that a brand never has a guaranteed position on the market. Gregor Lednik, director of marketing communications at Zavarovalnica Sava, shared an exciting story of brand transformation. Two years ago, Zavarovalnica Maribor transformed into an internationally embedded, broader story, namely Zavarovalnica Sava. How can you calm down a customer that breathes your story with their heart, and communicate to them clearly that even after merging with three other insurance companies, they will be privy to the same, if not even better, service quality? “Most people from Maribor reacted negatively to the change that the biggest building in the ‘violet’ city beside the Drava river will have the green inscription Zavarovalnica Sava,” said Gregor. 

After the emotional first reaction, it took some time before the customers experienced consistent service quality and steadfast belonging to the local environment. This was mostly expressed through twelve years of supporting the football club Maribor, which is enjoying a nearly religious status in the city. “It was crucial that here, both brands, FC Maribor and Zavarovalnica Sava, built their story. We are the only brand in this part of Europe whose corporate identity purposefully included a logo in two colour schemes. By using violet, we once again got closer to people from Maribor, even though the official colour of Štajerska is also green. Our green is the colour of the Sava river source,” said Gregor. 

Gregor Lednik is director of marketing communications at Zavarovalnica Sava,
which in 2016 started paving the way to transition from a local player
to an insurance company embedded into the international market. 

When a brand inflames passions
The best example of a brand that fans understand as part of their identity is FC Maribor. For the past ten years, Goran Radinović, founder and creative director of the Aritmija ad agency, has been taking part in building and designing the brand of the football club that the entire city breathes with. As he said, “the emotional value of the brand is most important. A big brand can have many customers but not a single follower. When communicating, we follow the principle that fans are like an army that we activate through emotional charge. Our main task is to communicate a strong belonging, a big family of fans that enthusiastically support their club, through wins as well as losses.”

Through further collaboration with and support to the club by Zavarovalnica Sava, the management strengthened their position and made sure that despite the name change, they are supporting the same values. According to Gregor Lednik, FC Maribor is “the only club I know that roots for and supports its players even through defeats. The city lives and grows with the club. Last year, when we were part of Champions League, the entire city prospered through our progress. FC Maribor is holding this city together.” In the wake of other European and global sports clubs, FC Maribor has its own chain of stores selling team products, through which the fans can express their belonging and simultaneously support the club outside of the football matches. Haircuts in the style of Maribor footballers – a hairdresser’s is part of every FC Maribor store– are a decisive proof of belonging to the club.

Goran Radinović, Aritmija, že deset let sodeluje pri oblikovanju znamke NK Maribor ter gradnji velike družine, ki diha skupaj s svojimi športnimi junaki.
Goran Radinović, Aritmija, has spent the last ten years helping design
the FC Maribor club and building a big family that breathes with its sports heroes. ?

Giants also need a local taste
Big brands, present on global markets, need to invest into research studies, but when establishing the brand, they also need to trust local teams. As Tine Lugarič said, “knowing local details can be used to your advantage. Giants such as Heineken and Nissan have detailed profiles of desired customers for their product portfolio, but the task of local agencies is to translate their messages and apply them to the local environment. The problem appears when the central branch prepares the main creative strategy that doesn’t correspond to the culture of the local market.

Many local groups thus send one advert to the central branch for confirmation, but they actually carry out a different one, which they know will have an effect. Startups that don’t have the resources for giant market studies can, in these cases, count on knowing the local market and on common sense.” He added that “a brand is a combination of many factors, from logo, name and image to values, emotions and promises. But it truly lives only in people’s minds. This can mostly be seen in the divide between the brand as seen by its creators versus the way it’s seen by consumers.”

A startup plants a seed
As Bojan Kujavec said, he and his brother Aleš, otherwise also the cofounder of Organics Nutrients, “thought about the advantages from the very beginning of building the product, and about how to bring it closer to the customers. We came to the realization that a personal approach is best. In the first stage, the product was tested by friends and neighbours. The name Big Plant originated from the experiences of the first test users, because they all noticed that the fertilizer significantly encourages plant growth. Now we’re mostly introducing ourselves on fairs where the key customers are those who are aware of the importance of healthy and sustainable food production. We are currently developing four new products, which will be presented next year.”

Even the biggest brands need common sense
The three guests, experienced builders of resounding brands, also gave some directions for how brothers Kujavec should proceed. Goran emphasized that the “main difference with big companies is that small ones don’t have the resources for extensive market analyses. Common sense, enthusiasm and willingness to accept the truth remain. The brand is a center where there is no space for lies but only for a clear focus on how we will improve a customer’s life.”

Tine Lugarič added that “market research without common sense can be fatal. We will also need to introduce a bit of startup mentality into agencies because it is necessary to react increasingly fast.” Gregor Lednik concluded that it is “important to realize what your advantage is. If those are mealworms and certified organic fertilizer production, then that is the basis of your communication.” The guests were also unanimous that when developing their business operations, Bojan and Aleš will need to evaluate which brand, the company name Organics Nutrients, fertilizer Big Plant or one of the upcoming products, they will drive further and to what extent. 

For everyone who missed the interesting discussion on brand-building, you can watch it at the link below:
Author: Start:up Maribor , 3.10.2018


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