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15 May 2020

3 things you can learn from Belgium's Best Brands

The Best Brands Awards 2020 rewarded Belgium’s favorite brands in 21 different sectors. Via an online research campaign conducted by GfK, 5,000 Belgian households determined their “best brands” on two criteria: Share of wallet (Price Premium, Market Share, First Choice) & Share of soul (Awareness, Relationships, Cross-Selling Potential, Experience, Brand Image).

The research is interesting, as it combines emotional brand factors with real economic success. Looking at the results, we can see that the top 3 are solid brands that score well year after year: Coca-Cola, Samsung & TUI. But what else was noteworthy? In this point of view, we share a deep dive into three interesting categories, always with a key take-away & an action you can take tomorrow to improve your own branding efforts, even during corona-times.

1. The newcomers: Growth through consistency in brand personality & experience

In the newcomer-category, the winners are Dutch. In the competitive category of beauty products, Nivea & Dove claim the first two places on the podium. Surprisingly, Rituals takes the bronze medal, before Axe & L’Oréal. Rituals can be considered a brand champion when it comes to a consequent brand identity and tone of voice. Rituals has a clear story and message they want to convey: The power of rituals to make you feel good. It’s a great example of the combination of a recognizable and authentic brand universe, visible throughout their full customer experience, linked with a competitive pricing strategy.

In the hi-fi electro category, the third place goes to another Dutch player: bol.com. This marks the growing importance of pure players in certain categories. Next to bol.com, Coolblue & Amazon also claim their top-10 spot in this category. Vanden Borre & Mediamarkt still hold first and second place, thanks to their share of wallet. bol.com, however, is the overwhelming “share of soul” winner. Having an electro player without physical presence win on criteria such as awareness, experience and brand image is very remarkable. The secret ingredients according to us? An impeccable customer experience with a clear brand identity across the entire journey. bol.com has chosen a certain tone of voice & sticks to it to stand out from its competitors.

bol.com has gone for a distinct, differentiating tone of voice. bol.com has gone for a distinct, differentiating tone of voice.
bol.com has gone for a distinct, differentiating tone of voice.

Key take-away: To break through in a category, a clear brand personality & consistency across all channels are your key differentiators. When this is translated into a top-notch customer experience, you have a winning strategy. Do not shy away from choosing a certain brand personality & going all the way with it. When you believe in your story, your consumers will too.

Time for action! Tomorrow, pick 3 random communications from 3 different channels (e.g. an order confirmation e-mail, a POS banner and a Facebook post). Do you see your brand represented in each of these communications? What elements do they have in common? Can you discern your brand tone of voice? A next step is to think of small action points you can take to streamline your brand personality in these communications.

Triggered by the e-commerce example? Have a look at our E-Commerce Barometer, reporting the current state of e-commerce in Belgium.

2. The fast-moving retailers: Creating loyalty by staying true to the brand mission

The second category we want to highlight is a category that deserves some additional attention with their heroic efforts in supporting all of us during these difficult corona times: the food retailers.

Colruyt is the first Belgian company in the top 10 brands overall (4th place) and claims the first place in their own food retail category. With a clear advantage on both “share of wallet” and “share of soul”, they leave the competition behind. What makes Colruyt such a great brand? They go above and beyond to stay true to their “lowest price” promise. This philosophy is their brand essence: it’s visible throughout the whole company, making it their true mission to offer consumers the best products for the lowest prices. This authenticity is felt by the consumer and helps in building a strong and lasting relationship.

A final surprising fact we want to highlight is that Colruyt’s house brand “Cara Pils” is one of the brands seeing the biggest growth since 2019. Speaking of effectively positioning your own brands!

Key take-away: Stay true to your brand’s mission and make it your priority to bring it to life throughout the whole company! A mission or brand essence cannot be a hollow marketing trick.

Time for action! What is your brand’s mission? Put this question to 5 different colleagues and note down their answers. Two options:

  1. Is the answer the same? Great! Now try and put it to 5 customers (maybe you can ask for a little help from your customer service department to talk to them?). Is it also clear for them?
  2. Is this a difficult question to answer for both you and your colleagues? Then it’s time to organize a (virtual) coffee break to brainstorm about your mission: Why can’t you answer this question? Why do you really do what you do? How could you bring this idea to life in your company?

3. The traditionals: Finding a balance between emotional & rational characteristics

After a fast-moving category, we switch to a traditional category that, in general, is not really known for their fast movements: The banking & insurance sector.

In the banking sector, we look at the third place on the podium: Argenta, coming in after BNP Paribas Fortis & KBC. Argenta is not the third bank when it comes to market share in Belgium. However, they scored exceptionally high on share of soul, which does give you food for thought. Its positive emotional perception makes Argenta a brand winner, next to the “share of wallet” winners. But what exactly earned Argenta this positive emotional perception? Its mission to stand close to the consumer in a very down-to-earth and honest tone of voice, linked with its sustainable ambitions, seem to be winning factors. Argenta is a champion in showing a friendly, approachable face in an often complex and “dry as dust” sector.

When it comes to insurances, AG Insurance is the winner of its category. We want to highlight this player, as they have done some exceptional branding efforts in the past two years. They started from a brand name that was little known to end consumers and mostly associated with rational characteristics, such as reliability and sustainability. Of course, these aspects are very important for an insurance company, but they were lacking a certain empathy.

To put things right, AG went back to the mission of their brand: Supporting their customers to live their life to the fullest. They translated this in a warm, sympathetic branding campaign, highlighting the emotional aspect of their brand, too. This resulted in a visible impact on their “share of soul”, adding an important layer next to their more rational values.

The branding campaign of AG Insurance gave a sympathetic face to the market leader in Belgium
The branding campaign of AG Insurance gave a sympathetic face to the market leader in Belgium.

Key take-away: Even in a commodity sector where rational brand characteristics are the most dominant, it’s important not to forget the emotional aspect. Brands that can combine both rational and emotional factors become brand champions.

Time for action! Have you ever wondered what characteristics customers associate with your brand? Time for a small DIY-market research session! During your next Zoom or Skype group call, organize a small poll for your friends & family: Let them write 3 characteristics they associate your brand within the chatbox. Are the words the same? Are the words more rational or emotional? Is there a good balance?

Conclusion

To conclude, let us repeat our key take-aways:

  1. Opt for a clear brand personality & reflect it in every step of your customer experience
  2. Stay true to your brand’s mission & essence, throughout your entire organization
  3. Invest in both rational and emotional aspects of your brand


Interested in more materials related to branding? Discover and fill out the Storytelling template, which helps you to define your own brand story.

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References:
Best Brands and Pub

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