Thursday, May 22, 2008

Brand Building for UBS 2004

Jestyn Thirk-White, Head of Brand Strategy at UBS explained the branding exercise uundertaken by UBS in an article in Admap July/August 2004

Prophet, a San Francisco based brand consultancy closely associated with branding guru David Aaker was the partner in the exercise.

The foundation of the new brand strategy was an in-depth understanding of the
needs and desires of the target market,which was developed through a market research
project. In three phases, 3,500 clients and potential clients and 300 staff in 14
countries were interviewed.

The qualitative phases used Wirthlin Worldwide’s VISTA (Values in Strategy assessment) methodology, which was used determining the relative importance of financial services characteristics,understand the connections between those characteristics and higher-order needs, and assess which characteristics were positively or negatively associated with UBS.

Quantitative research was conducted to test the appeal and potential for differentiation of specific benefit statements developed different client segments, based on input from the qualitative research and an understanding of business model and offering.

It was found that from CEOs to retail clients, what clients and potential clients wanted most from a relationship with a financial services provider was confidence in the financial decisions they were making – be it a merger or the choice of mutual funds to invest in.

Business group interests are protected through a matrix management structure,
in which the heads of marketing of each business group are also part of the brand
management team, and formally responsible,together with the head of brand
management, for the development of the brand. Agency rivalries were eliminated
with the adoption of a single advertising agency globally (Publicis), again tasked
with ensuring consistency of message around the world and across businesses
and product areas.

To start addressing these issues, we have run several training initiatives,
focused on two core constituencies: middle management – the top 600 members
of the firm – and ‘brand influencers’. Brand influencers are a diverse group
who either create communications materials for UBS, or have influence over the
behaviour of UBS employees – this includes members of the various marketing
departments within the firm, people from media relations, investor relations,
employee communications, HR training and recruitment staff, product development
staff, etc. Training for middle management took place as part of the firm’s annual Senior Leadership Conference,and was more strategic in nature,explaining the rationale for the brand, what it should mean to their businesses and how they could help make it a reality. Brand influencer training is much more hands-on, and designed to help people use the brand identity in the development of communications messages,training programmes and new products and services. Ongoing communication
and training about what the brand means for UBS and how it should be reflected in
everything we do remain a key goal.

In the last year we have centralised our brand communications management,
development and spending, retired the PaineWebber and Warburg brands,
adopted a single UBS brand, transformed its communications messaging and strategy
and launched a high-profile new brand campaign, all with the aim of starting
to match our brand strength to our undoubted business strength.

The authors concludes the article on a positive note.

So, will it work? The simple answer is: we don’t yet know.
However, early signs are encouraging. The January survey showed that, despite fairly
low advertising presence in the second half of 2003, the introduction of the single
brand had already had a positive effect in our business-to-business client segments,
where the removal of our competing brands has helped to halve the gap between familiarity with UBS and familiarity with key competitors in the US, our
highest-priority market. We are looking forward to the results of our next survey,
available late this summer, and hoping that we have made good progress towards
making the invisible giant more visible.

For some more information visit

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