media update’s Nakedi Phala had the opportunity to speak to Katherine Madley, brand and customer director of Game Stores, about the effect of brand competition, business and client relationships and how strategic marketing efforts are key to a brand’s survival. 

What should brands do in order to stand out and thrive amongst competitors?  

Brands need to think deeply about their customer value proposition, decide on what they really want to own as a brand with absolute excellence as well as decide on what they are not going to do and stick to it relentlessly. 

Stop going after every new fad — rather stick to what you are best at and deliver it with excellence. Developing a positioning, a CI, a manifesto and a promise is only 5% of it; the legs of the brand is the customer experiencing what you say you are day after day. That is what truly builds a brand: fulfilment that is consistent and trusted.

What steps should marketers take to help their business build a positive employer-employee relationship? 

Your employees are your greatest competitive advantage. They are the real difference between you and the others in the same industry, as they are the legs and feet of the brand and all it stands for. They run with your vision so employ the best people and talk to them daily. Hold quick close conversations and ensure that they deeply understand the strategy as well as the  part that they have to play in it — and remember to be inclusive.

Reward the top performers and publicly acknowledge excellence when it is deserved. If people just understand the simple principle of ‘do more than is expected’, your business will push to pole position fast.

How should marketers tailor their brand message in order to attract the South African audience?
Understanding your audience is key to your brand’s success. The best research is done via observation in stores and face-to-face questions that are unprompted — listen to the narrative.

Having the best agency you can afford helps you to avoid ‘drinking your own kool aid’; it allows you to really stay in touch and look broader than your own category. Also, an in-touch communications agency is hugely helpful in making sure that your CVP is messaged accurately.

If brands need to rebrand, what steps should they follow?

Which do you feel has more of an impact in terms of reaching audiences: traditional or digital marketing?
Digital, analog and PR are all important. They are like a chicken dinner: all the parts make the whole experience mouth-watering — the roast chicken, the gravy, the roast potatoes, the veggies and the rice. Separately, [these ingredients] are fulfilling — but together, they are so powerful, complementary and memorable. The core, however, is still the chicken and that’s traditional.

Film, particularly, is still what customers recall every time when you ask them what their favourite advert of all time is. They always refer to a TV ad. But like my chicken dinner analogy, it all goes so much better when the other complementary elements are there.

A strategic marketing strategy is important for any brand that wants to remain relevant for many years to come. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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During a crisis that hinders traditional marketing, there’s always digital marketing to fall back on. For more insight, check out  A marketer's guide to growing sales through digital.