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Challenger Brands: Busting through the Barriers in Banking

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 11 October 2017

challenger brands

We were delighted to have Aidan Power from KBC Bank talking at our October Marketing Breakfast about challenger brands and busting through the barriers in banking.

Aidan has been leading the brand charge in the transformation of the bank into a retail disruptor challenger bank in Ireland. At the heart of this transformation was the creation of a truly customer centric brand positioning ‘the Bank of You’. Fulfilling such a big brand promise has not come without its challenges and it now demands (and in the future) a differentiated customer experience.

This year Ireland became a core market within the KBC Group and Aidan shared his thoughts on how to create and deliver a differentiated challenger brand and extreme customer experience, using a different type of culture, mindset, agility and leadership.


What is a challenger brand?

Aidan started off with defining a challenger brand as

            “a brand that takes the norm and turns it on its head, making its
             proposition the new norm for its category

Aidan joined KBC Bank in 2012, at a time where the banking sector was in a poor condition and many marketers were trying to get out of banking, not into it. KBC Bank’s brand awareness was below 20% at the time and they needed a new proposition to stand out.


The new proposition:

  • A digital first, customer centric full service retail bank that played a challenger role in Irish banking

They made a point of designing a proposition for the future, not for what consumers wanted at the time.

Aidan noted that despite being “digital first”, a bank needs a physical presence if it is to be trusted by consumers. With this in mind KBC Bank created “hubs” in fifteen key locations in Ireland to welcome their customers, with a design that looked nothing like a traditional bank.

Once the strategy has been created, marketers need to look at structure, talent & capability, and review these regularly in order to stay on top.

The next big step was to create the brand story. To create a challenger brand marketers must think outside their category, but also outside Ireland. KBC bank needed to disrupt the banking industry with a striking brand platform. Their mantra became to stop talking, acting and walking like a traditional bank. The Bank of You was born, with the customer at the centre of everything.



What’s next?

In 2017, KBC Bank know they must keep evolving if they want to stay relevant. They are now thinking in terms of customer experience, not products and services, and focusing on delivering experiences built on consumer insights such as the expectation of instant, always-on accessibility.

KBC have also developed a new look and feel. As a global brand they are of course working within constraints, but they were able to change key elements such as the font, which needed to be more digital friendly, and the photography.

One of the challenges that KBC Bank has faced as “the new kid on the block” is being outspent by competitors. However they could always outsmart them! Here Aidan highlighted the importance of amplification: making yourself sound louder than you actually are.

Aidan concluded the session by sharing his key learnings for marketers.


Key learnings

  • be agile & fast
  •  be passionate & ambitious
  • be resilient
  • don’t take no for an answer
  • look at the outside world
  • let the customers in
  • remove your “blinkers”
  • celebrate small successes
  • test, fail and try again!

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A Day in the Life of... Lorraine Butler, Managing Director at CPM Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 11 October 2017
Updated: Tuesday 10 October 2017

Lorraine Butler CPM

The Marketing Institute: What does a Managing Director at CPM do? 

Lorraine Butler: CPM is Europe’s largest Field Marketing and Sales agency where we provide outsource sales teams for leading brands such as eir, Britvic, GSK, Lucozade Suntory, Microsoft, Diageo and many others. My core responsibility is to lead our business, in both doing an exceptional job for the clients we represent in market and consistently looking to what is ahead, to future- proof and enrich our mutual offerings. As I am fortunate to be part of a large international group, I have world-class expertise to leverage in support of driving our business forward and we work hard at collaborating across countries to benefit our clients and our business. CPM operate with the ethos that our people are our most important asset and I am blessed to be surrounded by fantastic people, both locally and in our wider CPM network. 

MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role? 

 L.B: After studying Computer Science, I spent a couple of years in the recruitment industry & software industry and then moved to eircom as an Account Manager. I progressed through roles and ranks there, until I became responsible for Ireland’s largest B2B Sales team for eir. After completing an MSc. in Leadership & Management Practice and 14 great years with eircom and then eir, I felt my next challenge awaited and running a Sales company end to end was an offer that really appealed to me.

MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role? 

L.B: People are our business and we work tirelessly to ensure we attract, nurture and develop great talent. However, in a market where the unemployment rate is one of the lowest this century, and set to fall again, attracting good talent takes substantial time and effort. While our staff retention rates are very strong, our business is growing and, as a result, we consistently look for additional talent to join us. We will not compromise on excellence, however, so the journey in waiting to find that right person for the role, can be longer than we would like.

MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role? 

L.B: As we are a people business, being able to relate to, engage with and motivate people to thrive and succeed is core to my role. I believe every person has a crucial part to play in the success of an organisation and, without each person doing their own job to the best of their ability, the team isn’t as successful as it could be. Our clients hire us for sales operational excellence, and to deliver sales excellence, innovation is never far behind. I challenge us as a company to do things better and differently, leveraging both the best in class people and optimum technology to drive sales activity for the brands we represent. 

Being part of an international group and working with exceptional brands that we represent gives me access to people, knowledge and talent that helps me shape our strategy. Of course, as an MD I work towards setting a strategy, but I have always adopted the philosophy that a company’s strategy must be one that people can buy into and see coming to life. Otherwise it’s just a business plan that never gets taken out of the drawer and is not something people support or can get passionate about.

MII: Describe a typical working day. 

L.B: As is the case with many agencies, no two days are the same. My diary is typically booked up two weeks in advance, however undoubtedly a couple of extra meetings will make their way into the diary each new day! I love and thrive on being busy, but I try to be ‘smart busy’, ensuring we are working towards progress at all times. 

Each day I meet with at least one customer and talk to many; it’s important that relationships are strong between CPM and our clients and that trust is established and continually earned. While I have a very strong leadership team who manage day to day client operations, I remain very close to the sales teams and spend as much time in the field with various field teams as I can, learning from them and identifying ways in which we can be better in supporting our sales people and, in turn, our clients.

As an international group, our country MDs work hard at supporting each other through knowledge and advice with specific clients across all sectors and industries. This often means traveling to other countries to workshop topics or to see brand field teams in action. 

As people are core to our success and market offering, my team are consistently on my mind and I’m always on the watch out to ensure that the positive, progressive culture of our business is filtering down and evident in our teams and in all the work we do. 

MII: What do you love most about your role? 

L.B: I get to work with some of the most amazing people – both internally in CPM and externally with our clients. We have a knowledge and a rich population of passionate, smart and innovative people within CPM who I learn from every day. That combined with representing such a diverse range of clients, each of who are leaders in their own industries, puts me amid industry leaders who again I learn hugely from. Watching our internal and external people working together and doing wonderful things in the market together makes me very proud.

MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next? 

L.B: I joined CPM less than 2 years ago and I’m still quite early on my journey in this super role. My background prior to CPM has always been in technology and people and, while I believe sales people will always have a part in the sales journey, technology will enable and augment sales performance even more so going forward. Introducing modern technologies to CPM has already reaped substantial rewards for us and our brands and I plan to expedite technology-enabled field sales and marketing for further success. Our business has experienced significant growth over the past 2 years and realising ambitions set for further growth are next on my agenda!

MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role? 

L.B: As I work as part of a large international organisation with exceptional expertise and knowledge at my fingertips, I thankfully don’t have to look very far for inspiration. Innovation is core to our DNA and consistently there are new and better ways of doing things coming out of our group. Having external mentors has always been something I have always sought out and relied upon to give an independent view of myself, my environment and my contribution and I’m very fortunate to have some great mentors, who continue to support me personally and professionally. As pay back, I offer the same mentorship to others and it’s often in these sessions that I am inspired by the human spirit and our ultimate intent to succeed in work, home - in life.  


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A day in the life of...Brid O'Connell, CEO at Guaranteed Irish

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 4 October 2017

The Marketing Institute: What does a CEO of Guaranteed Irish do?

Brid O’Connell: Guaranteed Irish is a business membership organisation which represents over 300 homegrown and international businesses operating in Ireland. My role as CEO is to ensure that businesses who have chosen to invest in Ireland are heard at the community, national and government levels.  Together with my fantastic team, we network on behalf of our members to enhance conditions for business in Ireland, that in turn leads to job creation and community improvement.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

Brid: Taking the decision to work for myself almost twenty years ago. At the time I was working in a comfortable, pensionable job, but the challenge of working for myself tempted me away. Having had that experience of running my own business has proved invaluable and is what attracted me to my current role, representing Ireland’s business community.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Brid: I joined Guaranteed Irish as CEO in 2016, and I’ve been tasked by the board with reinvigorating the organisation and making it relevant in the 21st Century. Over the past year, we’ve undergone a rebrand and set ambitious targets for the coming years. 

We now place equal emphasis on attracting both homegrown enterprises and international companies as members, and we’re open to members throughout Ireland. We’ve put in place a new appraisals process for membership applications: all companies applying are carefully vetted and must demonstrate they meet core criteria around jobs, provenance and community.


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Brid: Adaptability is crucial in this role where no two days are the same! Each day I’m meeting with members of Ireland’s business community, from large to small, who are all facing different challenges, and more often than not, have competing interests. Plenty of energy, ability to think on your feet and a clear long-term strategy are also critical to a good day’s work!


MII: Describe a typical working day.

Brid: Emails from 7am, meetings from 10am, phone calls in the car, so it’s all go… but that suits me! As a team, we work on great projects and we are sticklers for deadlines. By about 4pm I’ll check back in with my team and start to round up the next day’s to-do list. I feel like I can’t signoff for the day unless my list is done and that I’ve managed to get my 10,000 steps!


MII: What do you love most about your role?

Brid: The people that I get to meet. I have met some of the smartest brains in the world of business and I am always learning something new from them. Also, the team I work with - every one of them are creative and dedicated to supporting Guaranteed Irish - we really believe we are “all together better’.


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

Brid: I’m 100% focused on the rebranding and repositioning of this well-known and well-loved brand. This has been a really worthwhile role, especially after the economic downturn when so many businesses suffered. I’m excited about where we can take the Guaranteed Irish brand to next. I have an amazing Board of Directors who have big ambitions for the only national brand of provenance; this is only the beginning of an exciting journey.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

Brid: Business people who do the right thing for society. That’s what inspired the Guaranteed Irish Hero campaign. My members inspire me every day - I am really spoilt for choice! I generally look up to people who have made a difference in society, not necessarily those who have made money. At Guaranteed Irish, we have plenty of members who have done both. 

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A guide to influencer marketing in Ireland

Posted By Rachel Purcell, Edelman, Wednesday 4 October 2017

Over the past few years Ireland has seen an explosion in the number of brand partnerships with “influencers”. This in turn has led to a significant rise in the number and type of online personalities categorising themselves as influencers coupled with a corresponding erosion of trust in their effectiveness. Added to this, several bespoke influencer agencies have emerged and we’ve seen the introduction of new advertising codes aimed at providing more clarity to the public and the industry in general. However, there remain significant challenges particularly when it comes to transparency and trust, and the industry will have to combat these challenges if it is to build credibility with the public and ultimately secure more marketing investment.

Endorsements and the use of brand advocates and ambassadors to influence behaviour has always had a place in the marketing mix and this will continue to be the case. But to be effective, marketers must focus on quality and strategic fit over quantity and reach. While working with influencers who have a significant social media following helps increase the chances of your campaign driving reach, this should never be the key objective – an opportunity exists to use influencers to do exactly what they’re supposed to do – influence our audience perception of the brand and its products. The critical factor in all of this is transparency and authenticity. Genuine influencers do not align with non-relevant brands. They understand the value of their own brand and their followers which dictates what content they share.  When an influencer and brand relationship is authentic and relevant, this can be highly valuable to both parties and play a crucial role in the wider marketing strategy.

As well as a lack of transparency, inflated influencer costs are also driving negativity. It started off as a relatively low-cost way for brands to engage audiences but now prices have sky rocketed with little justification given the proliferation of brand associations and the consequent erosion of the value of those associations. This has helped fuel the emergence of micro-influencers who are more choiceful of their associations and provide a more targeted and more cost-effective approach to delivering strong results for brands.

The requirement to be transparent is everyone’s responsibility, strong advertising codes and enforcement play their part, but new developments from social platforms to allow sponsored content to become more identifiable across platforms will perhaps have the biggest impact. We’ve recently trialled a new Facebook feature which gives influencers the option to tag brands in their posts to allow them to promote their content but also clearly flag that they are partnering with the brand and it is sponsored content. So far, the results are really encouraging and in our view, it certainly helps with transparency by making it considerably easier for the audience to identify promoted content. Instagram have also added a new tool which allows influencers to clearly identify when they're getting paid by a brand by including a tag at the top of the Instagram post that reads "Paid partnership with (insert brand)".

So, what does the future of influencer marketing look like? We’ve seen a significant shift in brands seeking out micro-influencers particularly internationally. While micro-influencers might not have a massive reach they tend to have very high engagement rates in their niche and can deliver cut-through, relevance and the all-important third-party endorsement from a trusted source.

We’re also witnessing influencers develop new skills such as photo and video editing to help them generate incredible, standout content in an industry that is over saturated with bland branded content. They are becoming content collaborators who through their own point of view and engaging content are a very useful tool in a brands armoury in the battle to influence behaviour.



Rachel Purcell is a digital account manager at Edelman Ireland. At Edelman Ireland, Rachel leads the influencer division in Dublin and works closely with the global Edelman influencer team. She works with a range of leading Irish and international brands to deliver successful digital campaigns.

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Who Won the Summer of Sponsorship?

Posted By The Marketing Institute & Onside, Wednesday 27 September 2017

Interested in learning about what consumers, thought leaders, and your industry peers think were the highs and lows of this past summer of sponsorship? Then join us for another insightful marketing breakfast in partnership with ONSIDE as we examine the changing landscape of Irish sponsorship in 2017. Our expert panel will feature key sponsorship influencers from Ireland’s biggest brands, including new GAA All-Ireland Hurling headliners Bord Gáis Energy and award-winning sports and entertainment giants Vodafone. Further details on speakers to be announced next week. 
Be a part of the discussion! Tell us who you think ‘Won the Summer of Sponsorship’ by taking this short survey. Survey results will be shared and discussed during the event, and all participants who take the survey will receive a free Key Findings Snapshot Report of this research!
For more information or to register for this event, check out our event page.  


Take the Survey

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