Disney, Just Eat and Philips on nurturing a brand

Top marketers from Disney, Just Eat and Philips spoke at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London yesterday about their approach to brand building.

Anna Hill: chief marketing officer, The Walt Disney Company
Anna Hill: chief marketing officer, The Walt Disney Company

Anna Hill, chief marketing officer, The Walt Disney CompanyAnna Hill, chief marketing officer, The Walt Disney Company

Be relevant to your audience and work your brand for all its worth

We’ve been telling princess stories since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. While we believe the princesses have always had positive attributes as part of their characters, its really since Tangled in 2011 that we’ve had a concerted effort to actively modernise our princess stories – to be more relevant to audiences of today, to a world where girls want to be seen as ambitious, confident and much more relatable.

Rapunzel, Merida, Moana, Anna and Elsa are all great examples of strong women – they’re funny, brave, active, determined, kind and they are the lead roles in their stories, making them even more relevant for girls of today, while still maintaining that balance of being fantastical and imaginary.

Frozen is a key part of our proposition to engage with girls. It gave us a brilliant new story and way to engage with this audience. We had to react really quickly with the phenomenon we had on our hands, and the demand that was out there as soon as the movie was released. The excitement grew for Frozen about four months after the movie releasing – we had to get a lot more product on board and find new ways to connect audiences to the story.

We manage brands like this – we create touch points for the consumers. We created a vast array of product, great mobile and online gaming, live shows, short form and longer form content, and partnerships. In the first year of Frozen we created 53 pieces of product, in the second 262, and in the third, 357.

We’ve taken a brand and built a strategy which focuses on consumers by building innovative touchpoints. It’s not just about those brands being out there – it’s about us working those brands to continue to be relevant.

Barnaby Dawe, global chief marketing officer, Just EatBarnaby Dawe, global chief marketing officer, Just Eat

The greatest asset our brand has is its vision

We’re only ten, but that feels quite old in the world in which we operate. We’re in thirteen markets, and key to us is to be number one in each of those markets. Where there’s a strong number two, we tend to acquire them to consolidate our position.

The success of most businesses you look at like ours comes from having a vision at the centre of what they do. If you think about Airbnb, they’re probably the biggest "hotel company" in the world but they don’t own any hotels.

Uber are the biggest taxi company and don’t own any taxis. We’re probably one of the biggest restaurant companies in the world and we don’t chop a single vegetable or fry a single chip. The point here is that we believe we’re putting a vision at the heart of the business.

What’s interesting about some of the most successful brands is that they’ve stood out by being very brand led. Nike, for example, is not just about trainers – it’s about what comes with that. Human potential is at the heart of everything they do.

The real competition for us is the telephone. The UK alone represents a £6.1bn market opportunity for online food delivery, and half of that comes from us tapping into orders made over the phone. There’s room enough for lots of players, and it’s about converting channelship – directly addressing behaviour in consumers’ minds.

Barnaby Dawe, global chief marketing officer, Just EatMatt Warnock, digital editor-in-chief, Philips

Stand for something, listen to people, surprise and excite them – and be consistent

When I looked at the types of marketing Philips used in its early days, I realised the tactics and touchpoints had changed enormously over the years, but what we wanted audiences to do wasn’t so different.

126 years enables you to build a really strong brand, which is a wonderful advantage, until you want to change what that brand means, and that’s the journey we’ve been on.

We’re trying to change the perception of Philips from being about TVs, radios and light bulbs, to being the leader in healthcare technology. In the process we’ve learnt a lot of lessons about how to reimagine and redefine your brand:

Stand for something. We live in a time where we can target almost a single user at a single point in time with a single piece of content, and reach huge massive audiences at the same time. But while you can buy breadth, you can’t buy depth. You also need passion for your brand.

Listen. We have amazing access to so much data, but it’s all about what you do with it and how you humanize that. Last year we noticed there was a huge conversation around hashtags like #cantsleep, #insomnia. One of our solutions is a mask that helps people with sleep apnea, and we thought, if we create products that help people sleep, shouldn’t we also create content that helps people sleep?

Surprise and excite. This is something we miss a lot of the time. We have our objectives, what we want to say as a company, and we forget to make it fun.

Be consistent. On the night of our brand relaunch, we sat in a small room in Amsterdam and changed 125 social media channels to reflect the new shield. You have to have a complete eye for detail in any message you want to put across. We tend to think about a brand as what we put out into the world. But it’s the other way round – it’s your consumers, what they think about it.