How the 2015 Festival of Marketing reinforced Brand Learning’s Growth Code

Festivals have long sought out legendary acts to play their main stage and ignite a new audience. The 2015 Festival of Marketing in London was no different with, crowd-pleasers like astronaut Chris Hadfield and social activist Monica Lewinsky.

The stages were jammed full of fresh innovation, technology, inspiring examples and success stories. Keen marketers and leaders created a whirlwind of customer-centred perspectives and examples that celebrated the opportunities Marketing can create when it goes above and beyond.

While there was real diversity in the presenters and their perspectives - from Adventurers and Bloggers to Founders and CMOs – we found some clear themes emerged. There was an undoubtable growth-driven focus on the customer experience; a desire to motivate those around you and, above and beyond all this, it became very apparent that everyone was invigorated by exceptional and inspirational leadership.

Fortunately, these themes we found at the festival resonated perfectly with our own Festival sessions, in which we launched the results of our global research, the Brand Learning Growth Drivers Study. We uncovered that, in practice, the best companies are constantly tuning their capabilities to create a growth-ready organisation, energised by involved employees and fuelled by momentum-driving leaders. 3 steps ultimately coined by our study as The Growth Code.

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Create a growth-ready organisation

Growth ready organisations have a strong focus on the customer experience – and joining up across the organisation to deliver this. They require a clear purpose and focus, democratised information and data, aligned objectives and conscious speed.

Presenters at the festival showed time and again how their activities drove value for their customers and in turn their brands. Matt Roberts, Online Marketing Controller of Argos told how they use data and insight to optimise the purchase process for its customers online and in-store, working with conscious speed to bring such innovations as same day delivery. It was clear to see that their digital change journey has moved them into a very different place commercially from where they were 3 years ago.

Execution and rapid iteration rather than 5-year strategies seemed to underpin a lot of the success stories on display. While this has been the language of start-ups for the past decade, there was a genuine sense that big business is learning from this with great results.

In the words of Anthony Thomson, Founder and Chairman of new-to-market Atom Bank, real change requires a business to totally rebuild itself every 5 years. Organisations must “move at the speed of customer expectation” and the outdated legacy systems most banks are struggling with create real opportunity for new disruptors.

Essentially, it is imperative for organisations to break-down the traditional barriers that exist, both from a functional point of view and a strategic point of view, in order to focus everyone on delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Energised by involved employees

Organisations need to re-think how they interact with employees. They need to live their brand for their employees, as well as their customers, and take a hard look at how they empower them to deliver more.

What resounded most across the 2 days is the emphasis of the importance in fostering new talent. Today’s employees are purpose-driven and naturally collaborative; they share a real curiosity for the world around them and an overwhelming sense of optimism for what is possible.

Shilen Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Distilled Ventures (in partnership with Diageo) talked about the importance of investing in the human team behind the idea. “You want to buy the passion and energy of that individual and team, not just whether the business case immediately makes sense.”

Essentially, growth-driver leaders need to release the energy of the people around them. They need to go that step further and involve employees, not just engage them - ultimately, empowering them to deliver more.

Fuelled by momentum-driving leadership

The role of leaders is critical. Our research ranked it as the number 1 factor in delivering the change needed to grow. People are looking to leaders to set direction, to be ‘in it with them’ and to genuinely live the principles they preach.

The stories we heard from leaders at The Festival were varied, but they had commitment and passion at their core. Hannah White, Adventurer, Broadcaster & Sailor, told rousing stories about crossing The Channel on a dinghy travelling at 80kph and completing a half Ironman in California with a group of women from the WI; while Matt Candy, Vice President & European Leader of IBM Interactive Experience regaled us with how the company showed tenacity in bringing a blend of cognitive computing and human empathy to market, which is changing the future of care for the elderly in Japan.

A sense of bravery and the focus on the customer wove its way through every presentation we heard (whether they were from the VP of IBM Interactive Experience or an Adventurer and broadcaster). The most impressive leaders are beacons for customer-centricity.

That starts with leaders having a purpose that is grounded in the customer. And using this purpose to keep the organisation focused and committed.

Learn more about The Growth Drivers Study, or get in touch to find out how The Growth Code can be applied to your business.


Brand Learning: Lifting capabilities to drive customer-centred growth
We work with companies across the world to lift the performance of their teams to drive growth by delivering better value for their customers.