Annemarie Joosen – Brand Builder

Annemarie Joosen – Brand Builder

Annemarie Joosen is a freelancer in Marketing, Customer Experience & Innovation. She has previously worked at Marktplaats in the role of CMO and for brands such as Madurodam and the national Dutch lottery. Annemarie: “After working at Marktplaats for 6 years, I decided to quit my job at the end of November last year. I have learned a lot in those 6 years and have achieved some great business results, but as the curious person that I am, I felt it was time for a change. I am currently working on freelance projects such as business strategy and activation for Greetz, which is of course a very relevant brand in these times. Next to that, I’m interested in brands which have a positive impact on society. These days, for online platforms especially, it’s about creating habits. It is great if you can contribute to creating positive habits which help people improve themselves and their environment.”

Realising growth

When it comes to realising brand growth, Annemarie refers to scientific evidence such as How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp. “Availability is the most important ingredient for growth. You have to make it easier for more people to use your products or services in more situations. If you want to increase market share, you have to increase your mental and physical availability.”

The role of creative

Annemarie continues to say that creativity is an essential element in the overall business strategy. “According to Daniel Kahnemann, creativity is a well-functioning associative network. System 1 is influenced by associations, and when you are creative, the association system is working very well. This contributes to standing out, especially in these times where there is a tremendous amount of information. It is important that people pay attention to your brand, if not, you can do absolutely anything, but people still won’t see it. If you want to gain attention, you have to do something creative, surprising, or eye-catching. On top of that, the more associations your brand has, the more creative connections are made, the easier it becomes for people to remember your brand. So, it will be more likely that they remember you in a situation that matters, the buying situation.”

Annemarie: “Creativity plays an important part in getting noticed, and making sure people remember the brand. Because at the same time, most people aren’t interested in building relationships with brands. Often, it’s about what comes to mind first, or which brand they had a good experience with last time around. But just communicating a trigger isn’t enough, you have to give a reason. If your story feels cohesive and familiar, it gives people much more of a trigger to do something than when you are constantly changing your communication. People will have to think about it, and we are just not bothered to do so.”

Annemarie explains that this is somewhat of a paradox. “You have to stand out, but being consistent is also very important.” Annemarie refers to cognitive convenience: “When you see something more often, and you recognise it, the familiarity can make you feel at ease. As a brand, you want to create familiarity through consistency. You don’t want to change between different campaigns and logos. But if you just focus on being consistent, it can get boring and you no longer stand out. So how do you find that sweet spot where you are consistent, yet surprising? This is where creativity comes in.”

Integrating creativity in strategy

Annemarie goes on to explain that in most cases, creativity is yet to be used in business strategies: “We are looking at Excel sheets full of numbers and predictions for the future, but we are not using our creative processes to formulate a business strategy. At Marktplaats we changed this, and we organised a strategic session in which we looked at four C’s. We looked at a different context, so what can you learn from other companies, at making different combinations between products, contrast things and finally, what constraints can you turn into opportunities. We found that it can work really well for your brand to look at the world from an entirely different perspective. You often forget that consumers aren’t looking at your brand in the same way that you are. When you take those glasses off, you might stumble upon some new things. I find it very interesting to apply creativity in the formulation of your business strategy.”

Biggest challenges

“The biggest challenge of creatives is staying focused”, Annemarie continues. “Recently, there was an interesting study by Harvard Business on when creativity works in advertising. They looked at a couple of different aspects such as artistic value, quality, originality, innovative and whether it’s a cohesive story. They noticed that it’s mostly originality contributing to the effectiveness of campaigns. Being elaborate and sharing enough details which fit the brand, was also important. Again, it’s the paradox, consistency and standing out. But these two elements contribute the most to a better campaign. The other elements were much less important, whilst a lot of campaigns focus on artistic value. Of course, it’s part of the campaign, but it’s not the most important element.”

Furthermore, it’s important to know what goals you want to achieve. “At Marktplaats, it was custom that we did something around King’s Day. But we started questioning what the purpose was. If we don’t just want to be associated with secondhand items, why are we doing it? For the latest King’s Day, they set-up a great initiative with the online flee market. But at first, we just did it because we have always done it. When you reposition a brand, you may want to focus on activities that stress the new associations you want to link to the brand. You have to keep asking yourself how a certain activity contributes to the greater goal. Making sure you are still working towards the goal, in a creative way.”

Advertising in current times

Annemarie: “When you don’t have the resources and are trying to stay afloat, you can’t invest. As a company, your first goal is to survive. But when you do have the resources, you can definitely use marketing in these times. However, it must carry a relevant message. An example is how Hema have set-up a campaign around making your life at home just a little bit easier. When you have the resources and can convey a relevant message that fits your brand, I would definitely advertise. When you are talking about share of voice versus share of market, it is easier to stand out in these times, when not many companies are advertising. As opposed to always finding yourself in the crowded advertising space.”