Ins and outs for marketing in 2024, according to AU’s top brand builders

March 13th, 2024

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Francesca Nicasio
group of panelists in front of an engaged crowd, with purple hanging hydrangeas

If you've been following Tracksuit for a while, then you know that we consider our product a love letter to marketers and agencies — especially those who've felt that their branding efforts have been misunderstood or undervalued. We've built a beautiful dashboard that helps you track brand health and present valuable insights to your team.

Beyond Tracksuit's product, we're also showing our love for marketers by bringing the best of the best in the industry together at community events.

Our Building Brands of the Future events recently took place in Sydney and Melbourne with some of AU's best brand builders. We wanted to get marketers in a room so they could feel seen and heard in the challenges they were facing, while leaving attendees feeling inspired to hit the ground running in 2024 and be able to execute on some killer marketing strategies.

So, we invited some of our favorite Tracksuit customers onto a panel and asked them to discuss marketing ins and outs for 2024 – AKA, the marketing initiatives they ran in the past year, what they learned, and what they're bringing into this year. They also talked about what they're doing to adapt and stay ahead in their fields.

Check out the highlights below!

How do you define brand?

The question "What is a brand?" may sound basic, but it reveals the depth and complexity of how a brand influences a company's identity and values.

Forward-thinking companies don't just see their brand as a logo or visual identity. For them, it's a way of life, and it touches every part of the business.

"Brand, for us, is like the core mission. It's what centers the company and drives our decision making, essentially across everything we do," said Rachael Wilde, Co-Founder & CMO at tbh Skincare (York Street Brands).

Another key insight from our panelists is that brand isn't just about how a company presents itself to the market. It's also about how it operates internally.

As Sarah Morrison, Global Head of Brand & Content Bondi Sands put it, "Brand is really well defined and very much from the top down."

She continued, "We look at our mantra as a 'global act local.' So, a lot of our brand strategies are set globally. And that brand strategy is then localized at a regional level."

Key marketing moments and lessons learned

Every marketer can point to a standout moment or campaign they worked on, so it was interesting to discover our panelists' breakthrough highlights and learnings.

Connecting visual elements with The Daily Aus brand

For Isaac Peiris, Former Head of Growth at The Daily Aus, one marketing "aha" moment happened when he and his team discovered that the publication's brand name (The Daily) wasn't as widely recognized as their visual approach. See, The Daily posted stories on their website and social media featuring engaging content within colorful tiles to capture attention.

As it turns out, people were familiar with those tiles but not necessarily the publication itself.

"That was fascinating because it was like, 'Okay, well, we have these brands and assets that people recognize, but there's some missing link between that and what we're trying to build as a brand new business and awareness,'" Isaac explained.

This insight led to a shift in their approach to branding, emphasizing the need to make clear connections between their visual identity and their brand.

tbh goes viral thanks to a creative Barbie stunt

For Rachael, the top marketing moment of 2023 was tbh's Margot Robbie stunt, which went viral on TikTok.

Here's what happened: the team capitalized on the excitement around the Barbie movie and Margot Robbie's visit to Australia by creating a stunt where Rachael impersonated the actor around Sydney CBD. Dressed in a pink outfit, with makeshift bodyguards and a PR team, they caused a stir a few streets away from where fans expected to see the real Margot.

This clever diversion attracted a crowd, generating entertaining footage of people being fooled and interacting with the impersonation. The content was then shared on TikTok, where it quickly became a hit.

"We got a lot of hilarious content of people running up to me, filming, and then watching that on TikTok. And it went viral."

Rachael continued, "A lot of people said, 'I didn't even know that about your brand. And now I'm obsessed with you. And now I want to try your products.'"

Bondi Sands' partnership with AO yields results

Meanwhile, over at Bondi Sands, Sarah said that their most significant marketing initiative was being the official suncare partner of the Australian Open (AO).

"It's something that we've done for three years now, and we've just signed on for another three years. I wanted to discuss this because we are starting to see the return on that investment," Sarah said.

According to Sarah, quantifying the success of their AO partnership is crucial because it allows them to validate the significant investment in the sponsorship.

"It shows that it's paying off, and it's the right strategy to keep moving forward. Year on year, we're now seeing triple digit growth in the suncare category in Australia."

Biggest marketing challenges

Every marketer faces challenges, and knowing that other folks are navigating the same hurdles can be very helpful. That's why we asked all our panelists about their biggest marketing challenge.

Here's what they said.

Scaling the marketing team

For Tim Snape, Marketing Director at Heaps Normal, the challenge is the growth the brand has experienced, and how its marketing function responds to that as navigating the expansion of resource in a way that aligns with this growth has become crucial.

According to Tim, "We've seen pretty massive growth over the first three years of our life as a company. The challenge is trying to predict how much resource, how much budget, how we spend our time across all the different focus areas and channels like that, that's always going to be number one for us."

Navigating the economic environment

Chris Maccan, Head of Digital and Marketing at NOW Finance, said the challenge is managing the brand and ensuring customers feel supported amidst economic uncertainty. To that end, he is looking to engage C-suite execs to get buy-in for brand investments. The key, he said, is emphasizing NOW Finance's strategic advantage and leveraging the current market conditions to strengthen the brand's position.

"My job is to make sure that the CEO and the CFO see a huge opportunity. Although competitor activity is quite subdued, there's still huge amounts of demand."

Chris continued, "Interest rates are probably going to flatten by the end of the year. And we need to be well positioned when that happens."

Keeping your brand's momentum

tbh skincare has experienced truly phenomenal growth going into 2024 in terms of awareness, as pictured above in their Tracksuit dashboard. But the biggest challenge is maintaining momentum, particularly after going viral and increasing brand awareness.

"We've got momentum, and I'd say keeping momentum is hard. You want to remain relevant, and it can be very tempting to keep your messaging fresh and new all the time. So for us, it's about not trying to chase down too many things that will lead us astray. We need to stay true to our brand," Rachael said.

Creating positive brand associations

One of Isaac's biggest challenges was building positive brand associations with The Daily Aus. As a news website, The Daily has to report on current events, which aren't always positive. As such, it's tricky to balance covering necessary news and maintaining a positive brand image.

"It's really challenging when your business is all about content. It's important to balance that line and find the place where positive brand-building can occur within all of that content. It's also about understanding that sentiment shifts around people's content views, leaning heavily into fewer pieces of content, and taking a more sensitive approach. "

Managing the brand after an acquisition

Bondi Sands was recently acquired by the Japanese beauty company Kao Corp., and integrating the brand within the larger company has been a challenge, said Sarah.

"Our brand is being represented by hundreds, if not thousands, of new employees who don't know who we are as a brand. So we are currently working through resetting our brand frameworks, looking at brand purpose, brand vision, and brand values, and ensuring that they are communicated to the right people," she explained.

The good news is that the acquisition provided Bondi Sands with the opportunity to refine its core messaging and ensure its consistency across the entire organization.

As Sarah put it, "It's given us a chance to better articulate the brand to the business — i.e., what the role of the brand is beyond getting in columns, because it really does form the heart and soul of any business."

Managing C-Suite conversations

Speaking of C-suite execs, we know having brand conversations with a company's leadership team can sometimes be an uphill battle. That's why we asked our panellists to talk about how they approach these discussions.

Test and measure

It's all about showing execs that you're data-driven, said tbh's Rachael.

"We build up the confidence in other C-suite members by saying, 'Yes, we're going to test something, but we're also going to check that it works.'"

"I think they want to know that it's going to be spent and measured accordingly. Then we'll learn from that and pivot later."

In doing so, Rachael ensures that the marketing initiatives are not just expenses, they're investments with quantifiable returns that can be optimized over time.

Speak their language

To have productive conversations with your exec team, Chris said you need to ensure you're speaking the same language. This means having a common framework around marketing and setting clear objectives and key results (OKRs).

Also, remember that not everyone is a marketer. Certain terms and acronyms may seem familiar and obvious to us but not to people outside the marketing department.

"There are so many things that we just take for granted as marketers, so we need to be mindful of that in order to communicate. A lot of it is found trying to propose first principles, those foundations that lead to an aligned conversation, and always using data to support your claims."

As you can see on NOW Finance's Tracksuit dashboard below, the brand is winning on the statements 'Has no fees and changes', 'Is a brand I trust' and 'Is a brand I would recommend to others'.

Balance short and long-term marketing

Heaps Normal's Tim also discussed the need to balance short-term and long-term marketing strategies. The goal, he said, is to connect brand impact to long-term sales success and equity and prove that it contributes to the company's valuation.

"The data that we're getting out of Tracksuit and some of our retailers and connecting that back to sales proves the value of their investment and long-term credibility. So that's something that we're really focused on, for me, my CFO and my team this year."

On Heaps Normal's Imagery tab on the Tracksuit dashboard, you can see the strength of their brand positioning and the associations they're winning on versus category incumbents, such as fun, popular and cool.

Similarly, Isaac talked about the need to balance immediate and future marketing goals.

"There's no question about it; you have to be doing both. If you're not using short-term tactics, people may not trust the brand. Meanwhile, the long-term work is going to pay off down the line."

How to drive sales

We also asked panelists how they ensure their marketing efforts translate to sales.

Be smart about social media

Sarah said social media and influencer marketing are major drivers of sales. According to her, the brand's success on social media is all about capitalizing on key events and focusing on its target audience, which includes younger generations.

"Standing out with the help of social influencers has been part of our success story to date. We've always gone big in those moments," she explained.

This strategy has led to a boost in brand awareness. As shown below on the Bondi Sands Tracksuit dashboard, awareness grew 8% over the course of 2023.

"We absolutely are still very much harnessing those as our key focus areas in terms of standing out. We like to take grand risks, and part of that means identifying key content creators with whom we feel we can work and collaborate authentically to tell the brand story and sell the product."

tbh is also big on social media marketing. According to Rachael, they ensure that their efforts lead to sales by leveraging their content pieces and assets across the entire marketing funnel.

"Everything we spend has to be flexible throughout the funnel. So it will go to social media and the website, and we're fueling this circle of content the whole time. Then, once it's gone to the bottom of the funnel, we're pitching back the results to the media."

She continued, "So I would say that's how we're driving a lot of the sales. We're showing up in a lot of different places, it's always driving people through to the sale, even though they don't realize it because we don't come off as salesy."

Don't forget about the point of sale

For Tim at Heaps Normal, the biggest revenue driver is the point of sale. They spend a lot of resources connecting with staff at bars and events, ensuring they have the knowledge and tools they need to sell the product effectively.

"We invest a lot of our energy and effort into creating sales materials and educating staff in shops, bars, or on-premise venues. We do simple things like giving T-shirts to wear at the bar, which gets some excitement going."

"Without a doubt, the most powerful channel for us is BOFU conversion. We're a brand that does 96% of our sales through brick-and-mortar, so that is going to continue to be one of the most effective channels for us," Tim added.

Always be measuring

Regardless of which channels you use in sales and marketing, one of the most important things you should do is track your results and continuously optimize your performance.

NOW Finance's Chris recommends testing and creating feedback loops to ensure strategies are aligned with customer preferences and behaviors.

"We use a lot of data to make those decisions. But we always test that against the people and our customers," he said.

The finishing line

If you work in the marketing and branding world, Tracksuit always has your back. We’re stoked to be able to host these types of events for our customers and if you couldn't make it on the day, we hope these takeaways are both inspiring and actionable for your own strategies!

If you’re looking for a solution to help you track, measure, and present the results of your brand marketing, give Tracksuit a try.


Start growing your brand today.