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Florian Haller on Awarding This Year’s ‘Best Brands’ Titles


Off the back of Serviceplan Group’s Best Brands College and Best Brands Gala events, the company’s CEO tells LBB’s Nisna Mahtani what truly makes brands successful in 2023

Florian Haller on Awarding This Year’s ‘Best Brands’ Titles

Celebrating 20 years of crowning the ‘Best Brands’ through its awards show, Serviceplan Group’s ‘Best Brands College’ and ‘Best Brands Gala’ always feature plenty of food for thought. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending, the day starts with a college, hearing from experts in the industry about the trends companies should be looking out for and channelling, and how brands need to adapt to be successful in the future.

Later on in the evening, the star-studded red carpet (or rather, white this year) plays host to the evening event, the Best Brands Gala, where brands are awarded for the connection made with customers, ability to adapt and tenacity when overcoming challenges. Of course this year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary, there was a special award up for grabs.

Addressing the room at the gala, Serviceplan Group’s chief executive officer Florian Haller made one thing clear – in trying times, brands need to be vibrant, have courage and create magic for people to behold. The notion of ‘the greyer the news, the brighter brands should shine’ was the sentiment to reassure the room that this too shall pass. 

Florian then explained the criteria for which Serviceplan awards the Best Brand title, and it’s not just about brands which outperform the competition, it’s the brands which take challenges in their stride, adapt, evolve and push through the circumstances which hold others back.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering which brands won this year, and that comes down to ‘Best Brand Overall’, ‘Best Corporate Sustainability Brand’, and three ‘Best of the Best Brands’ awards. The overall award was presented to none other than toy company LEGO, the second went to dm-drogerie markt and the 'Best of the Best Brands' were received by LEGO, skincare brand Nivea and engineering and technology company Bosch.

To share more about the brands that walked away victorious and why, Florian speaks to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani.

LBB> What are some of the key factors that brands should be considering in 2023?

Florian> As our recent international study ‘CMO Barometer’ showed, topics such as recession, sustainability and dealing with uncertainties dominate the agenda of chief marketing officers this year.

In these uncertain times, it is vital for brands to invest in an excellent customer experience and to consequently drive ahead the digital transformation. But they should not forget about the human factor and the importance of emotions: Brands have to focus on finding out what really moves their customers. And an excellent way to find their way into people's hearts is via good, emotional storytelling.

LBB> Can you elaborate on some of the megatrends in the industry?

Florian> As mentioned before, sustainability remains a megatrend in marketing. Consumers expect companies to take a stand here. And not just because it’s fashionable at the moment, but as part of a credible brand strategy.

dm, the biggest German drugstore chain and this year’s ‘Best Corporate Sustainability Brand’ at the Best Brands Awards, set a high benchmark here. Ecological, social and economic sustainability can be experienced with much credibility and consistency in the retailer’s everyday activities: This goes from the development of a completely CO2-neutral retail brand to initiatives for plastic avoidance, investments in employee satisfaction or test and vaccination offerings at the stores during the covid-19 pandemic. Consumers feel that dm is a brand that keeps its promises.

LBB> How should brands be approaching their customers during the current cost of living crisis? Are there any factors to keep in mind?

Florian> Strong brands invest in communication that creates trust, generates emotions and is close to the brand’s core. Consumers expect brands to communicate transparently, to have a clear purpose and share the same values. Otherwise, consumers will perceive them as interchangeable. This is a problem, especially in times of crisis when shoppers think carefully about which products they spend money on, and whether buying a name brand is important or a cheaper product will do. 

LBB> What do you believe makes a brand successful in today’s marketing landscape?

Florian> I believe that courage and the willingness to learn from challenging times, and not to stand still is what makes brands successful in the long term. Strong brands succeed in finding the balance between tradition and innovation, between technological strength and empathy. They convey clear brand values, create trust and thus become personal companions for people over a long period of time.

LBB> How will the marketing landscape evolve towards the end of this year and into the future?

Florian> Taking into account the current geopolitical situation, I believe that many uncertainties will continue to accompany us for quite some time. In these volatile times where everything changes so quickly, it is vital to stay close to the customer and their quickly changing needs.  We need to stay in an active dialogue with them, offer solutions and not just a product without context. Performance marketing based on real-time data enables companies to become more granular in customer engagement and to make the right offer at the right time. 

Apart from that, new technologies will certainly have an impact on the marketing landscape as we know it today. In fact, we already see how these technologies affect our daily work life. AI-based technology like Chat GPT or DALL-E 2 can enrich human creativity and other new digital tools offer new possibilities in targeting.

LBB> What’s the most valuable thing a brand can do to set itself apart from its competitors? Can you give us an example of a brand which is ahead of the competition and how it’s delivered a marketing approach that works?

Florian> In my opinion, emotional brand management and creating strong experiences for consumers are key. It’s important, however, that brands stay true to their brand core. This is what the winners of the Best Brands Awards excel at. 

LEGO, for example, creates strong brand experiences and emotions in various forms while always staying true to its brand essence. They team up with Hollywood studios, create their own entertainment content with the LEGO movie or connect the digital world and real life by constantly developing new products. This is how they reach target groups across all generations.

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SERVICEPLAN GERMANY, Wed, 01 Mar 2023 14:16:00 GMT