How Aussie brands can win by tapping into the story of the battler.
Australia: the great nation in which we live is built off the back of a yarn about ‘the battler’. Whether you’re a builder, a banker, a miner or a marketer… it’s a story that every Aussie connects with at some level as we deal with the daily difficulties of trying to make good in a tough world.
While the battler’s story is not unique to Australia, it has a particularly special significance to our local culture. The batter’s story holds such a deep connection with Aussies because it is the story of Australia itself. Our culture has perpetuated this through its two centuries of colonization, from our roots as a convict colony to the mighty nation we are now. The plight of the Anzacs; the continual struggle of our farmers; winning the America’s Cup…and so on.
It’s reflected in the grounded imagery we choose to market our country on, and our deep seeded love of winning on the world stage. It also explains our disdain for people who have had success handed to them on a plate such as Paris Hilton.
It’s a tale beating the odds, and of making something from nothing.
This has implications for brands. Time and time again through our work we see that brands conveying the story of the battler have strong emotional appeal with Aussies. Brands that have successfully unlocked this story of fighting and beating bigger, badder opponents whilst staying true to their humble roots can win. They do this by helping solidify the identities of the people buying them.
Bonds owe their broad footprint in Australian culture to the battler. Whether you’re Michael Clarke or Joe from Mt Druitt, a plain old Bonds singlet is a treasured piece of clothing worn with pride.
Bonds’ story is about taking on the perceived shallow world of fashion to build a vast business from category roots as unsexy as plain old undies – classic battler fare. Everything they do adds further depth to their story – from new product lines that stay true to their straight up essence, to the celebrity ambassadors like Pat Rafter who are the very embodiment of the best of the battler. The entwinement with the battler’s story explains why there was such public outcry when Bonds were seen to betray its roots and move production to China.
JB Hi-Fi also understand the power of the battler’s story. In a category famous for ‘lo-fi’ communication, JB Hi-Fi has gone one step lower to connect even better with the average Australian. Through its ‘garage store’ style merchandising, and ‘permanent marker’ communications, the brand send signals of being the ultimate battler – fighting the big, slick guys to make a buck (and at the same time, giving Aussies a ‘fair go’).
Similarly, Aldi is growing at a phenomenal rate in Australia, despite being famously German. Its story is one of coming from nowhere and winning against the bigger “baddies”, who in consumer’s eyes have had it too good for too long and not cared about looking after everyday Australians. As such, Aldi is behaving Australian, even though it is not Australian – and creating some strong brand loyalty because of it.
Be careful though… imbuing the battler’s story is not applicable to every brand out there. It doesn’t mean you should throw away your brand essence and the core values that make you famous to blindly imitate the traits of an Aussie battler.
Rather, think about the opportunity to craft an engaging and relevant brand story that strikes at the heart of what your consumers value. To do this, you must deeply understand the people you want buying your brand, the key rules of your category, and your brand itself. Discover which stories you have the right to tell…which ones are most culturally relevant to Aussies…and then find the right voice to tell those stories in. From there, everything your brand does into the future can help shape this story to continually reinforce your unique character and build a strong emotional connection with people.
Written by Dennis Wong of Added Value Australia
Originally published in The Australian Financial Review