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Masters’ branding expert says connection is key

Tuesday, 3 May 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
The branding expert behind Woolworths’ new hardware chain Masters Home Improvement says companies are increasingly using symbolism to connect with their customers when developing their brand.

 

Woolworths and US partner Lowe’s recently unveiled their new $3 billion venture, aimed at securing a slice of Australia’s home improvement market, worth more than $40 billion.

 

Consisting of 150 stores, the chain will trade under the name Masters, accompanied by a blue “drill-bit” logo, with the company confident it can carve a slice in the sector.

 

The Masters chain will compete directly with market leader Bunnings and Metcash’s Mitre 10 in addition to a range of homewares, appliance and specialist retailers including Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Reece, Tradelink and Ikea.

 

Masters chief executive Don Stallings and chief operating officer Melinda Smith are confident Masters’ “99 points of difference” will enable the chain to distinguish itself from rivals.

 

Branding expert Hans Hulsbosch, who came up with the company’s trade name and logo, believes Masters will eventually become one of the best known retail brands in Australia.

 

“For Masters, we wanted something timeless that would be instantly memorable and recognisable. We hope it will inspire our customers to master whatever job they are doing in their home,” he says.

 

Hulsbosch says choosing a business name requires a clear understanding of the business’s objectives.

 

“For Masters, the brief was ‘contemporary, smart, simple’. Not only did it have to be timeless, memorable and instantly recognisable, but it had to resonate with both males and females,” he says.

 

Hulsbosch says he began the design process by writing out multiple business names, coupled with designs “to make them come alive”.

 

Hulsbosch says logos should be able to stand up on their own without the aid of a name.

 

“You want your customers to connect to your brand and the best form of connection is visual; not even with words. These days, symbolism is so powerful,” he says.

 

Hulsbosch says while it is advisable to consult a branding professional, regardless of the size of the business, he is also seeing more CEOs getting involved in the process.

 

“That is a big change. These days, branding is so much at the forefront of a business, and a CEO can help to give vision to that process – they give you the vision for the business and that is what we interpret in design,” he says.

 

Hulsbosch says professional branding agencies can also provide companies with a deeper understanding of the market to help them determine “what’s out there and how you need to cut through”.

 

Hulsbosch’s top tips for developing a brand:

  • Think really hard about your brand – does it stand out and say all the right things about the business? Most importantly, does it connect with your customer?
  • If you’re arrogant about what it is you do, and not prepared to understand the needs of your customer, you will fail.