2 February 2011
Quintas Quarterly Newsletter - Spring 2011
It’s All About Your Brand!
Recent Investment Success
Changing times for the Golf Industry
Quintas Wealth Management, Director of Sales and Distribution, Nick Charalambous outlines how he and his team are planning to assist clients in 2011
Why Cash isn’t life or death – it’s more important than that.
Quintas Quarterly Economic Review
Abolition of Property Based Reliefs
Recent News and Appointments

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It’s All About Your Brand!
by Alf Smiddy, Chairman
AS Head Shot B&W

There is no doubt that 2010 will be remembered as a horrendous year for the Irish Economy, for our Government and for the Irish business community. We certainly had the "perfect storm" in 2010 as the country went from one crisis to another – be it banking, political, economic, and business. The year ended with a prolonged period of sub-zero temperatures leading to almost impossible trading conditions for Irish retailers, but I suppose 2010 will be most of all remembered for the arrival in November of AJ Chopera and his team from the IMF.

As we start into a new year there is no let up whatsoever, and there remains a real sense that our political and financial institutions have let us down.

In my opinion there is a huge deficit in Leadership in Ireland today, particularly the ability to inspire and mobilise people around a common purpose. We have no hope of creating consumer confidence until we fix this. Consumer confidence can only be restored with strong visionary leadership, and I am very confident that this will emerge in 2011. Indeed the catalyst for this will probably be the IMF coming into our country to spearhead a new beginning in Ireland. The arrival of the IMF in Ireland is a defining moment -- business as usual no longer works, and we need to use this flashpoint in our history to demand inspiring visionary leadership in Ireland. 

The Irish business community has no option but to ‘plough its own furrow’ in 2011 and beyond, and to manage, develop and grow commercial activitiy, recognizing that the political and banking landscape remains highly unstable. 

Brands & Marketing

The three biggest brands in the world are Apple, Microsoft and Coca Cola, and what they all have in common is that they strive to create a trusting relationship with Customers and Consumers -- Trust being the key word. 

As a Fellow of the Irish Marketing Institute for many years, and having been involved in launching and building brands all my life, I have to say that I see all sorts of opportunities emerging in the years ahead, particularly for business people who put their brands centre-stage, and who invest in people with strong commercial and marketing skills.  I firmly believe that it’s through innovation, the re-invention of existing brands, and the creation of new brands that will create the climate for business success going forward.

I am convinced that the future is all about branded goods and services, and time invested in 2011 in reviewing and assessing the brands in your business, and how they are positioned, will prove invaluable for future success. The most important assets of any business are intangible: its company name, brands, symbols and slogans, and their underlying associations, perceived quality, name awareness, customer base, and proprietary resources such as patents, trademarks, intellectual property, and relationships. These assets, often called “brand equity’ are a primary source of competitive advantage and future earnings.

Over the last two years many companies, of all sizes and across all sectors, have often unwittingly damaged their brands. We have seen a huge amount of brand damage, and even destruction taking place before our eyes during this time. It is very clear that some of the big Irish Brands in both the private and public sectors are in serious difficulty, including household brand names like FÁS, the HSE, the Irish Banks, Irish property companies, and even some of the big political brand names. I would even put Brand Ireland Plc Inc into the mix. Trust and confidence in these brands have been seriously eroded.

It has been survival mode for the vast majority of Irish companies over recent years, and ‘discretionary’ spend like marketing investment has been significantly reduced and often eliminated. This can only continue for so long. Owners and managers will need to find more time in 2011 to seriously review all aspects of their brands (positioning, pricing, promotion and markets), and also the strength of their customer relationships through those brands.  As the economy turns, and hopefully we’ll see this in 2011, companies will need to play catch up, and begin to repair and restore the health of their brands, and to re-create a trusting relationship with their customers.  This will require a highly focused approach and a new mindset which puts brands centre-stage, and a business model which recognizes the absolute necessity for properly targeted marketing investment.

Looking to the Future

To conclude, I was fortunate enough to attend three functions in Dublin over the last two months – the National Enterprise Awards, the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and the National Exporters Awards.  It was fantastic to see the business vibrancy and energy of the 60 finalists across these Awards, and the common characteristic of these businesses is that they are made up of extraordinary passionate people, looking forward and hugely energized, and above all absolutely focused on the opportunities at home and abroad for their branded products and services.

As clients and prospective clients of Quintas, I would urge you to look ahead and to plan forward, and not to waste your energy and stress about the past. Paint a picture of the future you’d like for your business and your brands, and go after it, and mobilise your people behind your vision.  It was John F. Kennedy who once said that: “those who look only to the past or even the present are certain to miss the future!”

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