For marketers, the biggest risk is not taking risks, says Burger King Head of Brand

14 Jul 2017

  • Strategy
  • New thinking

By: Joe Brookes and Andrew Birmingham, Which-50

Marketers should not be afraid to take risks, provided they maintain a consistent brand position, according to Fernando Machado, head of brand marketing at Burger King US.

“The biggest risk is taking no risk,” he told Which-50 in an interview this week.

Burger King and Machado have differentiated themselves and found success by tackling social issues where other brands may shy away, including the award winning Proud Whopper and McWhopper campaigns.

Machado will explore this theme at the ADMA Global Forum, being held in Sydney from August 24th and 25th.

He said once a brand decides to push the envelope they may find new ways to reach customers, provided they stay consistent.

“The biggest risk is to go by unnoticed,” he said, adding “That way of thinking is very liberating.”

But Machado said Burger King does not do social marketing just for the sake of it and always maintains respect for their customers.

“That is an essential part of our positioning. And people know that since we have been consistent for many years.”

“If and when we do social marketing, that ties back to our positioning. And that’s why when we do it feels real and authentic,” he said.

Brand positioning is key for authenticity and Machado believes it’s also how marketers can deliver consistent customer journeys.

“It all starts with a strong brand positioning. You need to have clarity on what the brand stands for, what makes it different and what are the values and personality. You need to make choices.”

Those choices including accepting the fact “you cannot be everything to everyone,” he said, adding once you achieve a defined position, a more consistent customer experience follows.

“After you nail that, then you translate the positioning to all touch points. That in my view is the only way to guarantee a consistent consumer journey.”

The consistency across touch point and positioning is what allows Burger King to innovate while staying true to their brand.

“Our priority always is to continue to bring our brand positioning to life in creative and unexpected ways. We are at our best when we showcase our brand in a way that triggers conversation,” he told Which-50.

Machado’s strategy seems to be working. Tasked with modernising Burger King"s brand design and generating advocacy through innovation, Machado's campaigns have earned the fast food chain a slew of awards, including the coveted Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year in 2017.

More importantly, the fast food giant is consistently growing ahead of the industry.

Burger King's successful campaigns strike a balance between innovation and data research. Data plays a significant role in marketing decisions, but Machado said they don’t rely on it entirely. Rather, they use it to “make our ideas better”.

“We don’t research to make decisions for us, we research to make informed decisions by ourselves. So, in the vast majority of cases we have proper evidence that indicates that the ideas we pushed forward do resonate with our brand fans.”

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