Home Articles BF is for Branding Fail: a lesson in brand behaviour from superannuation

BF is for Branding Fail: a lesson in brand behaviour from superannuation

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Too many Australians are not engaged in their retirement planning. Research demonstrates many lack a basic understanding of superannuation, and consequently will not have enough savings to fund their retirement.

This is a real societal issue, those who cannot fund their retirement will need support from the government, or in other words from the community, from taxpayers, from you and me. And don’t be fooled, the issue is not only confined to lower socio-economic groups, but affects different segments of the population, with women being a particular group at risk.

Furthermore, many industry professionals doubt the system with financial advisors suspicious of potential regulatory changes making the superannuation system less attractive.

So what is the solution?
We need to think of the superannuation concept as if it was a brand.

I am not talking about building (another) advertising campaign but rather, building a long term strategy to protect, nurture and grow the concept of superannuation; making it more approachable and aspirational.

The brand of ‘superannuation’ is not entrenched in the minds and emotions of countless Australians. If large portions of members are not engaged, it is because superannuation, as a whole, has not found a way to appeal to them.

Adding fuel to the fire, when customers do become interested, the temptation to leave their funds to start a Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) grows.

If organisations like Coke or Pepsi, that essentially sell carbonated and overly sugary drinks, can create aspirational brands, why not superannuation? After all, what can be more aspirational than enjoying life after work?

The reality is this effort must to start from the top first. The government needs to reinforce the superannuation brand promise.

The first step is to stop tinkering with its rules (keep the promise intact), increase education from early stages (communicate), and strengthen the offering to build trust (product improvements).

As with any brand, the superannuation industry must build trust, continuity and repetition.

Trust is required, not only for fund members, but for professional advisers and industry players. This in return will drive the best possible type of brand communication we can hope for: positive word of mouth.

To do this, as with any brand building, there is a need to communicate in a language people understand, with benefits they relate to, in particular for disaffected or less financially minded ones.

Having worked in this field for many years, I am still confused by some of the communication and product ‘dialect’. Super funds need to communicate more about members’ needs and less about themselves.

The focus on broadcasting performance, for example, can be counterproductive when large portions of members do not contribute enough to their super. Ultimately, it is all about building a better understanding of members, above and beyond common formulas, to communicate with relevance and clarity like great brands do.

When you look at it, the Australian superannuation scheme is a truly amazing model that most countries envy. Governments and industry players have a duty of care to ensure super is adopted, trusted and loved, yes I did say loved.

The only solution is to keep the superannuation brand true to its promise, and as funds better address members’ needs, these members will gradually become more engaged and involved in funding their retirements. Maybe even falling in love, because with good super, life can be super good!

Jean-Luc Ambrosi is an award winning marketer and recognised expert in branding and customer relationship management. He is the author of the new book, Branding to Differ, a strategic and practical guide on how to build and manage a successful brand. For more information visit or contact

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