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The MSOIA Video Series with Meditel: Dominic Grounsell: Brand-building fueled by a holistic view

Everybody within an organisation is increasingly sharing in the responsibility of building the company's brand – it's no longer simply up to a marketing team to create "fluffy" brand messaging.

That's the view of Dominic Grounsell, the UK & Ireland MD of gaming company Entain, who trained as a marketer at Unilever and has held senior marketing roles at Ladbrokes and Travelex.

Speaking to MESH Experience founder Fiona Blades for in the latest Mediatel News video interview series "Making Sense of it All", Grounsell is clear that the ability for brand to measure so much more about consumer behaviour means brand-building is a shared responsibility throughout an organisation.

"[Brand building] is about creating the most holistic view of business performance that we can, not just financials, not just brand health, but customer behavior customer satisfaction customer sentiment," he explains.

Making Sense of it All is weekly video interview series by Mediatel News in association with Crater Lake & Co. Each Tuesday, we publish interviews with the industry's most thought-provoking marketers, agency executives and research thinkers to find out how people working in media can make sense of this ever more complicated and fragmented ecosystem.


FIONA BLADES: As a leader intent on brand building, how do you 'make sense of it all' when it comes to measuring so that you're actually confident that you're making the best decisions?

DOMINIC GROUNSELL: So I suppose I'd start with the question of what we mean by brand building.

We have a tendency in the marketing industry to think about brand building as purely brand health, when actually for me "building the brand" means building the business.

In that respect, when it comes to brand building, "making sense of it all" is about the creating the most holistic view of business performance that we can, not just financials, not just brand health, but customer behavior customer satisfaction customer sentiment.

I'm bringing that all together to create a a more coherent view of how the business is operating and how it's delivering for its customers every day.

BLADES: In the industry there's been much more of a coming together of what might traditionally have been 'marketing and customer experience' ... if we're thinking about that as brand building, does that create complexities when it comes to measurement?

GROUNSELL: Absolutely. In any organisation, like the one I'm in, where you are dealing with millions of customers, all with very different needs who are looking for different services and different experiences every day, it's important to make sure that you understand how the brand experience is being delivered.

It's being delivered partially through marketing communications but it's being mostly delivered through the physical interaction the customer has with your brands, which for us comes through either computers or through mobile phones and tablets.

And so getting that measurement right, understanding how the customer is interacting with your most important brand touchpoint, is really one of the most important ways of knowing whether you're delivering the brand experience and building the brand in the way you want it to.

BLADES: If we get down to some of the nitty-gritty now, how do you look at doing things like pulling together first-, second-, and third-party data?

GROUNSELL: For me, not being an analyst, it's not necessarily my area of expertise technically how we do it.

What's been true for many years and in most of the businesses I've worked in is, the best way to solve that thorny problem is through ensuring you've got the right talent internally.

[That talent needs] the right philosophy around how they approach the collation, organisation, interrogation, operationalisation of data as well as the best technology and making sure not just that you've got a piece of kit that works for you today but you're staying at the bleeding edge of what's possible technologically, whether that's martech, adtech data architecture in order to cope with the increasing cleverness of complexity and variability that we see in the data landscape.

If you can do that then you have the ability to bring all that disparate data in, put it in one place, really interrogate it to make better business decisions and to figure out how to solve customer problems more effectively.

BLADES: I'm just thinking as well, from what you've mentioned there particularly around culture and thinking about brand building and of course we all know that brand building is very much about how people within the organisation feel about the brand and I just wonder if you've got anything else to talk about around building, that culture building, that culture around the brand and thinking about how you get people to to measure it and understand all the things that are needed there.

GROUNSELL: That's what's been so great about the advances we've seen in in measurement technology and data over the past 10, 15 years.

When I started out in Unilever and roles shortly after that, the brand was something that marketing led because it was something that was touchy-feely and fluffy and it had no commercial edge to it because we couldn't measure it properly.

Now we're able to measure so much more and so our ability to understand how different parts of our business, the capabilities we have and therefore what we deliver to customers impacts the brand and therefore customer preference, customer sales revenues is so much sharper now.

So these improvements and advances actually make everybody feel part of delivery of the brand for the first time, in my view, rather than 'that's what marketing does and we do something else'.

BLADES: That's fascinating that technology is really enabling us to be better brand marketers...

GROUNSELL: Indeed – and not just brand marketers within marketing but everybody feels like a brand marketer because the brand is delivered by the totality of the organisation.

BLADES: You touched on working at Unilever; you've obviously worked at many different companies, Dom. How do you think that different businesses are 'making sense of it all' when it comes to things like measurement?

GROUNSELL: I've worked in seven different businesses and every time a different category. So I've seen it done in many different ways and it is entirely situational.

The availability of data, your proximity to the customer, whether you are an intermediate business or not. And all of that determines the right flavour of of data measurements for your organisation.

For us, we are very close to the customer, we're very data rich and therefore the requirements we have around how we understand that data and use it to drive our decisions every day are very different to organisations have worked in there, that don't have that capability.

And so for me I see it as a maturity curve that businesses will go on and for me that the challenge that comes with that is the industry narrative is too often that there's a one-size-fits-all and a best practice.

Actually, I think best practice is best defined by your situation rather than by any industry standard.

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