The three drivers for becoming an influential brand in Italy

By Silvana Filipponi, Head of Marketing & Communication Southern Europe • Visa Europe

December 05, 2016

Brands are not just corporate logos. They can have their own personality and a genuine influence on our day-to-day lives. Being an influential brand is becoming more and more important in a world where attention is a scarce commodity and control of a brand's narrative is being increasingly placed in the hands of the consumer. So what are the key drivers to become an influential brand?

This summer Ipsos, the global market research firm, released its 2016 Top 100 Most Influential Brands study in Italy. The study was conducted independently by Ipsos according to their methodology by interviewing consumers in a number of categories including Boomers, Gen X and Millennials and measured the brand influence of the most relevant brands in the market across several categories.

The study revealed that Visa is placed 15th overall amongst the Top 100 brands, increasing its position since 2014 and leading the “Cashless Payments” category ahead of all competitors and partners.

So what leads consumers to see Visa as leaders, and what drives this brand influence? While there isn’t a single answer to this question, I believe there are three key drivers which see Visa recognised among the most influential brands in the market.

Leading-edge: Lead the change in consumers’ payments behaviour

Being influential means having an impact on people’s lives, and many influential brands are seen as innovative and trendsetters. These factors are most easily linked to technological brands, brands that connect us, empower us and impact on our lives on many levels. And this is confirmed by the study. It is not a case the Top 20 brands ranked by Ipsos in Italy are innovation and technology-oriented.

As revealed by the study, Millennials and Baby Boomers in particular recognised Visa’s key position as a leading-edge brand with ability to change the consumers’ behaviour. Technology and innovation is deeply embedded on our DNA. We are focused in making payments secure, seamless and frictionless, so consumers can focus on what matters to them.

For some years now, we have coherently translated innovation and technology into our communication efforts in Italy and across Southern Europe. We’ve done this by listening to consumers and adopting an ‘Audience First’ approach to drive business and brand decisions; by promoting Visa innovation to consumers, partners and clients; by opening towards the social channels and the new ways of communication.

Trust: A clear and consistent brand promise.

In Italy where cash is still predominantly used, security and control are key drivers for adopting cashless payments and, according to evidence coming from Visa research, consumers need confidence to pay without worry. Visa is constantly working to provide secure product and services and it is our mission to ensure that every transaction is secure while the financial information is protected.

In collaboration with a number of partners, we strived to get this important message across to all our key audiences. By using native content we have informed SMEs owners how Visa can simplify all their company purchases. By communicating the Visa convenience and offering discounts, we have led new consumers to safely pay with Visa for their day-to-day purchases at quick service restaurants, supermarkets, high street shops and utilities providers. By establishing Visa’s presence through the entire travel journey, we have communicated to family and young travelers about the convenience of using Visa instead of bringing cash abroad.

This message has been well received according to the Ipsos study: Italian consumers have high level of trust in Visa and our brand promise is at the base of their current and continued usage.

Consumer engagement: Visa, Everywhere you want to be.

Consumers have been irrevocably changed by the experience economy and people realise that they have now more control over the directions they take. I believe that, in order to be and remain influential, brands have a key role in supporting and enabling people to realise their potential and achieve their dreams. Visa wants to enhance the lives of people and organisations by being the best way to pay and be paid, and by ensuring a frictionless payment experience.

In order to communicate this concept (and in line with the rest of Europe), Visa in Southern Europe has recently adopted the global “Visa Everywhere” branding framework. Everywhere means across geographies, channels and platforms, but it is now predominantly an aspirational state of mind for all audiences.

I believe this journey inevitably starts by engaging people. The leading brands are the ones who engage. We have started our journey in Southern Europe and opened a dialogue with consumers, by leveraging the Rio 2016 Olympics Games and using local partnerships. But this is just the beginning. We want consumers to identify more and more with our brand and have an emotional relationship with us.

It’s not easy, but it’s essential if we want to maintain a leading role in building the future of electronic payments in every corner of the world.

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