Q&A: Nick Basford, vice-president of marketing, UPS Europe

Marketing Week (MW): BrandZ values UPS at nearly $36bn (£22.2bn). What has made the brand so valuable?

Nick Basford (NB): There are fundamental principles that have never gone away, from the reliability of our service to the appearance and standards of cleanliness for our trucks and drivers. We move at least 15 million packages and documents a day in more than 220 markets. Since becoming a publicly traded company in 1999, UPS has acquired more than 40 companies, and in each case we have integrated other businesses by having them adopt our standards to maintain the integrity of our brand.

MW: Why has UPS run such high profile marketing campaigns in the past year?

NB: Through the acquisition of various companies, including industry leaders in trucking and air freight, customs brokerage, finance and international trade services, our business capabilities have expanded. We wanted a brand platform that reflected that. We wanted to move away from promoting our brand in a market-specific way to a single platform that resonated around the world.

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Loving logistics: UPS is now delivering high-profile campaigns

The That’s Logistics campaign was designed to appeal to a wider audience but is fundamentally still there to attach more detailed and practical messaging behind the brand. The media mix is still widening – That’s Logistics launched in September and we have only run the full above-the-line campaign in 120 of our 220 markets.

MW: What are the main challenges of marketing a B2B brand compared with a consumer brand?

NB: In some instances, perfect B2B marketing is “invisible” because B2B brands offer something that can potentially dilute the impact of another brand. But we have become a part of that customer experience – we’re visible by the nature of our business.
A 30-second TV spot doesn’t necessarily reflect the complexity of the added value we offer to our customers, so we have to be creative and efficient in our messaging.

It is extremely important that we still appeal to end consumers, as the reputation of our customers with their clients is at stake. If the end consumer feels that service at the point of delivery is compromised, they will form a judgement on our customer’s product.

MW: How much should a B2B brand engage with end users?

NB: Our delivery drivers are key to our rapport with end users. They are the ambassadors of our customers’ business. One of the key selling points of a B2B brand is to be highly regarded at the point of execution. This is an important avenue for the growth of our own business because many of our leads come from businesses to which we deliver.

This is one of the most important roles in the company. There are many years of support, investment, training and experience that go into our drivers, as well as making sure our vehicles are as modern as they can be with the technology we put into them.

MW: How do you manage the media you use to spread your brand message between consumer and B2B channels?

NB: For B2B marketing, we try to use media where dwell time is longer. In the past, print has served well, but we’re increasingly taking advantage of digital media, which allows us to add to the complexity of our messaging.

One example is UPS’s sponsorship of the London Olympics. The brand exposure opportunity is massive – 40 million items will go in and out of London in about six weeks.

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