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Ai Lin Macdonald – General Manager, Portfolio Strategy & Development – Australia Post

It’s no great secret that transforming a legacy brand and driving change in a traditional organisation has many challenges and there has been a great deal made of the disruption of incumbents by smaller, more agile businesses. Ai Lin Macdonald provides a refreshing perspective on this, highlighting some of the competitive advantages enjoyed by legacy brands sharing 4 ways that Australia post has been able to leverage its brand and scale to drive innovation:

  1. Identify and understand how you got to be who you are now.

Having one of the most well-known brands in Australia is an enviable position to be in with 90% of customers expressing a nostalgic loyalty and trust for the role of Australia Post in the community. But how do you achieve this level of brand awareness and loyalty? Australia Post have done this by remaining attentive, listening to customers and reinventing themselves over 200 years in order to stay relevant. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that no organisation persists for that length of time without being able to navigate considerable change successfully.

  1. Leverage the power of an MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose) to drive change within.

If they are able to reconnect with their purpose, large organisations can mobilise considerable capability and resources around a Massive Transformative Purpose. Salim Ismail’s ‘Exponential Organisations’ (2014) analysed the fastest growing organisations in the world and synthesized their key traits, discovering that every single company on the list had an MTP. Large organisations can benefit from recalibrating around purpose to revitalise their brand both internally and externally, something that Australia Post is doing with great success.

  1. Build a bridge to connect your purpose with your strategy and execution.

Australia Post developed a framework for reducing time to market for new products and services, accelerating the idea to commercial delivery process through 4 rapid phases: Ideation, Experimentation, Scale and Optimisation. The development of this model involved re-thinking not just what they do, but how they do it, as they sought to bring the customer closer. New modes of working with the customer included agile development, hackathons and co-creation. 150 million customer engagements have now come through digital channels and the speed of delivering new services to market has been reduced to 4 months. After confirming the success of these modalities in their digital development team, Australia Post explored their application in the sales, customer and commercial teams with continued success.

  1. Think laterally about Legacy brand advantage

With 4,000 stores and an unrivalled delivery network, one of Australia Post’s most obvious advantage is its national footprint. Less obvious, however, are some of the other opportunities that might be unlocked for a nationally trusted brand. Two such examples are change of address notification and proof of identify, where Australia Post have developed two new digital product offerings:

  • Change of address notification – Notifying all of your utilities and service providers when you change address has long been a significant pain point for residential customers and so Australia Post developed an online offering that allows users to simply tick check boxes to notify a range of possible service providers of their change of address and Australia Post does the rest.
  • Digital ID – The requirement to prove your identity is a frequent and tedious activity, but also an $11 billion opportunity! Australia Post have sought to leverage customer trust to create a digital ID that lives securely on your smartphone. With over 100,000 downloads and increasing adoption by organisations such as Air Tasker, it seems that this could be the beginnings of a viable alternative to carrying traditional photo identification.

In summary, it’s not all doom and gloom for incumbents. A trusted brand has power, particularly if you are able to reconnect with your massive transformation purpose and adopt agile, co-creative ways of working with your customer.