The Age Of Internal Branding And Selling It From The Inside Out

Did you know that internal branding is the best way to get employees to develop a powerful emotional connection to your products or services so they become your top performing brand advocates because effective internal branding increases sales?

 

That emotional connection with the brand and its culture is what drives more than 2 million[1] people annually to apply to Google for a job.

 

 

Google is an unparalleled example of a brand which cultivates cult-like desire to work for them because candidates know that while Google only selects the creme-de-la-creme, the most elite top performers, the company also values their staff as their most important asset and looks after them accordingly. In short, Google understands the power of internal branding strategy, and selling the company from the inside out.

 

When staff are emotionally vested in the brand, they’re more loyal, motivated, productive, innovative, fulfilled and inspired by a unified sense of purpose.

 

Related: What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

 

By applying branding principles from the inside first, employees glean a fuller knowledge of the brand and what’s important to it. Employees begin to “live” the vision of the company in their day-to-day tasks. And when employees live that vision in their roles the brand comes alive so your customers experience your brand’s promises to the full.

 

Related: Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

 

This article shares with you how to sell your brand from the inside out. But first, to make it more relatable so the theory is transformed into practical application take a look at this video which talks about the concept of internal branding.

 

 

The Link Between Employees and Internal Branding

Think about it for a moment, 60% of branding is about perception and only 40% about your product or service so one of the most significant factors influencing customers choices is how they perceive, think and feel about your brand through their interactions with it.

 

Contrary to what many think, branding is not just a logo or the aesthetics of a company’s website. Branding is the core DNA of your company – what makes it tick, the driving purpose behind everything you do and how you express your stand out brand personality at every touchpoint to engage your customers emotionally.

 

Because it’s only when you touch the heart that you move the mind so transforming your customers into committed fans, enthusiastic referral partners, word-of-mouth advertisers and repeat purchasers.

 

Anthony Robbins explains how emotions influence and drive all purchasing decisions masterfully here.

 

 

Related: Personality Matters: Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Profits

 

If you want some direction developing your brand and your internal branding then take a look at our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to implement in building your brand. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

How to Build Your Brand

Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter

 

 

Alternatively, if you want in-person professional direction with expert input to develop your brand and internal branding and would like to discuss working with us then give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00) or drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie. We’d be delighted to talk with you.

Employees Are Your Internal Brand

 

The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer confirms that people trust what employees say about the company more than they trust what the company says about itself. Trust is central to every brand because, without it, people will not buy from you.

 

Internal Branding

Image via Edelman Insights

 

When do employees represent, express, becoming living evidence of and talk about your brand? Front-facing staff represent your brand through their interactions with your customers. Non-front facing staff represent your brand when they discuss your company with friends and family and chat about their day on social media. Employees chat amongst themselves about your company — the good, bad and ugly.

 

Consider this, most of your employees are on social media and are either phenomenal ambassadors for your brand, indifferent workers clocking in time or worse still major detractors undermining your brand reputation.

 

Related: Top 10 Tips For Managing Your Brand Reputation

 

The ripple effect and network of influence per employee is extraordinary. It’s up to you to harness this for the greater good with strong internal branding or, through negligence, be at the mercy of come what may. At the very least make brand induction and training integral to what you do so you ensure your team are empowered, feeling and talking positively about your brand. In order for this to occur, your staff need to:

  • Express your brand and what it stands for, or aims to stand for — a traditional mission statement won’t cut it because it lacks real-world application
  • Identify how their behaviour supports or detracts from the brand
  • Synthesise and consequently feel highly motivated to choose the right behaviour for the positive growth of the brand

 

At its most basic, this is how employees are integral to the internal branding of your company, which sells from the inside and extends to the outside.

 

Related: Socially Empowered Employees: Are They Key to Building Your Brand Online?

 

A Common Problem With Internal Branding

The problem is that few leaders understand the need or know how to convince employees of the brand’s “goodness”. Dangerous assumptions including thinking that employees are naturally attached to the brand. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

Leaders often operate with the mindset that staff are getting paid to do a job and that should be motivation enough. The truth is, if you want a higher performing company, a culture of innovation and growth with increased sales, you have to promote your brand to your employees first through an internal branding strategy, because they are an extension of your brand and take your brand to the outside world.

 

Related: The Case for Brand Disruption: Be the Disruptor or Be Defeated

 

The How Of Selling Your Brand From The Inside Out

Going Deeper Than Traditional Vision, Mission and Values

 

Internal branding is far more than wall hanging statements with the vision, mission and values expostulated on them. If you really want to impact behaviour favourably, you need to develop a culture around your brand vision, mission and values in a relatable, actionable sense so it’s a living expression, on a daily basis, of what you stand for.

 

Because when a company desires a specific culture that nurtures the positive behaviour of both leadership and employees, it must be carefully developed through brand profiling and brand strategy development. Otherwise, the vision, mission and values end up being superficial nonsense which a best delivers no meaningful or measurable results or worst still undermines the business.

 

 

When employees truly buy into your brand vision, mission and values, it drives their behaviour, commitment, performance and sense of fulfilment. In order to achieve this, they need to understand and value how their role in the company fits into and contributes to the overall goals of the business.

 

Related: Brand Sponsorships, The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll

 

An example of going deeper than a mere superficial listing the company’s vision, mission and values is Teva Pharmaceuticals.

 

In 1901, three gentlemen started a small wholesale drug distribution centre in Jerusalem.

 

Internal Branding

The beginning of what would become Teva Pharmaceuticals in 1901. Image via Teva

 

Eventually, they moved into drug manufacturing, and between 1980 and 2000, they grew internationally. Today, they are the largest generics pharmaceutical company in the world.

 

In 2016, with more than 43 000 employees, Teva Pharmaceuticals embarked on a new brand identity strategy[2].

 

Beck Codner, Group EVP, Corporate Marketing and Communications, said, “Only when we are confident that all our employees are aligned around a shared purpose and how that should be reflected in how we think and how we act, will we be ready to externalise our new brand”.

 

As part of the new brand strategy, the Teva brand style guide and code of conduct was developed, so that employees would be well informed, empowered and armed with transparent standards to work with and represent the brand.

 

Internal Branding

A screenshot of a section of Teva’s new code of conduct, based on their new internal brand strategy. Image Via Teva Pharmaceuticals

 

Watch Teva’s historical progress:

 

 

Focus On Marketing Your Brand Internally First

Whatever brand strategy, marketing or advertising you plan to activate externally, sell it to the inside first, and whatever communication is planned for your external market, customers and stakeholders alike, ensure you inform and induct your leadership team and employees first.

 

Why bother? Here’s one B2B example for the sake of clarity:

 

“Before you can do anything to gain success in your business, you’re going to need the buy-in and support of your team. A team is what grows the business. It’s not the technology; it’s not the computers.”

according to Yaniv Masjedi, Vice President of Marketing, Nextiva, a cloud based communication company.[3]

 

Internal Branding

Image via Nextiva

 

In 2008, when Nextiva just opened its doors with a handful of staff, it was easy to keep people emotionally bonded to each other and the company. As it expanded to 300, with employees situated in other locations and many not knowing the names of fellow colleagues, it became necessary in 2012 to find a way to communicate company news more effectively, without resorting to the old fashioned newsletter.

 

“NexTV”, a weekly, internal video series was launched. They started small; each week, different employees would gather around a laptop camera to make announcements collected from all departments. Just 2 minutes long, it was uploaded onto YouTube – edit-free – for internal viewing. This killed two birds with one stone, so to speak because people in various locations could see the faces of fellow colleagues, some of whom they had never met, and get the news at the same time.

 

On average, 74% of Nextiva’s employees watch the series each week, with a 96% engagement rate.

 

The concept generates office fun and excitement, especially when employees know they’re being featured in the next episode.

 

Related: The Impact of Company Brand Culture On Driving Performance and Increasing Sales

 

In 2013, Nextiva started using more sophisticated means of internal communication, but the no-frills laptop camera method certainly achieved its purpose and has become a cornerstone of the company’s brand culture.

 

 

 

An example of one of the NexTV episodes.

 

Now logically, you’d think to sell change or marketing internally first, is a natural course of action, but for the majority of businesses, it’s not, because its importance is overlooked or forgotten. This is fatal for organisational goals, bottom line performance and sales growth.

 

Ensure management teams and staff are highly informed, fully engaged and relate to what’s happening before executing strategy externally, and if you make changes, be sure to sell it to them first.

 

Related: From Zero to Hero; How To Become a Must-Have Brand

 

 

Making Your Brand Come Alive for Staff Through Internal Branding

The point of branding – externally as well as internally – is to form an emotional connection with your ideal primary customer. This is why it’s no good simply documenting a dry vision, mission and values statement and filing it away or allowing it to become a wall dust-catcher because that accomplishes nothing. The vision, mission and values have to come alive for every staff member in order to increase performance and sales.

 

Related: Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Staff have to live your brand and feel an emotional connection with it in order to sell it to your ideal customers whether in a formal work capacity or informally through their external life interactions.

 

Easier said than done; this section alone requires strategic thought: how do you make the brand come alive for your employees?

 

Firstly, the primary message needs to be introduced and the rationale behind it shared. This must be carefully developed because people are naturally resistant to change. When certain key factors are in place though, it makes the internal brand launch more readily received.

 

Secondly, the newly refreshed or revitalised brand message needs to be reinforced throughout employee touch points in daily activities. This needs to be strategically planned, just as you would plan a full-on customer marketing strategy.

 

Questions the brand strategy team needs to consider and plan around are:

  • What do employees think of the brand and company?
  • What do we want them to think?
  • What will convince them of this?
  • Why should they believe us?

 

Once these questions are evaluated and answered, the creation of internal branding collateral can be initiated. You don’t want to convey information, you want to persuade, emotionally engage and motivate. Make it actionable, fun, engaging and interesting.

 

Related: Brand Renaming: Name and Tagline Change Considerations

The Role of Communication In Internal Branding Strategy

It is often the HR department who execute internal communications when it should be the role of the marketing department who have the skill to market the brand not only to customers but to employees alike.

 

Communication is key internally, and yet the majority of businesses fail dismally at it.

 

In the 1980’s, HSBC, one of the largest financial organisations in the world, experienced rapid growth, and as a result, their employees became disconnected amongst themselves, the organisation and its leaders. In addition, the organisation had a traditional top-down approach, which made it just about impossible to obtain feedback from those on the ground. In today’s world, it’s not always an ideal model for a highly innovative, rapidly growing more progressive company which builds with high employee engagement.

 

The challenge was, how to get 250 000 people in one organisation, to be heard and feel their feedback mattered, and to change the traditional hierarchy?[4]

 

Enter Exchange Forum; the objective of which was to change the role of management.

 

Related: Brand Audits – How to Use One to Grow Your Profits

 

Internally known as the “shut up and listen” project, the forum was kicked off by holding meetings where management needed to “shut up” and listen to what their staff were saying, while saying nothing in return, so that the information would come from the bottom up instead of from the top down, recognizing that employees have opinions and knowledge that would be important to management decisions, especially for strategic changes.

 

The long term goal is that every employee should attend and participate in at least four “shut up and listen” exchanges each year.

 

Has the project worked? Take a look at this next video by HSBC titled, “through the eyes of our people”, and then answer this: from this video, does it appear as if employees feel connected now instead of disconnected?

 

 

 

 

Today, at HSBC, employees feel heard and leaders have learned the value of listening to what their team has to say.

 

Questions to consider with your internal branding

Is it time to sell your brand more strongly from the inside out? Consider these questions to improve clarity:

  1. Does your business sell its vision, mission and values to your employees first?
  2. Is your HR or Marketing department responsible for internal communications and are they integrated — working as a cohesive team?
  3. Can your staff and leadership articulate what your brand stands for and what makes you different to your competitors?
  4. Is your brand a living entity with a clear vision underlying at the heart of everything you do? Do your staff know how to incorporate the vision into their daily tasks?

 

Want to develop your internal branding strategy so you can build your team into your high performing brand champions but you’re not sure where to start to get a successful return on your investment?

 

Just drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) — we’re here to help.

 

If you want direction and support transforming your internal branding strategy so it empowers your team and increases sales then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you.

 

This is a two-day brand building intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers where you work on your brand with our leadership. In fact, over the two days, you reevaluate your brand, codify it and create your brand strategy from the ground up whether you’re revitalising an existing brand or creating a new one.

 

This is a highly empowering workshop where we take a deep dive, step-by-step into how to build a brand. You discover and apply the systems and methodologies used by some of the world’s greatest brands as you work on your brand under Lorraine Carter’s direction and tutelage so you can grow your own brand and business.

 

This is not a theory based program but a highly interactive fast-track course where you work intensively on your brand throughout the programme duration using our ten step system to:

 

  1. Completely re-evaluate your brand to make it much stronger so it’s highly visible enabling you to increase your profits

 

  1. Map out your brand in full so it’s codified and comprehensively documented to grow your business faster

 

  1. You leave with your total brand road map or GPS of your brand empowering you to manage your brand, stand out and attract your ideal customers so you multiply your sales

 

Outcome:

Your brand transformed so you can increase sales.

 

At the end of the two-day Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind you leave with your fully documented brand strategy ready for implementation in your business or organisation.

If your team is larger and you’d like to include everyone’s’ participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too.

 

The Persona Brand Building Blueprint Workshop

 

Ring us to discuss your brand building preferences

Just drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) to discuss your preferences and we’ll develop your brand building intensive bespoke to your particular brand requirements so that you’re empowered to develop and lead your internal brand building team.

 

 

[1] https://www.brazen.com/blog/archive/uncategorized/2-million-people-apply-work-google-year-heres/

[2] http://www.tevapharm.com/news/teva_pharmaceuticals_embarks_on_strategic_corporate_identity_program_to_build_a_global_brand_02_16.aspx

[3] https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/case-study/internal-marketing-b2b-video

[4] http://www.gatehouse.co.uk/the-employee-communication-revolution-ripping-up-the-rule-book-at-hsbc/

 

CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth

In shaping a brand, CEO brand leadership plays a critical role as the visionary behind the brand. Leaders with vision are aspirational; they stretch the imagination and they look to the future. They understand that a vision is not just a statement; it’s a process. It’s alive. It changes as the world presents new opportunities. True leaders embody and define a brand vision and culture, which must be shared and cultivated to exist.

 

It’s worthwhile examining lessons from three of the most influential, visionary, and successful CEOs of our times:

  • Jeff Bezos continues to break records leading the fastest-growing company in world history.

 

Image via Amazon

 

  • Steve Jobs developed the first personal computer and laid the foundation for the world’s highest-valued company.

 

Image via Apple

 

 

  • Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest individual, built the world’s first software company and is now running the world’s largest private charitable foundation.[1]

 

 

Image via Microsoft

 

 

Not all visionary CEOs are corporate giants, of course. Sectors such as nonprofits, services, and even political parties also require leaders with exemplary vision. And it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and startups to be guided by a founder whose passion results from personal experience that is shaped into a brand vision.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership – How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

 

Visionary Branding: CEO Brand Leadership Must See Tomorrow

 

Regardless, in all cases it is the CEO’s responsibility to own the vision, to effectively communicate the vision, to provide the resources to deliver the vision, to authentically support the vision, to engage in dialogue with stakeholders, and to continually refresh and drive the brand vision.

 

Branding that reflects a vision is key to a company’s long-term survival and market leadership and success. It may be time for you shape your brand strategy to rebrand, refresh or relaunch. Talk to us about taking the next step to re-shape your vision and align your branding to ensure its long term health and growth.

 

 

Related: A Rebranding Strategy Guide for Brand Owners and Managers

 

 

Strong Brand Culture: Shaped by The CEO’s Brand Leadership Vision


It’s well known in Silicon Valley circles that in the months leading up to Facebook’s IPO in 2012, a slogan was painted on the wall at headquarters proclaiming, “Done is better than perfect.” That underscores the company culture in a brand that didn’t exist before 2004. Now Facebook has over 1.86 billion monthly active users run by a 32-year-old founder and CEO who ranks as the world’s fifth wealthiest individual.[2]

 

Related: 10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to be a Successful Startup Brand

 

 

Image via CNBC

 

“When we first launched we were hoping for maybe 400 or 500 people…so who knows where we’re going next?” a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg told CNBC about his new college social networking site that had achieved 100,000 users in 2004. “Maybe we can make something cool.”

 

While the words “company culture” are bandied about quite a bit, one Melbourne-based international consultant cuts through the jargon to explain the concept succinctly. “For example, if it is 5 o’clock and you are walking out the door and the phone rings – if you care about the goals of the business you will pick up that call.”[3]

 

That level of employee care, explains Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp, has its roots in the leadership. While the CEO cannot sit in on every meeting, corporate culture is intrinsically linked to leadership and trust.

 

Companies and workers either have it or they don’t, says Elzinga, after studying 600 firms representing more than two million employees.

Ultimately, successful leaders shape their company culture, they do not allow the company to shape their vision. Modern business analyses indicate that “the way things work around here” is driven day-to-day from the top, deeply embedded in processes, reward systems, and behaviors.[4]

 

Related: What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand and How do You Create One?

 

As a case in point, we only need to look to the headlines following events of April 2017, when United Airlines’ CEO made a reportedly bad situation infinitely worse by publicly doubling down on company culture, citing terms and conditions instead of responding with sincere apologies. “I’ve learned,” says Oscar Munoz, about what he refers to as his “shame and embarrassment.”

 

 

 

 

Brand Survival: CEOs Must Keep the Ship Afloat

 

In the influential bestseller, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” author Clayton M. Christensen noted that companies must consistently disrupt their existing product lineup with “the next new thing” in each of the categories in which they compete.[5]

 

 

Related: The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

 

 

To ensure survival, a CEO must see tomorrow and infuse (and re-infuse) the brand with an evolving vision. Today, this is even more critical than when Christensen’s book was first published in 1997. Astonishingly, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years today…and it is declining all the time.[6]

 

 

 

Brand Vision: When the CEO is Customer-Centric

 

Amazon, Apple, Microsoft: Dedication to a superior customer experience is the thread shared by extraordinary leaders like Jobs, Bezos, and Gates.

 

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com to be the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.” When in 2005, CustomerThink awarded the internet giant with a customer-centric leadership award, Amazon responded with, “It is simply in our DNA to approach our business by starting with the customer and working backward, and for the past 10 years we have stayed laser-focused on this core principle.”[7]

 

Bezos says you can have one of 4 primary business focuses:
1. Competitor focus
2. Product focus
3. Business model focus
4. Customer focus

 

In Bezos’ view, constant customer focus yields the best returns and it’s fundamental to his brand vision and the whole Amazon brand culture. Because customers are endlessly dissatisfied, a company that obsesses about its customers happiness is constantly lifting the bar on the quality of the experience and inventing new ways to please. Together, these actions lead to superior results.

 

Image via CharlieRose.com

 

Early Amazon employees could tell you about the empty chair at the conference table, placed there to represent the customer, “the most important person in the room,” according to Bezos. “The thing that connects everything that Amazon does is customer obsession,” Bezos explained in a 2016 interview,[8] recalling that Amazon used to only sell books and he drove the packages to the post office himself. With a net wealth of $75.6 billion, he may have a point.

 

 

Related: Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

 

 

On his return to Apple 12 years after being fired, speaking at a Worldwide Developers Conference in 1997, Steve Jobs defined what he called “the right path” for his strategy and vision. “What incredible benefits can we bring to the customer? Where can we take the customer? It’s not starting with let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how can we market that.”[9]

 

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Throughout his lifetime, this customer-centric approach remained at the heart of Jobs’ laser focus on every detail, in all the touchpoints and design elements of Apple’s products, including even internal ones that cannot be seen.

 

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (David Geller, flickr 2.0)

 

Bill Gates on Steve Jobs, “He knew about brand in a very positive sense; he had an intuitive sense for marketing that was amazing.”[10]

 

And while happy customers are the goal, Bill Gates has commented on his own leadership at Microsoft, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”[11]

 

 

 

Brand Success: CEO Brand Leadership Vision For an SME

 

The most important CEO function in a small-to-medium sized business is setting strategy and vision says Rushika Bhatia, Editor of SME Advisor magazine. “Lots of people can help the senior management team develop strategy. Lots more – including the investors and shareholders – can approve a business plan. Yet the actual direction, destination and market positioning can only be set by one person: the CEO.”[12]

 

 

 

 

In Silicon Valley, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz is a startup expert who echoes this view. “The story of the company goes beyond quarterly or annual goals and gets to the hardcore question of why? Why should I join this company? Why should I be excited to work here? Why should I buy your product? Why should I invest in the company? Why is the world better off as a result of this company’s existence? Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes visionary decisions.”[13]

 

Due to the smaller size of a startup or SME, a CEO is closer to internal functions, all stakeholders, and ultimately, customer experiences. At small-to-medium sized businesses, leaders have greater opportunity for direct control of the organizational climate and brand culture, hence interaction for delivering the vision. CEO advocates of the ‘customer first’ approach can directly influence that vision as the head of an SME.

 

If you want in-person professional direction to re-evaluate your brand or clarity on how to articulate what your brand stands for so you can sell more effectively and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

 

Alternatively you can also build your brand yourself using our Personality Profile Performer™ programme so you can identify what makes it really different, distinctive and memorable to standout. This is a step-by-step brand building programme, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you build your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.

 

 

 

Building a Brand From Scratch: An Innovative Ice Cream Story

 

In 2007, Robyn Sue FIsher had an MBA from Stanford University, no money, and a passion for ice cream. She started selling her Smitten Ice Cream brand on the streets of San Francisco from a Radio Flyer wagon to transport her innovative machinery.

As CEO, she now has three patents on a liquid nitrogen machine, 10 Smitten stores across California and 200 employees. The vision was to produce the best-tasting, wholesome, handmade ice cream from scratch, one scoop at a time, from all natural ingredients, using technology to get old-fashioned flavours.

 

Image via Smitten Ice Cream

 

In a podcast interview, Robyn says, “I get closer and closer to our amazing people as we grow. A lot of the things that make me sit behind a computer, which is not what I signed up for, can be handed off to people who can do them better than me so I can actually build our culture and be in charge of innovation. Growth enables me to shine and everyone else to take ownership and help steer the company.”[14]

 

 

Image via Smitten Ice Cream

 

 

 

Brand Loyalty and Longevity: A Natural Health and Wellness Story

 

Just one mile from Harvard Square, a husband-and-wife team started a natural health and wellness specialist store after graduating from college in 1974, and have been running Cambridge Naturals ever since. Co-founder Michael Kanter carries the title Chief Visionary Officer, embracing a belief “that strong employees are absolutely vital to a thriving business, and that improving our employees’ standard of living will in turn help our business to grow and prosper.” Leading by example, he has raised the business’ starting hourly pay to considerably above minimum wage plus 100% medical and dental benefits for full-time staff.[15]

 

 

Cambridge Naturals: Family business, Michael Kanter and Elizabeth Stagl with daughter Emily Kanter and son-in-law Caleb Dean

 

 

A founding member of Cambridge Local First, Michael has been actively involved in both federal and state campaigns to raise the minimum wage, hosting former Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in 2014 for a local business roundtable on the impact of wages on employee and business health and success and writing about it for the U.S. Department of Labour Blog.[16]

 

Image via Cambridge Naturals

 

Michael’s vision extends to consulting for other natural products businesses and speaking at industry trade events about the rewards and the struggles of running a locally-owned, community-oriented business.

 

Cambridge Naturals: Company Outing

 

 

 

Ultimate Brand: When the CEO is the Brand

 

In a family business, a small-to-midsized business, a larger firm, or even an entire nation, a founder and/or CEO’s persona can permeate the brand. Such a personification of brand vision can resonate far more deeply than a logo ever will, a tagline, or an advertising campaign. And it can be kept alive through generations. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about 90 percent of American businesses are family-owned or controlled.[17]

 

Related: Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success

  

Personal infusion or identity crossover can generate iconic status for the brand. Well-known examples of founders and CEOs who have personally underscored brand strength include Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company, innovator Walt Disney of the Disney Company, and entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.

 

The strength of vision from these three futurist dreamers has changed the world. Listen to Walt Disney’s daughter on the emerging vision of her father from the drawing board to Disneyland theme parks for children of all ages.

 

Image via Walt Disney

 

Hear Sir Richard Branson connect the dots between airplanes and his vision for space travel by millions of earth dwellers.

 

Image via Virgin

 

An elected head of state is perhaps the best example to most starkly illustrate how a leader’s personal stamp critically shapes a brand, in this case, the brand of a country.

 

Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

 

Think of the president of the United States or the prime minister of the United Kingdom, for example, as a CEO. This individual embodies and defines the vision for the national brand — including its perception at home and globally — with massive implications based upon their own individual vision.

 

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

When you realise that 60% of branding is about perception and only 40% about all the more tangible stuff, be that product or service, then the power of branding really hits home.

 

 

 

 

Are you a visionary CEO and have you considered?

  • Do you feel confident expressing your brand vision succinctly and authentically — what your brand stands for?
  • What are the leadership principles you most admire and who embodies them best?
  • Do you both ‘talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’ as the visionary behind your brand and the face of your brand?
  • How does your brand vision continually adapt to changing times?
  • How well do you communicate your brand vision to all stakeholders? Can you clearly articulate what makes your brand different compared to your competitors — in terms that are compelling to both customers and stakeholders alike.
  • Does your vision feel fresh and futuristic or is your brand ripe for a refresh?

  

 

If you need direction and support giving your brand a health check or brand revitalisation feel free to get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours).

 

Alternatively you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step walk through, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.

 

Start auditing your brand here

 

 

[1] https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/2/#version:static

[2] https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/2/#version:static

[3] https://www.siliconrepublic.com/jobs/cultureamp-ceo-brand-promise-culture-deliver

[4] https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/impact-of-culture-on-business-strategy.html

[5] http://changethis.com/manifesto/149.04.LongTermGrowth/pdf/149.04.LongTermGrowth.pdf

[6] https://www.aei.org/publication/fortune-500-firms-in-1955-vs-2014-89-are-gone-and-were-all-better-off-because-of-that-dynamic-creative-destruction

[7] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234254

[8] https://charlierose.com/videos/29412

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF-tKLISfPE

[10] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bill-gates-on-steve-jobs-we-grew-up-together

[11] https://www.surveymonkey.com/blog/2015/02/13/10-inspiring-customer-satisfaction-quotes-and-the-stories-behind-them

[12] http://smeadvisor.com/featured/leading-from-the-front-role-of-the-ceo

[13] https://a16z.com/2010/05/31/how-andreessen-horowitz-evaluates-ceos

[14] http://www.thebigleapshow.com/robyn-sue-fisher

[15] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5366ed3ee4b0b47b799380bb/t/58500c0920099e4b52133b17/1481640969656/CNPressReleaseDec13+-+FINAL.pdf

[16] https://blog.dol.gov/2017/01/03/why-one-family-owned-business-decided-to-raisethewage

[17] https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/family-owned-businesses.html

How to Transform Your Brand and Increase Your Sales

Want to Build Your Brand? Lorraine Carter Speaking at Bucharest Tech Week

Are you launching a new brand to market or considering rebranding but you’re not sure where to start to ensure a profitable return on your investment?

 

Have you got a really fantastic product or service but you’re struggling with how to clearly articulate what your brand stands for and what makes it really different to your competitors?

 

Are you being dragged into a price war or discounting where only those with the deepest pockets can win?

 

 

Lorraine Carter International Speaker2 2016 600px

 

 

Perhaps you’re actually unconsciously sabotaging your own brand building efforts because you simple don’t know enough about how to build a successful brand?

 

Join me at Bucharest Technology Week, 26th May 2016 together with Ozana Giusca and Lilia Severina to discover how to build your brand so you can create obsessive desire for your products or services, become a highly recognised household name and increase your profits.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be sharing success generating action plans that you can take away and implement immediately:

 

• How successful brands and branding works

 

• How to make your brand standout and create fanatical desire amongst your primary audience so you become the No.1 preferred choice

 

How to leverage your product or service brand so you sell more with HIGHER profit margins

 

• The top 10 professional insider secrets to how and why successful branding works to generate greatest profit

 

 

 

 

 

• The 3 most costly mistakes the majority of small business owners and entrepreneurs make when trying to build their brand — and how to avoid them

 

• The 10 step process to building a highly recognised and profitable brand — whether you’re revitalising an existing brand or launching a new brand to market

 

• Why your current approach to your branding is not producing the results you expect

 

• The critical brand strategy factors required to be successful in today’s highly competitive economy — local, national or global

 

• How to connect with your core target audience in a way that gives them a compelling reason to choose and buy your brand instead of your competitors repeatedly

 

Want to know more?

 

Click here for details…

 

 

The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

These days, it’s all about disruption. In tiny Davos, Switzerland, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum, designed to engage thought leaders to prepare us for the “next big thing.”

The proposition is that we are on the cusp of a new era fundamentally changing the way we work and live. Vast technological changes brought on by digitalization are disrupting conventional business practices and social norms, states the economic forum founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, in his essay published by the Council on Foreign Affairs.[1]

      Quotes From World Economic Forum 2016

Image via www.weforum.org

Enter Innovator Brands

A 2015 survey by Brand Keys on behalf of Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network indicates that household brand names are being replaced by innovative game changers, and they’re gaining respect with mainstream consumers. “Nimble startups compete with legacy enterprises,” say 98 percent of those asked and “the disruption is severe,” indicate 37 percent. Furthermore, there is a “distinct correlation” between perceived innovation and a company’s bottom line results, according to the study.[2]

Start Up Innovation Infographic 600px

Image via www.bpinetwork.org

Challenger Versus Disruptor Brands

The terms challenger brand and disruptor brand are not interchangeable. Challenger brands bring innovation, enhancements, new pricing, or other tweaks (diet soda, dishwasher tablets, boy and girl nappies) to an existing marketplace.

Disruptors enter a marketplace and completely set heads spinning. When eBay appeared, for example, it was difficult for many people to accept paying online in advance for an item from a stranger and simply trusting it would arrive in the post. When email gained traction, traditional mail service was rattled and companies were required to re-define legalities in their terms and conditions. And when Airbnb was introduced, the hotel industry was more than mildly shocked; cities are still attempting to define tax issues.

  Deliveroo Airbnb 600px

Image via www.preweek.com

A Shift to the Customer Interface

The battle for today’s customer is occurring in the digital interface between product and consumer. As Tom Goodwin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas Media, explains, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”[3]

 Tech Company Hierarchy

Image via www.reddit.com

These companies fill a connector space between product and people. These brands are the jam in the sandwich between the customer and the business. Furthermore, Goodwin points out that this new breed of interface companies (Uber, YouTube, Airbnb, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google) are the fastest-growing in history. All of them began as challenger brands.

 

What is a Challenger Brand?

From the original biblical tale, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell borrows a title, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” reminding us that compelling storytelling has long been at the heart of a challenge. In brand marketing today, some famous challenges fall into the hero/underdog sort (Coke vs. Pepsi, Avis vs. Hertz; McDonalds vs. Burger King); others make into it a three-way contest, or even a Big Four fight (Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury, Morrison’s).

Still other challenger brands enter a crowded category or endeavour to maintain challenger momentum once it starts to fade. Enter the game changers, disrupting the status quo by creating altogether new categories (Match.com, Uber, Airbnb), thus far a hallmark of 21st century disruptor brands.

In discussing the rise of the challenger brand, CMO of Adobe points out, “Essentially, the heart of a challenger brand is the passion, process, and tools they use to create and magnify customer advocacy.” Reflect on those overnight queues snaking around the Apple Store in anticipation of new product releases. “The heart of challenger brands’ success is their ability to turn emotion and affinity into a customer acquisition machine.”[4]

Purpose = Purchase = Profitability

    Apple Store Lines 600px

Image via Rob DiCaterino, Flickr CC2.0

Challenger brand experts Adam Morgan and Mark Holden wrote a book on the subject, “Overthrow: Ten Ways to Tell a Challenger Story,” (with all profits going to UNICEF). In it, they list 10 types that represent the challenger brand state-of-mind. These brief descriptions may help you evaluate and identify your own brand’s personality, purpose and positioning.

  • The Irreverent Maverick

Shock and awe counts more than playing by the rules. This challenger type is big on attitude and best have a big budget for flashy PR, interactive sales tactics and legal advisors. Think Red Bull.

  • The Missionary

The core message is critical for this brand which identifies a need to do something better. The authors suggest. “Think of Al-Jazeera looking to ‘redress the balance’ in media coverage of the Middle East.

  • The Next Generation

Daring to call out the market leader as being old fashioned, this challenger seeks to position itself as very much here and now, totally relevant to today’s cultural trends. Emirates Airline, Euro Star and GoPro are examples.

  • The Democratiser

Sharing great design, catwalk looks and labels is the function of this challenger brand. Often seen in retailing, the purpose is to challenge elitist brands. The right influencers are often part of the equation to deliver street cred. Think H&M.

  • The Real and Human Challenger

Using people as a company resource, this brand breathes life into a dead category, fires up consumers’ imaginations. In the UK, Innocent (little tasty drinks), are those guys who drive around in those cow camouflage vehicles or Hungry Grassy Vans.

  • The Enlightened Zagger

Less fashionable is fine for brands that swim against the tide and challenge conventional wisdom. A brand challenge from Camper shoes mixed it up by suggesting that we walk, rather than run.

  • The Visionary

Big, bold and beautiful is the vision — but never boring. A visionary challenge brings a higher purpose and an emotional connection to the brand, Lady Gaga comes to mind.

  • The Game Changer

An entry into a category that’s unlike anything consumers have seen before is a game changer. The designers think outside the box. Steve Jobs brought game changers to categories from personal computing to phones, cameras and music.

  • The People’s Champion

This brand’s founder/CEO may act as the people’s champion, suggesting the public suffers an inferior service or product from everyone else in a category. The people’s champion puts a friendly face to the shakeup, using humour like Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

  • The Feisty Underdog

Here’s the David versus Goliath story in all its storytelling glory. It’s us versus them in the style of Avis Car Rental which adopted the slogan “We try harder. We’re #2,” a unique tagline that garnered empathy during its 50-year run.

 

  

  

Examples of Successful Challenger Brands

What do eggless mayonnaise, furniture in a box, bagless vacuum cleaners and fashionable spectacles have in common with driverless electric cars and return rockets for colonizing Mars? From aspirational to mainstream and from ideation to manufacture, challenger brands can change the world. Once a brand does achieve commercial success, a new set of opportunities comes into play in order to stay fresh edgy, and relevant, maintaining a challenger brand mentality as a bigger brand player.

1. Hampton Creek

Josh Tetrick, founder of this plant-based food maker, believes that industrialized egg and meat production is unsustainable. Hamptons Creek’s leading product, Just Mayo, is an egg-free spread that’s about making foods with less water, land, and carbon emissions. This is a brand that proves the business case for CSR and social responsibility.

   Hampton Creek Just Mayo 600px

Image via www.hamptoncreek.com

Since 2011, Tetrick has attracted funding from 12 billionaire investors, including Bill Gates, and shot to the top of several lists of innovative companies shaping the future of food.[5] The Guardian reports that Silicon Valley investors are pouring “serious cash into ersatz animal products. Their goal is to transform the food system the same way Apple changed how we use phones, or Google changed the way we find information.”[6]

2. IKEA

With 373 stores in 47 countries, no one would call Ikea a small company. Yet, it was born as a challenger concept in the back woods of Sweden in the 1940s: inexpensive flat-packed furniture for self-assembly, sold via a catalogue and warehouse showroom.[7] By remaining functional, simple, and design-led, Ikea has managed a harmonious marriage built on durable pillars of inexpensive, yet decent quality. Partnering with UNICEF among three dozen other NGOs and IGOs, IKEA Foundation[8] is considered the world’s largest charitable foundation, with an estimated net worth of $36 billion.

 Ikea Unicef Soft Toy Thank You

Image via www.ikeafoundation.org

3. Warby Parker

Four business school grads asked: Why is eyewear so costly? With US $2,500 in seed money from their university, they founded Warby Parker[9] in 2010, shaking up the supply chain dominated by one company. The challenger brand designs and manufactures fashionable spectacles in-house and provides eyewear via its innovative e-commerce site. The Home Try-On program comes with a free no-questions-asked return policy at a fraction of the price. For every pair of eyeglasses that’s sold, Warby Parker donates the funds to donate one pair to charity, currently over one million pairs of glasses.[10] CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility sits at the heart of this very compelling brand. The company is currently valued at US $1.2 billion.

4. Dyson

A few years ago, nobody (except James Dyson) imagined a vacuum cleaner without a vacuum cleaner bag that could operate by centrifugal force. Dyson worked for five years experimenting on 5,179 prototypes before taking a product to the marketplace. With research and design at its core, Dyson machines now include hand dryers, lighting and air treatments that are available in 65 countries. More than 1,000 engineers continually work on inventions.[11] The James Dyson Foundation sponsors design engineering students with scholarships and awards in the UK, USA and Japan.[12]

 James Dyson Dyson School Of Design Engineering

Image via www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk

5. Tesla Motors

Inventor, engineer and investor, self-made billionaire Elon Musk has a stable of disruptive products across multiple industries. From artificial intelligence to solar power to reusable rockets for space exploration, Tesla Motors electric cars are Musk’s best-known challenger brand. His entire stable of companies exist to contribute to Musk’s overarching vision: protecting Earth and humankind via sustainable energy sources and reducing the risk of human extinction by becoming a multi-planetary species. “Really pay attention to negative feedback,” is one of this entrepreneur’s top tips. Next up? “I really want to go to Mars,” says Musk, “It’s a fixer-upper of a planet.”[13]

A View from the Challenger Brand Grave

No stranger to failure, Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”[14]

And for challenger brands which do reach their goal, they must innovate, innovate, innovate. Success has a great way of dulling the keen edge of ambition; challenger brands can reach a comfort zone of complacency and constant change is the only answer.

Questions to consider

• Are you clear on the differences between a challenger brand and the need for a rebranding?

  

• Is your brand focused on a well-defined purpose?

  

• Have you figured out what you’re challenging and crafted a story that explains why?

  

• Do you have a fresh, imaginative, and stimulating idea, product or service, that you’re now ready to develop using brand profiling which provides your roadmap for bringing it life — making it distinctive, different and memorable so your primary audience can’t resist it?

  

• Do you have the ambitious challenger brand mentality? Are you a risk-taker at heart?

  

• Does your challenger brand represent a positive value for consumers?

  

• Do you have the conviction that your brand is something that will leave the world better off? Are you ready to leave an amazing legacy that changes peoples’ lives, and makes them better forever?

 

 

You may also like:

   

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

 

[1] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-12-12/fourth-industrial-revolution

[2] http://www.bpinetwork.org/thought-leadership/views-commentary/395/new_digital_disruptors_that_gratify_and_excite_consumers_eclipse_tech_brand_incumbents_in_innovation_rankings

[3] http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/in-the-age-of-disintermediation-the-battle-is-all-for-the-customer-interface/#.wp0rsdo:0sCd

[4] http://www.cmo.com/articles/2013/12/3/rise_of_the_challeng.html

[5] https://www.facebook.com/hamptoncreek/info/?tab=page_info

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/14/silicon-valley-hack-food-industry

[7] http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_GB/about_ikea/our_business_idea/index.html

[8] http://www.ikeafoundation.org

[9] https://www.warbyparker.com/history

[10] https://www.warbyparker.com/buy-a-pair-give-a-pair

[11] http://www.dyson.com/community/aboutdyson.aspx

[12] http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.com

[13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV6hP9wpMW8

[14] http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

   

   

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

According to a Nielsen poll of consumers in 60 countries, 55 percent of purchasers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that do their part to encourage positive social and environmental impacts.[1]

 

Clearly, corporate social responsibility influences buying preferences, but how else is it important? We’ll examine the answer to that question below.

 

  Corporate Social Responsibility 600px

Image via www.huffpost.com

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

 

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, occurs when companies take into account the sociological, financial and environmental impacts its actions have in the world and decides to ensure its actions make a positive impact. [2].

  

Some business experts have simplified the definition of CSR even further to suggest it encompasses everything a company actively does to have a positive impact on society.

 

There are numerous types of CSR, such as:

 

  • Philanthropy
  • Production Improvements
  • Better Conditions for Workers
  • Sustainability
  • Community Enrichment
  • Diversity in Hiring Practices
  • Supporting Companies with Similar Values

 

Typically, the manner in which a company engages in CSR is closely aligned with its brand strategy, brand values, positioning, primary audience and industry sector. For example, a clothing manufacturer might iron out a CSR plan that improves working conditions in factories located in developing countries, while an establishment that makes paper products might commit to CSR that ensures the world’s most at-risk forests are protected and regenerated.

 

 

Why is CSR Good for Business?

 

Although many corporate leaders are encouraged by the aforementioned statistic that shows a company’s involvement in CSR may mean a customer is willing to pay more for its services, they usually require stronger beneficial commercial evidence before taking further action.

 

However, they don’t need to look very far before uncovering some of the numerous other benefits linked to CSR, including: [3]

 

 

  • Happier Staff: Employees take pride in working for a company that supports the greater good through worthy actions and happier staff are more productive and better brand ambassadors

 

  • More Informed Customers: If your company announces a CSR strategy, the associated plans could potentially result in a more transparent organization which in turn typically results in more loyal customers.

 

Research shows customers want to know more about the things they buy, product or service, than ever before. For example, a study published by IBM noted 59 percent of American consumers and 57 percent of consumers from the United Kingdom have become more informed about the foods they buy and eat over the two years prior to the study’s publication.[4] 

 

In other words, customers’ predisposition to buy, product or service, is becoming increasingly influenced by an organization’s authenticity, openness and commitment to the greater good.

 

  • Reduced Costs: CSR can cut costs by helping companies become aware of and minimize risks, plus improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

 

  • Improved Competitiveness: In a challenging marketplace, a worthwhile CSR plan could carve out a more solid place with a unique positioning for a company to thrive.

 

  • Better Public Relations and Reputation Management: A CSR plan gives a company a platform through which to promote good things like community involvement, donations to charities and other big-hearted gestures.

 

 

 

Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand

 

In order to launch a CSR plan that’s good for business and engages genuinely with your stakeholders, it must be carefully crafted. The key is to strike a balance between benefiting society at large, and benefitting the business. [5] Doing that means:

 

  Business Idea Action Plan 600px

 

 

  • Evaluating how and where the business can have the greatest societal impact without taxing the company’s leadership and resources. This frequently involves scrutinizing the company’s existing competencies. Those strengths can provide clues to possible CSR strategies that are revealed after tapping into existing skillsets.

  

  • Cultivating a deep understanding of how certain actions could help the business while simultaneously supporting the chosen causes. This often also necessitates having an open heart and mind while listening to feedback from stakeholders.

  

  • Aligning with partners can propel your desired efforts and help bring goals to fruition. Ideally, adopting a long-term mindset when forming collaborative CSR relationships is best for all concerned.

  

  • Ensure business objectives and CSR goals match up. If there is a disconnect between these two components, your CSR activities risk being time-consuming and lacking the power needed to make lasting changes.

  

  

Examples of Brand CSR Strategies That Have Worked Well, and Why

 

Now you have a deeper understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and how to start formulating your own plan, let’s look at the characteristics of some successful CSR programs with companies that are excelling in their CSR endeavors [6]. You can then use these actionable tips to drive your own brand CSR inspiration.

 

CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:

  • clear objectives
  • measurable outcomes
  • well-developed theories for how to achieve the desired goals
  • sufficient information for stakeholders about why causes are worth pursuing
  • dedicated and highly focused efforts from the entire company
  • a willingness to partner with credible experts.

 

 

Let’s look at a few case studies that detail some stellar CSR successes.

 

APS Group

This UK-based SME spent years ironing out its CSR strategy. Lacking the resources to hire a dedicated CSR team, the company found employees who were willing to champion the company’s CSR causes, which include education and supplier sustainability.

 

  

  

  

  

Media clips from the company place a strong emphasis on making things possible for clients that they would not be able to achieve alone, as does the company’s published document about its CSR initiatives. Through CSR efforts, it can also be strongly argued the company is living out its “Make More Possible” slogan by enabling the people and organizations affected by the causes it supports. APS Group is a great example of how even if a company thinks creating a CSR plan is a daunting task, success is still within reach. [8]

 

 

Method

This brand of cleaning products uses natural ingredients such as coconut oil and soy. Furthermore, the products’ packaging is environmentally responsible and biodegradable. Since the company boasts over $100 million in revenue annually, that is proof “green” products can be commercially viable.

  

   Method Cleaning 600px

Image via www.methodhome.com

 

 

Furthermore, Method demonstrates CSR focuses do not have to be separate from the products you make. Some media clips from the company that details its CSR focuses specifically highlight input from industry experts to make a bigger impact.

 

  

 

  

  

LUSH Cosmetics

This company sells bathing and beauty products filled with natural ‘Fair Trade’ ingredients. The brand’s Charity Pot is sold to benefit a rotating assortment of non-profit organizations. All proceeds from the Charity Pot go directly to the chosen groups, resulting in millions of dollars raised. [10]

 

The packaging is just one indicator of how easy it is for people to support good causes by purchasing these black, lotion-filled containers. LUSH uses the labels on the top of pots to inform consumers who the recipients are by clearly stating the designated charity concerned.

  

   Lush Pot Lids 600px

Image via www.lush.co.uk

  

  

The brand also has a fund that supports communities which produce fairly traded goods. It was launched in 2010 and borne from a desire the company had to do something more than just use fair-trade ingredients in their products whenever possible. [11]

   

 

  

   

 

Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy

 

It can sometimes appear somewhat difficult to determine with certainty whether your CSR strategies have achieved the desired outcomes. One of the more effective ways you can answer that question is by engaging an independent research firm, with specialist expertise, to rank certain aspects of a company’s CSR performance, from human rights to the environment and community. [12]

 

Additionally, you can check effectiveness through various metrics [13] such as:

 

  • Environmental indices for pollution or air/water/soil quality
  • Quality and quantity of mentions in media outlets
  • Measurements for the quality of life within a society, such as literacy rates, life expectancy and incidences of disease, plus mental, physical and emotional heath. The latter could be gauged through feedback surveys given to workers
  • Indicators of the company’s economic health by way of profits, growth, and stability, before and after a CSR campaign launches

 

 

Statistics 600px

 

 

In conclusion, customers are becoming increasingly hyper-conscious of how and where they spend their money. Recent research also indicates this trend is strongest among Millennials, the largest consumer segment in terms of buying power. [14] Specifically, 91 percent of Millennials actively switch to brands that support a worthy cause, and abandon the brands that aren’t perceived to have an authentic contribution policy.

 

In addition to boosting your customer base and potential profits, a well-developed CSR plan could strengthen your relationship with suppliers, increase competitiveness in the marketplace and help you cut costs by becoming more aware of risks. Therefore, many business leaders have come to realize it’s short sighted to not be involved in corporate social responsibility.

    

Key Takeaways

 

  • Customers are typically willing to pay more for products from companies associated with strong CSR brand strategies
  • CSR goals vary depending on a company’s values and the composition of their stakeholders
  • A good CSR plan should both benefit the business and help society
  • The CSR plan must align with a company’s business objectives
  • Expert individuals or notable groups can help improve CSR strategy success
  • Metrics and independent research groups can evaluate whether a CSR plan is working well

 

Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your organization? If not, it might be a good idea to take a look at how CSR could benefit all concerned.

  

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your company have well-defined core competencies that could translate into areas of CSR focus?

  

  • How motivated are your stakeholders to pursue a CSR plan?

 

  • Are there obstacles that might delay CSR-related brand strategy plans?

  

  • Have you thought about how to tackle negative responses from stakeholders that CSR is not currently worthwhile?

 

  • Which measurement methods will you consider using to verify your CSR brand strategy effectiveness?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

    

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers 

 

• Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

     

[1] http://www.nielsen.com, “Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When it Comes to Goods and Services from Companies Committed to Social Responsibility”, June 2014

[2] http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[3] http://www.csrinpractice.com, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[4] George Pohle and Jeff Hittner, https://www-935.ibm.com, “Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Responsibility.”, 2008

[5] Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf, http://www.mckinsey.com, “Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility” June 2009

[6] Frederick E. Allen, http://www.forbes.com, “The Five Elements of the Best CSR Programs.” April 2011.

[7] http://www.theapsgroup.com/who-we-are/corporate-social-responsibility/

[8] Lisa Henshaw, http://www.theguardian.com, “How SMEs Can Engage in Social Responsibility Programmes,” December 2011.

[9] http://www.inc.com, “How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company”

[10] Helaina Hovitz, http://www.forbes.com, “Following the Millions in LUSH’s ‘Charity Pot’. December 2014

[11] https://www.lush.co.uk/.  “Introducing the SLush Fund”

[12] Tima Bansal, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com, “Beyond Good Intentions: Strategies for Managing Your CSR Performance” January/February 2008.

[13] Katherine N. Lemon, John H. Roberts, Priya Raghubir and Russell S. Winter, http://www.philoma.org. “A Stakeholder-Based Approach: Measuring the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility”, 2011.

[14] www.conecomm.com, “New Cone Communications Research Confirms Millennials as America’s Most Ardent CSR Supporters,” September 2015.

  

What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

When the Apple Corporation gave its annual report in 2015, it had a whopping $178 billion in cash, or enough to buy the Ford, Tesla, and General Motors car companies and have more than $41 billion left over. [1] Such is the power and worth of a so-called cult lifestyle brand. Here, we’ll look at what makes up a cult brand, and the characteristics that set the stage for your brand to obtain that coveted status.

 

 

What is a Cult Brand, and Why is it Smart to Build One?

  

A cult brand has worked so hard to build a following, it’s in a class of its own. Loyal customers feel there is no substitute for the benefits ‘their’ cult brand offers, and they’re often willing to go to great lengths to get access to those much sought after respective products or service.  Cult brands anticipate the tangible and spiritual needs of their customers and work to fill them on multiple levels. [2]

  

They’re usually associated with social benefits, too [3]. For example, Fender guitars are arguably not the most technically advanced instruments, but they nevertheless enjoy a cult following. Once people buy a guitar, they feel they’ve become part of a social club of other content like-minded customers, including some superstar players.

  

Once you’ve built a strong cult brand it will continue to inspire brand loyalty provided you both carefully nurture it and your loyal customers. That loyalty is likely to persist even if you charge a premium or intentionally produce products or services in limited quantities with restricted access.

  

Furthermore, in the event an untimely problem arises that momentarily blemishes the brand, its cult status will often be enough to carry it through those temporary low points.  Brands with cult-like status tend to engender staunch customers willing to buy the brand again despite mishaps.

  

 

Characteristics of a Cult Lifestyle Brand

 

Let’s take a deeper look and examine key characteristics that help some brands stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, seemingly immune to the many struggles causing competitors to flounder:

 

  • Cult Brands Have Recognizable Strong Personality Traits: Although brands don’t necessarily have all the attributes humans do, the best share many qualities with humans. They are like humanized entities. You may resonate with one of your most beloved brands because it appears to exhibit sympathy, honesty, integrity and motivation, among other emotionally engaging human-like traits, qualities and values that are potentially important to you.

 

  • Cult Brands Are Relatable: When a cult brand is relatable, it’s able to resonate with its target audience by encapsulating familiarities within everyday lives. A brand may be positioned so it’s optimally relatable via its packaging, customer service, employees, customer journey, brand collateral and even purchase receipts.

 

  • Cult Brands Encompass Broad Ideals: Some brands reach cult status because they successfully convey an ideal or lifestyle its purchasers aspire to and want to be part of. Maybe the brand’s associated with warm hospitality, opulent luxury, a rugged, adventuresome lifestyle or a hunger for high-tech items that regularly challenge what we think is possible. [4] By regularly purchasing items or services that represent what they aspire to having, buyers inch ever closer to their ultimate goals. Its what the beloved cult brand ‘stands for’ that its target audience identify, with and relate to as part of their own personal identity.

 

  • Cult Brands Have Their Own Catchy Brand Language and Buzzwords: At Walt Disney World, people who work there aren’t called employees, but “cast members.” Furthermore, the crew that designs rides is staffed by “imagineers.”

 

Also, don’t walk into an Apple Store and expect to get your MP3 player checked at the technical support desk. Instead, stroll back to the Genius Bar where a specialist bearing the title of “genius” will examine your iPhone. 

 

The distinctive language used by cult brands is not just an accidental cutesy extra. It’s quite deliberate and strategically developed as part of building the brand’s profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. When people learn the lingo or brand language, they’ve become members of an exclusive club, the in-crowd, and are thereby more closely connected to one another and those they perceive to matter most in their world. [5]

 

 

4 Top Tips for Creating a Cult Brand

 

Now that you’re more familiar with some aspects of brands that have reached cult status, let’s explore actionable tips that could help your own brand achieve that apparently insurmountable feat. [6]

 

1. Tell a Strong Brand Story

The human brain responds instinctively to stories. We’ve shared stories since we lived in caves and learnt them as children on our parents’ knees. It’s how we make sense of the world. Your brand should develop and tell an engaging, memorable tale. When we’re working with our clients to create and develop memorable brand stories we use our Story Selling System™. Consider that most cult brands are able to successfully communicate which problems their products solve. Ideally, your story should not only be authentic and emotionally compelling, but prove how your product fills a demonstrated need.

 

 

2. Excel at Doing or Giving Something People Greatly Value

Cult brands are often excellent at providing a service or benefit to a far superior degree when compared to their competitors, and brands in other unrelated sectors for that matter. This is one of the reasons why it’s so crucial to understand what other brands in your industry are doing, and evaluate how you can reach beyond that point in a meaningful and feasible way. A brand audit is a very effective tool for uncovering this often hidden information. Your brand needs to be creating a customer experience in at least one very unique way that’s vastly superior to your nearest contenders.

 

 

3. Truly Value Your Customers

Regardless of how great whatever you’re offering is, your brand is highly unlikely to reach cult status if you consistently give customers the cold shoulder. Earlier, we talked about how people who follow cult brands may be more forgiving and willing to offer second chances. However, that’ll only happen if you have stellar customer service practices that make your customers feel like they’re genuinely worth your time and much appreciated for their business.

 

Besides just offering great service, try to include customers in your creative or product or service development process, even if its just to get feedback from them. People love feeling like they’re part of something important and that their opinion matters. If you make it clear their thoughts matter, they’re more likely to be loyal for life.

 

 

4. Give the Impression of Scarcity

Although this tip can backfire in some markets, profits and consumer interest levels can grow when customers feel the product you’re offering is not easy to acquire. When buyers believe an item is in limited supply, they’re often more likely to try harder to get it.

 

   Pixabay People Waiting 600px

 

  

Now, let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have used various brand strategies to build their cult brands and make them thrive very profitably.

 

 

Case Study: SoulCycle

 

SoulCycle is a brand of indoor cycling classes that’s beloved by celebrities, and some might say, a little overpriced. Class prices begin at $32 for 45 minutes of sweaty cycling. Yet, SoulCycle’s devotees don’t mind.

 

   Soul Cycle Home Page2 600px

Image via www.soul-cycle.com

 

 

Many of them cycle while wearing diamonds and Rolex watches. Being around people who are outfitted in the same way likely engenders feelings of even greater exclusivity.

  

 

  

  

  

Furthermore, certain superstar trainers have very small exclusive class sizes, leading fitness fans to scramble in hopes of landing an open slot, or getting lucky when someone doesn’t show up. Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga are just a few VIPs singing SoulCycle’s praises, with Lady Gaga even bringing custom-made SoulCycle bikes on a tour. [7]

  

     Soul Cycle 600px

Image via www.popsugar.com

 

 

Case Study: J. Crew

 

Founded in 1983, J. Crew is an American clothing brand that has impressively been able to enjoy a long-term cult status, while other hopeful brands have faltered. Some analysts say the success is largely due to the brand’s fearless and forward-thinking president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. [8]

 

       Style Profile Jenna Lyons 600px

Image via www.letsrestycle.com and www.sohautestyle.com

 

 

She took the helm in 2008 and began running with the bold strategy that the brand should no longer be dictated by corporate strategies. Instead, J. Crew would not associate with a product unless its team members truly embraced it.

  

 

 

  

 

Furthermore, Lyons unified the company’s creative processes and gave employees more freedom to take risks. Ideas that don’t work well are quickly disposed of, leaving some to feel J. Crew is constantly in flux. However, rising profits and raving fans indicate the changes have resonated. Some of the brand’s YouTube videos have more than a million views.

 

 

Case Study: Vij’s and Rangoli

 

These two Canadian restaurants are run by a husband and wife team and have become some of the hottest eating establishments in Vancouver. A “No Reservation Rule” means people sometimes have to act fast to enjoy this beloved cuisine.  

    

   Vikram Vij 600px

Image via www.macleans.ca

  

  

Besides the tasty fare they offer, perhaps one of the reasons why the restaurants have such loyal followings is because their very creations represent an entrepreneurial dream many fantasize about.

 

 

  

 

  

The restaurants were funded by a small loan from a family member, plus personal savings. One member of the team is Vikram Vij, who’s originally from India. He was able to use talent, determination and dedication to help the restaurants prosper.[9] Vij and his wife Meeru have even written two acclaimed books.

   

      Vijs Indian Cookbooks 600px

Image via www.vijs.ca

   

   

Clearly, there’s not a single path that leads an emerging brand to cult brand status. However, a combination of key factors, such as cultivating desirable brand characteristics, a skilled team with a visionary leader, unwavering focus with a clear strategic brand vision and an exclusivity or scarcity strategy can result in impressive outcomes.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Cult brands must meet a need or solve a problem in at least one way that’s significantly superior to competitors

 

 

  • Cult brands are inspiring, yet relatable

 

  • People are often more forgiving of cult brands

 

 

  • Cult brands often encompass desirable lifestyles

 

 

 

Questions to Consider

 

  • Can you identify one or more desirable personality traits your brand possesses that may help it reach cult status?

 

  • What positive associations or lifestyles relate to your brand?

 

  • Can you think of a situation where it may be detrimental or inappropriate to use a scarcity strategy?

 

  • Which problems does your brand solve for consumers?

 

  • In what ways do you think your brand makes others feel inspired?

 

 

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

 

• Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

 

 

[1] Sam Colt, uk.businessnsider.com, “15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Apple’s Latest Quarter,” January 2015.

[2] http://www.cultbranding.com, “Cult Brand Defined.”

[3] Antonio Marazza, http://www.forbes.com, “A Survival Guide for Symbolic and Lifestyle Brands,” October 2013.

[4] Jessica Farris, http://www.printmag.com, “Branding Lifestyles: What Does Your Brand Represent?” September 2014.

[5] Frank Cowell, “http://www.elevatoragency.com, “Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language”

[6] Dave Llorens, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, “8 Cult Lessons That Will Help You Build Your Brand,” December 2013.

[7] Vanessa Grigoriadis, http://www.vanityfair.com, “Riding High,” August 2012.

[8] Danielle Sacks, http://www.fastcompany.com, “How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand,” April 2013.

[9] smallbusinessbc.ca, “Meet Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon, Vij’s Restaurant, My Shanti, Rangoli and Vij’s At Home”

  

  

Rugby World Cup Branding: 5 Ideas You Can Learn From Big Brand Marketers

At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.

 

As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?

 

 

Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:

  

1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)

 
2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken) 

 
3. Adding Values (case study EY)

 
4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)

 
5. Using How-To (case study Canon)

 

  

Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay

First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen — unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.

  

Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.

 

 

  

 

  

On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”

 

 

 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com

 

 

Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”

  

  

 

 

   

Actionable Branding Tip 1

How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.

  

  

Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails

Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that…but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.

 

Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.

 

The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.

 

 

   

    

  

To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.   

 

David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”

 

 

 Heineken Rugby World Cup 2015 600px

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com

 

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 2

Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.

  

 

    

Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots

Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.

  

 

 Ey Teambuilding And Leadership Rugby Worldcup 2015 600px

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.

 

  

 

 

 

Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.

 

 

 Ey Sir Ian Mc Geechan Rugby World Cup 2015 Leadership

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage…

Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim — to win on the global stage.”

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 3

We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight. 

  

  

 

Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home

Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.

 

 

 Land Rover Smallest Rugby Team In The World

Image via www.landrover.com

  

    

People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World’s Smallest Rugby Club.”

  

  

 

 

 

“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.

  

 

  

  

  

Actionable Branding Tip 4

Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can — and must — tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.

  

  

 

Using How To: Canon Says You Can

 

Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.

 

  

 Canono Fan Tag Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?

 

  

Rugby World Cup Fan Pics 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

 

Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.

 

  

 

 

 

Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”

 

  

Canon Rugby World Cup 2015 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

 

Actionable Branding Tip 5

How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can…” rather than “You can…” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.

  

  

We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.

 

• Have you successfully humanized your brand? Do you need to re-evaluate this as part of your rebranding strategy?

 

• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?

  

• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?

  

• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?

  

• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.

  

• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?

  

  

You might also like:

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?  

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

  

  

Rebranding Strategy: The ABCs of Rebranding Google

  

Google made us uncomfortable!

 

When the third most valuable brand in the world [Forbes, 2015] announces a surprise rebranding, people notice.

 

On a recent midsummer Silicon Valley afternoon, the Co-founder and CEO of Google morphed into the CEO of Alphabet before our eyes. What’s Alphabet, we wondered?

 

Larry Page opened his official blog post saying, “We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

 

 

Alphabet 

 Image via https://abc.xyz

 

 

“Uncomfortably excited” is a state of mind that Googlers are well familiar with; they say it comes up frequently during internal meetings. When Larry Page addressed the graduating class of the University of Michigan in 2009, he counseled, “Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.”[1]

 

 

  

 

 

“We Do Search”

 

With the perspective of a few days and hundreds of pieces of content produced by Google observers, the picture came into focus. People realized that Google wasn’t disappearing (audible sigh of relief), but rather that Alphabet was born to give Google the space to be Google. The bottom line is that from a consumer perspective, it’s business as usual!

 

 

 Googles Products

 

 

Google is a search engine and an advertising platform. And clearly, it’s a cash cow — which has everything to do with funding the next big breakthrough and nothing to do with Google’s (um, Alphabet’s) next passion project, whatever it may be.

 

As an obscure campus startup, Google’s mission was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Two years on, Google AdWords launched with 350 customers.[2] Overwhelming success has been declared in the blink of an eye, in about one and a half decades.

   

The authors of “The Google Story” discussed the profound impact of the founders’ vision to make all web-based information searchable via PageRank algorithms, comparing it to the first mechanical printing press in 1440. They wrote, “Not since Gutenberg…has any new invention empowered individuals, and transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google.”[3]

 

  

The Google Story By David A Vise

 

 

“We do search,” was the core of Google’s philosophy as expressed in its original “Ten Things We Know to Be True”[4] document. However last winter, Larry Page said, “Google has ‘outgrown’ its 14-year-old mission statement.”[5]

 

So, on second thoughts, no one  should have been surprised by Google’s big announcement. In October 2014, Page laid it out in an interview with the FT,[6] expressing his desire to step away from daily chores at the colossal search engine. “The world’s most powerful internet company is ready to trade the cash from its search engine monopoly for a slice of the next century’s technological bonanza,” is how the FT put it. 

  

   

 

Spelling it Out

 

Alphabet is about brand innovation. When Larry Page titled his announcement “G is for Google,” the implication is that it leaves another 25 letters for Alphabet to dream big.

  

  

   

    

  

Several of the spaces on the virtual Scrabble board have already been filled in: Life Sciences, working on the glucose-sensing contact lens; Calico, focused on longevity; Nest for smart-home products; Fiber for super-connectivity and whatever words are played next, sometimes via acquisition.

  

Google X is the think tank for moonshots, artificial intelligence, robotics, longevity, health advancements, biotech, self-driving cars and smart glasses. Google Ventures re-invests.

  

It’s all about staying “uncomfortably excited” and attracting the best minds for collective ideation.

 

    

  

 

  

Brand Architecture : A House of Brands

 

Alphabet is now an umbrella for one of the largest brands we’ve known. From a brand architecture perspective, Google bucks the trend of the last decade which has seen large brands consolidate toward a single ‘brand house’ approach e.g. Unilever (2004), P&G (2011), Coca-Cola (2015). Google is doing the opposite by creating a ‘house of brands.’

  

The scale of Google’s size and scope demands a more efficient approach for managing multiple brands with different cultures, complex mergers and acquisitions, innovation, brand sub-cultures whilst satisfying Wall Street demands for accountability.

  

As an article published in the Harvard Business Review points out:

“…the financial returns of the search engine and advertising business could not be observed separately from the investments in all of the new businesses. The new structure ensures that there will be, at a minimum, independent accounting numbers produced for the Google business, and perhaps for the others as well.”

   

The Alphabet umbrella brand also reduces risk in terms of brand reputation management, with risk being ring-fenced around each individual brand and its own CEO within the ‘house of brands’. Alphabet will be much less vulnerable to major scandal or irregularity and it will also not be a consumer brand.

    

The point of a ‘house of brands’ structure is that the corporate brand becomes essentially invisible to the outside world, only relevant to senior employees and investors. How clever is Google?

 

 

 

What are the Branding Takeaways?

 

For smaller businesses, it’s more advantageous to manage a single brand or ‘brand house’ with one budget, one culture, one organisational structure, one employer, one leadership team and so on.

  

At first blush, the immediate branding Alphabet/Google learnings or takeaways from their initial announcement, for any size company or organisation, are as follows:

 

1)    Continually evaluate your core business, product or service and re-evaluate ancillary revenue streams, products and services to remain properly focused. [Note: Apple’s Steve Jobs used to tell Larry Page that he was trying to do too much. Page told Jobs that Apple wasn’t doing enough.]

 

2)    Secondly, re-visit your mission statement. It doesn’t belong in a box file in a drawer, but in a frame on the wall at reception and in the lunch room. Dust it off and discuss it, make it the heart of your business, a living breathing, authencitic expression of who you are and what you do and the true reason why you do what you do.

 

  

Mission Drives The Business Gapingvoid 

Image via http://www.gapingvoidart.com, Hugh MacLeod

 

 

 

3)    Not every hiccup or even a crisis requires a rebrand, sometimes a brand health check is one of the most useful tools to protect your most valuable asset. Talk to us. 

 

4)    Does your existing brand name properly represent your business today and into the future or has it become something of a misnomer as your business has grown and evolved? Do you need some help re-evaluating your brand name relevance?

 

Larry Page explained the decision behind their new name.

“We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”

 

Rebrands happen. For a number of reasons, they can be an exceptionally good move at the right time for the right reasons. We’re here to help.

 

 

You may also like:

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

 

• Rebranding: How to Make it Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger

 

• Brand Renaming: Name and Tagline Change Considerations

 

• Brand Audit: When the USA Took the Branding Bull by the Horns

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation    

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand 

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

 

 

 

Are you getting uncomfortably excited about your own business? Or just excited? Let us know what you think about these questions that pop into your mind as we ponder the changing Google landscape.

 

 

 

  • How can I know whether a rebrand will help or hurt my business and its reputation?

 

 

  •  How can I budget properly for all that a rebranding entails?

 

  • Are there potentially moments in the life of a business when a brand health check or rebrand is the right strategy, even when the company is performing well, like Google?

 

 

[1] Larry Page’s University of Michigan commencement address

[2] http://www.google.com/about/company/history

[3] Vise, David, and Malseed, Mark. The Google Story, Delta Publ. (2006)

[4] http://www.google.com/about/company/philosophy

[5] Samuel Gibbs (November 3, 2014) The Guardian.

[6] Richard Waters (October 2014) Financial Times.

   

     

   

  

Brand Audit: When the USA Took the Branding Bull by the Horns

Household brands bearing the “Made in America” tag were in big trouble in the mid-1980s. Shivers ran down the spines of Detroit automakers as efficient Japanese models filled the U.S. highways. Sony Walkmans, Nintendo and Atari video games were on everyone’s shopping list. America lost ownership of household brand names as well as bricks and mortar symbols of the USA, such as Rockefeller Center and Columbia Pictures of Hollywood.  

 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s solution was a renewed focus on supporting American brands in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. A new public-private partnership began with incentivizing American companies to ensure continuous product improvement before asking consumers to support American brands via their wallets.

 

When the cabinet leader that President Reagan had in mind to spearhead the re-branding of the USA’s output was fatally injured in a rodeo accident, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program was named in his honour — envisioned as a standard of excellence to help U.S. organizations achieve world-class quality.  

 

America’s only presidential award for performance excellence among both private and public companies goes annually to a maximum of 18 organizations within six sectors: small business, service, manufacturing, healthcare, education and nonprofit.

  

  


  

  

Groundbreaking in its day, the core competencies of the program are now widespread. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, many U.S. states and 60 other countries have adopted the Baldrige Criteria to create similar programs at home.[1] The European Quality Award is modeled on Baldrige Criteria, adding two additional  layers for social and environmental community. [2]

  

  


  

   

How Can A Brand Improve Itself?

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program criteria reflect an evolution from a focus on service and product to a broader, strategic focus on overall organizational quality, called performance excellence.

  

In other words, don’t just build a better mousetrap (product). Do so with a good roadmap (leadership, vision, planning) examining the means to reach the ends (training, education, management) and keep a happy workforce (engagement, performance) and customers (quality, profit). 

  

The Baldrige Criteria guide a company through examination within seven areas of achievement and improvement.  

 

  • Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.

 

  • Strategic Planning: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.

 

  • Customer and Market Focus: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.

 

  • Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.

 

  • Human Fesource Focus: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.

 

  • Process Management: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes.

 

  • Business/Organizational Performance Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.

  

  

Look Inside

Companies applying for a Baldrige Award go through self-assessment as a first step. It’s a framework that empowers an organization to understand its own strengths and weaknesses, improve, reach goals, become more competitive. A good number of companies in the Baldrige circle indicate that this process — and the trained Examiner who leads them through it — is the most useful aspect of the program, award or no award. 

  

  

Evaluate to Elevate

When you evaluate your organization from a branding perspective, you’ll compare your own performance with best practices across brand profiling, brand strategy, brand alignment, brand communication, brand execution, and additional markers. As a Baldrige Examiner would do for an applicant in that program, we can guide you through the brand audit process, make recommendations and work with you to elevate your brand.

 

These two companies won the Baldrige Award. Of the 23 small businesses to earn the quality prize since 1987, K&N Management did it in 2010. Ritz-Carlton is the only winner in lodging…and they achieved it twice. 

  

 

K&N Management: The Love of Excellence

 

K&N Management is a small Austin-based operator of burger and BBQ restaurants in eight Texas locations. 

 

What is the world “management” doing in the name of a burger, fries and shakes outfit? As one of only two restaurant companies to win the National Quality Award, K&N’s website tells the story of the family behind the grill. 

   

   


    

    

It’s more than flipping burgers; they have a vision and brand values:

 

  • Mission: “To Guarantee Every Guest is Delighted Because of Me”

 

  • Vision: “To Become World Famous By Delighting One Guest at a Time”

 

  • Core Values: “Excellence – Quality – Integrity – Relationships”

 

  • Key Business Drivers: “Food Quality – Speed of Service – Cleanliness – Texas Hospitality℠ – Accuracy – Team Members – Value”

   

At K&N Management, they make leaders. Training courses are offered for each step up the career ladder, such as “How to Create Effective Internal Communications.” The career progression ladder — with salary expectations — is shared with employees (and the public). It looks like they’re doing the unimaginable: inspiring fast food workers, retaining staff, creating community, promoting from within.

     

    Kand N Mangement

 Image via www.knmanagement.com

   

   

Visit the website to see more about the employee volunteerism being fostered by K&N Management, including Gold Recognition for Community Impact. The recognition that comes with that certificate held high for the camera is accompanied by peer support, kudos from management, family and company pride in addition to the important volunteer work itself.

    

     Kand N Mangement Quality Award

 Image via www.knmanagement.com

  

  

“Our guests can expect Texas Hospitality℠ at each of our restaurants: Rudy’s Austin and Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes,” is the statement of pride from the same folks who can claim “Awarded the Highest Presidential Honor.”      

  

  

Ritz-Carlton Hotels: Lasting Success

 

Ritz-Carlton operates 89 luxury properties in 29 countries with 35,000 employees.

  

Founded in 1983, within three years, Ritz-Carlton was named best hotel group with only five hotels. In the fall of 1992, with 23 hotels under management, Ritz-Carlton became the first hotel company to win a Baldrige Award. “We realized the award criteria could serve as a road map for quality improvement,” said Patrick Mene of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

   

   


   

     

America’s Ivy League Cornell University School of Hotel Administration built a case study around the Ritz-Carlton’s 1992 success, only to witness the company, now with 36 hotels, collecting the service category Baldrige Award from the president of the United States for an unprecedented second win in 1999.

 

 

 Ritz Carlton Logo 600px

Image via www.ritzcarlton.com

 

  

Did the lessons learned from the process of self-assessment and improvement stick? In July 2015, J.D. Powers and Associates released the results of their 19th annual satisfaction survey of 62,000 North American hotel guests. Number one in luxury hotels: Ritz-Carlton.

  

How are the lessons learned from the process being shared across brands? The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre is now the place where executives from other companies worldwide in many disciplines come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.

  

Clearly, even in a five-star hotel, not everyone’s job is a glamorous one, yet every member of staff must be proud of the brand. The Ritz-Carlton brand motto rings in the ears of many hoteliers: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

  

Former founding President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C., Horst Schutze, explained, “’Ladies and Gentleman’ has two values to us. Of course, the first is the expression of our expectations of our employees, from the president to the vice president to the last housekeeper or dishwasher. It expresses to them an expectation of how to behave, look and so on. At the same time it expresses a promise to the same group that they all are important to this organization. Their jobs may be different, but they’re equal. They are in service but aren’t servants.”

   
Remembering that Total Quality Management intrinsically promotes brand, and likewise to brand, it is an integrated philosophy embodied by everyone with whom it engages. Here are a few takeaways from the case study of the original Ritz-Carlton win:

  

  • Commit to Quality: This requires support throughout the organization and must be actively led from the top.

 

  • Focus on Customer Satisfaction: Customers know what quality looks like to them, and the company must meet and exceed expectations.

 

  • Assess Organizational Structure: A good, long, honest look inside the company must focus on its culture and identify any places where organizational structure could impede the drive for performance excellence.

 

  • Empower Employees and Teams: Adequate training is required so that empowered staff and teams can implement best practice from the bottom-up.

 

  • Measure Quality Efforts: It is critical to gauge efforts toward superior employee performance, streamlined decision-making, supplier responsiveness and improved customer satisfaction.

 

   

Learning, improvement and quality are integral to any successful brand, particularly one that goes after a competitive award that’s a good fit for the brand. The Malcolm Baldrige Award is estimated to have an ROI of 820-to-1. Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might also pursue?

   

You may also like:

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Rebranding: How to Make it Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger  

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Branding Amazon: 3 Lessons to Learn for Your Brand Success

 

• Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know

  

  

So what do you think?

• Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might go after?

 

• Are there any community, local, regional brand awards that you’d like to earn? Go for it!

 

• Have you crafted a mission statementand a vision for the future of your brand through your brand profiling?

 

• Do you perform an annual brand audit and SWAT analysis for your business?

 

• How does your organization create exceptional brand experiences and recognize outstanding customer-facing performance?

 

• How does your organization recognize and reward exceptional employee performance ‘behind-the-scenes’ so that peers are aware too? 

  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

  

[1] Mark L. Blazey, Insight to Performance Excellence 2013-2014: Understanding the Integrated Management System and the Baldrige Criteria 

[2] American Society for Quality