How to Use Brand Values to Drive Unwavering Customer Trust and Commitment

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are” – this statement once expressed by Roy Disney highlights the most important function of brand values, that a lot of business owners, unfortunately, tend to forget. When business owners start thinking about values, they usually do it reluctantly, under the pressure from consultants, marketing directors, and competitors. They don’t realize that brand values aren’t a superficial marketing term, but a key to the brand’s success.

 

The business community turned its attention to brand values almost twenty years ago, when Steve Jobs recognized the immense power of values in driving brand awareness and loyalty. In the famous speech, marking his return to Apple, Jobs draws a parallel between the company’s mission and brand values. Apart from emphasizing the meaning of values to customers, Jobs also shares the two questions he started with to bring the company back to its roots:

  • Who is Apple?
  • What does Apple stand for?

 

 

Obviously, Jobs recognized that brand values can drive decision making in addition to earning customer trust. Yet, that third part of the speech is often ignored. As a result, business owners come up with brand values for the sake of customers or competitors, but not for the sake of the brand itself. Brand values created that way end up being meaningless, unable to drive real change in the organizational culture and in the customer mind.

 

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to come up with brand values that really mean something to your ideal customers so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:

  1. Build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch [email protected] or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials
  3. Want a DIY solution? check out our how to build a brand eprogramme here

 

Want to discover more about building your standout, №1 powerhouse brand working with us?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s execute the plan together  

 

So how does one go about creating meaningful brand values? Let’s first understand what brand values are.

What are Brand Values?

As humans, we all have values that guide us through life. We acquire values throughout our life time starting from childhood. Values can also change as we learn, experience new things, and encounter different cultures and people. There is a large body of research concerning personal values, but it can all be summarized as follows [1]:

  1. Values are beliefs, but they represent emotions, not ideas
  2. Values are always attached to motivational goals, meaning they inspire action
  3. Values aren’t specific. They represent a generalized understanding of actions and situations
  4. Values are standards and criteria, that people use to navigate the world
  5. Values aren’t equal. There is a hierarchy of values and that hierarchy differentiates people from one another

 

Brand values are no different to human values. They guide what you will do and won’t do as a brand. Brand values are the pillar that the brand is built on even before you have a product or service. Just like personal values, brand values can be acquired and changed, but they need to be practised in order to have real power.

Brand Values

Image via ©Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid

 

Why Brand Values are Important

Brand Values have different functions. First of all, they define acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Brand values help brands operate in a highly diverse and social environment, where success depends on how well you’re understood and accepted as a brand.

 

Secondly, brand values guide decision making in the organization. The beauty of having brand values is that you cease to be a malleable soft mass of indecisiveness, and become a  laser-focused entrepreneur that sticks to his or her vision. Brand values have the power to limit and expand your vision at the same time. You’re restricted by your values, but they make decision making the most straightforward and effective experience, which enables you to move faster towards your goals.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership, How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

Lastly, brand values engage customers on a deeper level. Rather than form a surface connection, brand values instil love into customers’ hearts. Again, think about it in simple human terms. We’re attracted to others based on superficial looks and behaviour, but we fall in love with who the person is at their core.

 

Love as a human emotion is triggered by the desire to give [2]. But we only feel compelled to give when the two conditions are met:

  1. When we have respect for someone, and
  2. When we feel safe, in other words, when our core purpose and values aren’t violated.

 

Related: Purposeful Brands, Why Customers Are Prepared to Pay More

 

On the emotional level, customers are drawn to brands that promise certain features and benefits, however, customers will never act on their needs and wants unless they feel entirely safe. In that regard, brand values tell customers that it’s safe to move forward with a purchase by showing brand and personal values alignment. That’s how love is formed and, as you might have guessed, love goes beyond one-time purchases — it guarantees repeated purchases.

 

Brand Values

 

Want to become an irresistible brand that creates an instant love and connection? Work on your brand values during one of our Transformational Workshops, like the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind where we take a deep dive, step-by-step on how to build your brand. You’ll discover and apply the systems and methodologies employed by some of the world’s greatest brands on your brand. In fact, because the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ is a fast-track programme you’ll leave the workshop with your brand strategy fully mapped out and documented ready for implementation to grow your business.

 

 

Or if you’d like us to create a bespoke plan for your brand, working with you personally, then get in touch. Our Brand Strategy service is tailored to each client individually and uses the Perona Brand Building Blueprint™ System. It provides difference and distinction for your brand so it stands out and helps your brand ultimately resonate with your ideal customers because this is what enables you to increase sales.

 

Staying Aware of The Big Picture: Brand Values in The Frame of Brand Identity

It’s important to remember that brand values are part of brand identity. Brand identity is an overarching umbrella term, that includes a brand story, mission, values, purpose, positioning, voice, look and feel. Brand values along with purpose shape the internal world of the brand, while a brand story, mission and positioning define how the brand relates to the outside world.

 

Related: Boring Brand? How To Create a Unique Brand and Market Positioning

 

You can’t expect brand values alone to bring you success. Brand values are an important part of a complex equation, that is a sum of multiple parts. This makes perfect sense when you look at the report from Havas Media Group, Meaningful Brands [3].  The report defined the term “meaningful” via 52 different attributes, which shows that customers think of brands in a variety of different dimensions, including functional benefits, adherence to social norms and the ability to form an emotional connection. Building a carefully thought out brand identity, where every piece adds depth and colour to the picture, is, therefore, a must-do task for every business owner.

 

Brand Identity

 

Companies with effective Brand Values:

While most companies and brands have established brand values, they don’t always speak to the audience. In other words, they are too generic and meaningless. In order to understand how to identify and develop truly meaningful values, let’s take a look at some of the brands that are doing it right:

THE HONEST CO.

Founded in 2011 by Jessica Alba, the Honest Company is a consumer goods company, that provides baby, personal care, and cleaning products. Here are the 8 brand values that the company is built on:  

  1. Create a Culture of Honesty
  2. Make Beauty
  3. Outperform
  4. Service Matters
  5. Sustain Life
  6. Be Accessible
  7. Give Back More
  8. Fun!

True to its mission and values, the company creates beautiful advertisement videos where these values are emphasized.

 

 

Business owners often struggle with defining values, because they think that values can only be expressed in single words. But, in fact, it doesn’t matter how you express your values, what matters is the message enclosed in the word, phrase, or sentence.

 

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Profit Starts With Your Brand Mission

 

LENDIO

Lendio is a software platform that connects small business owners with funding companies and sources. Lendio outlines their 6 core brand values on the website:

  1. Own the outcome
  2. Profitable to others
  3. Life at Mach 10
  4. No roadblocks
  5. Lendio is its peeps
  6. Moxie

As you can see, the company has a good mix of values – some of them hint at employee cultures, others show dedication to the customer, and some are simply the expression of the brand’s personality.  

 

Brand Values

Image via Lendio

 

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

 

THE GOULET PEN COMPANY

Goulet Pen is an online store selling supplies to fountain pen enthusiasts. The company dedicated a whole video to explaining it’s brand values to the audience:

 

 

Goulet Pen values are as follows:

  1. Work hard, be honest, be flexible
  2. Trust is our currency
  3. Work as a team
  4. Empower through education
  5. Express gratitude
  6. Serve with passion
  7. Care

At first glance, these values sound superficial. But the company provides a detailed description of each value in the video. When you know what the company stands for but struggle to come up with powerful and succinct phrases to describe your values, using additional ways to present the information can help communicate the values to your audience and employees. The Goulet Pen values may need some additional work, but the company’s creative approach to delivering the message to the customer deserves recognition.  

Brand Values

Image via Goulet Pen

 

Types of Brand Values

Brand values are often called core values [4]. Only a few people know that core values are not the only type of values that exist. Understanding the difference between types of values will help you avoid picking trivial values so you can focus on refining core values only.

Core Values

Core values are principles that lie at the core of a brand’s personality. They are inherent values that can’t be compromised. Core values are the source of a company’s uniqueness. They ensure respect and admiration from others all the while creating a deep emotional connection.

 

Related: Are Your Brand Values On The Money? They’re Critical to Your Profitability

 

Aspirational Values

Aspirational values are those that the company is striving to acquire. They are future-oriented values that the brand lacks now but needs to manifest in order to achieve set goals. These values are often put in place when the company is expanding to the new market or changing the current strategy.

Permission-to-play Values

Check out this video from Patrick Lencioni, where he talks about how core values are often substituted by permission-to-play values.

 

 

Permission-to-play values are the minimum moral requirements that the company places on employees and partners. Since these requirements are often dictated by the culture or the market, permission-to-play values tend to be similar across companies operating at the same location. Replacement of core values with permission-to-play values is the most widespread mistake that the business owners make. Permission-to-play values don’t differentiate you from competitors, which makes value creation exercise a futile experiment.

 

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

 

Accidental Values

Accidental values appear out of nowhere following the company’s hiring and team building efforts. These values are instilled by employees unintentionally. Accidental values often reflect team leaders’ values. While some accidental values can be beneficial to the company’s success and team spirit, the executive team needs to monitor these values consistently, as they might come into conflict with the core values.

 

5 Steps to Choosing and Validating The Right Brand Values

As we established earlier, the number one mistake that business leaders and owners make is they choose meaningless brand values, thus restricting the company’s growth and complicating decision making. But how does one come up with core values, that truly reflect the brand’s personality and vision? Here’s a step-by-step plan for core values creation:

  1. Discover Your Values

The first step involves deep research and reflection. Take some time to understand what your brand stands for or what you want it to stand for. Here are the three commonly used methods for identifying brand values:

 

Method 1: Identify Your True Values

 

Make a list of what’s important to you. This is the most dangerous approach because we tend to choose anything that comes to mind first, but most likely these values come to your mind because you saw your competitors using them.

 

Another danger lies in the human tendency to idealize things. You might choose values that sound great on paper but have nothing to do with your brand. Customers don’t want perfect brands, they want brands that can speak to their hearts. That’s why it’s important to use a combination of brand creation methods.

 

Method 2: Define Your Dealbreaker

 

Think about a situation that you never want to be in as a brand. What will you never compromise on or do in business? See if you can remember instances when you were disappointed with another brand. Then come up with the value that represents the opposite behaviour. If you as a business leader or owner are opposed to certain behaviour, it’s a sure-fire sign that an opposite value is true to your brand’s character.

 

This method works because we often experience negative emotions more intensely than positive ones. You might not be able to define your values, but you certainly know what kind of behaviour you won’t tolerate.

 

Brand Values

 

Method 3: Significant departure from how your competitors choose to act and how customers expect the industry to behave

 

Sometimes brand values are used to define the brand against competitors[5]. In that regard, they become intertwined with the company’s mission and vision. This method is effective if your competitors are engaging in dishonest tactics or if competitors’ behaviour goes against their proclaimed values.

 

  1. Assess Your Values

Once you have dug deep, reflected and brainstormed a list of values, choose 3-5 to focus on. These could be values that showed up multiple times during your research process or the values you feel most strongly about.

 

You then need to validate your chosen values by running them through a list of testing questions such as:

  1. If you were to start a new business, would the chosen values still stand true?
  2. If the executive team changes, would the company still adhere to these values?
  3. If you’re forced to change your values under the pressure of external events, would you do it?

 

  1. Keep it Consistent

Core values should never be compromised. You have to be consistent with your values no matter what. Consistency means choosing one course of action over the other even if it’s a more difficult path. Consistency is also about sticking to your values even if they go against everybody’s expectations.

 

On a more surface level, consistency is weaving your brand values into every branding and marketing asset, message, and customer interaction. In my experience of over 20 plus years working with both large enterprises and small businesses nationally and internationally, a lack of consistency is one of the areas most commonly at fault in SME/SMB businesses.

 

Unfortunately, a lot of business leaders don’t realise is that inconsistency breeds distrust and fundamentally if a prospect does not trust your brand they will not buy from you. Trust is the life-blood of every brand so you must do everything in your power to cultivate, nurture and grow customer trust through brand consistency. All your brand identity assets such as logo, font, images, social media profiles must be consistent with your core brand values.

 

  1. Instil a Value-Driven Employee Culture — make your values real every day in everything you do

Frequently business owners create brand values, put them on the website, and then forget about their values completely. But for brand values to have a real effect on the organization and drive success, they need to be put at the forefront of everyone’s mind every day.

 

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

 

First of all, make sure your brand values are visible to everyone in the company and in the market. Educate and brand induct employees on the core values and what they mean. Place posters and corporate materials in meeting rooms and at gathering points. Communicate brand values at presentations, company parties, and on the internal web portal.

 

Secondly, adjust your hiring strategy and look for candidates who share the company’s values. It’s a lot easier to find someone who already shares your brand values than try to implant values into employees’ minds. Values are deeply ingrained in human personality, so acquiring new values and changing the old ones is a long and onerous process.

 

Related: Use Psychology in Your Brand Strategy to Create Irresistible Brand Experiences and Increase Sales

 

Lastly, act on your values. Don’t just create external messages based on values, but encourage internal company initiatives that showcase your dedication to values. For example, if your value is to “have fun” emphasize it with regular happy hour gatherings and team building events. Another way to encourage employees to authentically live by the company’s values is to reward value-driven behaviours. The encouragement can come in the form of company-wide announcement, appraisal or “employee of the month” recognition.

  1. Making Brand Values a Part of The Customer Experience

Ensuring employee values are aligned with customer values is critical because employees are the face of the company and living embodiment of the brand. Through employee interactions with the customers, you communicate your brand’s personality including brand values.

 

Related: 5 Remarkably Heartfelt Brand Personalities Winning Buyers at Christmas

 

Another way to make brand values a part of customer experience is to emblazon corporate values across all media. This implies creating advertising materials in line with your values and running corporate brand campaigns instead of product campaigns.

 

Brand values can also be communicated via the company’s actions. For example, as a brand, you’re expected to stand by your values during the times of social and economic challenges. When Howard Schultz kickstarted the campaign in support of same-sex marriage, he led by example and his instinct to support the cause was triggered by brand values. By doing so Schultz risked alienating customers opposed to same-sex marriages, but as he went on explaining – “Not every decision is an economic decision”. The Starbucks leader was acting according to the brand’s values when the frenzy around the social issue has reached its peak.

 

Final Word

Brands can connect with customers on a values level. But that’s not the only reason to create brand values. As part of brand identity, core values drive positive change in the organization and aid clarity in decision making. While brands can achieve great results by presenting functional and emotional benefits, brand values allow for a deeper connection that makes people fall in love with the brand.

 

Not all brand values are equal. From four types of values, you need to strive to define your core values first. Core values can be expressed in a number of different ways but you should choose phrases and words that don’t allow for uncontrolled interpretation. Lastly, brand values only become values when they’re consistently communicated and lived by internally and externally.

 

We know it takes time and can perhaps appear a little bit onerous to create your brand values so if you’re a busy business leader, manager or entrepreneur we can make the process easier for you with our personalised Brand Strategy creation service.  Your brand strategy is the discipline of planning, of setting a course for the long term to achieve specific brand goals which are aligned with the business plan. We create brand assets that resonate with your ideal audience including a brand story, mission, values, positioning, and look and feel.

Want to discover more about building your standout, №1 powerhouse brand working with us?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s execute the plan together  

 

Alternatively, join us at one of our Transformational Workshops, where we take a deep dive, step-by-step on how to build your brand. You’ll discover the systems and methodologies employed by some of the world’s greatest brands, apply them to your brand so you leave with your brand strategy fully documented and ready for implementation to grow your business.

 

In fact, the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. This is a two-day fast-track brand building intensive, shared with a small group of like-minded peers, where you work on your brand with our leadership to completely re-evaluate it and map it out for growth from the ground up. Discover more here.

Question to Ask Yourself:

  1. What core values do you hold as a person and as the visionary and voice behind your brand?
  2. If you sell or leave the business, what values you would still live by?
  3. What are your key employees’ personal values? Are they aligned with your brand be that company, product or service?
  4. In what circumstances will you say “no” to a customer? What’s your brand dealbreaker?
  5. What stories inspire you? What are the values communicated by those stories?
  6. Having re-evaluated your brand in the context of your brand values, do you think it needs brand revitalisation or perhaps rebranding so you can make your brand values stronger and more relevant to increase sales?

 

Sources:

  1. http://essedunet.nsd.uib.no/cms/topics/1/1/1.html
  2. https://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2017/05/brand-values-engage-consumer-brain.html#.Wmmfvahl_IU
  3. https://www.cmo.com.au/article/620933/why-it-important-your-brand-meaningful-your-customers/
  4. https://hbr.org/2002/07/make-your-values-mean-something
  5. https://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2016/03/choosing-the-right-brand-values.html#.WntuQOjFLIV

Purposeful Brands: Why Customers Are Prepared to Pay More

A quick answer please, if you can, to this question: “What does your brand really stand for?” in other words “What’s your brand purpose?”

 

If you hesitate to succinctly define the mission, vision, and values behind your brand – the primary raison d’être for your brand’s existence — your brand purpose — you can be certain that customers and potential new customers are missing the point entirely too. This is why it’s critical to codify and map out your brand so you are highly visible, stand out, can clearly articulate your brand purpose and deliver an unforgettably great customer experience.

 

In other words, if customers can’t meaningfully differentiate your brand from your competitors they will default to decisions based on price alone and they won’t pay a premium.

 

Because…when brands give, brands get.

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Harbinger Communications

 

Who Decides and Defines: What is Brand Purpose

Mind you, it’s not as easy as it sounds. In 2014, according to The World Federation of Advertisers, consumers and marketers can be confused by the meaning and focus of brand purpose.[1]

 

“There is consensus that brand purpose is increasingly relevant,

but people and marketers don’t seem to agree on what it means.

Marketers see it as the bigger picture,

but people see it as what you do in daily life.” –

Stephan Loerke, managing director of the WFA

 

 

Where it Matters Most: Brand Purpose

 

Around the globe, consumers value brand purpose to varying degrees. Responses to whether consumers are willing to pay a premium for a product that supports good causes find Chinese with a very different view than Britons.[2] Nevertheless, this survey result means that even at the low end of the scale, more than one in four would loosen their purse strings for a brand with purpose.

 

China80%
India70%
Brazil55%
Malaysia55%
USA39%
UK28%

 

The concept of brand purpose is sometimes overlooked, or not clearly communicated, by small to medium-sized business owners and managers largely because the serious impact it has on accelerated business growth is not fully understood. Brand purpose can get lost in the frenetic pace of a busy startup. So it’s really important to underscore the huge influence brand purpose has on business outcomes, re-define the concept, and demonstrate its influence in commercial terms as the major driver behind perceived value, premium price points and higher sales.

 

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

 

Why Brand Purpose Matters

 

What do consumers think: Edelman’s brandshare studies[1] reveal that 92 percent of 11,000 consumers surveyed in eight countries want brands to share their values more effectively. Overall, 40 percent don’t think brands are doing enough to communicate and demonstrate purpose in “helping the world” in some way.

 

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

 

What do executives think: In a study issued by EY Beacon Institute and Harvard Business Review[2], 85 percent of the 474 business executives surveyed indicated they strongly agree they’re more likely to recommend a company with a strong purpose. They also strongly agreed, at 80 percent, that a company with shared purpose will have greater customer loyalty.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

See the results in two diagrams: Brands that prioritize brand purpose benefit from stronger growth.[3]

Brand Purpose

Image via Harvard Business Review

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Harvard Business Review

 

 

 

Defining Brand Purpose

What does this all mean? Brands with clarity of purpose outperform brands who lack it. To survive, brands must live and breathe through their core values because these are the fundamentals differentiating a brand from all its competitors so it stands head and shoulders above all the rest — and consequently commands a premium.

 

Author Simon Sinek sums the lessons from his book, “Start With Why” in his famous TED Talk about communicating brand purpose.

 

Brand Purpose

 

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

– Simon Sinek

 

 

 

Sinek goes on to say, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have; the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

 

Brand Purpose and Customers

 

The underlying message is that emotion drives purchase. Brands can engage primary customer emotions through articulating what the brand stands for, that is, purpose equals its mission, vision, and values.

 

The brand must reinforce this and bring it to life via experiential terms, such as customer service and brand touchpoints.

 

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

 

Be Different, Be Transparent Through Brand Purpose

Brand purpose is also a primary factor in brand differentiation because when it is sufficiently strong and compelling, it makes a brand highly visible and different compared to every competitor.

 

Simplistically speaking, if a brand’s purpose is aligned with the values of its ideal primary audience, those customers will naturally be attracted to it and want to buy it. People reward brands that openly share their values when those values are transparent. “Do we believe in the same things?” is what a customer wants to know. However, it is not the customer’s job to dig deep for that answer.

 

If brands don’t stand up for what they stand for — and diligently communicate it — nobody knows what the brand purpose is all about.

 

Brands with a purpose command the customer’s attention because, price point aside, a meaningful, emotional connection is valuable to the purchaser.

 

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

 

Whether a giant corporation or small business owner, it is critical to identify your brand purpose. Are you entrepreneurial? Find out what you truly stand for as an entrepreneur. Determine how to embody this purpose and communicate it to everyone your brand interacts with, including employees. You will enjoy higher profits while making your lasting mark on the world.

 

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

 

If you want direction and support empowering you to transform your brand so you stand out with a strong brand purpose and increase your 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 purpose and strategy to stand out and attract your ideal customers whether you’re revitalizing an existing brand or creating a new one.

 

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

 

This is not a theory based programme but a highly interactive fast-track programme where you work intensively on your brand throughout the two days duration, under our tutelage, 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
  2. Map out your brand in full so it’s codified and comprehensively documented to grow your business faster
  3. 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.

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 intensives tailored to your bespoke requirements so you’re empowered to take your business further a lot faster.

Want to know more?

Give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) to find out more and discuss your preferences or send us an email to [email protected]

 

The Persona Brand Building Blueprint Workshop

Codify and build your highly visible, profitable brand at the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind with Lorraine Carter

 

Examples of Explicit Brand Purpose

Dove and Levi Strauss are two brands that articulate brand purpose extremely well, fueling the emotional factors that drive purchase decisions.

 

Here we delve into these two examples of successful brands whose achievements and prosperity are largely underpinned by very compelling brand purpose. While these are not small business examples, there are reasons tied to brand purpose that explain how these companies grew larger and more profitable because of their strong brand purpose.

 

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Profit Starts With Your Brand Mission

 

Brand Purpose Example: Dove Beauty Bar

 

It’s been over a decade since Unilever launched the groundbreaking “Campaign for Real Beauty” for Dove.

 

Brand Purpose: “To educate and inspire girls and women to embrace a wider definition of beauty.”[4]

 

Dove Real Beauty

“You’re more beautiful than you think,” was one early example. Following 19 million views on YouTube alone, its purpose of making women feel better about themselves launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

 

Result: “Since the inception of the Campaign for Real Beauty we have seen a significant positive shift in brand perception…Dove is seen both as a leader in the personal care company, as well as a leader in the Real Beauty conversation.”

 

Dove has achieved a return on investment that cannot be measured solely in uplift in the sale of bars of soap, although that’s occurred as well. Just ask one of their 27 million followers on Facebook.

 

In 10 years, the campaign, which Ad Age tapped as the best of the 21st century, has reportedly helped boost Dove sales from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, says the publication.

 

Dove Says:

Image via Dove

 

 

“…11 years since we launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project, more than 625,000 teachers have delivered a Dove self-esteem workshop and more than 1.5 million parents have engaged with our online content. We’ve already helped 19.4 million young people in 138 countries. But we won’t stop there. Our global mission is to reach 20 million more by 2020.”

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Dove

 

What’s Next: Dove Real Beauty Productions launched in 2017 to bring touching real stories from real women to life in mini-videos. Meet Kylee, Meet Cathleen, and so on present revealing self-portraits, bravely challenging narrow definitions of “real beauty.”

 

 

How Much: At 6 bars of soap for $6.88, Dove Beauty Bar isn’t a costly item. But, $4 billion is a lot of soap. Clearly, women drawn in by the self-esteem campaign haven’t been concerned about getting another brand of soap for a few cents less.

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Walmart

 

Brand Purpose Example: Levi’s

 

In the mid-20th century, former CEO Walter Haas articulated Levi’s brand purpose: “Each of us has a capacity to make business not only a source of economic wealth but also a force for social and economic justice.”

 

Image via Levi Strauss & Co.

 

Levi’s History: A brand’s history is “secretly seductive,” suggests Edelman. It can help to define purpose, as in why was the brand born in the first place? In the case of Levi’s, that answer is embedded in immigration, the nation’s westward expansion, family business, the determination and grit of its early nation builders, coupled with the boom of California Gold Rush days.

 

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

 

Manufacturing the world’s first blue jeans in 1873, Levi Strauss had an instant hit, creating durable, tough pants that miners needed to withstand the wear and tear of the job. Brass rivets were added to the pockets.

 

Giving Back: Due to the early success of the company, a commitment to giving back to the community began in the mid-19th century with support for an orphanage. Three decades later, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Levi’s headquarters and two factories along with 80 percent of the city. The company responded by extending credit to its wholesale customers so they could get back on their feet and back in business.

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

 

The Levi Strauss Foundation

 

Brand Purpose

 

The Levi Strauss Foundation started with a 1897 donation to the University of California. From worker’s rights to environmental sustainability, the foundation continues its San Francisco Bay Area local commitments while making positive, major worldwide impact.

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Levi Strauss Foundation

 

Levi Strauss & Co. Says: Giving back never goes out of style. “We’re well-known for doing things that are right, that may be difficult…” says Tracey Panek, the company historian.

 

 

 

Levi’s Core Values endure and help shape the brand culture in a positive way.

  • Empathy — walking in other people’s shoes
  • Originality — being authentic and innovative
  • Integrity — doing the right thing
  • Courage — standing up for what we believe

 

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

Brand Purpose

 

La Cocina is a commercial kitchen incubator for low-income women in San Francisco. It gives them “access to financial, marketing and business opportunities that will allow them to transform their passion into full-fledged livelihoods for them and their families,” explains Levi Strauss Foundation, which supports the cause.

 

 

 

Articulating Brand Purpose: In 1990, the Harvard Business Review interviewed Robert D. Haas, then Chairman and CEO, the great-great-grandnephew of the company founder whose uncle, father, and grandfather all led the company before him.

At that time, he explained what the company had learned from its century-long tradition for social responsibility and how that reputation is inextricably linked to Levi’s success.

 

“In the past, however, that tradition was viewed as something separate from how we ran the business. We always talked about the “hard stuff” and the “soft stuff.” The soft stuff was the company’s commitment to our work force. And the hard stuff was what really mattered: getting pants out the door.

What we’ve learned is that the soft stuff and the hard stuff are becoming increasingly intertwined. A company’s values—what it stands for, what its people believe in—are crucial to its competitive success. Indeed, values drive the business.

– Robert D. Haas

 

In the ongoing story of “Who We Are,” Levi Strauss shares its message about “not just in what we do, but how we do it.”

 

How Much: Nobody ever said Levi’s 501 are the least expensive jeans. An average pair of purchased in San Francisco in mid-2017 is $67. You can certainly get jeans for less.

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Walmart

 

Financial Results: Levi’s financial results have been extraordinary over its 160 year lifetime. The 2016 Annual Report indicates that net revenue was $4.6 billion, representing 3 percent growth worldwide over the previous year.

 

Brand Purpose

Image via Levi Strauss and Co.

 

 

How to Build Your Brand’s Purpose

When working with our private clients we use the Personality Profile Performer™ System to develop key brand foundational elements for their brands. The outputs from the Personality Profile Performer™ then provide you with your brand blueprint or brand roadmap, together with the brand direction for your brand design application in brand collateral, brand communications strategy, training and so forth.

 

If you want direction developing your brand so you can increase your profits then take a look at our online brand building eprogramme called the Personality Profile Performer™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to implement as you build your brand, including your brand purpose. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

Notice that purpose is one of the key building blocks for a strong brand foundation. This part of the brand foundation provides the critical direction for brand strategy, and consequently, for high performance with the laser-focused results marketers seek. Here we aim to show you how a well-defined brand purpose is inextricably tied to stronger brand performance that commands a higher price point.

 

Brand Purpose

 

 

Alternatively, if you’d like professional direction to develop your brand purpose and would like to explore working with us then send us an email to [email protected] or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hour 9:00 – 17:00). We’d very happy to speak with you.

 

 

Related: Brand Profiling – How Brand Performance and Purpose Are Inextricably Linked

 

Questions to Ask Yourself:

 

[1] https://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/brandshare/about-brandshare

[2] http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose/$FILE/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.facebook.com/pg/DoveUS/about/?ref=page_internal

[1] http://adage.com/article/global-news/marketers-confused-meaning-focus-brand-purpose/292325

[2] Ibid.

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 [email protected]. 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 [email protected]adesign.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 [email protected] 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/

 

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

Most leaders and employees would view company brand culture as a crucial part of job performance and satisfaction coupled with great customer service, yet for so many brands it remains an elusive concept.

 

We all know intuitively that a bad company culture produces bad results and there are plenty of statistics to back this up. One Columbia University study shows that the probability of job turnover when a brand’s company culture is poor is 48.4%, compared to just 13.9% when the brand culture is perceived as a good one.[1]

 

In fact, good corporate brand culture fundamentally drives financial performance as evidenced by the research published in the book ‘Corporate Culture and Performance’ by HBS Professor James Heskett and Kotter International[2]

 

GROWTHAverage Increase for Twelve Firms with Performance-Enhancing CulturesAverage Increase for Twenty Firms without Performance-Enhancing Cultures
Revenue Growth682%166%
Employment Growth282%36%
Stock Price Growth901%74%
Net Income Growth756%1%

 

“Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is the most important characteristic, which is trust.”

Howard Schultz, Starbucks

 

Culture matters because it’s about transparency, company behaviour, what you stand for, who you are. Brand Culture is how you convey, share, and translate that into your brand. It’s what every employee believes, does, and lives to express that culture.

 

Brand culture is driven by the fundamentals of your brand profiling i.e. what your brand stands for, it’s personality, mission, vision, values, purpose and way of doing things.

 

It’s about building a relationship between your culture, which may be developed over time but should ideally be guided from the top, the founder, owner or CEO — the visionary behind the brand — and your brand itself in terms of its personality, how it does things, the customer experience it creates and what it stands for. How you develop them to create a strong positive and distinctive brand experience.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership, How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

There are also bad cultures within businesses and organisations which are not positive brand experiences. These poor brand cultures undermine performance, productivity, the whole perception of the organisation, the brand and negatively impact sales.

 

 

 

 

Our experience working with many different companies and organisations across diverse sectors clearly illustrates that it’s not that they haven’t considered company brand culture, it’s that developing and implementing something perceived to be so abstract can be difficult.

 

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

 

Because of this apparent client challenge we’ve pulled together some tangible ways you can start working on and developing your brand culture together with case studies from worldwide brands to show you ‘brand culture’ in action in the ‘real world’.

 

They’re brands who, like us, understand that building culture is not about placing a ping-pong table in a rec room, it starts with strong brand values that respect your employees and customers alike.

 

12 Ways To Improve Your Company’s Brand Culture so You Increase Performance and Grow Sales

 

1. Don’t be Afraid to Mix Marketing with People

Based in Kansas and proud of its community roots, CornerBank, now part of RCB Bank, describes itself as the bank that is “on your corner and in your corner”.[3] Their approach to culture and marketing lies in people, something which RCB Bank is trying to emulate since their merger last year.

 

CornerBank Brand Culture

Image via CornerBank

 

CornerBank practised what they preached by combining the head of HR and the head of marketing into one role because their “people are their best marketing tool”.[4] While it’s undeniably an unorthodox way of structuring a company, in doing so, they put faith in their staff, and most importantly, their staff’s commitment to upholding those community roots. It’s a company that looks out for the little guy and ensures that its employees identify strongly with this.

 

 

2. Bridge the Gap Between Employee and Customer

With a client retention rate of a near-perfect 97.8%, bank and insurance provider, USAA is one of the most reputable and trusted brands in America.[5]

 

They have a unique proposition in that the vast majority of their customers are active or retired US military. No one knows their customer better than USAA and the company instils this in their employees by training them in the experiences of a soldier.[6]
This works in two ways. Firstly, for company culture, it gives employees insights that help them do their job better, which improves job satisfaction, and challenges them in the right way. And secondly, it shows customers that their experiences are genuinely important to the brand as a whole, but also that the people who they reach out to for service are much better equipped to deal with their situation. For soldiers trying to do their banking from war zones, that is often a pretty unique one.

 

 

 

3. Foster Fun and Creativity

When you think of best practice company culture, tech companies tend to come to mind. They seem to understand the important connection between having fun and innovating. Squarespace embodies many of the principles of best practice company culture – an attractive office space, very few levels of management, celebrations, downtime and flexibility.

 

What’s important here is that these practices stem from the company’s respect for its employees. This is the approach we take when we are working with clients. Downtime and flexibility show employees that they are respected enough to get on with their job and exercise a certain amount of autonomy.

 

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

 

The fun aspects of this company’s culture are layered on top of this to let employees know that their work is appreciated. This two-pronged approach ensures that your company brand culture is engrained as a real living experience for everyone and not just lip service.

 

 

4. Offer Flexibility

Flextime is not a particularly new concept, and you’ll find it especially prevalent in public service organisations and progressive companies in western countries. Because of this, extensive research has been conducted to measure the value of offering this to your employees.

 

A survey conducted by The Alternative Board (TAB), an international provider of executive peer advisory boards, of hundreds of business owners, found that business owners who thought that their company culture was ‘strong’, also offered their employees flexible conditions, particularly in terms of time and remotely working.[7] We tend to find that when workplaces concentrate on results, project completion, and quality of work, the perceived ‘drudgery’ of the 9-5 work culture is eliminated, and employees feel part of something bigger which engenders a greater sense of job satisfaction.

 

Medium-sized British activewear company, Sweaty Betty, embodies these principles by using open communication and showing that they understand their employees have life commitments in addition to their work ones. “We trust our team and operate on a flexi-hour policy,” says Jessica Howden, people and events coordinator. “If a team member would rather leave earlier in the afternoon because of a long commute, they can start earlier in the morning. Our working hours are not set in stone.”[8]

 

Sweaty Betty

Image via Sweaty Betty

 

 

5. Build Brand Relationships to Create Community

Ask any social scientist, the key to happiness among employees in a workplace is when they feel like they are part of something bigger that makes a difference. Apple and Nike exhibited this in their September 2016 keynote where they teamed up to introduce the second-generation Apple watch. This is a watch that allows people to be part of two tribes – the Apple tribe, and the Nike Running Club tribe.

 

 

 

 

Aligning with another brand that commands respect and complements your brand values and positioning promotes inclusivity in your workplace and makes your employees feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. It also strengthens your brand in the mind of your customer and leads to commercial growth – advocates of one brand will be more likely to become advocates of the other when they are aligned.

 

When we work with companies to identify co-branding opportunities, having a strong brand culture or value fit is essential. Some of the most effective brand collaborations and alignments are not even necessarily in the same industry. This can yield great results for SMEs where the primary focus is to stand out, increase brand awareness with sales and reach new audiences.

 

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

 

6. Hire ‘Your’ People

Traditional recruitment is generally based on skills and experience. Our approach to recruitment for your brand is to ascertain a baseline level of aptitude that you would consider mandatory, and place more emphasis on finding a suitable fit with your organisations brand culture.

 

 

 

 

Recruitment companies, such as New Zealand-based company, Weirdly, take an innovative approach to recruitment using a series of tactics to assess a potential employees culture fit before they even get to the interview phase. In doing this, you create a workplace where people feel a sense of belonging, as well as the crucial creation of an environment where ideas can be shared.

 

7. Employees as Brand Ambassadors

As we’ve mentioned, most companies will try to hire employees who reflect and embody their company’s values in some way. Increase engagement with your brand and create authentic communication by making it attractive for your employees to become brand ambassadors.

 

According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer “Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder. 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.”[9]

 

Brand Culture

Image via Edelman Insights

 

We believe that this likely stems from the perception that employees are much more likely to voice their honesty, particularly if they are disgruntled. An employee that is openly endorsing a company is viewed as a trustworthy and reliable opinion. Social media is a great platform to try this on. Creating environments where employees feel compelled to share the goings-on of their workplace on their personal channels speaks volumes, and is a great place to start.

 

American-based retailer, Zappos, has an infamous reputation for its focus on employee culture. “At Zappos, we really view culture as our No. 1 priority. We decided that if we get the culture right, most of the stuff, like building a brand around delivering the very best customer service, will just take care of itself.” Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos–January 9th, 2010, The New York Times[10]

 

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

 

8. Give Your Audience a Sneak Peek into Your Culture

In a similar way, don’t be afraid to shed a little light on how great your company is behind the scenes. Doing so increases your brand value with your customers and gives employees a public reason to feel proud of where they work. Your customers could also be your potential employees.

 

Just ensure that what you are posting accurately reflects your brand values as a company and how you want people to perceive it. ASOS is a great example of this – they use their Instagram account to provide sneak peeks into their workplace culture. It injects personality into the brand and shows that they value their employees.

 

Brand Culture

Image via ASOS on Instagram

 

 

9. Remove Restrictive Hierarchies

Hierarchies are a particularly tricky area of company politics to navigate. We tend to look at hierarchies not from a ‘have them/don’t have them’ perspective, but rather explore why you have them, what purpose they serve and, most importantly, whether they are restrictive. Closed door policies can inhibit the flow of ideas and creates an ‘us and them’ culture, which is intimidating and often counter-productive.

 

While your brand needs a leadership team, and there will be things that the leadership team knows that employees aren’t privy to, there are ways to create an open and flexible environment.

 

Brand Culture

Image via Valve Software

 

SME, Valve Software[11], does this well – they have no managers, projects are started when an employee can group a team together, and performance management is conducted as peer review. As a result, Valve has experienced tremendous growth – something that would normally require rigidity to manage.

 

10. Make Your Employees Part of Your Brand Mission

Create an atmosphere where employees feel like they contribute to the outcome of your company or organisation. Environments where staff feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves have been constantly proven to be success-drivers. Results happen when everyone is invested.

 

So, how do you go about this? Our approach is to create a great brand and strategy communication from the top down. Internal communication should be tailored so that, no matter the structure of your company, each employee knows how they contribute to wider goals, and, most importantly, has a clear idea of what those wider goals are.

 

Including corporate social responsibility into part of your operations is a great way of tangibly showing both customers and employees that your company is committed to the greater good.

 

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

 

Ice cream giant, Ben & Jerry’s, demonstrates that ethics are not just for the realms of small, niche enterprises by only using fair trade ingredients.[12] In strengthening their customer’s positive perception of them as a company, they increase employee morale, drive purchases, and ensure that their brand personality doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming disconnected with consumer’s needs.

 

 

 

 

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

 

11. Give your employees what they need

This is the proof point that your company is not just about placing that ping-pong table in the rec room. Showing employees that you value them and their lives as people, not just workers, vastly increases job satisfaction.

 

71% of staff at Goldman Sachs feel that they often or almost always receive great rewards, while 82% of American Express employees report that the company often or almost always provides needed training, fair promotions and personally challenging work.[13] While it’s not the glamorous, fun side of company brand culture, creating a base that ensures that your employees know they are valued through things such as child care, mentoring and health, can make a dramatic difference.

Brand Culture

Image via Goldman Sachs

 

12. Create Autonomy

Career analyst, Dan Pink, has spent much of his own working career studying what it takes for employees to be motivated. It turns out, creating an environment where employees feel that they are the ‘masters of their own destiny’ is one of the most important aspects of employee happiness. This can be relatively easy to establish if the work is naturally project or campaign based, so thought should be given particularly to the roles where work is more constant and not as varied.

 

 

 

 

For instance, a Web Content Manager at an SME spends their day ensuring that the content is relevant, accurate and appropriate for the company. A company with a poor brand culture will treat this Content Manager as a worker, one who processes and publishes the team’s work, whereas a company with a great brand culture will instil autonomy in the Content Manager. They own the content space, feel comfortable providing advice and direction, and are looked to as the expert in that field. A small change, but one that makes a huge difference.

 

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

 

Brand culture integrates itself into every part of your company from the way customers perceive your company and trust you, which in turn has a massive impact on their likelihood to buy and become brand advocates, to your own employees’ sense of job satisfaction.

 

If you’re struggling to strongly develop your brand culture in order to improve your overall performance, growth and profitability, then a brand audit is a very useful tool to help you evaluate your areas of strength, weakness and potential innovation and growth.

 

 

 

 

Take a look at our brand audit programme called the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to consider in giving your brand a health check. It enables you to identify areas of strength, weakness and pinpoint new opportunities for innovation and growth. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

Brand Audit Health Check

Audit your brand now so you can identify where and how to build your strong brand culture

 

 

Alternatively, if you’ve got a major challenge on your hands then perhaps a brand revitalization or refresh may be the most effective option to turn things around. Feel free to get in touch, we’d be delighted to help. Drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00).

 

Viewing your workplace as a mutually beneficial environment, one that adds value to both the employer, employee and customer is crucial to job satisfaction, role performance and customer satisfaction, which are what collectively drive growth and achieve strong commercial results.

 

There are so many ways that SMEs / SMBs can add value to their employees’ lives by providing them with the benefits and autonomy they need, to creating a fun and inviting environment that instils a sense of pride and appreciation. We can help you uncover and articulate your brand values, and most importantly, how to actually achieve them in your organisation in an authentic way that enhances your peoples’ lives while also increasing your profits.

 

Questions to consider

  1. Have you evaluated how you can improve your brand culture to attract and retain high performing talent so you can increase your brand awareness, market share and sales?
  2. When did you last give you brand a health check so you can identify areas of weakness, strength and where to innovate?
  3. Could you give some members of your team more autonomy to increase their motivation, performance and sense of fulfilment?
  4. Have you trained your staff and fully inducted them in what your brand stands for and what that means in a day-to-day actionable, living sense so you can improve their performance, brand alignment and the quality of the customer experience delivered?
  5. Is now the right time for a brand refresh so you can improve your brand culture, re-invigorate company morale and increase overall market impact and growth?

 

Want to refresh your brand but you’re not sure where to start to get a successful return on your investment?

 

Drop us a line or give us a call… we’re here to help!

 

If you want direction and support transforming your brand so it fully embraces changing trends 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.

 

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 your full team’s participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too.

 

 

Ring us to discuss your brand building preferences

Just drop us a line to [email protected] 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 have your brand solution built to greatly enhance your brand culture and secure your future success.

 

 

Persona Brand Building Blueprint Mastermind

 

[1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238640

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/02/10/does-corporate-culture-drive-financial-performance/#7fb4ea207e9e

[3] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br

[4] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br
[5] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-02-18/usaas-battle-plan

[6] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br

[7] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5935-improve-company-culture.html

[8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/britains-healthiest-company/11848497/flexible-working-hours.html

[9] https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2013/10/08/three-steps-for-transforming-employees-into-brand-ambassadors/#5f8f0e9e1040

[10] http://www.inc.com/ananya-bhattacharya/tony-hsieh-on-company-culture.html

[11] https://www.inc.com/david-burkus/how-this-company-runs-without-managers.html

[12] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4679-corporate-social-responsibility.html

[13] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245667

 

 

 

Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success

At his Tuscan estate overlooking Siena, Dr. Francesco Mazzei pours a glass of ruby red Chianti Classico while beginning to tell the story behind the distinctive label that represents several legacies: the name of his family’s medieval country house castle, the village hamlet, the family winery, and the year it was founded. “Castello Fonterutoli Mazzei 1435” wine is one of the acclaimed reds the Mazzei family has been producing for a remarkable 24 generations; in fact, in terms of family business branding, they’re one of the ten oldest family enterprises in Italy. Naturally, wine lovers are intrigued to hear more from the charismatic Marchesi Mazzei and eager to taste his time-honoured Chianti.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via Mazzei

 

Family Business Brands Drive the Economy

Family-owned and operated businesses come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Yet they share the roots of a common attribute: quintessential authenticity. A family business brand has a distinctly personal voice and can uniquely build unparalleled trust. Trust underpins profitable brand growth because without trust customers won’t buy from you.

 

It’s critical to understand, whether your business is a family enterprise or not, branding is NOT marketing or design but the bedrock strategy supporting and directing your whole business so your brand strategy is fundamental to your business’s longevity and ongoing profitability.

 

Global management consultancies are wise to keep a keen eye on family enterprises. EY suggests that family business is the world economy’s “secret driver of success.” Their research library published a 2015 report undertaken with Kennesaw State University Cox Family Enterprise Center (Georgia, USA) indicating that: “The importance of family businesses to the global economy is undeniable. They account for more than two-thirds of all companies around the world, many of which are household brand names, and 50%–80% of employment in most countries.”[1]

 

At the KPMG Family Business Practice Global Think Tank, the group’s CEO for France explains, “It’s a philosophy, it’s a spirit, it’s a backbone of our economy.” [2]

 

“Before the multinational corporation, there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business. Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.” – William T. O’Hara, author, “Centuries of Success

 

We’re all busy so building the bedrock brand strategy supporting and directing your whole business to ensure it’s growth and sustained longevity may not be your top skillset. If you’d like professional branding input and want access to a detailed overview of what’s key in the brand strategy context to grow your business then get in touch? Alternatively book one of our transformational workshops, brand building intensives or masterclasses.

The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind empowers you to build your brand strategy, raise the visibility of your brand, reduce customer acquisition costs and position your brand as the №1 choice for your customers.

 

Persona Brand Building Blueprint Workshop

Build your standout brand at the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind with Lorraine Carter

 

Family Business Branding Has a Lasting Brand Message

“From our family to yours…” is a strong, positive, relatable and emotive message. Family businesses are proud of their companies and their families, with 76 percent of those reporting in the EY study saying they refer to themselves as a family business in advertising, websites, social media, press releases and other promotional material and brand collateral. [3]

 

Related: Design Is NOT Branding: 10 Things Every Business Owner and Entrepreneur Should Know

 

Nothing is more enduring as a family business than two hospitality examples from Japan. Zengoro Hoshi is the 46th generation boss of The Hoshi Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn established 1,300 years ago.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via 663 Highland (Wikimedia CC 2.0)

 

The world’s oldest hotel is run by Fujiwara Mahito, the 52nd generation descendant to manage Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan since the year 705, beside hot springs where travelling samurai and Shogun once stopped to refresh.[4] In an interview with the KPMG Family Business Think Tank, Hoshi explains that both the family and the business core values are seamlessly expressed and impressed, “instilling the simple business motto in each new generation.”[5]

 

Family Business Branding

 

Related: 7 Powerful Components Of A Lasting Luxury Brand

 

When success breeds success and astronomical growth and wealth occur rapidly in the span of one lifetime, keeping customers connected to core brand values is a strong message that the founder can embrace and project. Two powerful examples of self-made 20th-century patriarchs are seen here:

 

Family Business Branding Through Their Founders Can Embody Authentic Brand Values

 

1) IKEA – From humble beginnings, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals is the 90-year-old founder of the largest furniture store group on earth, as well as the second-largest charitable foundation. He eschews the trappings of wealth, living in his boyhood rural Älmhult municipality, where IKEA headquarters is located.

Related: Social Responsibility: How to Build a Socially Conscious Brand

 

As a boy, Ingvar Kamprad bought matches in bulk from Stockholm to re-sell via bicycle in the vicinity of his parents’ farm, Elmtaryd, in the small Swedish village of Agunnaryd. As a teenager, Ingvar expanded into seeds, pencils, wooden Christmas decorations and more items. Working at the kitchen table, he named his little enterprise IKEA, combining his own initials plus the farm name and the village name.

 

 

 

In the autobiographical “Leading by Design: The IKEA Story,” and in the resource “Ikea Bible,” founder Kamprad has emphasized that “wasting resources is a mortal sin at Ikea.”[6] In his years at the helm of the budget-focused retailer, now run by his son, Kamprad pursued management by example, that is, emphasizing cost control. He has spoken of shopping post-season sales, flying economy class, driving a 20-year-old Volvo and encouraging staff to use both sides on a piece of paper.[7]

 

2) Berkshire Hathaway – Another farm kitchen table entrepreneur empowered by his bicycle, a young Warren Buffett sold chewing gum, Coca-Cola bottles, and weekly magazines door-to-door in his native Omaha, Nebraska.

 

Ever thrifty at age 86, Buffett is currently ranked as the world’s third wealthiest person[8], the legendary investor is grounded and approachable. He pays himself a modest salary of $100,000 annually and still lives in the Omaha home he purchased for $31,500 in 1958.

 

 

A voracious reader, Buffett practices his brand philosophy, frequently sharing advice with groups of college students to remind them that the best thing they can do is develop good qualities and habits early.[9]

 

Family Business Branding Creates Meaningful Brand Differentiation

Nobody can weave a more engaging, authentic brand story than a family business, and this is key to one of a brand’s eight pillars: differentiation. The perceived distinctiveness of the brand instantly separates a family brand from its competition. These brand pillars are fundamental to success regardless of your brand sector, B2B or B2C — which has also been abundantly evidenced by our experience in working with small and large family businesses nationally and internationally.

 

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Profit Starts With Your Brand Mission

 

How did a first-generation pioneer build a company from nothing to pass on to the next generation? What was the initial spark of an idea? These are the stories that inspire pride and loyalty among employees, customers, suppliers and the local community. Such wonderfully curated (and honest!) anecdotes can be as juicy and delicious as your grandmother’s time-honoured recipe for apple pie.

 

 

If birthright or marriage has made you lucky enough to inherit a family brand, or if you aspire to achieve a highly recognisable, memorable — and loved — brand name, our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme shows you how to build your brand so you become, or maintain number one place in your market — how to enhance your brand relevance and improve your profits.

 

Also, times flies and we are aware that family businesses must be astute about strengthening, re-evaluating and leveraging brand relevance while training and managing succession and growth over the next 5, 10, 15-plus years. If you want in-person professional direction to re-evaluate your brand and would like professional input then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

 

 

 

Examples of Intimate Brands in SMB/SME Family Business Branding

 

  1. Family Business Branding, Goorin Bros. Hatmakers

Family Business Branding

Image via Goorin Bros. Hatmakers

 

What We Love: Vintage sepia tones and modern fashion shots merge on this American hatmakers’ website. It’s sprinkled with historical anecdotes, providing interesting insights into the family brand established in 1895 (I know anything over a century is almost ancient, by American standards!) Goorin Bros. is painfully aware that hats are no longer the mandatory accessory they once were. The website relates the compelling story of brand survival and interprets the castle logo design.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via Goorin Bros. Hatmakers

 

Takeaway: Cosy store interiors are decorated in vintage style, including an antique popcorn machine spitting out free samples, with highly personal assistance from the well-trained hat sellers.

 

 

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

 

  1. Family Business Branding, Manor Farm Chicken

Family Business Branding

Image via Manor Farm

 

What We Love: More than 240 years later, one of Ireland’s oldest companies remains a family business. To establish an immediately personal connection to the brand, the website’s “Welcome Home” page features a seal of approval-style stamp reading “Irish Family Owned Since 1775.” It invites visitors for a glimpse behind the scenes to “Meet the Flock” of family farmer suppliers via their outdoor snapshots and to share the “Tasty News” recipe buddy.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via Manor Farm

 

Takeaway: Manor Farms engages their B2B and B2C audiences by using humour. Chicken Facts & Tips includes Q&A such as “Are the chickens really Irish?” and “Can a chicken fly?”

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

 

  1. Family Business Branding Arnold Clark Automobiles

Family Business Branding

Image via Arnold Clark

 

What We Love: In 1954, Arnold Clark purchased a Morris Ten Four for £70 and, after many careful hours restoring the car to its original condition, sold it for a profit. The brand’s storyline is front and centre on the website where Arnold Clark proclaims itself “Europe’s Number 1 independently owned family-run car dealer.” One of Scotland’s largest companies, the family-owned firm run by its founder, whose story is a centrepiece for the brand. Sir Arnold is still in charge and has been joined in the business by his children and grandchildren.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via Arnold Clark

 

Takeaway: The Arnold Clark testimonial page tells the story in the customers’ own words and leaves no room whatsoever for anything but strong assurances about the brand’s commitment to integrity.

 

Related: How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales

 

  1. Family Business Branding, Massey Bros. 

Family Business Branding

 

What We Love: Massey Bros. provide a really important service in one of the oldest services in society. They take care of you and your family in very distressing circumstances, the death of a loved one. They deal with death on a daily basis throughout the year. And yet their mission in dealing with death every day is to do whatever it takes to make the recognition and memory of your loved really special. Their mission is to Honour the Life of your loved one.

Massey Bros. is a business that can’t market itself like most others, they can’t overtly sell what they do, but they can share why they do what they do.  Their purpose it what drives their big why and it’s one of the critical secrets to their success since the 1930s.

 

Family Business Branding

 

Takeaway: Testimonials that support the brand promise are featured throughout the website, which makes all the sense in the world in any business, especially one that requires utter all-encompassing care and total discretion.

Full disclosure: Persona Design worked with Massey Bros. on their brand revitalisation. You can read the case study here. In truth, haven’t worked with any other business which gets the amount of unsolicited thank you cards and letters that Massey Bros. get. They truly live their brand mission, like many other successful and very dedicated family businesses.

 

 

  1. Family Business Branding, Sonderen Packaging

What We Love: The Sonderen tagline, “Packaging Solutions That Create Lifelong Customer Relationships” gets to the core of this family-owned B2B operation where we meet the second and third generation Mark, Matt, and Keva Sonderen, “Trusted Since 1963.” A complete folding carton manufacturer in Spokane, Washington USA, they do everything custom from design to finish, including inks, hard surface coatings, and die cut options.

 

Family Business Branding

Image via Sonderen Packaging

 

Takeaway: A video, “Want to Learn More About Who We Are” presents the passion behind the business, its growth from 8 to 140 employees and its recovery from a devastating warehouse fire to achieve a customer retention rate above 95 percent.

 

 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Family Business Branding

  1. Have you identified your eight brand pillars and evaluated how they’re addressed from the customers and team internal perspective? These include elements such as your brand purpose, vision, values and personality.
  2. Have you developed passionate storytelling about your brand involving personal bits and pieces about family members that pertain to building the company and have those authentic story nuggets been shared congruently across all your brand touchpoints?
  3. Have you fully developed your standout brand messaging with its own unique personality, copywriting, language style and turn of phrase? Does your family business take full advantage of its brand messaging opportunities across all relevant brand collateral and media channels on and offline?
  4. Have you developed and displayed a proud history timeline in the proper tone of voice to suit your brand?
  5. Is there a cohesive branding message and visual language across every customer touchpoint, from website to logo, from uniforms, to colour palette and packaging, for example?
  6. Has the company story been shared with employees? Is it featured in all new hire training materials? Have your team been fully brand inducted and is ongoing training a part of your brand culture for ensuring cohesiveness, strong morale, innovation, growth and longevity?

 

 

 

 

[1] Global Data Points; Family Enterprise Statistics from around the World, Family Firm Institute, www.ffi.org/?page=GlobalDataPoints

[2] http://www.kpmgfamilybusiness.com/family-business-contributors

[3] http://www.ey.com/us/en/newsroom/news-releases/news-ey-family-business-is-the-world-economys-secret-driver-of-success

[4] http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/nishiyama-onsen-keiunkan

[5] http://www.kpmgfamilybusiness.com/worlds-oldest-family-inns-secret-succession

[6] http://www.forbes.com/profile/ingvar-kamprad

[7] Ibid.

[8] http://www.forbes.com/profile/warren-buffett

[9] http://www.forbes.com/sites/patbrans/2017/01/02/what-warren-buffett-and-ann-graybiel-advise-on-habits/#422723085d95

 

Brand Crisis – How to Manage, Survive and Thrive

The one thing every brand product or service can count on is that there is a brand crisis in your future. No brand is immune. And, because bad news travels fast (faster than ever, due to social media), time is of the essence.

 

When do you have a brand crisis on your hands? Whenever there are “unexpected events that threaten a brand’s perceived ability to deliver expected benefits, thereby weakening brand equity.” [1]

 

It’s a Brand Crisis: First Things First

Step 1: Damage Control

Whether Mother Nature or manmade forces are at work, it’s critical that no matter how robust a brand you have built, you do have a “just-in-case” plan on the Public Relations shelf. A crisis management professional will guide you on the immediate essential steps and basic principles[2] of crisis management, and importantly, on your specific scenario.

 

From the very first moment that a sudden event, a mistake, or a piece of news impacts a brand negatively, savvy brand managers need to know:

  • what to do first
  • what never to say to the media
  • how to prioritize
  • what social media tactics are best

 

Step 2: Assessing the Brand Damage

According to the Financial Times, “When a brand crisis breaks out, consumers and other stakeholders (e.g., shareholders, the media, regulators) are likely to raise questions about the affected brand and why the crisis happened such as: who is to blame? Is the event likely to happen again? Is it true? What does the crisis signal about the brand?”[3]

 

When the frenzy begins to abate, your brand requires large amounts of tender loving care. The central question to be answered relates to the prognosis and timing for recovery. That is, brand owners and managers need to analyze both the short-term and long-term effects of the damage caused by the crisis for complete, cool-headed consideration.

Step 3: Short-Term Brand Damage

Assuming no loss of life or property, your short-term considerations are typically:

  1.  sales
  2.  consumer confidence
  3.  an attack mounted by opportunist challenger brand(s).

Therefore, the task is to recover revenue, earn consumers’ trust, and deal with competitors in the right way.

 

A silver lining comes from gaining positive lessons learned from a negative experience…it’s never more important than when one’s “dirty laundry” has been on display for all to observe.

 

Nevertheless, a brand audit followed by a refresh or re-branding may very well be in order at this critical moment.

 

AAA-eProduct-Promo-Start-Now-800x700px

 

 

After the Brand Crisis: Getting Back to Normal

Step 4: Long-Term Brand Damage

A crisis is a harsh teacher and requires cool heads to respond rationally to an irrational situation. Ultimately, every crisis has a resolution.

 

How a brand deals with a crisis during the short-term damage control step will have a lasting effect on its reputation in the long-term, where it matters most. Indeed, that behaviour becomes a benchmark for the brand as conversations in the public sphere revolve around the brand’s handling of the event.

 

Because every situation is different, it’s impossible to say how long after the initial crisis occurs that step 4 will begin. It could be days, weeks, or months. Experts agree, “The scale and duration of this impact depends on a number of factors, including a brand’s track record and established consumer goodwill, as well as how quickly brand custodians respond to the crisis.” [4]

 

If you need to evaluate your brand’s vulnerabilities, weak points and areas in need of change then now is the time to use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. It’s an online programme that walks you through, step-by-step, the process of giving your brand an audit. A critical management tool in every brand owners arsenal.

 

Step 5: The Problem Gets Fixed

In a widely shared 2005 op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal[5] following the devastating Hurricane Katrina, the former chairman of General Electric presented his thought leadership memo about the five stages of a crisis. According to Jack Welch, the fifth and final stage in crisis management is when the problem gets fixed.

 

A benefit derived from a crisis is that it lets us know where things are broken and can help us to identify solutions so that future similar crises may be avoided. But this benefit applies only if we take the appropriate steps to learn those lessons and to apply that wisdom to our brand.

jawaharlal-nehru-quote-600px

It’s mandatory to undertake the post-crisis approach strategically. In the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, statesman of India, “Every little thing counts in a crisis.”

 

What Now For My Brand?

As a branding expert, Persona Design can provide insights and advice about getting your brand back to ship-shape by determining:

 

This process begins with a detailed brand audit focused on recovery. This procedure determines your brand’s market position versus competitors, identifies where brand strengths and weaknesses lie, reveals inconsistencies and opportunities for improvement, and flags new developments.

 

 

Option 1: A Brand Refresh

In the wake of a crisis, a refreshed brand must create and clearly communicate new company values.

 

Option 2: A Re-branding

A brand audit will determine whether the brand can survive. Some brands, including large ones like Arthur Andersen (now Accenture), cannot survive a deep crisis.

Calculated and deliberate brand re-building to repair brand reputation is not a frivolous process. It requires a serious and thoughtful strategy based on customer perception, behaviour and values.

Let’s look at five types of crises that commonly occur in a small-to-mid-sized company and use illustrations found within larger corporations. Note that the strength of a brand image will mitigate damage in crisis aftermath, with smaller brands being more vulnerable than these household names.

 

A Bump in the Road for Brands

1. Product Failures

As a small-to-medium retailer, you can be caught up in a failed product originating with one of your suppliers. It’s a costly headache for retail management having to refund customers’ money, give them replacements, deal with the supplier, while hoping the problem doesn’t get any worse or rub off on your own brand. When a product failure occurs, you may benefit from professional brand reputation management.

Example: Due to six fatal incidents, millions of unstable dresser units have been recalled by IKEA[6], which is responsible for their own supply chain as manufacturer and reseller. This product recall is one of 17 for IKEA in 2015 through mid-2016.[7]

ikea-malm-dresser

IKEA Malm dressers (IKEA Corporate News website)

Result: Surveys indicates that the world’s largest furniture retailer’s reputation is hit hard, but the brand will survive, according to experts like Stephan Shakespeare, founder and CEO of YouGov, who writes in July 2016, “The good news is that IKEA’s overall Value Score remains relatively untroubled – in the UK at least. While this remains the case, IKEA can be assured its offering will continue to be popular…IKEA should be thankful that it has such a strong brand image, and indeed one that people around the world have a connection and loyalty to.”[8]

ikea-buzz-score

Image via Buzz Score (YouGov)

 

2. Brand Embarrassment

Keep your clearly defined brand values front and centre in the mind of the customer. If something embarrassing does occur, seek advice from a professional branding agency to prevent customers from expressing dismay with their feet and their wallets.

“People buy a brand because it says something about who they are and what they believe in,” according to Deborah MacInnis, PhD, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. “If there’s a brand that does something bad, people feel betrayed but also feel that wearing it would signal that they agree with the values of the company.”[9]

Example: High priced teen apparel brand Abercrombie & Fitch lost its status as darling of the Millennials when the CEO made disparaging comments about customers who didn’t fit the store’s skinny sizing. An employee with an eating disorder gained 68,000 petition signatures and an apology.

 

 

Result: Sales have been impacted to the degree that store closings are the only option. The brand continues to close sizeable chunks of its portfolio of (previously) 946 U.S. store locations.

abercrombie-and-fitch-store-closings

Image via Fortune, source Abercrombie & Fitch filings

 

3. High Profile Dishonesty

Just one untruthful comment by one top executive can negatively affect a brand. This can be particularly disruptive for service brands where the emphasis is on people. A renewed brand promise will help get things back on track.

A Canadian-based digital strategy specialist writes, “Brands aren’t heartless, mindless, soulless, brick and mortar stores. They are built by people. And no customer wants to associate with brands that comprise of unscrupulous, unreliable people. Honesty is always number one on buyers’ desirability index.”[10]

Example: After a 22-year career, NBC’s former national news anchor, Brian Williams, lost his job after exaggerating a report about his experience on the front lines in Iraq.

 

 

Result: With a quick response from NBC, a Williams apology, and a seven-month suspension for its news anchor, the network weathered the storm around trustworthiness. The popular news announcer who had enjoyed a 10-year, $15 million/year contract was brought back on air, albeit with a demotion to the network’s related cable brand, MSNBC.[11]

4. Broken Brand Promises

In the consumer’s mind, Whole Food stands for healthy eating, responsibly grown, and high quality standards, so that shoppers can buy with confidence around issues they care about.[12] A series of giant consumer let downs have occurred. Whole Foods Market, Inc. is big enough to fund their own newly hired full-time professional global VP to handle post-crisis brand strategy.[13]

Example: Whole Foods dropped the ball on their own brand promise. Last year, Whole Foods was found guilty of price mischarging from California to New York. In another salvo at Whole Foods in June 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a series of safety standard warnings[14] regarding fundamental cleanliness standards.

Result: Consumers were unimpressed when Whole Foods responded with a video from the company’s CEOs. People reportedly found the performance insincere, punctuated with the kind of overt gesticulation that students of body language are trained to spot. No discount was offered to entice customers back. Share prices for Whole Foods Market, Inc. have depreciated 25 percent in 12 months[15] and they’re pivoting to an ancillary brand, a smaller store with less selection, called 365, aimed at Millennials.[16]

 

 

What happened to “The Customer is Always Right”? Harry Gordon Selfridge may have overdone customer service with that mantra back in 1909. However, when a business’s explanation is open to interpretation as “we’re sorry we got caught,” you can be sure that savvy consumers aren’t buying it.

 

whole-foods-365-on-cnn

Image via YouTube

5. Scandals

When internal and external brand values are out of alignment and don’t match, the result can be devastating. FIFA, Volkswagen, Sports Direct, Chipotle, Bill Cosby, Ryan Lochte. And now Wells Fargo, one of the world’s largest banks (with a comfy Old West stagecoach brand image) was fined $185 million and released 5,300 when a fabricated bank account scandal broke.

 

findus-crispy-pancakes

Image via Mirror UK

 

 

Example: For Findus, 50 years in the UK grocer’s frozen food aisles, it was one scandal too many. Following the uproar of 2013, when the beef lasagne was found to contain 60 to 100 percent horse meat, the product was pulled and the brand was sold. Time did not heal, as it became known that the brand had been served in 2,300 schools, hospitals, prisons, armed forces and senior housing,

Result: From spring 2017, the Findus brand is no more.[17]

 

Are you struggling with how to reposition your brand, rebuild your brand values, improve your brand promise — make your brand standout for the right reasons so it’s memorable and distinctive in ways that make it much loved? Then the Personality Profile Performer™ online programme is a perfect fit for you. Enroll today and make your brand highly visible and loved.

 

PPP-eProduct-Enroll-eCourse-Here-800x700px

 

Questions to ask while reinforcing or rebuilding your brand:

 

• How strong is your brand reputation?

 

• What problem does your brand solve for its customers?

 

• Are your brand values clearly defined and communicated?

 

• How does your brand deliver on its promise?

 

• How do your employees, partners, vendors, suppliers and owners view your brand?

 

• When was the last time you conducted a brand audit?

 

[1] http://blog.ebiquity.com/2015/07/why-it-pays-to-take-the-drama-out-of-a-crisis

[2] Bendel, Peggy. “It’s a Crisis! Now What?” SutherlandHousePublishing.com, 2012.

[3] http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=brand-crisis

[4] http://blog.ebiquity.com/2015/07/why-it-pays-to-take-the-drama-out-of-a-crisis

[5] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB112666533279540108

[6] http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsitem/062816-recall-chest-and-dressers

[7] http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsroom/product_recalls

[8] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/06/ikeas-drawer-debacle-wont-destroy-uk-image/

[9] https://mic.com/articles/130147/researchers-are-now-able-to-measure-just-how-embarrassing-an-uncool-brand-is#.T70A15Xkv

[10] http://www.business2community.com/branding/4-reasons-dishonesty-can-kill-brand-faster-bad-strategy-01084600#5XME1zbb2yep2m34.97

[11] https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/at-long-last-brian-williams-is-back–humbled-and-demoted-to-low-rated-msnbc/2015/09/21/ea423408-6077-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html

[12] http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values

[13] http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/brooke-buchanan-theranos-whole-foods

[14] http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2016/ucm506089.htm

[15] http://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/062016/what-whole-foods-latest-woes-mean-stock-wfm.asp

[16] http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/27/investing/whole-foods-earnings-july

[17] http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/31/goodbye-findus-crispy-pancakes-brand-dogged-by-horsemeat-scandal-is-to-disappear-5654449/

What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

The races for 10 Downing Street and the White House highlight universal lessons in brand strategy for keen observers. As a brand, there’s none more emotive and powerful than a prime minister or president of the United States.

 

The time period available in politics for building a party platform, selecting leaders, and creating a campaign is much shorter, and consequently more intense, compared to all other arenas of brand building.

 

Nonetheless, just like the smallest of brands, the candidates must build that essential emotional bond whether through shaking hands, kissing babies or connecting with consumers at every single touchpoint in a way that’s relevant to them to earn every single vote. As students of brand marketing, the highly focused, condensed time frame and intense process of building a brand to attract voters — similarly to gaining customers — is rich in takeaways for businesses of any size.

 

Barack-Obama-Justin-Trudeau-600px

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – (Public Domain)

 

Brand Vision: Differentiation is Everything in Brand Strategy

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m not voting…all politicians are the same.” Political campaigns remind us that clear brand differentiation is key if you are to capture your audience’s attention, imagination and support. In politics that vision is policy; in branding that vision can be whatever you choose…as long as it’s undeniably clear, relevant to your primary audience and expressed in easy to understand language that resonates with them.

 

Hillary-Clinton

Image via hillaryclinton.com

 

Explain your brand vision. Paint a picture of what the world could look like and how others can be part of that when they buy into the vision of your brand. This must be a really bright North Star that shines for your audience and attracts word-of-mouth referral time after time.

 

Listen as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delineates four essential human freedoms. FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech leaves no question regarding the nation’s vision, “attainable in our own time and generation,” on the eve of US involvement in World War II.

 

 

Listen as John F. Kennedy takes just 30 seconds to articulate his vision in the 1961 inaugural address, speaking first to Americans and then to fellow citizens of the world.

 

 

 

Healthy Brand Competition

 

In sales training, we’re taught to emphasize benefits; trashing the competition is not the right approach. Some politicians are known to be terrible at this. Instead of articulating an optimistic vision, candidates often tell you how lousy the incumbent and/or the competition is. Arguably some consider Donald Trump to be the champion of insults — a skill he developed on reality television and honed in debates — which doesn’t always translate so well in real life.

 

 

To get out the vote, that political position must be communicated across all stakeholders: volunteer voter registration workers, doorbell ringers, call centres, college campus activists, hundreds of regional election headquarters, social media gurus, data experts, staffers, media and the public. To gain customers, that brand message must be reflected at every touchpoint and resonate with current buyers, prospective buyers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, every employee, shareholders, investors, and the CEO.

 

In the absence of articulating and sharing a compelling brand message, disinterest develops, or even cynicism and mistrust. In politics, this translates into divisiveness, fear, insecurity — and a landslide for the opposition. For a brand, it means that reputation suffers and sales decline.

 

You Are Your Brand

The brand called YOU is a multi-layered lesson we can learn (both good and bad practices) by watching the political stage during an election cycle. Certainly, public opinion can be influenced by the packaging: takeaways like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Donald Trump’s unique hairstyle make an indelible mark, as with any brand.

 

Meryl-Streep-as-Donald-Trump-New-York

Meryl Streep as Donald Trump – (@simply_the_best_ms on Instagram)

 

Also, brand marketers can observe how politicians use tone of voice, choice of words, truthfulness, authenticity, facts, listening skills, presentation style, distribution channels, frequency, inspirational metaphors, storytelling, consistency or lack of it, and more to make connections and grow audience. On occasion, they provide examples of what NOT to do.

 

 

 

Everyone involved has a chance to be a brand that is worthy of notice via its most important asset: People. Motivated, enthusiastic, hard working, smiling, clever and talented people make all the difference.

Know Your Brand’s Target Audience

Skills and insight go into knowing and understanding your target audience so you can speak their language, tap into their attitudes and values, and build a simple, strong compelling message that they find irresistible. That magnetism factor is a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types in what we call Purchaser Personas.

In fact it’s one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. You can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer Purchaser Personas which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business.

 

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

The mechanisms of polling, precincts and predicting are complicated. We leave that to the experts. Nonetheless, you’ll hear news commentary about politicians of all political persuasions “appealing to their base” and/or “broadening the base.”

 

As in branding, the articulation of mission, values, and promise are essential. Communication with target audiences to understand their likes and dislikes is the first step, however talking to the base over and over doesn’t bring in a single new vote. Brand expansion while maintaining brand loyalty with a core audience is the name of the game in politics as in retailing and other customer verticals.

Brand Messaging Cannot be Overrated

The importance of driving powerful brand impact is what Donald Trump might call “H-U-U-U-G-E” because connecting at a deep emotional level moves people strategically and emotionally. The intensity of the brand message is what makes it stand out; the authenticity of the brand message is what makes it stick.

 

How you communicate with your audience and what message you bring is what keeps audiences loyal and strengthens bonds. As with any branding strategy, placement, delivery, frequency and tone of voice matter. It’s so easy to turn people off with too much noise and overexposure.

 

In America, where the election process rolls out over two years and intensifies as election day draws nearer, this skill must be managed and sustained over weeks and months, just like a brand must do in the broader marketplace.

 

Donald-Trump

Image via donaldjtrump.com

 

Brand Storytelling Matters

It is critical to stay true to your brand’s DNA and not get lost, unglued, or disconnected. We’re conditioned that way. When a child asks you to read their favourite bedtime story, they’re anticipating the same story with the same ending.

Politicians are famous for the brand disaster known as a flip-flop on issues, and it can cost an election or tank sales. Whether in the political arena or in branding, there’s simply no room for inconsistent storytelling. It kills believability and trust.

 

 

The big why behind the brand story challenges us to build stories that promote something for the greater good. With vision, we can create and communicate a loveable brand, or a sustainable brand, or a socially responsible brand, or a caring, charitable brand…just like building a personality that people will vote for.

Sub-Branding Opportunities and Risks

Sometimes brands create sub-brands to serve expansion goals, as in Coors and Coors Light or American Express and the American Express Gold and Platinum Card. The risk is that sub-brands can detract from core brands, using precious time, energy and resources. Secondly, the sub-brand reputation reflects on its parent brand; the overall customer message can become diluted or compromised.

To minimise or eliminate risks, we recommend taking professional branding advice if you’re considering sub-branding to avoid costly mistakes. Planning your brand structures in the form of new or additional related or unrelated products or services, also known as brand architecture, is a critical part of the strategic planning and brand building process. We’ve seen this play out recently on the political world stage. Brand expansion must be taken seriously to protect core brand values. However, adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to John McCain’s 2008 ticket diluted the brand.

 

 

When Hillary Clinton undertook a six-month vice presidential vetting process, the selection was received quite differently to when Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May selected dropout candidate Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in an overnight surprise. The former London mayor’s brand image is reportedly lacking in the required decorum associated with such an important role according to other world leaders.

 

“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” – Boris Johnson [1]

 

 

The Appeal of Disruptor Brands

What did brand managers learn from Bernie Sanders during the 14-month lead up to the Democratic Convention, when the challenger was the Millennials’ poster boy, a lovable white-haired grandfather, small-town Vermont Senator?

  • It takes time and resources — generally a year or so — for any challenger brand to successfully disrupt.

 

  • A clearly and passionately articulated brand vision should be communicated over and over again.

 

  • This candidate’s storytelling remained on message (since his youth), establishing strong authenticity, trust and delivering no surprises.

 

  • Bernie Sanders successfully reached a broad audience through brand activation and personal engagement. While pre-imposed deadlines brought his campaign to an end, the branding strategy was successful.

 

  • Watch what happens when a little bird lands on Bernie Sanders’ podium during a speech. The crowd goes crazy and the candidate turns the moment into an articulation of his vision, “No more wars.”

 

 

 

Consider these questions:

  • Is your brand vision well developed and clearly communicated?

 

  • Have you shared your brand vision with all stakeholders?

 

 

 

  • Is your brand story clearly articulated across multiple customer touchpoints?

 

  • Are you considering sub-branding as a strategy for brand expansion?

 

 

 

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/10909094/Boris-Johnsons-top-50-quotes.html

 

10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to Be a Successful Startup Brand

From Silicon Valley to Silicon Docks and Silicon Roundabout, the buzzwords “entrepreneur”,  “branding” and “startup” get bandied about quite a bit, so let’s take a look at their meanings. Dictionary definitions indicate that an entrepreneur is a person who initiates, organizes and manages a business and assumes its risk. A startup is the vehicle for doing so and branding is what makes your brand highly visible, different, memorable and much loved. Underlying the definition in common use today, is that an entrepreneur has a vision for a new brand, a startup that will disrupt a particular practice.

 

Entrepreneurship is “creative, disruptive innovation,” as notably coined by the early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter.

 

A century later, a newer definition, courtesy of Silicon Valley-based investor Reid Hoffman[1], is: “An entrepreneur is a person who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

scaring-you-shitless Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Branding From the Beginning

Startup brands in our commercial midst are actually nothing new. In fact, branding has been central to the success of innovators from the beginning. For centuries before modern society’s computer chip lent Silicon Valley its moniker, startups have been an essential part of the economy, picking up steam — to coin a phrase — during the Industrial Revolution. In the Information Age, entrepreneurship accounted for 14 percent of all working-age Americans in 2015, some 27 million people, in the USA alone. [2]

Startup Brands Are Still Brands

Startup brands are brands, just like established ones, only less developed. And, a branding professional who has been down this road many times can provide all-important markers for you in trailblazing the way ahead for your new brand. You’ll want to avoid brand mistakes that will likely require a costly do-over in time. Our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme is designed to guide brand owners and managers to build a highly visible, different, memorable and much loved new brand from scratch.

 

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

 

From birth you need a memorable name, a mission statement, a brand promise, a standout brand personality and a strong brand strategy prior to a brand launch. No one will debate that creating a startup brand isn’t hard work. We’re here to help!

 

Whether it’s the first sewing machine, a craft beer, or a new messaging app, being a founder is all-consuming…and always starts small even when you are thinking big.

What Is and Is Not Your Brand

The adage, “Everything is your brand and your brand is everything,”[3] as it appears in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, is true enough. However, until and unless you have your brand’s core values and the building blocks of your brand foundation in place, it is premature to take the next steps.

 

Your logo is not your brand. Your clever new dot.com name is not your brand. Your website is not your brand. Your packaging is not your brand. These are components of your brand to reflect your purpose and value.

Also, your place of business is definitely not your brand. Even a billion dollar brand can start in somebody’s garage…and they certainly have:

  • Disney in 1923
  • Hewlett Packard in 1939
  • Apple in 1976
  • Amazon in 1994
  • Google in 1998

Essentials for Startup Brands and Branding

As an entrepreneur, YOU are the voice and visionary of your brand, you embody your brand and your passion shows. Seasoned Silicon Valley startup pros offer plenty of free advice for today’s entrepreneurs.

One of the key takeaways on perspective comes from Dave McClure[4], the straight-talking co-founder of 500Startups, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator and global investor. Here, McClure is describing the best way to make an elevator pitch for funding — yet the essence of his advice is spot-on for the strategic approach to building the foundation of a startup brand. He counsels:

      

“Here’s the secret: Pitch the problem, not the solution.”

 

“Just tell me the problem FIRST, not the SOLUTION. The reason is, I may not be able to understand what your solution does, but if you connect emotionally with me on what the problem is — and hopefully I also have the problem, or know someone who does — then I’ll give you PERMISSION to tell me more about how you’re going to solve the problem.”

 

Ten Essential Startup Branding Tips

Here we take a look at 10 essential startup branding tips with comments from a dozen or so outstanding innovators and advisors from the Silicon Valley dot.com frontier.

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
  • Lynda co-founder Lynda Weinman
  • Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • Apple founder Steve Jobs
  • Media personality Oprah Winfrey
  • Intuit co-founder Scott D. Cook
  • Venture capitalist Matt Turck
  • High tech investor Ben Horowitz
  • Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
  • SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk
  • Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015 and “Best Start-up Award” at Google’s Dublin HQ, 24-year-old James Foody, now San Francisco-based

 

Tip #1: Building Your Brand

 

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” – Oprah Winfrey at a 2014 Stanford University Graduate School of Business interview.[5]

 

Don’t try this alone. Silicon Valley wisdom counsels that even a genius cannot create a successful startup brand alone. No single person can possess all the required skills and have all the tools in their shed. Consider co-founders and advisors to move your business and branding strategy forward in the right direction. Remember…the “Fifth Beatle” for the Fab Four was their manager.

 

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

 

 

TechCrunch, a San Francisco, Silicon Valley media platform, says mentors are the secret weapons for a successful startup brand.[6] Their study shows that “mentors who had already achieved success in the tech industry were able to help younger tech startups outperform their peers by a factor of three.”

Broadlake, in Dublin, models their whole philosophy on a very hands-on approach as both advisors, mentors and investors who invest their time and capital to help entrepreneurs succeed.

 

“There’s always new challenges and I think with new challenges we gotta switch on, we gotta engage, we gotta work with these teams and try and achieve often for what these ambitious growing companies are looking to do, which is ground breaking stuff.” – Pete Smyth, Broadlake

 

Broadlake-Dublin-Entrepreneurs-Investors-600px

Image via Broadlake

 

“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.” – Bill Gates

 

Bill-Gates-at-Stanford

Image via Stanford University

 

 

Tip #2: A Brand is Not a Logo

Brands are not solely visual. Your new brand is about how you make people think and feel about your product or service. The most common misperception out there among startups is from those who think their brand is about their logo and not much else! CEOs, owners, partners, investors and founders should not make this mistake…nor should designers.

 

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

 

Jeff-Bezos-Amazon

Image via Slideshare

A side note: When Marissa Mayer was appointed new CEO of a struggling Yahoo in 2013, a new logo was among the first tasks undertaken by an internal committee. Meantime, email customers were unhappy with their service.

 

Yahoo-Logos-Old-and-New

Image via Naldz Graphics

 

Lesson: When Yahoo skipped the brand audit they ended up with a deep customer disconnect that was never regained. [7]

 

 

The Yahoo backstory to date:

Yahoo-$-History

Image via Twitter

 

Tip #3: Build Brand Trust

As a founder, you are the embodiment of your brand both internally and externally. From the moment you interact with your first core users, trust is critical. Your company may grow, but brand trust is a constant.

 

“Google is a consumer company and our success is directly linked to our users trusting us.” – Susan Wojcicki

 

And when you hire, make sure you hire the right people to personify the brand in its infancy. It is absolutely critical that your brand is represented properly all the time.

 

James-Foody-Ayda

Image via Twitter

 

“If someone likes you they will listen to you. If someone trusts you they will do business with you.” – James Foody, Ayda

 

Ayda-James-Foody

Image via Ayda

 

 

Tip #4: Identify Brand Need

When Lynda Weinman started teaching web design in 1993, she went in search of a textbook. All the books she found were too technical for beginners. (You can probably see where this story will lead.)

 

“I remember thinking maybe this book doesn’t exist yet. I went home from the bookstore and wrote the book proposal.” – Lynda Weinman

 

It was early days on the internet in 1995 when Lynda then got the idea to move her reference materials online and create a teaching course around them. Two decades later, Weinman had earned the nickname, “Mother of the Internet.”[8]

 

In the spring of 2015, Lynda Weinman sold her company, Lynda.com, to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. The new owner, the world’s premier business-oriented social networking service, was seven years away from its own founding when the brand Lynda.com was created.

 

 

Tip #5: Become a Brand Guru

Once you’ve identified a passion, become an expert in whatever it is. Tell your story well. In the brand’s early days, you need anecdotes, not raw data. Be authentic, be enthusiastic, be clued up and know your stuff. Your brand promise must be frequently voiced, relatable, and completely transparent.

 

“Whether you are interacting with customers, fundraising or recruiting, you are always selling and, and the best salespeople are master storytellers. Craft a compelling and genuine company story that resonates with your audience not just intellectually, but also emotionally.”   – Matt Turck, Venture Capitalist, FirstMark Capital

 

 

 

Tip #6: Determine Brand Positioning

 

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott D. Cook

 

Your core customers are your sounding board — an important audience for a startup. Is your brand positioning clear? Customers want companies to listen to their opinions, so you’ll need feedback to guide you in shaping your brand position in the marketplace. Before you can concern yourself with traction and loyalty, you need to ensure that the brand resonates, fills a need, and has value. Get feedback at every iteration along the way to ensure you’re moving in the right direction for consumer wants and needs. Tweaks will be necessary.

 

“Another one of my favourite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, “Done is better than perfect.” I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.” –  Sheryl Sandberg

 

 

Tip #7: Communicate Your Brand

It can be difficult to properly communicate your startup vision to others. But, it’s critical that you do so effectively.

Keep lines of communication open constantly and force yourself to listen to critics. Learning how to manage people takes work. But if you don’t learn how to communicate, you risk destroying relationships with customers and employees.

 

“As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge.” – Ben Horowitz

entrepreneurship-isn't-a-job

 Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod


Tip #8: Delight Your Customers

Bill Gates says the one word that best describes the startup mindset is optimism. Self-made multi-billionaire Warren Buffett says “At 85, I tap dance to work every day.”

 

Have fun and the pleasure of doing business with you will show right across your startup brand. Even if your brand is about heavily scientific based inter-planetary colonization, like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, let your good humour shine through.

 

“I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” – Elon Musk

 

 

 

 

 

“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I’ve done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” – Richard Branson

 

 

 

Tip #9: Believe in Your Brand

Perseverance is the name of the game. Believe in your vision. Remember the lesson from a 30-year-old Steve Jobs when he got fired from the company he founded…it’s OK to fail. So be brave, take risks, learn from them, and don’t give up if you love what you do.

 

Passion will keep you going when you get hit in the head with a brick, which will only make success taste even sweeter.

 

Fact: A startup brand will experience setbacks.

“See criticism as free learning that makes you a better entrepreneur. Don’t be constrained or deflated by criticism, but do learn from it.” – James Foody

 

Tip #10: Nurture Your Brand

Once you’re certain your startup brand is is ready for launch, keep your vision focused on the moonshot…the thing that people may not think is possible could be within your reach. Listen to your inner GPS and let it guide you on the ride of your life.

 

“Picking what problem to go and solve is a much bigger and more important challenge than being able to solve the problem.” – Mark Zuckerberg

 

 

“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” – Meg Whitman

 

Ask Yourself…

  1. Are you developing a new brand to launch to market but you’re just not sure where to start to ensure a strong financial return? Our “Personality Profile Performer”™ course is perfect for you.
  2. Have you got an existing brand but it’s just not strong enough to make it to No.1 in the market? Talk to us about how we can guide you to build your brand recognition plan.
  3. Have you underestimated how difficult a startup brand really is? Or, perhaps you’re not dreaming big enough. We can help you with a branding strategy to ensure that you are properly positioned.
  4. Are you struggling with your brand story? Let us help you craft a compelling one in your brand’s own tone of voice.
  5. Does your brand identity need a boost? We can consult with you on everything from font to packaging design.
  6. Have you attempted a startup that missed its mark? We can help you revitalize and relaunch a product or service to get the result you’re looking for.

 

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[1] https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/1213
[2] http://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/us-entrepreneurship-reaches-record-highs.html
[3] https://hbr.org/2011/06/a-logo-is-not-a-brand/
[4] https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemcclure
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DlrqeWrczs
[6] https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/mentors-are-the-secret-weapons-of-successful-startups
[7] http://www.inc.com/cody-steve/yahoo-logo-redesign-marissa-mayer.html
[8] http://bit.ly/2aj9GDW

How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market

Mondelēz International is a globally recognized snack manufacturer responsible for over 50 brands. However, according to its fact sheet released in 2015, 13 of its ‘power brands’ in 2014 were responsible for 60 percent of revenue which suggests that those 13 high performers have stronger brand positioning than the rest of the portfolio. In fact those 13 brands alone grew twice as fast as the company overall. [1]

 

 

Those statistics indicate how core brands can be crucial to a company’s overall success. However, the brands must be well positioned to attract the desired customer response.

 

Here, we’ll look at how to position your brand appropriately for success — even if the market is overcrowded. If you want to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive, memorable and loveable take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process empowering you to build your brand. Brand positioning is a key part of the brand building process — as you’ll see in the case studies listed below.

 

What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is focused on the perceptions of your audience, which means that it’s about what you do in the minds of your audience, and not what you do to the product or service itself. Brand positioning is about how you clearly differentiate your brand in the mind of your customer because this perceived favourable differentiation is what drives them to choose your brand instead of your competitors.

 

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Typically the most well positioned brands are linked to words or phrases in the customers’ minds, so the brand’s identity is personally defined in buyers’ minds. In other words they quickly differentiate that brand (product or service) from other possible options because of how you’ve positioned your brand to them relative to other potential options. [2]

 

For example, if a person thinks of the Apple® iPad®, he or she may instantly connect that product with words like “sleek,” “cutting edge” and “capable.” The last one is particularly likely, since Apple® ran an ad campaign that featured the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” It helped strengthen the idea that no matter what customers needed to get done, there’d be at least one app available to help them do it better.

 

 

 

Companies help develop the perceptions customers have about brands, but the brand experience itself determines whether something lives up to expectations. Therefore, the Apple® iPad® would not be well positioned if people found the tablet bulky, outdated and very hard to use. Brand positioning must be original, but also believable.

 

Brand positioning also relates to characteristics including style and customer types. As iPads evolve and newer models get released, each one is usually more streamlined than the last. The tablets also have a distinctive look that makes them easily identifiable, even from a distant store shelf.

 

Typical Apple® iPad® buyers are also arguably quite tech savvy and it’s unlikely a technophobe who only wants a very basic tablet would ultimately select an iPad as his or her first choice. Apple typically appeals to a younger, hip and technologically engaged customer type.

 

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Image via www.apple.com

 

Its business emphasis is to continually release products that have the “wow factor,” and the iPad® is no exception. Because Apple® has a history of innovation via previous products like the iPod® and iPhone®, it has already been able to successfully establish itself as impressive, even in relation to other top brands.

 

Geographic appropriateness is also a key factor in brand positioning. Swiss Miss® hot chocolate, for example might cause customers from a cold region to associate it with something they drink to warm up on cold nights. However, in a part of the world where the temperatures are much higher, the brand might be positioned in customers’ minds as a treat to drink when they want something sweet, but don’t need to warm their bodies.

 

Swiss-Miss-Cocoa-700px

Image via www.swissmiss.com

 

If a brand is perceived by its target audience to have or provide something very unique, it will have much stronger positioning in a competitive marketplace. Analysts are hailing the Chevrolet Bolt as the first mainstream electric car that has earned critical praise. [3]

 

Although the Nissan LEAF was offered to customers five years ago, that electric car was reportedly considered a failure because it was perceived to be less reliable, aesthetically less appealing and seemingly unable to win admiration of auto reviewers.

 

 

 

In contrast, the Chevy Bolt is already achieving good brand positioning because not only is it getting good marks from auto publications and reviewers, but its also offered at a significantly lower price than Nissan’s electric car, making it much more accessible to everyday consumers.

 

Chevy-Bolt-700px

Image via www.chevrolet.com

 

 

Questions to Ask When Creating Your Brand Position or Writing a Positioning Statement

There are numerous questions that brand owners, managers and marketers should consider when building a brand position or researching the marketplace.

 

They include:

  • What can the brand deliver better than competitors
  • What value does the brand give to customers?
  • What are the brand’s most believable characteristics?
  • What desirable things should the brand be known for?
  • Do we have the necessary resources to maintain the brand’s position once established?
  • What are the key emotional factors that will resonate most with customers?
  • Is the brand and its market focused enough?

 

The answers to the questions posed above will help focus your thinking when writing your brand positioning statement. That’s a one to three-sentence piece that explains to customers what makes your brand different from competitors, and the specific perceived value it provides. [4]

 

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4 Key Characteristics That Will Help Your Brand Stand Out From Your Competitors

A weak brand position will be largely useless if the market is so saturated people don’t notice it. In order to strengthen your brand positioning consider some of the factors listed below to enhance your differentiation. [5]

 

  1. A Positive Impact

Customers gravitate towards brands that clearly have a positive impact on the world, on specific communities, or society at large. Clearly define the impact your brand has, or aspires to have, and ensure your company values reflect this positive impact in everything it does. Positive impact builds authenticity and trust, which resonates with your target audience and consequently builds stronger brand recognition, visibility, referrals and repeat purchase.

 

  1. An Admirable Sense of Ambition

Don’t shy away from thinking big when considering your brand’s ideals, values, mission, promise and purpose. Maybe you’re not currently equipped to provide everything you’d like to for customers, but perhaps co-branding or a partnership with another brand could solve the problem or accelerate your ambitions.

 

  1. An Excellent Customer Experience

When customer service gets sacrificed, it often doesn’t matter how amazing a product is. Always work hard to attend to needs and exceed expectations in every way possible.

 

  1. The Ability to Fill a Void

Strong brands gain momentum by successfully fulfilling unmet needs. If other brands are already similarly positioned, explore other angles to create a greater perceived difference and stronger visibility to ensure your ideal customer notices of your brand’s special offerings.

 

 

Now, let’s look at three case studies of brands that have worked hard to earn their well-defined positions in the marketplace.

 

Beats Electronics

This audio accessory brand’s positioning allows it to compete well against Bose, a respected market leader, especially with younger consumers. Even though Bose is very well known for its technical prowess, Beats Electronics offers headphones and similar accessories that give bass-heavy sound, and look appealing too.

 

 

 

Many of the brand’s marketing materials are not only visually stunning, but they feature celebrities proudly wearing the audio gear.

 

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Image via www.beatsbydre.com

 

As a result, the brand is positioned as a cool, capable choice for people who love music and want to showcase that devotion through stylish accessories. [6] Beats Electronics is doing so well, it’s aiming to expand into other geographic markets. [7]

 

 

NoBull Burgers

This brand has successfully carved out a niche in the veggie burger market in its native Charlottesville, Virginia, plus many other states, along with Washington DC.

 

 

 

The burgers are organic and offer two flavour varieties. In addition to purchasing them in shops, people can also buy them through Relay Foods, a delivery service. The brand’s position focuses on the company being locally connected, and thereby more able than some competitors to determine what customers want. [8] Furthermore, the wholesome ingredients appeal to people who want healthy and tasty food.

 

 

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Image via www.nobullburgers.ca

 

 

 

JetBlue Airlines

This budget-friendly airline has succeeded because it takes the position that low-cost fares and high-quality air travel can go hand in hand. [9] For example, travelers sit in leather seats and enjoy ample legroom. They also get unlimited snacks and even get the opportunity to use the Internet for free as they fly. Fantastic customer service is another thing the brand’s known for, and JetBlue has proven people don’t have to endure poor treatment for low-priced airfare.

 

 

 

If your brand is well positioned like the examples mentioned, it will achieve the attention it needs to thrive. Even more importantly, brands that have excellent positions stay etched in customers’ minds even as other options crop up and endeavour to capture a chunk of your market share.

 

Do you need to enhance your brand positioning? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process empowering you to build your brand and it’s positioning.

 

 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Brand positioning gives customers reasons to buy one product or service over another
  • Brand positioning can be affected by aspects like style and tone-of-voice, brand personality, uniqueness, customer types and company reputation
  • A brand positioning statement succinctly tells customers what your brand can do that others can’t, and why it’s valuable and believable
  • The quality of a customer experience, the positive impact of a brand and its ability to meet needs must help differentiate it

 

Questions to Consider:

  • What are a few things you believe customers think of when envisioning your brand?
  • How might you work to make customers have more favorable brand associations that result in better positioning?
  • Can you name at least a few ways your company excels compared to competitors?
  • Have you considered how to help your brand maintain a good position over a long-term basis?
  • How might you make your brand’s position more believable?

 

You may also like:

• How Brand Purpose = Purchase = Increased Profitability

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

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

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

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

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

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

  

[1] http://www.mondelezinternational.com/ “Unleashing a Global Snacking Powerhouse” 2016.

[2] Susan Gunelius, https://aytm.com/, “What is Brand Positioning”

[3] Brad Berman, http://wwwplugincars.com, “200-Mile Chevy Bolt is Praised as First Mainstream Electric Car” January 2016.

[4] Lisa Nielsen, smallbusiness.chron.com/, “What is a Brand Positioning Statement?”

[5] Maryam Banikarim and Karl Heiselman, http://www.fastcompany.com, “Ask the Experts: How Do I Brand my Business to Stand Out from the Competition?” February 2014.

[6] Paul Maccabee, info.macabee.com, “7 Lessons from a Brand Battle: Bose vs. Beats By Dre Headphones,” November 2014.

[7] Roger Fingas, appleinsider.com, “Beats President Luke Wood Now ‘100%’ Focused on Electronics Division Targeting Global Expansion,” September 2015.

[8] http://www.nobullburger.com/our_story

[9] Tejeshwari Chandrappa, finance.yahoo.com, “Must-Know: JetBlue’s Competitive Airline Positioning”

 

How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?

In Silicon Valley, startups reaching a valuation of $1 billion are known as unicorns because they’re considered so rare. As of April 2016, there are 165 such privately-owned companies from Airbnb to ZocDoc,[1] a number which might suggest to the casual observer that the unicorn isn’t quite so rare after all.

However, “Failure is the norm,” according to Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and expert on entrepreneurship. Among the many millions[2] of global startups annually and within the broader, competitive marketplace, survival — and success — are exceptional.

 

Great Companies Also Fail

Twenty years ago, another Harvard Business School professor published “The Innovator’s Dilemma” to explore what makes well-managed, top tier companies fail.

Clayton M. Christensen, named the world’s most influential business thinker by Thinkers50 in 2011[3], determined that, “Great companies can fail ― not because they do anything wrong, but because they do everything right. Meeting customers’ current needs leads firms to reject breakthrough innovations ― ’disruptive technologies’ that create the products and opportunities of the future.”

 

Challenging the Status Quo

A challenger brand attacks the market leader(s) by offering a superior product or service…and by satisfying the customer.

From Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley to Silicon Wadi, everyone with a good idea has dreams of becoming the next Gates, Jobs, or Zuckerberg.

Chances are slim indeed for quantity to morph into quality. GEM, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, puts the estimate of new companies born each year at 100 million. Of these, half won’t last five years and few will crack through $1 million in yearly billings.[4]

Nevertheless, challenger brands enter vastly different verticals at widely varying moments in the life cycle of that segment’s status quo. Even with a brand new idea, such as online social networking, The Facebook, as it was originally called, was a challenger brand in 2003.

Remember Friendster? Philanthropist Sean Parker, first president of Facebook says of Friendster, “That’s a classic case of where a company just blew it. And MySpace is another case. Facebook had no chance to win; it should not have won the market…the only reason we won was the gross incompetence of MySpace…”

 

 

By definition, new contenders are less risk averse, more nimble, and entering their field with lower costs. As Parker points out, established brands must keep a sharply focused view over the shoulder at all times.

However, if a rear view mirror were enough to make it big, we’d see hundreds of thousands of unicorns grazing in virtual startup meadows. Instead, books by hundreds of prize-winning thinkers address and re-address the magic formula for a challenger brand to become a market leader.

Consider how these fundamentals of branding play out on the Challenger Brand Stage.

 

Five Golden Rules for Challenger Brands

  • Influence: Be convinced — and convincing
  • Connect: Clearly state your value proposition — authentically
  • Communicate: Learn from mistakes — both yours and others
  • Innovate: Listen to customers — and keep looking over your shoulder

 

Are you struggling with how to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive memorable and loveable? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process to make your brand No.1 in your target market — especially if you’re a challenger.

 

Personality-Profile-Performer-Offer-16-6-2016

 

Challenger Brand Case Studies

Natural Foods and Groceries – Whole Foods Versus Everybody

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1980, one small store and four owners decided the natural food industry was ready for a supermarket format. Today, the market leader in organic and natural foods has 440 locations in North America and the UK, with fiscal year 2015 total sales of $15.4 billion, up 8 percent year-on-year. Over 5 percent of total net profits goes to charities.

 

Whole-Foods-Original-Store

Image via www.wholefoodsmarket.com

 

Whole Foods is no stranger to connecting with customers and other branding fundamentals. Their fourth quarter earnings report states, “There has never been a time where customers have had more interest in what they eat, where it comes from and who’s growing it. Our company mission, commitment to transparency, and culture of innovation are more relevant than ever, and we see tremendous growth potential as food consciousness continues to evolve.”

 

 

 

 

How focused is Whole Foods on looking over their shoulder? “We recognize the need to move faster and go deeper to rebuild traffic and sales and create a solid foundation for long-term profitable growth and are taking the necessary steps to better communicate our differentiation, improve our value perception, and fundamentally evolve our business.”

 

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Image via www.wholefoodsmarket.com

 

 

Team Communications – Slack Versus Email

Have you ever heard anyone say how much they absolutely love email? It just doesn’t happen. Yet, customers are passionate about Slack.

 

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Image via www.slack.com

 

 

“I love Slack. I really, really do. So much so I would call it an addiction at this point,” wrote Dave Teare, founder of Canadian-based 1Password, the secure password app that started as a two person company 10 years ago and grew to over 60 people. Using Slack as the internal communications channel, Teare says, “As a company we’ve never felt more connected. The notifications are to die for. They are simply amazing and fun to receive.”

 

 

 

 

The cloud-based software developed in summer 2013 is meant to reduce or eliminate workplace email. About 8,000 customers signed up within 24 hours of launch and in 2015, Slack passed one million daily active users. The Financial Times wrote that Slack was the first business technology to cross from business to personal use since Microsoft Office and the BlackBerry.

Several months ago, the free messaging app lit up the tech press when it raised funds at a $1.2 billion valuation. Well, try $2.8 billion now, and still growing.

“Better than truffles,” and “in love with a service” are the kind of comments you’ll find when you visit the Wall of Love to find out what happy customers are saying. Take the tour. Slack clearly states the value proposition, “A new kind of messaging…what’s different about Slack…and no more email.”

 

On-demand Transportation – Lyft Versus Uber

Ride-sharing conducted on smartphones has shaken up the taxi and limousine business in urban centers all over the world. Passengers request a ride on a mobile app and get connected to a nearby driver, displaying profile, name, headshot, vehicle make and model of their car, and estimated arrival time. No payment transaction is needed, as payments are automated.

In some cities, competing brands exist in the massive transportation industry. Uber and Lyft are chief among these. Uber has spread to 58 countries, Lyft is available in 200+ US cities.

Despite being the challenger brand, Lyft expected to reach $1 billion in gross annual revenue in 2015, up from $130 million, the company’s co-founder told Reuters. Uber’s gross bookings were projected to hit $10.84 billion in 2015, rising to $26.12 billion in 2016.[5]

 

Lyft_company_culture

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

Each service offers a different ride experience, including casual, shared, disabled, limousine. All offer a deeply personal solution to a problem: getting from A to B affordably, safely, reliably and on-demand.

 

Uber-style-popularity

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

Uber started as a luxury car service with the motto, “everyone’s private driver,” and they take a higher percentage from the drivers, too. In a Lyft car, passengers fisty-bump (it’s an insider gesture) with the driver and sit in the front seat. The touchy-feely brand has the motto, “your friend with a car.”

 

Lyft-vs-Uber-Brand-Comparison

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

The ramifications of the taxi and limousine disrupt are potentially far-reaching. Observers are watching to see whether the post-IPO Uber Technologies Inc. [UBER.UL] and privately-owned Lyft carve out different strategic areas within each brand. For Lyft, possibly impacting commuter habits across America[6] and for Uber, competing with Google to upset the entire automobile industry with driverless cars.

 

Men’s Shaving – Dollar Shave Club Versus Gillette

Since the dawn of the 20th century, shaving for gentlemen has been dominated by the safety razor from Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, a brand valued at $20.5 billion, accounting for 70 percent of the global market.

Yet, the in-store shopping experience is not entirely customer friendly with packaging which can be somewhat challenging for the less nimble fingered and complicated blade choices, all of which are typically locked behind glass cases due to their higher prices.

 

Dollar-Shave-Club-800px

Image via www.dollarshaveclub.com

 

Dollar Shave Club focused on that reportedly unappealing customer experience, encouraging consumers to join a home delivery scheme to “Shave Time. Shave Money.” The Guardian reports that “Dollar Shave Club’s sales have steadily increased since its launch, from $4m in 2012 to a projection of between $140m and $150m this year, with 2.4 million users.”

 

Dollar-Shave-Delivery-Box-700px

Image via www.dollarshaveclub.com

 

Watch Michael Durbin, the Venice, Californian-based former improv comic present his vision in a YouTube video that prompted 12,000 orders in a two-day span after it was released in 2012 and has now enjoyed 22 million views.

 

 

 

 

  • Which of these challenger brand case studies do you find most compelling and why?
  • Can you think of an industry that’s a prime target for a challenger brand?
  • Do you agree that building a sound brand strategy begins with research: knowing what customers need — not what you think they need?
  • As a challenger brand, can you carve out a very unique niche to own and defend? 
  • In what ways do you think a challenger brand should market itself differently from market leaders with larger resources?

 

You may also like:

• The Power of Disruptor and Challenger Brands

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

• Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

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

• 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
Personality-Profile-Performer-Offer-16-6-2016

 

[1] http://techcrunch.com/unicorn-leaderboard
[2] Gem-2015-2016-global-report-110416-1460370041.pdf
[3] http://thinkers50.com/t50-awards/awards-2011
[4] https://www.allbusiness.com/million-dollar-startup-secrets-16694845-1.html
[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lyft-runrate-exclusive-idUSKCN0T621K20151117#7j71Oao6sDUYoY7r.99
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/technology/personaltech/lyft-tries-to-coax-commuters-to-leave-their-cars.html