Top 7 Branding Trends in 2017

With each December comes the inevitable look back at what we’ve learned in the year that was, as well as a look forward with predictions of trends aplenty. The business of branding is no different, although there is a constant in branding that we draw your attention to, namely: brand identity, including packaging, design, and naming — in amongst all the other rapidly evolving branding trends.

 

 

Does Branding Defy Fads?

 

Branding is different to other businesses in one very important way. That is, brands are everything and everything is a brand. A brand is alive and must be fed and nurtured to stay healthy and grow.

 

“A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”

– Michael Eisner, Disney CEO, 1984-2005

 

 

 

Therefore, a professional brand audit, occasionally leading to a brand refresh encompasses essential elements such as brand identity, packaging, design, and naming. Such is the tender loving care that must take place regularly and diligently throughout a brand’s lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

A popular blog post: Brand Audits — How to Use One to Grow Your Profits

 

That being said, let’s look at a curated collection of where branding trends are heading in 2017, at smaller trends within the bigger branding picture that apply to SMEs / SMBs as well as to larger companies and services.

 

 

 

7 Branding Trends for 2017

    

  1. Brands Focus on Building Connections, Not Sales

 

Over the past five years or so, the meteoric rise in social media has taught us that all media is social. All the one-way streets leading from healthy brands to their audiences have been resurfaced and re-routed to accommodate two-way traffic. Your brand has a story to be told…and sharing it is all about the customer journey: building connections, not hard selling.

 

 

 

 

 

Two-way communications, humanizing the brand, authenticity, and personalization are the buzzwords that are absolutely here to stay as the customer experience is firmly the heart of the brand in 2017.

 

Read more in this blog: Brand Stories: Critical to Brand Growth Strategy

 

 

  1. Employees Gain Clout as Brand Ambassadors

 

Forget the ivory tower. In 2017, more and more brands of all sizes will invest and train to inspire, empower, and develop employees as the outstanding front-facing line of brand ambassadors. Frankly, no one is more invested in seeing the company successful and the brand be well-liked than the people who work in its name. And, no one is better at circulating good news, cementing relationships, and drumming up loyalty.

 

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Image via Linkedin Talent Blog

 

 

“Customers are really interested in connecting with empowered employees who are the subject matter experts, not brand spokespeople or brand marketeers.”

Eric Nystrom, Director of Social Media and Community at Dell

 

 

Check out: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already on Your Payroll

 

 

  1. Brand Messaging and Storytelling is Increasingly via Video

 

Video will be all the rage in 2017, as smaller brands play catch up by learning that it’s entirely possible to produce short videos with a smartphone on a shoestring budget.

 

 

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Did you know? Publishers report that 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound.[1]

 

Over the past year, we’ve watched video become an important, powerful medium for businesses, with the introduction of Facebook Live mushrooming views from 1 billion to 8 billion year-on-year.

 

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In mid-2016, Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn, VP for EMEA, predicted the platform will be “all video” in less than five years, with plenty of immersive 360-degree and virtual reality experiences going forward.

 

See the Fortune interview on the future of video here.

 

 

  1. In an Omni-Channel World, Brands Leverage Mobile-First Communications

 

With smartphones in their pockets, your customers are always on. Therefore you want to be where they are. After all, Google has a mobile-first strategy and so should every brand, even if their bricks-and-mortar premises closes for the day…or there’s a blackout?

 

 

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Image via Flickr 2.0, Marcin Wichary

 

Case Study in Real Time: It was 2013 — such a long time ago in “high tech years.” You’re watching the SuperBowl on TV while simultaneously tweeting conversations about its highlights. Suddenly, inside the New Orleans Super Bowl dome, they experience a blackout that ends up lasting for 34 minutes. Here’s how one brand famously jumped into the real-time, multi-channel, mobile-first arena with lightning fast and ultra-clever messaging:

 

 

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Image via Oreo on Twitter

 

The ad world reckons the Oreo brand got more oomph from this one tweet than from their multi-million dollar Super Bowl television commercial.

 

Today, thanks to algorithms, machine learning, data collection and analysis, real-time brand messaging evolves into right-time / right-place / right-person / right-interests brand messaging, as personalization is the overarching trend.

 

 

  1. Brands Use Data to Increasingly Personalize Customer Experiences

 

If you’re still asking whether localized branding is frightful or insightful, 2017 will surely settle the score in favour of the latter.

 

Your phone will vibrate as you walk close to a coffee shop selling your favourite roast. And, why not? If you’ve shopped there before, the push notification with a special offer for a hyper-personalized outreach by the brand (the coffee roast, or the coffee shop, or even the brand of doughnuts they sell) is easily done. Local marketing, re-targeting, and “near me” moments are being leveraged by SME brands and hundreds of mobile apps.

 

 

 

 

 

According to eMarketer, the majority of U.S. marketers intend to allocate more of their budgets to customer loyalty in 2017, and about 13 percent said they anticipate significant increases in spending on such programmes.[2]

(Survey: CrowdTwist in partnership with Brand Innovators)

 

 

  1. Brands Focus on Sustainability and Going Green

 

Three big name fashion brands: H&M, Zara, and Benetton “have worked hard over the past few years, banning hazardous chemicals from their production,” reports Greenpeace International[3] in their latest Detox Catwalk index.

 

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Image via Greenpeace International, Detox Catwalk

 

 

Consumers are being heard loud and clear on performance with a conscience. Sustainability matters. Supply chains matter. Food and material sources matter. Energy savings matter. Eco packaging matters. CSR matters.

 

Find out more: Brand CSR – The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Brand pioneers paving a path to an environmentally-friendly, greener future will be joined by many more in 2017.

 

 

Sixty-eight percent of online shoppers say purchasing eco friendly products is important to them.

– Consumer Behavior Report by PriceGrabber.[4]

 

Learn more: Eco Packaging: Essential for Your Profitability and the Environment

 

 

  1. Brands Develop a Gen Z Voice

 

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The demographic cohort following Millennials, tagged Generation Z, are “the next big retail disruptor,”[5] catching the attention of consumer brands beginning in 2017. As the oldest of America’s 75 million Millennials reach their mid-30s, the oldest Gen Z-ers are graduating from college. This expanding cadre of teen digital natives who cannot remember a time before social media and smartphones are being called “Millennials on steroids”[6] and 2017 is the year when brands will be figuring out how to communicate and what resonates with this cohort.

 

Keep on top of the disruptor factor in your sector: The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

 

“A good brand-advocacy strategy is a must-have when it comes to dealing with Gen Z.” – Forbes[7]

 

 

In Summary: The 2017 Branding Trends Landscape

 

It may seem like a tall order, but hey…2016 was no bed of roses, either. Stuart Sproule, Landor’s president of North America, sums it up in the branding agency trends watch, “Digital, Physical, And Everything In-Between.

 

 

 

 

 

Sproule says, “We are seeing the most complex brand landscape ever. Consumers want the latest in technology, more personalized experiences, more opportunities to interact – all in a more simple, streamlined process. Brands will need to be agile and adapt to changing demands, but they will also have to go a step further. These trends signal greater consumer involvement in how products and services engage them. Brand managers will have to be less rigid and more open to input from both internal and external audiences.”[8]

 

And the good news…we’re here to help!

If you want direction and support transforming your brand so it fully embraces changing trends then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you.

 

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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 re-evaluate your brand 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 development and implementation in your business or organisation. If your team is larger and you’d like to include everyones participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too. Just drop us a line or give us a call to discuss your preferences and we’ll develop your brand building intensive bespoke to your particular brand requirements.

 

 

Questions Brand Owners and Managers Might Ask About 2017 and Branding Trends:

 

 

 

 

[1] http://digiday.com/platforms/silent-world-facebook-video

[2] http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/rachel-newton-sessionm-guest-post-2017-predictions-mobile-marketing-loyalty/647832

[3] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/detox-fashion-brands-toxic-pollution-ranking/blog/56910

[4] http://bit.ly/2fLT4Ho

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/fashion/move-over-millennials-here-comes-generation-z.html?_r=0

[6] https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/01/generation-z-millennials-on-steroids.html

[7] http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenfriedman/2016/10/04/why-brands-should-be-fighting-for-gen-zs-attention/2/#39286e565ee3

[8] http://landor.com/thinking/trend-watch-2017-digital-physical-everything-between

 

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How to Transform Your Brand and Increase Your Sales

How Brexit Presents Big Opportunities for Small Brands

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

• How successful brands and branding works

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Want to know more?

 

Click here for details…

 

 

Brand Equity: How to Measure the Strength and Effectiveness of Your Brand

According to statistics, 88 percent of consumers say quality makes them loyal to a brand, and only 50 percent say price is their primary concern. [1] Also, when people have a negative experience with a brand, 50 percent said they were unlikely to consume content from that brand again. Clearly, this data shows how important it is to ensure your brand is sending the right messages to your customers, and making them want to align with it for the right reasons.

 

 

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Image via www.business2community.com

 

 

What is a Brand, and Why is Brand Equity So Important?

 

Your brand encompasses your total offering to your customers,[2] from what it stands for, to its personality, the experience it gives your customers, what it promises to deliver consistently, the language, tone of voice and messaging it uses to express itself throughout its communications, the fundamental culture of the organization it represents, its brand collateral and the people who represent it.

 

In short it’s the sum of all its parts from the quality of its offering to its attributes and the emotional meanings associated to it together with all its brand collateral which includes visual identifiers like its logo, website, packaging, printed literature, trade stands, staff uniforms, interior and exteriors site design and signage, vehicle livery, video content and so forth.  All of these elements collectively are what make up your brand when they all consistently and congruently engage your primary audience in a way which is relevant to them, yet are distinctive, different and memorable.

 

Brand equity is then derived from the overall perception of your brand, the way customers perceive your total brand offering, products or services, rather than the just the isolated features and benefits of the offerings themselves. When customers have a favorable brand perception with a consistently good experience, it’s far more likely they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and recommend it to others. In order to achieve strong brand equity, your brand needs to be unforgettable to your customers — it must resonate both with their hearts and their minds.

   

However, strong brand equity has more advantages than just customer loyalty: [3]

 

  • It enables you to form stronger ongoing relationships and negotiating power with vendors
  • Positive brand equity supports long-term company growth e.g. expansion into new markets, product extensions etc.
  • Strong brand equity could partially shield you if you hit a bump in the road e.g. reputational ramifications related to something unusual such as defective product or atypical manufacturing delay — assuming you handle the situation appropriately
  • Fundamentally customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value

 

 

Although brand equity may seem intangible, it has real dollar, euro, or pound value. Brand equity can be tracked and measured using a combination of specialist research and specific algorithms applied on a comparative annual basis.

  

Measuring brand equity accurately is a niche expertise, with a number of companies specializing in this particular field. Interbrand is one of those companies and they annually track the brand equity value of companies and brands from year to year. By way of example, in 2014 the brand equity of credit card company American Express was $19.5 billion. That figure is impressive in itself, but it’s even more striking to note the brand’s equity value had grown 11 percent from the previous year. [4]

 

 

Evaluating Your Brand Equity: Auditing its Current State and Identifying Weaknesses

 

The first step in analyzing your brand equity is to get a reading of customer perceptions. It’s also important to research employee perceptions for comparative alignment. If there are underlying problems with a company’s brand culture there are also likely to be underperformance issues coupled with incongruent communications that customers will pick up on — all of which means they will be less likely to embrace your brand, and may even doubt its authenticity, which in turn causes a lack of trust.

 

A brand audit health check is a very useful and practical way to gauge how your primary audience and staff feel about your brand. It can also enable you to identify weaknesses that might not have been noticed previously. Once you identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to convert them into strengths, or at least minimize the aspects of those weaknesses that make your brand less effective when pitched against your competitors. A brand audit health check also enables you to uncover and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.

 

 

Make Your Brand Stronger using Keller’s Brand Equity Principles

 

When working with our clients to help them develop stronger brand equity, we also advocate principals from Keller’s Brand Equity Model, also known as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. It suggests before you’re able to strengthen brand equity, you must first shape how customers think and feel about the brand. [5]

 

The model is a pyramid shape, with brand identity at the bottom. That section represents the key characteristics and personality of the brand. It’s important customers recognize those attributes correctly, and believe they are different from what competitors offer.  

 

The next level of the pyramid relates to brand meaning. In other words, what does your brand stand for, and how well does it meet customers’ needs, both in terms of performance, and on social and psychological levels? Think about the ways you want customers to experience your brand, and use those factors to create your brand personality and key characteristics.

 

Brand response represents the third tier of the pyramid. Credibility, actual and perceived quality, and comparisons with competing products all help shape brand response. Your goal is to make your brand evoke direct feelings and innate emotions.

 

The top level of the pyramid is brand resonance. When customers actively engage with your brand even when not purchasing it, that demonstrates brand resonance, as does a desire to be associated with a “community” of fellow purchasers. Customers also show brand resonance through behavioral loyalty, such as repeat purchases.

 

 

Measuring Brand Equity with the Six-Stage Brand Development Model

 

The six-stage brand development model is a diagnostic tool that combines proven metrics and a framework to guide brand equity strategies. Below, you’ll find the different characteristics a brand should have [6], plus how to make improvements if necessary.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Recognizable: If your brand lacks recognition in the marketplace it’s crucial to develop your brand strategy and enaction it tactically with a fully intergrated branding plan in order to raise its profile. Brand recognition increases through repeated exposure.

 

  • The Brand Must Be Memorable: The brand should be among the first called to mind when customers decide what to purchase. If that’s not happening, educate your target market about what your brand offers and why it’s unique – while remembering to enage your aduience at both emotional and rational levels.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Viewed Favourably: As we often remind our clients, it’s not enough for people to be aware of a brand. The target audience must also believe the brand is able to meet their needs with trust and respect for what the brand represents.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Distinctive: When customers are ready to buy an item (product or service), they must feel compelled to do so because they think the product offers a unique brand promise unlike what any competitors can provide. Brand perception occurs at both functional and emotional levels, so the goal is to position your brand effectively by stressing attributes that motivate purchases.

  

  • The Brand Must Be Preferred: Ideally, customers will prefer your brand over all others, and be willing to purchase it repeatedly. If preference for your brand is low, you’ll need to evaluate why through a brand audit and then implement changes based on the analysis and findings made. Fundamentally you must build brand trust if you want to engender long term brand loyalty.

 

  • Your Market Must Be Satisfied with the Brand: Ideally, customers will be so happy with what your brand offers they aren’t just personally content, but eager to recommend your brand to friends — become brand champions. If that isn’t currently happening, you may need to evaluate where the discontent lies and work on improving your product or service in terms of both percieved and actual quality.

 

 

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Image via www.mindtools.com

 

 

Let’s briefly examine three case studies where improving brand equity was the central goal:

 

 

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Image via www.starbucks.com

 

 

Starbucks

Starbucks has become a global brand worth $10 billion. In 2011, the brand went through a brand identity expansion to boost brand equity. A recognizable green mermaid traditionally decorated bags of the brand’s trademark coffees.

 

 

 

 

 

However, Starbucks wanted to expand its future vision by also using its identity more broadly on other products besides coffee, and associate it with offerings like teas and lemonades. The transition to use the mermaid logo more broadly was lauded by industry experts [7], with some believing strongly the broader use of the logo would trigger new growth and bolster recognition, without compromising acquired brand equity.

  

 

Veritas Vineyard 

Image via www.veritaswines.com

 

 

Veritas Winery

Established in 2002 as a family-run business, Veritas Wineries was one of the first businesses of its kind in Virginia. The company realized its history and provenance helped establish its brand equity and wanted to implement some brand enhancements without compromising its valuable legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

The company commissioned a full brand audit, which resulted in small but meaningful changes [8] to the brand’s identity and made the overall brand more consistent to promote prolonged marketplace success. These alterations have enabled the brand to maintain its dominance, despite increasing competition.

  

 

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola used “Open Happiness,” as a global campaign, to appeal to its consumers’ desire to feel optimistic and be comforted despite a weak economy. At the time, it was the brand’s first new campaign in three years. Advertising spots ran in both print and television media.

 

Although previous campaigns won awards, some analysts felt they required localized tweaking to resonate with culturally different audiences in different parts of the world. [9] The intention was that “Open Happiness” would have mass worldwide appeal. In the end, that goal was achieved, and the campaign achieved widespread industry praise for its ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, brand equity is measured one brilliant customer experience at a time. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand tone, understand how to relate to your target audience in a way that matters most to them, while simultaneously meeting their needs. Building and maintaining brand equity is an ongoing process, remember successful brand building is as much about all the small things you do consistently well coupled with the bigger campaigns and new initiatives.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand equity can make the difference in how customers experience your brand, and whether they want to align themselves with it.

 

  • Brand equity is derived from customer perceptions. Strong brand equity increases the likelihood customers recommend your brand to others.

 

  • A brand audit can indicate how customers perceive your brand, and enable you to identify weaknesses.

 

  • Brand equity is tied to how customers both think and feel.

 

  • Brands should be preferred, distinctive, favorably viewed, recognizable and memorable if strong brand equity is to be achieved.

   

 

Questions to consider:

 

  • What actions or brand strategies could be implemented to increase customer engagement with your brand?

 

  • What would help improve the actual and perceived quality of your brand?

 

  • Have you taken steps to become informed and evaluate your brand’s weaknesses compared to competitors?

 

  • Do you feel your brand adequately conveys why and how it meets your customer needs?

 

  • Does your brand connect with people globally, and is that necessary for its brand equity?

 

 

You might also like:

 

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

   

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

  

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

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

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

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

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

 

 

[1] Eric Hammis, http://www.business2community.com, “How Important is Brand Identity?”, April 2015.

[2] Lois Geller, http://www.forbes.com, “Why a Brand Matters”, May 2012

[3] John Fatteross, http://www.thehartford.com, ” Advantages of Strong Brand Equity”

[4] Jennifer Connelly, htttp://www.entrepreneur.com, “‘Brand Equity’ is an Intangible That’s Worth Real Money”

[5] https://www.mindtools.com/, “Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand”

[6] http://rockresearch.com/a-brand-development-model-how-to-define-and-measure-brand-equity/, “A Brand Development Model: How to Define and Measure Brand Equality,” December 2013

[7] Carl Johnson, http://www.adage.com, “Why Starbucks Logo Change Doesn’t Equate to Brand Change,” January 2011

[8] http://www.designbywatermark, “What is a Brand Refresh?”

[9] Betsy McKay and Suzanne Vranica, http://www.wsj.com, “Coca-Cola to Uncap ‘Open Happiness’ Campaign” January 2009

 

 

How to Use Brand Activism to Mobilize Your Customers

Dare to care! What is brand activism? It’s a term we’ll all be hearing a lot more about. Historically, people are more familiar with the term consumer activism, which the Financial Times defines as, “The range of activities undertaken by consumers or NGOs to make demands or state their views about certain causes linked directly or indirectly to a company.” In the extreme, such a movement could even lead to a boycott, the FT explains.

If you flip that negativity around, but retain the passion, you get brand activism — a positivity in which a brand’s purpose is seen to bring real value into people’s lives.

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Image via www.benjerry.com

In 2016, finance professor Alex Edmans, PhD., of the London Business School announced the results of a study into the effect of purpose on profit. “I found that the 100 best companies to work for in America beat their peers by 2-3 percent per year over a 28-year period, from 1984 to 2011.” He added that, “To earn profit a company is forced to care about society. It has to make high quality products, or customers will stop buying. It has to treat its workers well, or they’ll leave. And it can’t pollute the environment, or its brand will be hurt.”[1]

Simon Mainwaring, author of the branding manifesto, “We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Renew Capitalism and Build a Better World,” summarizes in his article, “Why Profit Alone Will Put You Out of Business.” Research from three top global firms: Havas Media[2], Cone Communications[3] and Edelman,[4] indicate that today’s consumers “expect brands to be socially responsible and are willing to pay more for products and services from those that do.”

How to Activate Your Brand

Your brand’s goal is to give a customer the feeling of a personal connection with the brand via the brand’s purpose. We’ll take a look at some brand strategy examples from each of these activism approaches:

  • Experiential events
  • Promotional events
  • In-store retail marketing
  • Content marketing

 

   

Experiential: Donald Trump and Brand Activism

When politicians generously supply people attending a rally with signs, banners, baseball caps and badges, they understand that not all brand activism is measureable in standard ROI terms. Nonetheless, they are certainly aware of the effect such a display makes for the television cameras. Donald Trump calls his staged events “a movement.” For better or worse, that’s brand activism impacting the voting booth.

 

   

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Image via Evan Guest, flickr

 

 

Promotional: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brand Activism

As we all know, celebrities embody their own personal brands. But there are huge differences among such people as to how they choose to activate the power of their brand.

In 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated Leonardo DiCaprio as UN Global Ambassador of Peace saying, “Mr. DiCaprio is a credible voice in the environmental movement, and has a considerable platform to amplify its message. I am pleased he has chosen to add his voice to UN efforts to raise awareness of the urgency and benefits of acting now to combat climate change.”[5]

      Leonardo Di Caprio Against Fossil Fuels 600px

Image via Leonardo DiCaprio fan page www.leonardodicaprio.com

One glance at the actor’s website highlighting the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation[6] indicates where he’s coming from as he invites his fans to follow him to the podium at the Global Citizen Festival, the Paris Climate Summit, the World Economic Forum, and more.

Before a standing ovation by his Hollywood peers at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016, Leo channeled his 60 seconds as king of the world to frame an urgent call. Using his Oscar acceptance speech to reach 34 million people, the actor expressed his passionate views on climate change. Within a week, brand marketers had dubbed this “The Leo Effect.” One glance at the actor’s own website highlighting the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation[7] indicates where he’s coming from. That’s brand activism.

       Leonardo Di Caprio World Economic Forum 600px

Image via Leonardo DiCaprio fan page www.leonardodicaprio.com

In-store: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Brand Activism

When it comes to wide flung brand activism, it’s hard to beat the Vermont ice cream maker. “We speak to the aspiring activist inside all of us…everyone gets a happy feeling when they contribute to society,” says Ben & Jerry’s CEO. The prosperity of this brand is about sharing a business model meant to create positive change in the world, right down to the electric car fleet solution.

At the Vermont ice cream company, the director of social mission says, “We work our way from inside the pint out. So we start with the dairy, making sure we support the farmers from which we source our dairy so they can have more sustainable, profitable family farms. Then we work our way through the pint — sugar, cocoa, banana, coffee, vanilla — all fair trade certified. Then we work our way to environmentally sustainable packaging.”

Ben & Jerry’s brand activism goes beyond the store’s freezer. In London in 2012, 18 consumers made the final round of “Join Our Core,” presenting an environmental sustainability pitch before an expert panel of judges.

Benand Jerry Sustainable Business Idea 600px

Image via www.benjerry.com

Five winners each received a £10,000 cash prize, six months of mentoring and a trip to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont, as well as a year’s supply of ice cream. The priceless clincher? Having a Ben & Jerry’s flavour named after the winner. This annual initiative has gone global.[8]

The People’s Climate March is a Ben & Jerry’s activation that has seen 700,000 people in cities around the world taking to the streets in peaceful protest, demanding action from corporate and political leaders. The brand is deft at connecting the dots from environmental conservation passion back to the brand, reflected in clever flavour names such as Save Our Swirled, Fossil Fuel, and Baked Alaska (“If It’s Melted, It’s Ruined”). Ben & Jerry’s is a leader in brand activism across three sets of elements: product, economic, and social.

Ben And Jerrys Baked Alaska 600px

Image via http://www.benjerry.com

Content: Dignity Health and Brand Activism

Dignity Health is a California-based not-for-profit public-benefit corporation operating hospitals and ancillary care facilities in 17 states. Via their project, “Hello Humankindness,” Dignity Health shines a spotlight on acts of kindness in their hospitals and throughout the world.

On the dedicated Hello Humankindness website[9], readers learn about a special education teacher who instills self-esteem among his students by praising each one of them at the start of every day. Another story features a former oncology nurse who is hand weaving Disney-themed wigs of soft yarn for young cancer patients who have suffered hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments, shipping them off at no charge to kids in 11 countries so far.

Beginning with small acts like saying good morning and making a new friend in the playground, the Great Kindness Challenge accounted for a record 250 million acts of kindness performed by 5 million primary school students and Dignity Health employees during a five-day period in January 2016.[10] Nothing resonates more than an authentic, selfless act of human kindness; it’s contagious. These very personal stories of kindness reflect favorably on the brand while making the world a better place.

Small Brand Activism: London Estate Agents

Bective Leslie Marsh is a small estate agency with five offices in Prime Central London,  focused on extremely popular residential areas like Chelsea, Kensington and Notting Hill, where standing out from a crowded field isn’t easy.

The emphasis on being “refreshingly different” includes hiring staff who live close to those offices, so they not only know the area, but have deep roots in each community. In addition to local knowledge, Bective Leslie Marsh has run a sponsorship department for two decades.

Bective Lesley Marsh Activism 600px

Image via www.bective.co.uk

Brand activism takes Bective Leslie Marsh way beyond simply making a charitable donation. BLM staff give time, energy and resources to long-standing local charities, such as West London Action for Children, by serving on the planning committee.

BLM staff are deeply embedded in the local communities they serve through brand activism which manifests in activities such as running prize-giving stalls at the local school together with garden fairs, hosting tables at trivia and bridge night fundraisers, providing players, homemade lemonade and branded trophies at tennis tournaments, serving hot cider at holiday events. Being laser-focussed on neighbourhood charities that build lasting relationships creates a far more personal, trustworthy approach to selling and letting clients’ homes — in short another form of brand activism at a meaningful local grass roots level.

Activism must deeply align with brand purpose, the mission, vision, values and causes that are at the brand’s core. Brands that get this right can drive incredible customer loyalty, advocacy and passion, inspiring others to join in.

People don’t buy just a product or service, it’s not just transactional business; they buy into the idea and the actions the brand stands for. Brand loyalty motivates fans, devotees, and advocates to tell others, often via social media,  about their favorite products or servcies. This  invaluable word-of-mouth is what leads to accelerated growth, increased profits and a lasting positive impact in society.

Questions to consider:

• Have you shared your brand purpose with all employees?

 

• Are your team at all levels within your business fully aware of and aligned to your brand’s purpose.

 

• Have you articulated your brand’s purpose through brand profiling using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ to successfully move it from the meeting room to a living, breathing part of your brand DNA driving everything you do internally, and externally in how you connect with your customers?

 

• Have you performed any brand activations at a local community level?

 

• Has your brand ever sponsored a charity event or a charitable foundation?

 

• Have you ever held a product sample giveaway at your retail location or at an event?

 

• Have you considered giving a small percentage of each sale to a charitable beneficiery closely aligned to your brand’s whole mission, vision and purpose?

 

• Have you communicated your brand purpose, your brand’s ‘big why’, in a blog, advertising, social media, or other content?

You may also like:

 

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 Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

[1] http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/organizational_change/maxine_perella/leo_effect_post-csr_world_can_profit_co-exist_pu

[2] http://www.meaningful-brands.com

[3] http://www.conecomm.com/2015-global-csr-study

[4] http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/2015-edelman-trust-barometer

[5] http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/secretary-general-designates-leonardo-di-caprio-un-messenger-peace

[6] http://leonardodicaprio.org

[7] http://leonardodicaprio.org

[8] http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/social_enterprise/ben-jerrys-ashoka-vet-social-entrepreneurs-join-our-core

[9] https://hellohumankindness.org

[10] http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/02/dignity-health-inspires-5-million-students-to-complete-record-number-acts-of-humankindness

What Women Want: Brand Buying Power in 2016 and Beyond

The percentage of purchases decided by women translates into a staggering $18 trillion in earnings worldwide for businesses.

 

More than half of key purchasing decisions are made by women today, product or service. The question is have you tailored your brand to meet their needs? Does the positioning, style, story, tone and focus of your brand messaging capture their attention in a way that’s truly relevant to them? Have you factored in meeting the needs for the discerning female factor if you’re going to successfully capture the attention of this very influential audience and convert their attention into growing sales?

 

Female Factor Bloomberg 600px

Image via www.bloomberg.com

 

 

With more women in the workforce, the increase in female purchasing power has significantly changed the market and consequently how successful brands engage with them. Only recently, a friend who works with Audi, mentioned how the brand is now considerably more female centric in its focus, brand strategy and how they engage this very discerning audience in their various showrooms, together with the rest of their overall brand strategy. The reason is simple, women are now becoming their primary buyers — “they don’t have to go home and ask their husbands, or significant other, about which car to buy, they simply take out their credit card and pay”. Since women make 85% of all purchase decisions today, this is not hard to fathom anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Whether we realize it or not we live and work in an “experience economy”, so identifying, understanding and connecting with the changing needs of your shifting female audience, on their terms, is essential to your brand success.

 

Take for example, the Super Bowl adverts in the U.S. They’re not just about the ballgame and beer anymore. In 2015 the Super Bowl was seen by 114 million viewers, together with all the advertising campaigns run in conjunction with the big event. As per Nielsen reports, 47% of these viewers, which is close to 54 million, were women. Clearly, the old brand strategies of the past are not going to work with this more selective audience today. Brand strategy, design, management and execution has to change to meet the needs, preferences and demands of these increasingly influential female patrons.

 

Even the choice of beverage brands for Super Bowl has changed. Nielsen[1] reports that while beer spending rose to about $40 million in the week before game, wine was not too far behind. The increasing female fan following has contributed to wine being a primary choice, which in turn has prompted brand owners and advertisers in the industry to rethink their brand marketing strategies. The smart ones who implemented appropriate brand changes achieved record sales.

 

Clearly these developments point to the fact that branding for women is no longer limited to specialist niche categories but an assertive influence you need to get to grips with — fast. Statistics show women are a vast majority of consumers with a rapidly expanding purchasing power.

 

 

Female Purchasing Power Facts:[2]

  • The average American woman is expected to earn more than the average American male by 2028
  • 51% of U.S. Private Wealth is controlled by women
  • Women account for over 50% of all stock ownership in the U.S.
  • Women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S.
  • Women make 85% of all purchasing decisions across industry sectors – be it technology, cars, houses, pharmaceuticals or any other. [3]

 

While the income for female professionals has increased by over 63% in the last three decades, their male counterparts have seen comparatively limited growth.[4] In fact, the Office for National Statistics have reported that women in their 30s are now earning more than men.[5] But that’s not the only reason why the female purchasing power has increased by leaps and bounds.

 

Women budget, save and buy in a manner that is very different to men. Businesses therefore, need a deeper understanding of what women want, how they think and what influences their choices, how the trends and changes in women’s social and economic status are influencing their buying decisions, and how all of this in turn is transforming female purchasing power and consequently the world and brands around them.

 

Fara Warner[6] offers powerful insights into this paradigm shift in her book – ‘The Power of the Purse (paperback): How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers — Women’. Among several hard-hitting examples, she talks about the powerful De Beers campaign which promoted the idea of women self indulging and giving themselves diamonds instead of waiting for their male counterparts to gift them the precious stones. She said that this is a striking acknowledgement that women had reached a level of economic power where they could afford expensive jewels and weren’t afraid to show them off.”

 

De Beers Women 600px

Image via www.penduluminaction.com

 

 

These changes are happening right before our eyes, and yet a lot of marketers are not yet fully cognizant to the facts. 91% of female consumers feel that advertisers don’t understand them. 7 out of 10 feel alienated by most advertisements out there. [7]

 

A year ago author Kathy Lette[8] criticised brand managers and advertisers for their reported and apparent inability to connect with older women. At a panel organized by Hearst Magazine at Advertising Week Europe, she pointed out that women over 50 have largely been erased from UK TV screens backed up by the fact that 85% of the people over 50 appearing on TV are men.

 

Yet, senior women aged 50 and above actually have a net worth of $19 trillion just in America, according to a study conducted by MassMutual Financial Group–2007. Women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and other developed nations over the next decade. Their purchase decisions and power will likewise, change considerably.

 

 

Case Study # 1 – Luxury Car Market

Women buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S., and influence up to 80% of all car purchases. It’s the same in other developed nations as well. Similar to Audi’s changing demographic targets, Jaguar is all set to woo their female customers too.

 

In a recent release, Jaguar Australia announced that they are no longer skewed towards male customers. Their strategies for the new 2016 Jaguar F-Pace SUV are focused at the widening and most particularly, female audience. They are confident that this will bring new customers to the brand and double their sales.

 

Jaguar F Pace Suv 600px

Image via http://www.wheelsmag.com.au

 

 

Porsche increased their female buying market with the introduction of the 2015 Macan. They tasted success earlier with their SUV, the Cayenne which broadened their market share. From a brand that was typically geared towards the high-income male gearheads, their bold experiments doubled Porsche’s market share among female buyers.

 

Porsche Macan 600px

Image via http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/

 

 

In fact, these cars outsell the rest of its stable by sizable margins, helping Porsche reinvent their image from the ultimate guy ride into a brand women love. This goes a long way to prove how smart branding can change the most traditional perceptions and market dynamics.

 

2015 Porsche Macan Interior 600px

Image via http://www.hollywoodreporter.com

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Marketers need to work on their brand messaging and positioning so that they can reach the changing demographics of their target audience.

 

 

Case Study # 2 – Arms and Ammunitions

Increasingly female purchasing power is also reflected in more unconventional segments like arms and ammunitions as well. Reports say that women are the fastest growing group of gun buyers in the U.S. and they are women across all age groups, 25-55, and all regions, from urban to rural according to News Tucson.

 

 

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Female purchase power extends way beyond the conventional segments. Industries need to understand this and act now.

 

 

Case Study # 3 – Pop Music Industry

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also reports on how female buyers are dominant drivers in pop music sales. A case in point relates to a Nielsen study funded by Sony Music, which found that 62% of Adele’s fans are female, between the ages of 25 and 44 years old, and have children. Most importantly these female fans are ready buyers with the desire and ability to purchase.

 

An article by Hannah Karp in the Wall Street Journal, based on data from a number of market research firms, show that female fan following and their purchases have kept the music scene hopping. Their interest spans performers across gender and age groups as well.

 

Adele 600px

Image via www.forbes.com.  Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Clearly, brand owners need to re-evaluate their markets, and a brand audit health check may be required to see if brand messaging, positioning, story and so forth are properly tailored and relevant to meet the needs of these different female audiences.

 

 

What Women Want?

So how does a brand owner manager assess and develop the right brand strategy to attract and engage their female customers?

 

Before they can even attract the interest and earn the trust of their potential female customers brands need to analyze their total offering from the female perspective. They need to earn their female customers’ interest.

How can they do this?

 

Businesses should endeavour to identify which media and mode of messaging their growing female audience prefers. Women don’t just fall for the same old awareness campaign routines of bygone years. Traditional repetition and interruption-based advertising doesn’t really work to the same extent as it did historically. Instead they look for a message that they can emotionally identify with.

 

Products or services found in their preferred media are likely to gain more traction. Instead of heavy handed media campaigns and aggressive selling, brands need to develop a deeper understanding of their female customers in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations before developing more indirect and perhaps more sophisticated ‘selling’  brand strategies such as co-branding, limited editions, corporate social responsibility strategies, product placement, luxury or premiumisation strategies, editorials and sponsorships.

 

 

Deeper Insights

CIO’s Bryan Pearson[9] insightful details about how female buyers think and where brands are going wrong with them is worth a read. Touching on the various ways marketers could fulfill the needs of this customer segment he says, A woman’s shopping cart carries more than goods; it carries stories about her and the many influencers in her life. If retailers better understood that journey, they could ensure the correct products are there for her and prolong the tale.”

 

It might also be worth listening to Microsoft’s executive vice president, Peggy Johnson[10] and her theory of one emerging market everyone is missing out on – women. “We all have to think about the emerging markets. And you probably have given a lot of thought to the largest emerging markets, China and India,” Johnson said. “But I think what gets lost is that a bigger emerging market is, surprisingly, women. Women themselves are an emerging market. There are more and more women entering into the workforce themselves. More and more of them are making more money.”

 

 

How can a business connect with this powerful female audience?

What is needed is a greater degree of emotional intelligence in the way a brand is developed through the brand profiling process. The outputs from the process provide in effect the brand’s blueprint or roadmap for why, what, where and how the brand should engage in the market with its primary target audience.

 

Brand profiling also includes evaluating the way in which companies position their products, and how they build an emotional connection with their buyers. Remember customers buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards, regardless of gender so you must move the heart to win the mind.

 

 

Characteristics of the Female Buyer [11]

  • Loyal — Women are more likely to purchase from brands they follow
  • Social — Women use Social Media to connect different aspects of their lives
  • Influencer — Women are more likely to tell their friends about their purchases so an advertiser gets a double benefit
  • Spender – Women make 85% of purchasing decisions
  • Frequent buyer – Women shop more. They go back to a store and a brand more frequently than their male counterparts

 

 

Case Study # 4 – Beauty and Personal Care, Understanding the Female Psyche 

If you want a share of the rapidly growing female purchasing power you need to understand the psyche of the female buyer first so you can tailor your brand specifically to meet their needs if you want to convince them your brand is the best solution for what they want.

 

Clairol took something as important, and in many ways, as basic as hair colour and turned it into a winning campaign. They connected deeply with their female audience – women who don’t have to admit that they colour their hair, unless they want to!

 

 

 Clairol Does She Or Doesnt She Hair Colourant

Image via www.hubspot.com and Current360

 

 

 

Dove has been making headlines for some time now.

This Dove commercial does a phenomenal job connecting with the female audience in real world.

 

 

 

 

 

Dove: Real Beauty – This powerful persona marketing campaign stresses how beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety. Their Real Beauty Sketches campaign along with a compelling study which showed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful, touched chords. The advert went viral and has been viewed over 114 million times the world over.

 

Brand Lesson:

Connecting with the female audience at a core emotional level works far better than the more abrasive direct selling approach.

 

 

Leveraging Social Media

It might seem like stating the obvious but women shop differently to men. They are less influenced by adverts and they research more extensively. According to Michael Silverstein[12] of Boston Consulting Group, there is an imperative need for a very different brand and marketing style. Along with a very different sense of what’s valuable.

 

Clearly, a better use of media diversity is needed to leverage awareness.[13] This is a huge opportunity for social media and for content marketing. As Susan Gunelius[14] has pointed out, women tend to trust the information on blogs and social media sites more and consequently brands need to understand this, and implement effective brand strategies to meet their female customers’ needs.  The depth, significance and resilience of female purchase power will determine the future of branding and marketing, consequently how companies and organisations redesign their selling models.

 

 

 Women On Twitter 370x229

Image via https://www.clickz.com

 

 

Women are proactive when it comes to using social media for their research. 76% of internet users are women which says a lot for their preferred mode of communication in the 21st century. A Nielsen study shows that women spend close to 10 minutes social networking while men spend a little less than 7 minutes. [15]

 

For businesses, this is an incredible opportunity to grab the attention of the changing demographics and harness this potential market. A study into which social media is used more, and for what purpose will pave the way for a more focused marketing campaign.

 

 

 Who Uses Social Networking Sites

Image via http://www.pewinternet.org

 

 

Case Study # 5 – Sports & Fitness, Leveraging Social Media for Female Buyers

Nike’s ‘Better for It’ Women’s Campaign went beyond the traditional formats to utilize the power of viral videos, in an eight-episode scripted YouTube series. Focusing on the average athlete’s insecurities and the various obstacles on the way to self-improvement, it aims to ignite a woman’s journey towards empowerment through sport and fitness.

 

Nike Margo Lilly Poster 600px

Image via http://www.adweek.com

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Creative storytelling can be leveraged to differentiate, create rapport and showcase how one brand may affect many aspects of one’s lives – from achieving physical fitness to reaching emotional equilibrium.

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study # 5 – Auto Repair

This small auto repair business, Victory Auto Service and Glass, started out as one shop in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Clever brand messaging and a winning social media brand strategy involved really thinking like their primary target customer, developing a thriving Facebook page, encouraging customers to connect, tag photos and promoting their community.

 

 

  Victory Auto Service And Glass Minneapolis

Image via http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

 

 

Today, the business has 5 locations to boast of, over 1700 Facebook fans and over 3,100 YouTube views. Over 60% of fans and people “talking about” their Facebook page are females. [16]

 

 

 

 

 

Brand Lesson:

If you can think like a customer, you can connect with them on a deeper level, attract more of your target audience and grow faster.

 

It’s given that social media is now a ubiquitous part of every day life and business. It has leveled the playing field and given small and medium size businesses opportunities to leverage growth with incredible creativity, which in turn has enabled them to harness the power of hitherto untapped resources, progress more rapidly and become more profitable.

 

Take advantage of newer technologies to grow your market share with the fastest growing audience segment — women in today’s world.

 

Key learnings for brands to consider:

• Re-evaluate your customer demographics

• Closely examine your analytics

• Rethink your brand profiling specifically for women

• Develop different female buyer personas so you can tailor your brand strategy more effectively

• Reassess your social brand strategy

• Evolve new brand messaging and outreach

 

 

Questions to consider:

• Do you really know your target female audience? Have you done an in-depth study of your target demographics and developed your brand purchasing personas for each target audience type?

 

• Are you truly harnessing the power of the emerging technologies? Is your brand strategy leveraging social platforms as well as the power of new media?

 

• Is your brand messaging powerful enough to resonate with your female audience? Have you fully developed your brand profile, using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™, so you can build your brand to be irresistible to your ideal audience, make your brand stronger and increase your profitability?

 

• Are you still talking to your customers or talking with them? Are you building relationships or dictating a message with your brand strategy?

 

• Is your brand speaking the language of your customers? This is not a one-size fits all scenario, because what will appeal to a 25 year old girl will not appeal to a 55 year old woman. Brand profiling will ensure your brand tone-of-voice and messaging is properly developed to meet the needs of, and attract your primary audience.

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

[1] Nielson Report, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/07/super-bowl-ad-costs-soar—-but-so-does-buzz/79903058/  ‘Super Bowl ad costs soar — but so does buzz’. February 2016

[2] Gallup, http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/178616/unleashing-power-purse.aspx ,‘Unleashing the Power of the Purse’

[3] Women in the Economy, http://www.thefemalefactor.com/statistics/statistics_about_women.html

[4] Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/07/16/the-20-best-paying-jobs-for-women-in-2012/#56d471303830

[5] Office for National Statistics, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2841740/Now-women-30s-earning-men-time-female-workers-staving-gender-pay-gap-having-family-later-life.html

[6] Fara Warner, http://farawarner.com/fw_site2/Book.html ‘The Power of the Purse (paperback): How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers-Women.’

[7] Ali Hanan, http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2016/feb/03/how-advertising-industry-fails-women , ‘Five facts that show how the advertising industry fails women.’ February 2016

[8]NicolaKemp,http://www.campaignlive.com/article/brands-slammed-ignoring-older-women/1340327#Da7IblcMpAxmPUA8.99,  ‘Brands slammed for ignoring older women’, March 2015

[9] Bryan Pearson, http://www.cio-today.com/article/index.php?story_id=020001UILPC8 , ‘What Women Want Retailers To Know About Their Shopping Carts’, February 2016

[10] Peggy Johnson, http://www.winbeta.org/news/microsofts-executive-vp-business-development-peggy-johnson-warns-missing-emerging-female-market

[11] Marketing to Women Quick Facts, http://she-conomy.com/facts-on-women

[12] Michael Silverstein, https://www.bcg.com/documents/file22016.pdf, ‘Women Want More’, 2009

[13] Kim Rocco, http://powersportsbusiness.com/blogs/service-providers/2016/02/08/are-you-missing-out-on-sales-check-your-email-database/, ‘Are you missing out on sales? Check your email database’, February 2016

[14] Susan Gunelius, http://www.corporate-eye.com/main/social-media-trends-among-female-consumers-in-2012/   ,“Social Media Trends Among Female Consumers in 2012”, March 2012

[15] Nielson Report, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2012/state-of-the-media-the-social-media-report-2012.html

[16] Social Media Examiner, http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-case-study-victory-auto/

 

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

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos) – CEO Amazon.

 

89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016 according to a recent Gartner survey, compared to only 36 percent four years ago. If your customers don’t like the customer experience they have with you, there’s a high probability they won’t buy again and they’re highly likely to share their poor brand experience with everyone they know — online!

 

Steve Jobs Quote Customer Experience 600px

 

 

Here we’ll take a look at who has been delivering a great customer brand experience and how they’re doing it really well, contrasted with others on the opposite end of the scale — with actionable learnings for you to take away from both.

 

The latest reports on customer brand performance are eye-openers and worth reflecting on when you review your own brand or give it a customer performance brand health check.

 

 

Common Brand Experience Traits for Top Brands

One factor that definitely stands out is steadfast perseverance. What has attracted customers before, and will attract them in the future, is perceived value. The brands that have continued to deliver highly regarded perceived brand value, from a customer perspective, and continued to unwaveringly improve upon it, are ruling the day.

 

This perceived brand value has nothing to do with affordability but everything to do with user experience, a unique experience that creates strong brand loyalty and engenders long lasting customer brand champions.

 

Amazon 600px

Image via http://i.huffpost.com

 

  

Who’s Got Exemplary Customer Service Really Covered?

  • 1.         Amazon
  • 2.         Apple
  • 3.         Nordstrom
  • 4.         Lush
  • 5.         First Direct
  • 6.         LL Bean
  • 7.         Air Asia
  • 8.         Uber
  • 9.         Net-A-Porter
  • 10.      Worldwide Stereo

 

Let’s take a closer look to see how these brands have a made real difference to their customers’ lives, and consequently massively grown their profits too.

 

 

Case Study #1 AmazonLet the Customer Rule

How Amazon created a brand around its customers?

When it comes to perceived value and web-based customer service, Amazon wins hands down. It has repeatedly demonstrated to the world that, when done correctly, with meticulous attention to detail and tireless focus, they are the byword for customer service. In reality, despite many detractors and ever-growing competition, the retail, or rather the e-tail giant, has proved that customer service is a fine art. It’s no wonder than many fail, despite best intentions.

  

The core vision

One of the reasons Amazon excels at customer service is because their core vision blends in with their founder’s original mission seamlessly — make customers the primary focus and deliver unflagging perceived value. They’ve built their entire customer service brand strategy, and in extension, their brand around this mission.

 

 

 

 

 

USPs:

What stands out first is their incredible returns policy, which is the first thing to reassure the buyer that they will be taken care of, even if they dislike their purchase. In other words, their money is safe, if in doubt.

 

Another outstanding feature is the Amazon fast response times. Unlike many other instances where a customer might hold for an eternity on their phone, waiting for customer service with other brands, with Amazon you connect swiftly.

 

With the recent additions to their call service centers, thorough follow-ups, and thoughtful tips for buyers, Amazon has consistently continued to prove that it is the guru of customer service. [1]

 

Lesson Learned:

Consistent reliability, every time

 

 

Case Study #2 AppleIs this an iPhone 6s?

How the brand inspires pride and ownership?

Technology companies in general have delivered an overall great customer service experience, which when you think of their reach, is not an easy task.

 

In the collaborative survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St. and research survey group Zogby Analytics, Apple had 40% of its customers vouching for its customer service. [2] For a company that has reinvented the word innovation, this figure is important.

 

How the brand functions?

First comes the customer, followed by the technology. Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

 

Powerful words that still define the way the company works. It is a brand that stands for exclusivity and innovation. Today it is also a brand that stands for its customers. [3]

 

USPs:

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved by nearly 5 percent from 2014, helping it move its way closer to the top spot in the customer service Hall of Fame. Apple’s increased sales figures, a 30 percent increase in 2015 from the year before, also suggest a satisfied customer base.

 

Apple Store San Francisco

Image via www.msn.com, © AP Photo/Eric Risberg

 

 

What’s more, it has also ranked exceptionally high, a 4 out of 5, for employee satisfaction. Employees not only take pride in working here but they also identify with the brand and are active champions of the brand, a fact that reflects in their customer service and in the way customers identify with the brand.

 

In order to excel you have to innovate. You also have to identify a need and fulfill it and then ensure that the service you provide is truly exemplary. From the product design to the unique Genius bar, Apple has ensured that customer experience is not just good, but unique every time.

 

Lesson Learned:

How Apple does it? They innovate. Every time.

 

 

Hugh Mac Leod Gapingvoid Creativity Is The Fuel

Image via www.gapingvoid.com, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

Case Study #3 NordstromLuxury is Approachable

How the brand has been reinvented?

The luxury brand has become the absolute role model for customer service with their seamless returns policy. The atmosphere is still that much loved and wonderful blend of convivial warmth together with subdued luxury tones, that makes shopping there a really enjoyable experience.

 

Their customer service agents are helpful, well trained and knowledgeable. While their recent policies have included more frequent promotions, their teams have been simultaneously trained to deal with the increased foot-fall and expanded customer mix.

 

Nordstorm 600px

Image via http://i.cbc.ca

 

 

USPs:

According to experts, what stands out however is their incredible price-matching policy across the country, similar to John Lewis in the UK. If an item has a price-drop anywhere else, no matter which store it is, they’ll match that price right away for their customer. [4]

 

Online shoppers can even get benefits like free shipping on every order and paid return shipping. The brand message has slowly evolved from classic to timeless and secure with customers made to feel important and cared for.

 

Lesson Learned:

Feel good luxury

 

 

Case Study #4 LushBeauty is Naturally Indulgent

What should be the brand focus?

Putting a definite smile on their customer faces is the focus for natural cosmetics firm Lush, with the help of their welcoming and very knowledgeable staff. The ‘happy atmosphere’ of the store enfolds customers like a welcome balm, who typically leave with or without buying, feeling in a better mood and good about themselves.

 

They garnered a whopping 89 percent of the votes and came out as the winner among UK’s top brands. According to the leading industry surveys from KPMG Nunwood and Which?, retail brands like Lush have made significant impact with their customers and consequently increased sales, simply by creating the right environment for their customers consistently. [5]

 

USPs:

Most people would think that a brand like Lush has been built on the premise that they are offering an exemplary range of products. Actually, when you look closely you will see that their entire brand strategy is focused on making their customers feel good and confident through their exemplary natural products, coupled with their proactive CSR strategy and giving back for greater social good. A fine difference but difference nevertheless.

 

Lesson Learned:

Create a brand personality associated with a warm and happy feeling, together with giving back for the greater good. People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must win the heart first if you want to move the mind.

 

Lush 600px

Image via www.thisismoney.co.uk, ©Alamy

  

  

Case Study #5 First Direct – Your Money is Safe

First Direct was a close second with 86 percent of the votes, no doubt ruing its fall from the winning position that they held the year before. But it has nevertheless carried on its tradition of great customer service, which has been reflected in the surveys.

 

Much praise was heaped on it for its high-profile switching deals, as well as making the change process really easy for customers too.

 

Lesson Learned:

Making money management easy

 

 

Case Study #6 – LL Bean – You are the Heritage

Across the Atlantic it is LL Bean which came out on top. The heritage retailer has received five stars for its outstanding customer service and courtesy that left customers feeling positively happy, a word that is often not often associated with customer service today. Worth noting when you consider that according to another study, nearly one third of all consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to most companys’ customer service agents! All LL Bean customers are responded to and quickly, one can even speak to an LL Bean representative in close to 30 seconds and get email responses within an hour.

 

Lesson Learned:

So what makes LL Bean so popular? They have made their brand easily identifiable for each and every customer by being so approachable. One just doesn’t take pride in the product but spreads the word for others.

 

Ll Bean Boots 600px

Image via http://www.businessinsider.com, Flickr/jimshooz7

  

  

Case Study #7 AirAsiaConnecting Anywhere, Anytime

How to overcome existing barriers?

We live in the age of constant connection and social media and this list would be incomplete with at least one brand that rules that space. The winner surprisingly is an airline, a category that has been historically notorious about customer service.

 

 

 Air Asia Airline 600px

Image via www.tommyooi.com

 

 

In an age where news, especially bad news, spreads faster than we can blink, keeping up with great customer service is a definite challenge. AirAsia, with JetBlue a close second, has changed our perceptions about customer service and interaction in the airline industry.

 

How have they succeeded?

 

Mastering the emerging technologies

With an outstanding Facebook presence, easy to navigate and helpful web pages, fast customer response time across all social and online platforms, AirAsia is rocking the virtual space.

They have over 3 million likes on their Facebook page which is not just a content sharing space but one where they have actively engaged their customers and readers.

They respond.

 

They make it a point to respond to all queries and comments and fast. Their representatives are always friendly and personable and available 24×7.

Fun promotions like “Free Seats Challenge,” one that offers 12 winning customers a year’s worth of free seats on flights doesn’t hurt either.

 

Lessons Learned:

You can reinvent around perceived barriers.

 

They have reinvented their brand by reinventing the way we look at airlines today. Instead of expecting hassles and hold-ups, one can experience instant connection and responses.

 

It immediately changes brand perceptions as it simultaneously engenders customer confidence and goodwill, before they potentially become irate — which is particularly important in a sector where unscheduled delays or unpredictable problems can make travelling more arduous.

 

 

Case Study #8 Uber – Customer Service Redefined

How a new brand becomes a giant?

Expert reports have revealed one brand that has been touching the thousand to million mark, in terms of customer service, and across the world it’s Uber. [6]

 

What started as simply easing of commute worries has now transformed into a whole new concept of transportation. With its ingenious and virtually seamless innovations it has now integrated itself into our daily lives together with a very robust customer following. Very soon, we will see it as a one-stop travel planner too.

 

Lessons Learned:

Identify a need, even in a crowded marketplace.

Innovate a service by adopting the latest technologies.

 

Uber 600px

Image via www.sfexaminer.com

 

 

Small and New Can Win Too

 

Case Study #9 Net-A-Porter – Be a Relaxed Shopper

The online retailer came next for its best phone-based customer service, an aspect of business very few brands can testify to.

 

Their outstanding one-to-one communication, in this era of mass communiqués have touched hearts and moved minds.

 

It is still a growing brand but it has effortlessly managed to hold its own against the goliaths by virtue of its incredible customer service.

 

Lessons Learned:

This focus on customer has indeed paid off with spreading word-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth, after all, is still the strongest brand strategy when leveraged for the right reasons.

 

 

Case Study #10 Worldwide Stereo – Customer is King

 

It’s not always the giants that rule either. In the world of behemoths, one small company that has made its mark in sales and customer service is the World Wide Stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

This electronics and audio store not only offers an amazing (and ever-increasing) array of innovative products, but has also garnered a reputation for its stellar customer service.

 

It’s fast becoming the place-to-go when you want an out of the box product that no one else has — and which often has sizable discounts too.

How they do it?

 

They hold their own against the big retail brands with their expedited two day delivery, and even a free next day delivery in some cases.

 

 

 Worldwide Stereo

Image via http://membrane.com

 

 

They stand by their products and are known to quietly upgrade orders and deliver a faster and better service. They even boast a custom home installation team, something many of us have never even heard of in this twenty-first century. [7]

 

Lesson Learned:

They have created a brand that stands for the customer, all the way.

 

 

Building a Brand with Customers at its Heart

According to the StellaService report, the brands that measured well are accessible to their customers via multiple channels: phone, email, online live chats, and have outstanding shipping and return policies too. [8]

 

 

Delivering Value

When we look at all the brands that have made it to the top positions for customer service, we see one thing in common – perceived brand value.

 

When you analyze performance more closely these brands have taken that concept to a completely new level. This is not the value for money concept in terms of the cheapest solution but rather the complete brand experience and the perceived increased brand value that engenders with its customers.

 

A great case in point is a premium brand like Apple with a premium pricing strategy – it is considered a top brand that offers value because of its outstanding product quality and great service. Every customer interaction is focused at making customers feel important while ensuring the product is accessible so it enhances peoples’ lives.

 

Customers need to be able to count on their favoured brands and the brands in turn have to focus on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, and work their deliverables around those expectations.

 

Amazon delivered innovative support through their May Day button on the new kindle, where customers get support at the click of a button from a live person. No calls, no hold times, no chats and no waiting for email responses. This close attention to detail is what creates a sustainable brand. This is the value all brands should strive for.

 

Brands working on reinventing themselves or on their way to create a distinctive brand presence should focus not just on their products and sales, but also on their after sales service because word-of-mouth is still the strongest sales voice in the field.

 

A quick look at preferred customer service attributes:

  • Time Saver
  • Fast Turnaround
  • Price Match
  • Great Positive Emotive Feelings
  • Great service

 

 

Monopoly is so Last Year

There is also much to learn from the brands that did not do so well in the surveys and consequently what not to do! Interestingly, cable, satellite and wireless service providers reportedly fared quite badly on both sides of the Atlantic. Their long-running problems with low customer satisfaction are unfortunately very much a part of negative customer experiences according to the latest industry surveys.

 

 

What not to do

According to customer ranking research and survey results, despite the continued poor performance they still appear to suffer from a lack of urgency to improve the quality of their customer interactions. This could explain the continued customer complaints and dissatisfaction. [9]

 

One reason for this apathy could be the limited competition these companies face which somehow undermines the need for appeasing the customer faster, but hardly anything can explain this sectors indifferent attitudes reportedly experienced a little too frequently. The moment there is a new kid on the block, a challenger, disruptor and innovator, no matter how small, customers will switch.

 

 

Key Learnings to Consider:

•  A brand is built through its service – both sales and customer service

• If customer experience isn’t one of your top priorities long term, you’ll lose

•  Be reachable, always, anytime on multiple platforms

•  Expect what the customer expects, exceed their needs and design your service to meet those demands

• Innovation is the key to keeping customers engaged

•  Never be too complacent for the next big thing is always round the corner

•  Engage the customer on social media

•  Customer service is must and core to your successful brand strategy

•  Value is not low price, it is a great consistent brand experience

•  Offer true value, every time

 

 

Questions to Consider:

• Do you know what your customers really want? When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?

 

• Have you made your customers central to your long-term goals, or is it still revenue? It’s never about just the money.

 

• Do you have a robust team in place to deliver world-class customer service, 24×7? Are they also well-trained and fully inducted brand champions?

 

• Is your brand strategy totally sales based or is it customer service focused as well?

 

• Are you creating a sustainable brand through your customer support network?

 

• Are your customers talking about your brand beyond their brand interactions? Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your brand strategy?

 

• Do you offer true brand value in terms of a complete brand experience?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

 

[1] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[2] 24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015

[3] Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/24/24-7-wall-st-customer-service-hall-fame/30599943/, August 2015

[4] Matt Granite, Money Expert, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/22/save-of-the-week-best-customer-service/26180985/, ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[5] Which? Survey, http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/shopping-grooming-and-wellbeing/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-brands-for-customer-service/100-big-brands-rated-for-customer-service/, ‘Best and worst brands for customer service: 100 big brands rated for customer service’, May 2015

[6] Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7578-social-media-customer-service.html#sthash.pFzb6Eu5.dpuf, 10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media’, December 2014

[7] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[8] STELLA BENCHMARKS, https://stellaservice.com/benchmarks/, 2015

[9]   24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015 

 

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose Are Inextricably Linked

Ask the people in any room for a show of hands for who leaves the house to go shopping for unheard of brands in nondescript shops. No hands will go up. Wishy washy products and unremarkable, generic services certainly don’t motivate anyone. However, instantly recognizable market leaders, famous brands, cults and classics pack in plenty of appeal by projecting a purpose that’s engaging and compelling for both employees and customers alike.

  

  

Purpose Equals Purchase

“Consumers choose the brands that engage them on their passions and interests 42 percent more often than they do those that simply urge them to buy the product being advertised,” according to a 2014 report by Think with Google, undertaken in partnership with TNS and Ogilvy. Interviews with purchasers of auto vehicles, beauty products and smartphones indicates that, more than ever,

Purpose = Purchase. 

  

  

Profit is Not Brand Purpose

 

The sole intention, or purpose of a business, is not, and cannot be, just to make money. Rather, profit is a consequence of doing business. In 2000, Peter Drucker, the father of modern management theory, shared his thoughts on this topic as mentor to the former chairman of Procter & Gamble, “The purpose of a company is to create a customer” and “A business….is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she buys a product or a service. To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.”[1]

 

  

Search For Higher Truth Hugh Mac Leod 600px

Image via www.gapingvoidart.com, Hugh MacLeod

 

  

What Does Your Brand Stand For…And Upon?

 

One cannot over emphasize the importance of building a strong base as a platform for a brand, using the following key elements as bricks in its foundation:

 

  • vision
  • mission
  • values
  • purpose
  • promise
  • positioning
  • architecture/hierarchy structure
  • story
  • personality
  • corporate social responsibility

 

 

When working with our private clients or indeed delivering our open branding masterclasses and workshops we use the Personality Profile Performer™ System to develop all these key brand foundational elements for our clients’ or workshop participant’s 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.

 

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.

 

 

Defining Brand Purpose

 

Since some employees and employers may say that the purpose of a business it to make a profit, it’s understandable that thought leaders must reiterate the actual meaning of brand purpose.

 

So, what is brand purpose and what is it not? Drucker and other experts observed that brand purpose is to create customers through superior products and services which have value and usefulness. In other words, customers do not shop and pay so that a company can become richer. They buy because they perceive value in their purchases.

 

It’s important to note that 60% of branding is about perceived value and only 40% about the actual product or service, so how you communicate your brand’s mission, vision and purpose actually has a significant impact on your bottom line.

 

To quote Simon Sinek “People don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it, and what you do simply proves what you believe.”

 

   

  

 

 

Branding expert David Aaker writes about value that inspires purchase from both sides of the buy/sell relationship. “It is easy to get caught in a focus on financials, but employees and customers are increasingly attracted to brands and firms that have a higher purpose.”[2]

 

This is why, for example, at their very foundation of purpose, Volvo family cars are built around a steel cage design to achieve maximum safety, Mercedes-Benz defines meticulous German engineering and innovation in luxury cars, and Tesla produces electric cars to decrease our dependency on gasoline. Purpose is also why one of the most successful brands on earth doesn’t just sell computers, but dreams up groundbreaking products such as the Apple Watch, iPads and iPods to create “insanely great products” that enhance peoples’ lives and that many people consequently want…a lot.

 

 

How Clear Brand Purpose Improves Performance

 

Brand educator Mark Di Somma counsels that marketers should view the relationship between purpose and product as a symbiotic one, not as an either/or one.[3] “For purpose to realize its full potential, the commercial leadership must align with, and be framed by, a clear and shared moral leadership.”[4]

 

When brands are able to connect and balance great storytelling founded on a clear vision, mission, values, and purpose, with the right product or service, then the magic happens. We look into three case studies from Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart Stores and Patagonia.

 

 

Case Study 1: How Coca-Cola Made History Selling Togetherness

 

Who remembers the tune, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company”? It was 1971 when McCann-Erickson’s creative and music directors first produced those lyrics[5], placed a group of Coke bottle-holding, flowers-in-the-hair, multicultural lip-syncing teenagers on top of a hill outside Rome and portrayed a positive message of sharing, hope and love. The world said “Wow!”

 

  

  

 

  

One of the most successful adverts of all time, now enshrined in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution[6], married the idea of happiness and universal love with the product. In a ground-breaking collaboration between advertising and the record industry, it was re-envisioned as a hit song rising to UK #1, as a Christmas advert and as a Disney collaboration for years to come.

  

 

Case Study 2: How Wal-Mart is Re-Thinking Purpose

 

In America, Walmart has been reportedly criticized, rightly or wrongly for years, one issue after another. Non-union jobs at low wages that depress the job market, running small businesses out of town, accusations of racial and gender employee discrimination, foreign product sourcing, and environmental policies are a few of the themes that have splashed across the pages of various news publications and media.

 

America’s largest retailer is also America’s largest employer. Wal-Mart Stores has also created America’s richest family with a fortune placed at US $149 billion.[7] Yes, they have low prices in 5,000 stores. But, it’s fair to ask: What’s their brand purpose? What do they stand for? 

 

   Walmart Orlando 600px

Image via Wikipedia CC 4.0, Credit: Miosotis Jade

 

 
In keeping with the growing trend in other parts of the world, American consumers’ sense of values have become more focused on where products come from, how they are made, whether a company is doing the right thing for the environment, for sustainability, for its workers and for corporate citizenship, says Allen Adamson, North American chairman at Landor Associates in AdWeek.[8]

 

Since mid-2015, AdWeek reports Walmart is starting to turn things around by embracing brand purpose. Examples include partnering with actor and gender-equality activist Geena Davis for a hometown theater festival in Arkansas, speaking out against anti-gay legislation, raising hourly salaries above federal minimum wage, and adopting “five freedoms of animal welfare” for its supplier chain.

 

 

Case Study 3: How Patagonia Used Reverse Psychology with its Purpose

 

“Don’t Buy This Jacket,” screeched the boldface type in caps to accompany the image of a parka. To launch their Common Threads Initiative[9], (reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, reimagine) the outdoor clothing maker grabbed attention in the New York Times on 2011’s Black Friday, a frenzied shopping day.

 

“This season, share some values,” the advertisement beseeched readers, focusing attention on consumerism versus conservation — hence, Patagonia’s mission: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

 

As AdWeek explains[10] about Patagonia’s startling spin on things, “The point is, Patagonia, whose business relies literally on the outdoors, is in it for the long term.” Actively protecting the environment is central to Patagonia’s core purpose or raison d’être.

 

  

Patagonia Dont Buy This Jacket 1250 600px

Image via www.adweek.com and www.patagonia.com

 

 

What happened to sales? According to Bloomberg Business,[11] two years into the buy less campaign, outdoorsy customers pumped an extra US $158 million, nearly a 40 percent lift, into the company, which opened 14 additional store locations. Environmentalists may take note that Patagonia has launched “Twenty Million & Change,”[12] a venture capital fund to invest in startups that share environmentally responsible corporate values.[13]

 

 

More Case Studies on Brand Purpose

 

For readers who may wish to research further examples of clear brand purpose driving improved business performance, we can suggest the following:

  

• Charles Schwab, the investment broker, highlights how they can help small investors who don’t really want, or need, to understand the stock market in depth to beat inflation. “Talk to Chuck.” was the groundbreaking campaign launched in 2005, years ahead of social media interactive conversations. Their personality-driven approach successfully carved out a unique positioning for the brokerage, squarely between the discount broker firms and the full-service Wall Street firms for larger investors.

 

   

  

 

  

• Rubicoin, founded by Dublin-born Emmet Savage who is listed in Irish America’s Wall Street 50 (the list recognises the achievements of the most innovative Irish-American and Irish-born leaders in finance) is noted as one of the most successful investors in the world and this brand’s primary purpose is to get the world investing successfully, to remove the perceived barriers to accessing the stock market by giving everyone the basic ingredients required to successfully invest so they are empowered to change their lives financially.

 

  

 Rubicoin Corporate Logo 2015 Rgb 72dpi 600px

 

 

• Nike places their mission statement up front and center: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” Note the asterisk on the word “athlete.” Former university track and field coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Any questions?

  

 

Nike Mission 600px

Image via www.about.nike.com

  

  

• The Walt Disney Company, of course, was the brainchild of a master visionary. Now parent to four major companies, Walt explained the theme park concept best when explaining how he was bored watching his daughters in a playground. “I felt that there should be something built…something where the parents and the children could have fun together.” Walt would have approved of the company’s purpose as addressed by its former mission statement,  “To make people happy.”[14]

 

  

  

 

  

Do you think they miss the mark with the current one? “Now Disney’s mission is “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”[15]

 

That’s certainly a mouthful for Mickey Mouse or a dreamy-eyed child…or just about anyone outside the boardroom.

 

 

Questions About Brand Purpose to Consider:

   

• Does your brand have a clearly defined purpose? Have you engaged in the brand profiling process using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™?

 

• Is your brand’s purpose written in plain and simple language which everyone, both employes and customers alike, can clearly articulate on, or is it written in corporate lingo?

 

• How often do you re-visit, re-evaluate and brand health check your expression of your brand purpose?

 

• In what way is your brand’s purpose actively lived, expressed and shared with everyone in your business and interpreted by your employees?

 

• How would your employees respond to the question of what excites them and gets them out of bed in the morning?

 

• How and where is your brand’s purpose expressed to existing or potential customers?

 

If you’re struggling to answer these questions maybe its time your gave your brand a brand audit health check or brand refresh. Feel free to get in touch, we’d love to help!

 

   

You may also like:

  

‘What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016’

   

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

  

‘Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling’

   

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

 

[1] https://hbr.org/2009/11/why-read-peter-drucker

[2] https://www.prophet.com/blog/aakeronbrands/216-what-is-your-higher-purpose

[3] http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2016/01/brand-debate-focus-on-product-or-purpose.html#.VqwmcmRViko

[4] http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2014/08/defining-your-brand-purpose.html#.VqxKb2RVikp

[5] http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coke-lore-hilltop-story

[6] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/american-history-museum-scholar-coke-advertisement-180955318/?preview&no-ist

[7] http://www.forbes.com/profile/walton-1

[8] http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/walmart-trying-brand-itself-socially-conscious-165034

[9] http://www.patagonia.com/us/worn-wear

[10] http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-patagonia-136745

[11] http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-08-28/patagonias-buy-less-plea-spurs-more-buying

[12] http://www.patagoniaworks.com/#index 

[13] http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682011/patagonia-launches-a-venture-fund-for-environmentally-responsible-startups

[14] http://www.fastcompany.com/1821021/defining-your-companys-vision

[15] https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/about/

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

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

 

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

 

  Corporate Social Responsibility 600px

Image via www.huffpost.com

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

 

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

  

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

 

There are numerous types of CSR, such as:

 

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

 

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

 

 

Why is CSR Good for Business?

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand

 

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

 

  Business Idea Action Plan 600px

 

 

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

  

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

  

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

  

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

  

  

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

 

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

 

CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:

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

 

 

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

 

APS Group

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

 

  

  

  

  

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

 

 

Method

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

  

   Method Cleaning 600px

Image via www.methodhome.com

 

 

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

 

  

 

  

  

LUSH Cosmetics

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

 

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

  

   Lush Pot Lids 600px

Image via www.lush.co.uk

  

  

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

   

 

  

   

 

Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Statistics 600px

 

 

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

 

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

    

Key Takeaways

 

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

 

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

  

Questions to Consider

  

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

  

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

 

You may also like:

 

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• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

    

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

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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