Apple are the masters of brand. Why?
Because they take their future aspirations, who they are, what they’re here for, what they do, how they do it, what makes them different, what they value, their personality… and thread it through everything.
Here is their latest step up in owning ‘next’ for their brand.
Note, there’s more going on than the obvious message. I’d be interested to know what you think this says about Apple in both who they are and where they are headed.
Have a beautiful day.
Recently I have been involved in interviewing candidates.
The age old question resurfaces:
Do you go with who you think can do the job or do you go with someone who could potentially blow it out of the water?
The key questions you want to be asking at this point:
- How will they work with the team?
- What’s the risk and gain for each style of candidate?
- Are they aligned with where the brand is headed?
All very important questions, but…. ‘Are they aligned with where the brand is headed’ is what I believe to be the ‘drop the mic’ question.
Why? In an instant you get very clear on considering your options in terms of where the organisation is headed and is this person right in respect to driving the desired momentum (along with the wider team)?
In most situations when you hire for what you need right now and not for your future needs / brand positioning / expansion, you have people in your business that quickly fall out of sync.
The hiring and retaining of people is at the top of the list when it comes to business challenges. Hence the importance of knowing who you are, what you stand for, where you are headed, etc, (i.e. your brand) so you can quickly ascertain alignment / people fit – that will best support the continued growth of your brand.
The people in your business are a ‘brand touch point’. Their interactions and how they do their job – is a major part of the sum of your brand.
Choose wisely! Your future brand will thank you!
Contrary to the essence of yoga (staying present), I found myself in the downward dog thinking… why is this class so popular to the point that the space for the upward dog needs to be seriously considered?
All the teachers at the studio know yoga inside and out, so it has nothing to do with their abilities. What is it in them that attracts me and so many others? This one teacher can be moody and sometimes dismissive, yet their class attracts the most people out of anyone’s. What’s going on?
It’s the appeal of the real! It’s the, “this is who I am, both the good and the bad, like it or love it, take it or leave it”. The teacher method has a vulnerability. They are honest with where they are at (i.e. never proclaiming to have all the answers, and openly disclosing their own obstacles and challenges they are working with) and encourage that of everyone else in the room.
This is backed by a US study on ‘Self disclosure and trust’ (by Derlega, V. J., Metts, S., Petronio, S., & Margulis, S. T.) found “open and authentic self-disclosure can lead to increased liking, trust, and perceived similarity between individuals. It is associated with enhanced satisfaction and a sense of connection”.
So if this works with people, and there is crossover in our relationships with people and brands (specific to emotional connection, trust, shared values traits) then how can we, as custodians of brands – open the floor to ‘more real’?
TRUST DOWN, EXPECTATIONS UP
In the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, Australia dropped 5 points in 12 months (joining South Korea and Malaysia in the top 3 countries with the greatest decline). Trust in Governments, business, NGOs and media are all down on the previous year and across all age groups.
Specific to brands, 71% of people said it is “more important to trust the brands I buy or use today than in the past”. All age groups have shown increases, but not surprisingly, Gen Z still leads. The increase in ‘wanting to see what a brand values’, across all ages, has also gone up. If this information is not easily accessible, there is an assumption that a brand is hiding something.
We are caring more about what brands stand for, with 63% of us saying we will buy or advocate for brands based on our beliefs and values.
TIME TO GET REAL?!
Our relationships with brands, more than ever, reflect our relationship with ourselves. As we become more evolved as a human race (i.e. increased awareness, knowledge and access) we start to question the choices we make. 20 years ago no one was thinking Kids confectionery will be removed from Woolworths checkouts!
Branding is an evolving paradigm. Since early history, we have used marks and symbols. However, we have evolved from branding being a differentiator of products and quality to a means of expressing who we are, our aspirations, what we value, our social status, our sense of belonging, etc. Thanks to social media and personal branding, the amplification and connection opportunities have changed the game in a massive way again, and also put the consumer in the driver seat of curating and sharing content.
So what does this mean for how we create, build, pivot, rethink our brands?
Get your house in order. Know who you are and where you want to go. Speak to your customers. Review all the research. Look to the Global Goals Framework (Tip from Carolyn Butler-Madden, The Cause Effect, ‘For Love & Money Podcast) Seriously think about creating a business that has a genuine and long lasting reason for being, over and above the bottom line. This is a lifetime (if not many) decision. Tap into experiences, along with your team, that can help you to narrow.
The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study demonstrated that when a brand has a strong purpose, consumers were: four times more likely to purchase from the brand; six times more likely to protect that brand in a challenging moment and 4.5 times more likely to recommend (champion) the brand to friends and family.
WHO IS DOING ‘REAL’?
Patagonia is on the top of every list. The internal marketing speaks volumes: ‘Let my people go surfing’ employee handbook, 3 day weekend every fortnight, posting bail for any of their employees who are arrested for protesting, paying up to two months salary when employees donate their time to environmental conservation projects.
Consumer facing, you can’t go past their ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ PR campaign – intended to encourage consumers to consider the environment and only buy what they need. In relation to their products, they all come with a lifetime warranty.
Patagonia are bigger than big when it comes to activism. In opposition to PR schooled businesses, Patagonia don’t hold back when it comes to investing, boycotting, fundraising, campaigning and challenging in court, despite how the outcome will impact profits.
In 2017 they ran ‘The president stole your land and you were lied to’ campaign in response to Trump’s decision to sell off national monuments. They spent US$700K on TV and radio advertising. Watch TVC.
These initiatives and many more are built on strong foundations, established by the founder Yvon Chouinard (sustainability pioneer and lover of the outdoors) of functionality, repairability, durability, causing no unnecessary harm, protecting nature and not being bound by convention – to drive their one single mission – to save the plant.
THE REAL DEAL?
Six months ago, I went to see Hamish Thompson speak (ex-CEO/ Regional President and Global Brand head for Mars Incorporated, author of ‘It’s not always right to be right’). During his very open and candid presentation, he said that the biggest regret of senior executives when they leave/retire – is looking back and realizing that they should have taken more risks.
The question here is, what’s the bigger risk – to be authentically you (represented in the brands we create and build) or to coast through, stay guarded and stand for vanilla?
Businesses and brands have the opportunity to progress our country in ways and speed, that perhaps, Government cannot. This is what makes Brands so valuable, meaningful and loads of fun.
I recently went back into an old favourite breakfast spot I hadn’t been in for years. I wouldn’t have chosen to go back if it wasn’t for someone else choosing the place.
On my way there, I was ‘feeling not the slightest bit’ excited! I was excited to meet the person, but the cafe… bahhhh!!
My memory of the place was substandard service and food. The kind that the owners think is ‘good enough’. The kind that feels like, despite having all the ingredients, something feels off!
I arrived, walked in and immediately felt different. The decor had completely changed. The place felt so much more spacious. I felt good being in there. The old feeling of cumbersomeness was gone.
A very different vibe to what I was expecting. I had to find out what had changed.
New owners…. of course!
The new owners brought a new level of enthusiasm, excitement and energy. It makes sense. They come with fresh ideas, no baggage and lots of stars in their eyes.
I was left thinking, do you need a ‘take over’ to get the good vibes flowing again? How do the ‘stars in your eyes’ stay bright and shiny?
How can enthusiasm be sustained, without someone else taking over? Some thoughts on this:
1. Be honest with yourself. Call the vibe. Take a look around. Once you check in with how you’re feeling, get a read on how people ‘feel you’, your brand, your business.
Everything we do in our business is marketing… right down to how we open the door and greet someone. I will even go as far as saying.. How we breathe. The breath is a good indicator of someone’s energy. It’s an indication of expansiveness, abundance or constraint, tightness, inflexibility. Whatever is going on in us can be felt by others, whether they are conscious of it or not.
The feeling you leave someone with, is the reason why they spend money, come back or you never see them again. I felt so good in the cafe that I ordered breakie. That’s $30 I wasn’t intending to spend prior to walking in, and I returned a week later.
2. The quickest way to change up the vibe is to surround yourself with the people who have the vibe you are seeking. By default their presence will bring these traits out in you. Why slog it out, hoping that things will change? Get straight on it. Tap into people/services that best suit your situation. The difference, if you don’t put it off, could be minor work versus a complete restoration!
3. Take a holiday, i.e. get some distance. Distance helps us see – the what and the why. You might realise it’s part of a natural cycle and the space provides awareness, or perhaps, the ‘time apart’ tells you something needs to be done/addressed. If you want to get clear – press the stop button.
4. Raise your vibes and watch things around you change for the better. How to go about this?
- Make sure the basics are taken care of: Sleep, diet and exercise. Don’t put this off. If you need support – get it. It’s an investment that you are never sorry for making and a very good energy shifter/shaker.
- Do what you love or find the love in what you do. Enthusiasm has a high vibration. It feels good to be around people that are genuinely enthusiastic. The best way to sustain this within yourself, I believe, is ‘in the moment’. My superpower is conceptual thinking. It is also my weakness, which means staying in the moment has and always is my biggest challenge and opportunity! I used to be so in my mind that I would not think about someone coming in the door after me! From loads of practice (and still practicing) I have come to realise that the best way forward is to participate fully in THIS moment.
- Inspiration – “The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word “inspirare,” which is a combination of “in” (into) and “spirare” (to breathe). In its early use, “inspire” referred to a divine or supernatural influence. This influence was described metaphorically as a form of “breathing in” or receiving a breath of creative or intellectual inspiration.” (source: chatgpt).
For me this is a big one. If I am not feeling inspired, I’m out! You cannot put a price on inspiration – it’s beyond monetary value. It’s one of the reasons why people become ‘brand cultish’!
If inspiration means to breath into something, and breath is essential to life, to yours and the life of your business – how are you breathing life into your business?
It may be through improving your product, supporting a community, learning and developing, unlearning, team building days, choosing your partners and connections more intentionally, bringing the fun and laughter, adding challenge, personal development, job swapping, attending a conference, collaborating, rolling the sleeves up, building intergenerational and diverse teams, looking to other companies and industries, etc.
What’s this got to do with marketing and business? Everything!
What I am seeing at the moment is this strong desire for people to connect, but not in a token gesture, swap your business cards way, but with a deeper level of intimacy. I imagine that this will only increase as AI is trying so very hard to pull the pendulum the other way.
Connection is not just from person to person, but also from person to business, person to brand, person to experience – all the touch points. We (humans) want to feel connected every step of the way. This is the role of marketing!
I had the pleasure recently to mark the award submission for the Australian Marketing Institute for the Brand Revitalisation category and thought I would share my insights and learnings.
This was a bigger job than I anticipated. There were 30 submissions with two stages. First stage was reading each submission, providing general feedback and then selecting my top 9 to go through to the second stage. The second stage was reading and scoring each section of each submission. In total I think it took me 25 hours. I was one of many judges for this category. Why am I telling you this? If you decide to enter the AMI awards next year, it’s a very thorough and valuable process to experience. All submissions receive feedback from multiple judges.
I will also say, despite the time this took, I loved every minute of it. It reminded me why 25 years ago I chose marketing and why I love brands so much. Especially Australian brands. We have a tone of voice that no one in the world can replicate. Go Aussie!
INSIGHTS & LEARNINGS
(Some of which are taken from Australia’s best known brands):
1. Don’t wait for your brand to experience a downturn to take action. All but one brand waited for declining numbers, e.g. brand scores, sales, etc, before giving attention to their brand. Your brand is an asset and it should be treated accordingly. Don’t let it get to the stage where you either need to knock down the walls or the entire building. Brand maintenance is crucial if you want your brand to sit on both your balance sheet and business valuation.
2. Invest in great creative. Creative that your audience cannot miss. Creative that sings in harmony with your brand. Creative that is entertaining and memorable. Quantity does not equate to quality. Better to go with less and get the quality right, then be the brand that adds white noise.
3. Measure twice and cut once. The great brands are tracking results. Brand scores, sales, analytics, etc, on a regular basis. A much better alternative to the guessing game – which is usually skewed to a personal bias. Tracking progress brings the facts to the surface and makes life much easier and more exciting for everyone involved.
4. Research before strategy. The award submissions that really stood out to me were the ones that have invested in research. Understanding the customer and all stakeholders involved – before doing anything or suggesting solutions. It’s from this research that they have been able to uncover compelling insights that then became a solid foundation for the brand strategy.
5. Stand for something but not everything. A brand revitalisation often comes off the back of an identity crisis. Who are we again? What makes us unique? What will people say about us versus our competitors? Why would someone come and work for us? With good brand strategy comes clarity. Clarity that sets the scene for the next 3, 5, 10 years.
6. The winners know that brand marketing isn’t just about advertising and promotions. It’s a lot broader. It encompasses every touch point. The product, the process, pricing, distribution, online, offline, customer experience, creative, media, community, suppliers, staff, etc. Don’t limit your marketing and brand efforts to advertising and promotions. Most people in my experience don’t know how extensive marketing is, and why would they, unless they studied or worked in marketing. If this is you, find yourself a switched on marketing partner. The returns will work in your favour.
7. Make a difference – that’s bigger than your bottom line. The brands pulling the heartstrings in a genuine way got my attention. They are talking about how they are impacting a wider community. The world is evolving. We want more than transactional – we want to support brands that are not just for themselves. We want to wear a brand with pride. A good example of this is – Gucci is proud to be recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion”
8. Marketing is a team effort. Ownership shouldn’t be limited to one person or a department if you want to maximise effectiveness and longevity. Everyone in and outside the business plays a part in the evolution of your brand. Great brand strategy sets the framework for each stakeholder and then leads from behind – providing support on support, to steer the brand in the right direction. The best results come from a united team commitment.
9. Brand is a long term game, but every stepping stone counts. Every decision you make about everything is linked to your brand. What you pay your staff, how you speak to your customers, whether you have a hybrid working model, if you are investing in AI, the relationship you have with your suppliers, etc. The stepping stones are tiny parts of a bigger story. If you don’t have a decision making system, it could very well mean that you don’t have a bigger story / brand story, i.e. the answer to ‘where are we going?’
10. Brands that inspire! Everyone of the brand award submissions were inspiring change. To inspire change requires a level of excitement and trust – and that’s even before change takes place. The first step most brands adopted was collaborating with key stakeholders. (As marketers we can get really excited about ideas – and then forget to get people on board – and then the idea falls flat. It could be the best idea ever, but it’s worthless.) The power of collaboration is not simply about bringing people along the journey. It’s about getting them so involved that they build the journey. This is where the true value of collaboration lies.
11. Really think about your marketing budget. The marketing budgets of the award submissions ranged from $30,000 to $12million. The brand with a $12million budget was able to do things the other brands could not. But in their case they actually needed to. They are a national sporting brand/event that competes with other very big sporting brands. When thinking about your marketing budget, know that it is relative to:
(1) The impact you want to make
(2) The quality of the impact
(3) The timeframe of when you need to make the impact by
Please let me know if you would like more information about the Australian Marketing Institute or any of the points listed above.
Have a great day!
I am learning Spanish on the duolingo app, which means I am learning loads of new Spanish words and phrases (uno cafe sin leche por favor!!) and also being exposed to loads of advertising.
I have been a big ad watcher for a long time. Sad but true! When I used to watch Greys Anatomy back in the day with my brother Luke, he would say, are we watching the show or the ads??!!
Duolingo has brought back into my life consecutive ad watching. For the most part the ads are terrible and I disengage early on, which makes me think of two possible problems why this is happening:
(1) They got the audience wrong, i.e. I am not their target or
(2) They got the creative and/or message wrong
Because I jump on duolingo daily (their gamification aspect has been pivotal in my 135 consecutive days) the same ad can be played over and over again. When I first started on the app, Qantas was repeating what I thought was an ok ad, but after 50 times, I couldn’t stand it. When this happens, it’s referred to as ‘wearout’ – when the effectiveness of the ad starts to decline from over exposure. Not great for a brand or it’s customers. In the case of Qantas, doubly bad, because the timing coincided with a hammering in the media – pre Alan Joyce exit!
After days on days of viewing the worst ads you can possibly imagine, I was recently presented with a glorious ad. One that is bang on when it comes to nailing all three key areas: audience, creative and message.
What’s so powerful about this ad, is that it takes me right into the moment. I am absolutely feeling it. I can see myself in the ad. I can relate to the feeling of going on leave, turning on my voicemail, and being completely immersed in my new surroundings.
When you provide the customer an opportunity to truly feel something. Something real. They form a connection, that overtime can grow into love. This is the holy grail for any brand – creating an emotional connection that drives customers decisions and behaviours.
The brand in this ad has also nailed brand alignment, something they have become masters in since rebranding in 2014. A rebrand which resulted in an 80% revenue increase and a doubling in the company valuation within 2 years!!
So here it is, if you haven’t seen it:
What do you think?
Do I really need to make a decision or can I let this one go?
If you are in a leadership role, you get really good at making decisions. It’s part of your job. And by default it becomes part of your identity and ego!
After reading what was a life changing book about our relationship with our own thoughts, I realised that I didn’t need to make or intervene in as many decisions as I thought I previously needed to. What would happen if I didn’t? Would the situation be better or worse off?
When someone comes into a role, or a consultant/agency starts working with a business, we think our role is to make or help make decisions. That’s why we’re there. What I have come to realise is that every situation is different and some of them call for no decision to be made.
This doesn’t mean nothing gets done. What I am asking though, if we can separate ourselves from our ego’s need to make a decision, then what would it look like?
I see this time and time again in marketing. A new brand or marketing manager comes on board and they think it’s their job to change the packaging or refresh the brand, or build a new website… and yes they may be completely right in taking this decision, but my question is who are we making the decision for?
Is it to feel good about our contribution or because it presents a viable business opportunity and/or a means of cultivating long term brand value?
Two weeks ago Coca-Cola announced a name change from Coca-Cola No Sugar to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Ummmm… when did they change it from Coke Zero? Apparently in 2017, they dropped Coke Zero and went with Coca-Cola No Sugar (off the back of the global strategy and a new formula).
Despite the global push at the time, Alison Watkins (CCA chief executive), said “the transition to No Sugar was a “work in progress” because Australian consumers, more than any in the world, had taken Zero to their hearts.”
So why change it?!! As marketers we know what a prized opportunity to have our brand find itself in people’s hearts. It takes a lot of smarts and nurturing.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but could this be a case of being so focused on a singular decision that they missed the bigger picture?
So now we find ourselves in boardroom reflection mode, if we are humble enough, we would be asking questions like:
– Did we need to make this decision or not?
– What would it have looked like if we didn’t make the change?
– Why did we allow global to override at the risk of the Australian consumer?
– How were we so confident in asking our customers to break-up with Zero?
– Why would they trust us with their heart again?
Too many times we are so focused on making a decision, making it happen, that we forget to ask what happens if we don’t do anything?
It’s been one week since my favourite thing to do every year.
Why I love and recommend Semi Permanent, a creative event, to marketers, creatives and anyone that is seeking expansion:
Creatives and designers are on the fridges. They are constantly experimenting and looking for new ways to create and communicate to connect people wth brands, messages, purpose, etc.
We get a look into what the future will become.. and it’s not just AI speak. It’s community, it’s inclusiveness, it’s creativity, it’s storytelling.
There is no BS. People telling their stories, the good and not so good. There is no fabrication. Raw and real.
You leave feeling inspired in fresh new ways.
One memorable share, was Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, an (illustrator, animator, creative studio owner) talking about his final artwork, pre graduation…
His theme was based on the burial of his alter ego.
This was a part of him that he wanted ‘dead and buried’.
It was holding him back in his life.
He shared images of him digging the grave, the casket artwork, and the ceremony.
It made me laugh so much.
It also really made me think about the ways in which we can more creatively connect and tell story.
I also asked myself – what can I bury?
My big takeaway from the event – To connect and gain trust, we have to become more of who we are, than ever before.
People are smart, they know AI has put together your blog, your landing page, your imagery… but there is this part of us (that comes through in the brands we create) that AI can’t touch.
We intrinsically know this when someone brings their whole self to the table – we feel it. We may not always have the words, but we feel it.
My parting question to you is, how can your brand represent your values and who you are – to form stronger connections with everyone that it touches?
There are two cafes, on either side of the street.
One is a bit rough and ready and for the most part of the morning is in the shade. As winter begins to set in, it’s freezing here.
The other has the sun beaming through all morning. It also has beautiful pastel branding and inside and outside seating.
On paper the latter wins the vote every time. However, in reality, the rough and ready cafe, with no inside seating, that’s in the shade, with dated branding, has by far, more people coming to their cafe.
You might chime in now and say, well it’s got to be the coffee. “The Shade Cafe’ would definitely have better coffee”.
But when it comes to ‘people behaviour’, typically we have already made up our minds before even tasting the coffee, whether it’s better coffee or not. In most cases we tell ourselves before the experience how it will be, good or bad, and then usually the outcome is aligned to this initial belief. In essence, we like to prove ourselves right!!. (Once my brother conducted a blind taste test between vodkas: Belvedere and Smirnoff. We had to choose what we thought tasted better. Unbeknownst to us, he only used one of the vodkas in the test… we were all beyond doubt that one tasted better than the other!!)
So let’s say the coffee at both places is very good. Then what is ‘The Shade Cafe’ doing better?
What makes them miles better is that they stand for something bigger than a caffeine hit!
Firstly, the hessian sectioned-off rectangular area with bench chairs, where people are squashed together, forces you to get so close to each other that you end up non-stop talking with friends or complete strangers.
The blankets. They have you covered… in more ways than one!! The blankets show that they care about you. That they want you to stay warm, settle in and enjoy your morning coffee.
The staff know a lot of the locals by first name. On Mother’s Day I saw a five year old present a gift to one of the cafe staff. Everyone is made to feel like a part of the family.
And one of my favourite things – they don’t serve coffee in take-away cups. They have all different types of mugs and cups (some that take me back to the 80s). This gesture speaks volumes; It shows that they care for something bigger than making money (Takeaway cups are cheap, you don’t have to clean them, and you don’t need someone to clean them). When you drink out of a mug or cup, it makes you want to savour the experience even more. As the heat of the coffee is warming your face and you take your first sip, you think to yourself, why the rush, I should sit down and enjoy this… Further confirmation that they care about you. Also, if you don’t have time to stay, you can take your mug with you, and return it later. By doing this they are saying “I trust you” and “come again”.
So many subliminal messages are going on around the morning coffee ritual at this cafe. What makes it sooo good, is, I believe them. They are not just bunging it on – it’s completely who they are.
This is the difference between brand and branding. You can have beautiful branding but if the brand experience for everyone involved (staff, customers, suppliers, etc), is lacking love, no amount of branding will get you across the line!
The challenge for businesses that are not a small coffee shop, where everything is contained, is how do you transfer and continue to develop the brand across numerous touch points and people, whilst maintaining a consistent experience and message.
Enter marketing… a cross between science, psychology and business. Marketing needs to understand the total business first then they inject their special sauce by taking all this information in, making threads and connections, and then distilling it into one bottle that makes a difference in a small (that leads to big) or big way.
What makes your brand worth crossing the street for?
This could be a difficult one to swallow, even considered unAustralian (thank the 2023 lamb ad for this reference), but the market says otherwise … Enter the ‘sober curious’ movement, where one in four consumers are moderating their alcohol consumption. A trend that is expected to continue.
One of our ‘one to watch’ Aussie brands is Naked Life. A nonalcoholic alternative that matches an alcohol drinking experience.
The numbers don’t lie. Naked Life grew 331% in the last three financial years. Their $357,694 turnover in 2019-’20 grew to $6,655,929 in 2021- ’22. This is expected to double in the next financial year. Strong grounds for topping AFR Fast 100 in 2022 and for taking out the number one brand for non-alcohol in grocery, outselling many well-established major brands.
The alcohol-free market in Australia is worth $152 million annually and is forecast to increase by 31% each year until 2024. The US non-alcoholic market is worth $10 billion per year and is expected to grow by 8% each year through to 2025, compared with 0.7% for alcohol beverages (source, IWSR Analysis).
Naked Life’s success stems from the following initiatives since launching the brand in 2016:
• Naked Life saw the growth of non-alcoholic drinks. Though initially take up in Australia was slow, the trend was on their side.
• Capitalised on a gap in the category, creating healthy (100% sugar-free RTDs) and distilled products in the non-alcoholic category.
• Dedication to innovation and quality ingredients, recipes and production techniques.
• After establishing awareness and trust with their RTD cans they then launched their spirits range.
• Developed familiarity in their offering (by researching top voted drinks) which include margaritas, negronis and espresso martinis.
• Taking a ‘partnership and benefit model’ approach (with partners, investors and supply chain) to grow the Naked Life brand.
• Securing key distribution partners, e.g. Woolworths, Coles and on- and off-premises.
One Naked Life marketing campaigns was run off the back of a study run by Dr Michael Livingston (La Trobe Centre for Alcohol Policy Research) that found “35% of managers drink a few times a week, while only 14% of 18 to 25-year-olds do the same”. This led to the insight that there is a disconnection in Australia between generations in management (those that are setting the culture) and emerging young employees. So, what does Naked Life do? It gives away 12,000 cans to Australian offices during the Christmas period: a very smart sampling campaign.
Naked Life marketing targets locations where people are typically drinking alcohol. So, expect to see Naked Life at festivals, outdoor cinemas and hotels, selling the concept of non-alcoholic options as a means of enhancing social experiences. With ‘redefining moments’ as its brand theme, Naked Life focuses on providing other ways of sharing moments, not necessarily advocating giving up alcohol.
Naked Life strategically is not aiming or claiming that alcohol is not good and it should be removed, but to encourage trial and switching from just one alcoholic drink. Given that the alcohol market in Australia is valued at $37 billion, small shifts in consumer behaviour are massive for all players.
Let’s raise a toast to a very successful Australian brand. Keep them coming!
On Friday night my niece across the table pulls out her phone and rattles off the list of gifts she wants for her birthday, in September!! My first reaction was intrigue, around the fact that she is thinking that far ahead, the second was disbelief around one particular item that was on her list… Crocs!
In the last couple of weeks I have seen a 40 year old female and a 10 year old male wearing Crocs… something that I put down to a glitch in the matrix. My niece, though, tipped the glitch into the mainstream.
Some 20+ years ago, anyone caught in a pair of Crocs was outcasted by society. I hate to say it, but there was loads of shaming.
Crocs are now a big thing. When and why is this happening?
Just a bit of a background on Crocs. They were invented by three guys that wanted to create the ideal ‘boat shoe’ – comfortable and slip resistant. This was in 2002. They had a super clear customer segment they were going after. As Seth Godin would say “people like us”! Crocs were on their way.
So happened for Crocs to go from a boating shoe to a fashion trend, worn by celebrities the world over?
Despite this ‘boating shoe group’ being small, the die hard loyalists took a good story and ran with it. They were wearing their Crocs even outside of boating activities and for longer periods – usage occasions going up – tick. They were also telling all their family and friends about how comfortable and versatile Crocs are (something we all do when we are on something that impacts our life in a fabulous way). Then there’s the aesthetics of Crocs, who can miss the loud coloured wholly rubber-like shoe?
This small group helped get the word / shoe out there.. And they were loud and proud about it!
Now inject the emerging fashion trend of unconventional, coupled with celebrity endorsements, social media and collaborations, and Crocs is spreading like wildfire.
One of the most successful collaborations was in 2017 with Balenciaga, a luxury fashion brand. A merging of everyday comfort and luxury. The brand association with Balenciaga alone, increased buzz, talkability, cultural relevance and their fan base… in turn increasing brand value. From dirty boat wharfs to fashion runways, they have trickled their way into a 16 year old birthday gift list.
From a positioning aspect, Crocs continue to evolve who they are and it’s resonating. From a promotional aspect Crocs are ticking all the boxes – they are staying top of mind with their audience (they even acquired ‘Jibbitz’ a company that sells charms for your Crocs). From a product aspect they are flying. Crocs have continued to expand their product line to include a number of different styles such as sandals, flats, and sneakers (and they have a patent on the material Croslite). This diversification has lead to Crocs appealing to a wider range of consumers and occasions.
This is a good reason why we need to be careful with solely focusing on the demographic (age, gender, income) and not psychographics (lifestyle, personality traits) for example. Hence the importance of targeting an attitude, not an age, and as the older want to be younger and vice-versa, there is an interesting ‘middle ground’ opening up.
Knowing what I know now about Crocs, it makes complete sense why my niece aspires to own a pair.
Me personally, I’m still not there, and I truly hope I never get there… but never say never!!
P.s. If you are wondering where the name ‘Crocs’ came from, because the shoe was designed to perform on both land and sea, the name came from the multi-environment, amphibious crocodile.
Test yourself. If you have two resumes in front of you, what perceptions do you form about the person, solely based on their name? Or when you are on the phone and are put through to someone whose name is….?
In “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, they discuss the strong correlation between certain names and future success.
There is also the stereotyping that the name owners take on, adopting certain behaviours and beliefs. I threw my name in ChatGPT to see how they describe the personality of someone with the name Celeste. It came back with only positive attributes (in the aim of maintaining political correctness!!): Spiritual, optimistic, creative, compassionate, independent. Let me know what ChatGPT throws up for your name.
It’s fair to say, names are pretty important… especially if you are a brand!
So what influences how we perceive and evaluate a brand name:
- Phonetics – Length, complexity and familiarity (Netflix). Short, simple and easy to pronounce names are likely to be preferred and easier to recall.
- Semantics – A brand name that describes its product’s benefits or features can be more effective (Coke No Sugar) than abstract or unrelated names. Cultural associations of a name can also impact its appeal (Veuve Clicquot).
- Personality – We all know brand names that convey excitement and energy (Instagram). Research has also proven that brand names can be evaluated based on their perceived sincerity, competence, and sophistication (Hermes).
- Emotional Response – A brand name that evokes positive emotions (Bumble) such as happiness or excitement is likely to be more appealing.
- Brand context – A brand name never stands in isolation. It is presented visually (your logo / brand guidelines), How it’s presented impacts its appeal and memorability.
You can have the best business model, but if the brand name sucks, everything will suck!
Cuil was a search engine launched in 2008 as a competitor to google. The name was a play on the word “cool”. It was criticised for being difficult to pronounce and spell. Long story short…they failed to gain traction and shut down.
When you look at the marketing pyramid and the process it takes to move your customers from non-awareness to loyalty requires significant effort, time and investment. Hence the importance of getting the name right from the beginning, or changing it, if it’s not.
If we are in the business of business, getting too attached to a name presents a risk. I get that we can definitely (as owners) be too close to call it, but this is when you need to roll in the research. I am not suggesting that research makes the call, but it will give you an indication both of the opportunities and limitations of your brand name…
Nike was originally called “Blue Ribbon Sports”. Amazon was originally called “Cadabra”. Google started out as “Backrub”. In all these cases, we can breathe a sigh of relief! What gets us to one point, may not get us to the next… final food for thought!
Switching off from work on the Easter long weekend didn’t go entirely to plan. In my moment of relaxation, the one thing that I bang on about the most, was banging on – during a session at the movies! The entire movie was dedicated to positioning. (The name of the movie is below, unless you can take a guess!).
I talk a lot about positioning. It comes first, last and throughout everything you do in marketing and in your business.
Way back when I was studying marketing they spoke about the 4x Ps: Product, Place, Promotion and Price. Brand fell somewhere in Promotion, and then positioning fell somewhere in brand. That was only 20 years ago. We had the concepts, but the order was completely out of whack.
Every decision (price, product, promotion, etc) stems from positioning, otherwise you’re in shambles. Building a room on a room on a room (without no clear plan).
Why it makes complete sense to work on your positioning:
- There is loads more competition, so we need to provide a compelling reason why someone should choose you.
- The increasing noise levels, and therefore the need to be clear and consistent about who you are. (The average person was exposed to 500 to 1,600 advertising messages per day in 2000. By 2020, that number had increased six times to an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 advertising messages per day, Media Dynamics).
- Ease of decision making – Positioning simplifies the choices regarding what steps to take (or not) and then also your approach to planning and execution. This happens all in the backend. What customers see is the front end, are why two fashion houses like Gucci and Louis Vuitton are very different.
- Attracting the right people to work for you. If you are not clear on who you are and what makes you different, and you can articulate that very well (across all aspects of your business), then you risk bad hires, no hires, or your best performers leaving. Our brain is wired for sussing out incongruence. Especially in the Australian culture, we have a high BS radar!
- Business value – Positioning builds credibility, relevance and emotional connection, which builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty equates to sustainable revenue.
So the movie I watched was AIR with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Please check it out and soak yourself up in the power of positioning. It was Nike’s founding principles that drove their team and then drove one of the best buys of all time: Michael Jordan.
There are many approaches to positioning. Avis is one of the most talked about. It came from their market position in relation to their competitors. They took a ‘play it as it is’ approach!
For 13 years Avis were losing money until they owned their No.2 spot in the market with the positioning line: “Avis is only No.2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.”
Instead of competing with Hertz they owned their No.2 rank, and as a result provided a relatability factor – to help the customer create room in their mind for Avis (along with the leader Hertz) whilst also playing on the natural sympathy of supporting the ‘underdog’.
This line wasn’t just an ad line. It drove decision making in their business. You can imagine the conversation around the board room table – “Well how does No.2 behave in this situation”. I would confidently assume that No.2 is always looking for ways to be No.1 and that’s what drove them (mind the pun!!).
The genius of deciphering your positioning comes from analysing your customer, market and competitors, where you want to be, what makes you, you. Take your time. We often get so caught up in the ‘perceived speed’ of how life is moving, slow it down. If you want a positioning that lasts for 50 years (even 5 years), one that drives everything you do, invest the time.
There is also a lesson here on keeping your positioning expansive so it allows space to move within the direction, as your business, the market and your customer evolves.
What do you do when you are feeling stuck? A great question presented to me recently by my business mentor.
I have a list of people on the wall that I think are next level in how they do life / aspects of life. When I get stuck I turn to one of them.
Here are a few names of my ‘inspiring people’ wall:
- Cathie Wood – The founder and CEO of Ark Invest, investment management firm focused on disruptive innovation. She is known for her investment strategies and predictions around technology and future trends in the market. Big Ideas 2023
- Bernadette Jiwa – The author of ‘Marketing – A Love Story’. Her book reminds me of why I love brands and marketing. It’s the connection piece of people to business and business to people, through brand.
- Jim Kwik – Author of ‘Limitless’, known for his ‘compound learning’ theory and practices. The basis of his methods is small actions and skills over time to accelerate learning.
- Kevin Finn – A brand guy. Author of Open Manifesto and Brand Principles. I have met him twice and really love how he talks about doing work that matters. He is constantly talking about the difference between brand and branding… and how many businesses get this wrong.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi – His ‘self enquiry’ teaching is based on uncovering your true self by questioning where your thoughts and emotions come from, leading to an unshakeable knowing and heightened intuition. The Silent Sage of Arunachala film
How does this question translate to a brand? First what are the early warning signs of a brand being stuck:
- Growth stalls – You are seeing declines in your sales, data metrics, revenue
- Employee engagement – Your high performers start leaving.
- Ideas are not being shared – There is a lack of innovation.
- People are going through the motions of maintaining but not expanding.
- Customer connection is weighing – Engagement and perception scores are down. The customer is redirecting their attention.
- You are out of sync with the market – You may be falling behind on technological advances or not adaptive to changing market conditions.
- Fixation on the competition – you can risk comparing yourself to a status quo that can be gazumped by a new competitor, e.g. Apple entering the phone market.
If you catch a stuck brand early enough, you can not only fix it, but make it a whole lot better. We have seen so many big turnarounds: Netflix – DVDs delivered to your mailbox to video streaming and content; Amazon – books to cloud services becoming the biggest part of their business; Marvel – comics to cinema.
How to get a brand unstuck?
- Re-evaluate the brand strategy
- Conduct market research – internally and externally.
- Make improvements to your product / service
- Strengthen your brand presence – online and offline
- Further build on your current customer relationships
- Invest in your team (training and development). This includes your leadership team and ensuring they have the ability, they buy into the brand strategy, and they can lead.
- Bring in the experts – If you don’t have the time to build your mastery in marketing and brand. “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” – Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine.
Brand strategy will drive all your decisions. So start there!
Once you have your brand strategy solid, each area of the business then needs to ask how does the brand strategy translate to product, for example? What materials should we be using, what suppliers do we want to work with, what’s our pricing strategy, what are the product improvements and technology that we will invest in, who will we collaborate with, etc.
Before signing off… I will add that even though feeling stuck doesn’t feel good, it is an important part of how we, our brand and the people around us grow and reach new heights.
My friend recently got onto a plane and was sitting next to, let’s call him, Mr Two Face. The kind that takes up your leg room. Dusts their food on your side without apologising. Is rude to the flight crew. You know the kind. They think they’re bigger than the game.
During the flight my friend was intrigued to find out who Mr Two Face is? After an ever so slight head turn, they found him browsing a website on his laptop. My friend then proceeded to search the same website on their phone. What they found was a philanthropy company, run by ‘you know who’ – Mr Two Face.
Hmm… something isn’t adding up. Save the world, but be a jerk??!!
Whether we like it or not, you represent the brand you are working with, in every moment. It used to be that you shut up shop at five and go back to being the ‘outside of work’ person, but these days are long gone.
In 2022, Kayne West was dropped by 12 brands after his antisemitic remarks. In 2022, Elon Musk began his self promoted sabotage of Twitter. In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency found 590,000 Volkswagen diesel motor vehicles were fitted with defeat devices to cheat on emission tests. And how can we go past some of the major religions and the brand damage that has been caused over the past decades.
This is not a discussion about how a brand (or brand advocate) behaves or is perceived or tracked on social media, yes this plays an obvious big role, but brand extends to all stakeholder touch points and interactions.
Creating and building a brand of significance and value requires the audience/s to not only engage with the brand but to see the brand as an important part of their own identity and status.
If someone like my friend sees a misrepresentation of a brand and what it claims to stand for, it creates damage. It might start small, but the truth eventually reveals itself. This doesn’t mean you have to change who you are (though it may if you want to stay relevant), but what it does show, is the importance of alignment.
You may think this is only for the big brands, but if you have staff, investors, suppliers, etc, then it applies to you too. To get an initial read on brand sentiment a simple question to ask: Do your staff take pride in and happily share around the BBQ who they work for?
So what does a brand actually do? (Note, a logo is not a brand. The logo represents everything the brand stands for if you tell and nurture your story effectively and consistently).
According to Bernadette Jiwa, author of Marketing: A Love Story, a brand:
- Creates meaning around your product and service
- Determines what you sell, where and when
- Dictates the price range you can sell at
- Influences the kind of customers you can sell to
- Changes how people feel about commodities
- Sets expectations
- Affects the kind of staff you can attract
- Demonstrates your values
- Shapes business models
- Enables loyalty, connection, belonging and love
The all encompassing role of a brand is the reason why conversations in our boardrooms are deepening. We don’t have to look too far to see that the ‘meaning economy’ (coined by John Hagel and John Seely Brown, authors of The Power of Pull) has taken centre stage from the traditional push economy (which focuses on mass production and distribution).
Love or loathe him, this is a video of Jeff Bezos talking about why Amazon is a customer company (versus a competition company) and how this ethos has continued when diversifying into new markets.
Kayne West dropped by 12 brands
Volkswagen cheat on emissions
Bernadette Jiwa, Marketing: A Love Story
John Hagel and John Seely Brown, The Power of Pull
If you want to understand your motivations, you only have to look to your ‘cafe beverage’ evolution – the one thing most people do on a daily/weekly basis…. Watch the insights start pouring out!
Before we go on it’s worth noting and having in your tool kit the three things you need for a behaviour to take place (as suggested by BJ Fogg, Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University) :
- Trigger – Do this now
- Ability – Can do it
- Motivation – Want to do it
So back to the ‘cafe beverage’ journey. Let’s look at the motivation around changing behaviour. Reflecting on my own cafe beverage journey:
I started with hot chocolate, which was all about social connection. This then progressed to Mocha, Cappuccino and Latte – a stage where I was motivated by maximisation (getting as much out of the moment). Then came the Almond lattes which fitted nicely into my solid focus on health and fitness. The Long black was next, representing minimalism. And now I find myself at the herbal tea phase – more intentional, a long run mindset versus a sprint.
This is the first layer of insights. I have no doubt the motivations run a lot deeper!
Other than shouting me a herbal tea next time I see you, you might think why am I sharing this with you. The purpose is to encourage you to think more deeply about what’s required to change a behaviour. Understanding behaviour change in ourselves will help us to understand it also in our customers, staff, board members, investors….
In regards to my current ‘cafe beverage’, the biggest conundrum I am facing is, how do I feel good about paying five dollars for a herbal tea? A five dollar coffee, I can manage, but a five dollar tea, well that hurts a bit.
I have the motivation, I have the ability, so it’s the Trigger that will get me across the line. And today, the trigger was an outdoor seat, loose leaf tea, a fancy pot and a lovely waiter… the total experience.
If I take this to customers who are seeking Marketing & Branding Strategy:
“We are frustrated that things are not moving”
“We are lacking inspiration”
“We have uncertainty around how we will achieve my goals”
“We are lacking clarity regarding our future direction”
“We cannot do this on our own. We need a different level of expertise”
“We have the time and dollars to invest”
“We want something bigger”
“We want more excitement”
“We want more meaning and purpose”
“We want to make a change (to people, customers, industry, country, future generations)”
What about your customers? What are their triggers, abilities and motivations? Please share. I would love to see what comes up for you.
A simple way, without the brand finance people, to get a read on the value of your brand.
This question fired me up like no other question!! It’s a question that forces you to be honest and see things for what they really are.
It’s the reason why some businesses sell products and others sell brands. It the reason why a brand has a significant assigned dollar value on the balance sheet.
This question is not limited to your customers, but one we should be asking all our stakeholders: staff, suppliers, investors, partners, board, etc.
Once we get a read on this, the next question is, why do they care? And is this answer aligned with where you want to take your brand?
One sentence that changes everything
Some people call the mission statement fluff! They never needed it, and have still been successful. Other businesses have made this the centre point of everything they do – it has become a beacon that guides every decision they make.
The case for a mission statement in today’s market is strong, particularly if you want to connect and inspire versus transact – and not just with your customers but every person that touches your brand.
Here are some mission statements that I thought were worth sharing. You will see the alignment between brand positioning, innovation, product quality (from an external perspective if you are familiar with the brand). Internally, we can somewhat assume the mission is deeply embedded into the culture.
To be the best sports company in the world
Evolving the way the world moves
To be the world leader in luxury goods by offering contemporary products while preserving the traditional skills and heritage of the brand.
Ideas worth spreading
To be Earth’s most customer centric company
To build a community-driven hospitality company
Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow
Inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis
To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience
To provide the widest range of home improvement products at the lowest prices every day, backed by the best service
To unleash the potential of every team
At Run Partners our mission is:
Together building brands that love and are loved
Our mission statement has changed a number of times. When starting out, like all new businesses and brands, for a good period of time you are constantly questioning your identity until you land on something that you feel will grow you, and grows with you.
If you have a mission statement or are playing around with one, I would love for your to share it with me.
The longest running study of adult life
The researchers of the ‘Harvard Study of Adult Development’, the longest running study of adult life from teenagers to death (began in 1938 with 724 men) from their experience, tell us that we are blind about ourselves and that we present ourselves in certain lights.
To combat self perception versus the truth, the study also included reading tone of voice and word choice, natural language processing using AI (which deciphers mental state based on how we speak), recency effects and peak end rule (tendency to remember peak and ending versus moment by moment), and other forms of observation, e.g. questionnaires completed by your Spouse or Dad.
(The study continues to this day with the next generations. The premise of the study is to better understand what a good life looks like… spoiler alert, it’s not money and fame. For more on this study: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/)
Extrapolating accurate customer information
Taking the Harvard Study research practice findings into consideration, the spoken word is not necessarily present the truth. It can also do the opposite, leading us on a wild goose chase as marketers, innovators and businesses.
We know speaking to our customers is important for business, but the lengths to which we need to drive accurate information is not always known.
We all know a real live scenario of a product pre-launch receiving favourable customer feedback, but when it hits the market, it doesn’t get traction. It could well be that the product is a dud, but let’s say it’s not, so why aren’t the sales coming in?
Every time the answer to this question will come back to the customer.
You may not agree, and think we need to go back to operations or sales, but both these aspects are the branch of the product model we created based on a specific customer.
The customer fundamentals that we need to understand?
There are three aspects of the product/service in relation to the customer that we need to investigate:
|FUNCTIONAL||What functional need does the product address? How will the customer use the product and how often?|
|EMOTIONAL||How does the product impact the customers ‘perceived status’? Luxury cars own this in spades! Did the price communicate customer value?|
|SOCIAL||Did we give the customer a good enough reason to spread the word?|
Seth Godin (Author of 18 best sellers and Marketing Hall of Fame) talks about understanding the differences between early adopters (attracted to the new) and laggards is important. We may see an initial uptake when launching, but then sales fall away because the product didn’t resonate with the laggards.
There could be an array of reasons why the product didn’t work. A big watch out is the risk of making assumptions. Thinking that we know what people’s fears, desires and needs are based on the customer personas we have created, but in actual fact, we don’t know enough information and/or have unbeknownst built in our own biases.
The value of knowing your customer
Truly understanding our customer is not a one-off event, it’s a continuous process. Building the ‘thirst’ to know our customers a lot deeper, into the fabric of our business, will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty which eventually leads to increased sales. It will also bring us closer to industry trends and business opportunities. All contributing to increased customer value and consequently increased business value.
What about B2B businesses?
When Amazon and Google came along they turned the B2B world upside down. It blew open the global market. What was once accepted as a good product/service provider, became the status quo. The bar was raised.
This massive market change has left us with no choice but to strengthen the customer experience. What will make us different in an ocean of the same? Yes a combination of digital and non-digital will improve the customer experience, we know this.
What we may not know is that the company’s culture/core is critical to strengthening the customer experience. This is also applicable for B2C companies, but the 10+ people involved in the customer experience (e.g. scoping, quoting, ordering, customisation, troubleshooting, using the product, reordering, etc) for B2B SMEs and large organisations, means that a high valued customer can be lost as a result of one disgruntled or fatigued employee.
At every stage of the process it’s vital to get a read on our customer… not just during but before they work with us, so we have a clear customer profile and understanding and therefore can pre-empt a lot of their attitudes and behaviours.
So how do we go about understanding our customer?
The options are endless. It will depend on where you are in the product life cycle, i.e. testing phase versus business maturity. You want to choose a methodology that provides accuracy and purpose. The sustainability (what’s involved and who will manage it) of continuing the research process should also be considered. (This takes us right back to the start of this article – the longest study on adult development… which wouldn’t have been otherwise).
CUSTOMER RESEARCH METHODS
(Which can be sliced and diced based on your business and industry requirements).
|New insights for growth: What it takes to understand your customer today
By Jonathan Gordon, Volker Grüntges, Vicki Smith, and Yvonne Staack
|1. Observe consumers in the field
2. Digitize the daily diary
3. Use advanced analytics to get more granular
4. Better listening and learning with social media
5. Co-create with consumers on digital platforms
|How To Understand Your Customers And Their Needs With The Right Data
By Bernard Marr
|1. Transaction & point of sale
2. Demographic data
3. Attitudinal data
4. External data sets
|For greater success get to understand your customer
By Nate Gilmore
|1. Create ideal profile
2. Determine your desired outcome
3. Put work into your customer interviews
|3 Persona types
By Page Laubheimer
|1. Proto – Quick assessment
2. Qualitative – Small scale, segments customers on shared attitudes, goals, pain points, expectations, etc.
3. Statistical – mix of quantitative and qualitative
|Talking to Humans, Success starts with understanding your customers: Effective customer interviews
By Giff Constable with Frank Rimalovski
|1. Do your interviews in person
2. Talk to one person at a time
3. Add a note taker
4. Start with a warm up & keep it human
5. Disarm your own biases
6. Get them to tell a story
7. Look for solutions and hacks
8. Listen don’t talk
Understand first and then very slowly change
A recent brand development project Run Partners worked on if all the people involved had no other projects could have taken two weeks from start to end. Instead it took four months instead.
If we went with two weeks we would have missed out on the gift of time. The thinking, developing further on ideas, working with the customer to get their customer right, understanding their business direction, etc… and the project would have been worse off for it.
Across the four months we all went on a journey of change and learnt that real embedded change takes time. Time for both processing and for allowing the process to work its magic. And most importantly time to also allow for deep listening.
I encourage you to take the time if you want to project quality to your customers.
Get out of the building
The more we know our customer the stronger our relationship and knowledge. Find a method that allows you to go deep. ‘Talking to Humans’ by Giff Constable, talks about ‘getting out of the building’, ‘look for patterns that will help you make better decisions that lead to smart action’.
Customer insights don’t stop at product launch, they continue. In today’s world our customers also include our employees, a pivotal aspect of all our businesses in a talent shortage market.
The more you get to know your customers deeply, the more you will love providing your products/services for them specifically. You will also find yourself working even harder to ensure they achieve their desires and feel what you bring to the table is of enormous value.
(1) 2016, Giff Constable with Frank Rimalovski,Talking to Humans,
(3) 2022, Nate Gilmore, Forbes.com, For greater success get to understand your customer
(4) 2022, Bernard Marr, Forbes.com, How To Understand Your Customers And Their Needs With The Right Data,
(6) 2019, Seth Godin, This is Marketing
(7) 2020-2022, Tony Bodoh and Betsy Westhafer, Podcast, Really know your customer
Christmas is prime time to…
Fall head over heels in love with BRANDS!
Feels quite clinical when writing this, but the emotions are far from clinical!
How can we possibly love an inanimate object? A therapist would tell you this is an unhealthy relationship. It’s very one-sided. Your physical needs don’t get a look in. You have no choice about being in an open relationship. You are likely to develop attachment issues. And above all this, trust is through the roof and the bond is unbreakable.
What the hell is going on? We wouldn’t accept this in a friendship or partner relationship? So why do we fall in love and obsess over brands?
My personal obsession is Gucci. It’s been a long-time love. It inspires and excites me almost every time. Whether it’s walking through the store, their social media, short films, how and who they collaborate with, outdoor advertising campaigns… It’s a brand that captures both classic and edgy at the same time. It’s not afraid of taking risks and having fun. Since Alessandro Michele became Creative Director in 2015 Gucci’s renewed positioning and design has resulted in significant revenue growth. Brand love brings in the dollars!
What do we know about brand love?
Since the researchers first started looking into brand love in 1988, we have evolved our views. We definitely no longer compare brand love to interpersonal love. There are some traits that cross over but there are a lot that don’t.
A 2012 study (Rajeev Batra, Aaron Ahuvia, & Richard P. Bagozzi, Brand Love) predicts higher brand loyalty, word of mouth and resistance to negative information. They used the following elements to decipher the level of brand love:
- Passion driven behaviours: Strong desires, willingness to invest, history with the brand
- Self-brand integration: Ability to express actual and desired identities, to connect to life’s deeper
- Positive intrinsic motivation: Positive attachment and an intuitive feeling of ‘rightness’.
- Anticipated separation distress if the brand went a way.
- Long term relationship: Predicting future use and long-term commitment
- Positive attitude valence: Overall satisfaction
- Attitudes of high certainty and confidence: The strength, intensity and reaction time of feelings and evaluations
In a 2016 study (Langner, T., Bruns, D., Fischer, A. et al.), the focus was on the development of love, specifically looking at the different paths consumers can take to fall in love and back in love with your brand:
- Slow development
- Liking becomes love
- Love all the way
- Bumpy road
- Dislike evolves to positively over time
The key takeaway in this list is how “individual” the brand love experience can be distilled to, along with the opportunity we have for evolving a customer relationship to brand love.
In a 2019 Study (Narissara Palusuk, Bernadett Koles & Rajibul Hasan) interestingly they included brand hate, indicating that brand love cannot be taken for granted and that continued quality and general satisfaction must be met to avoid potential ramifications.
It’s also important to note that culture plays a crucial role influencing how and why we fall in love with a brand and how this evolves over time. If you play in different markets, for example, intrinsic motivation can differ greatly across western and eastern cultures.
Why is brand love important?
From a straight up business aspect, most of us don’t have a monopoly on our market to begin with. Markets continue to widen, now that we can access international markets. Overlay this with indirect competition, i.e. the vastness of choice of where and how customers can spend their money and time. In a nutshell, brand love is a chess move.
When it comes to the customer, to ‘just be satisfied with a brand’, is no longer enough. If this is the case in your business, definitely expect switching if something better comes along. On the flip side, satisfaction can turn into love, but requires effort.
Brand love is not isolated to customers. It extends to all stakeholders, especially (now more than ever) the people working in the business. When building love you need to be considering the entire business eco-system. In Australia our small market means, unfavourable word of mouth (even from a supplier) can severely impact your brand. People in the business can impact quality and service in a big way. Elon Musk buying Twitter is a great example of how one person can shake a brand.
How do we get on the brand love train?
1. Think in terms of love
Shift your thinking from product or service delivery to brand love. Simulate brand love models/journeys across all your major stakeholders. What can you create to drive customer desire as a starting point?
Create a brand love score card. Once you have the insights, address the gaps / opportunities. Keep in mind this is not a one month project. This is ongoing and the majority of opportunities should be quantifiable and linked to your long term business objectives. Repeat brand score research every 6-12 months depending how fast you and the market is moving.
Before we go
Brand love needs to come from you first. If you are not in love with your brand then how can you expect someone else to be? What will it take for you to be completely head of heels with your brand? After all, love breeds love.
At Run Partners, taking a total business marketing approach is what we love doing. We do that by working with our clients on brand positioning (delivered via various formats) and marketing strategy to drive business results, brand love and long term value. This is our strength. It’s what we love doing and it’s the biggest impact we can make for our customers. We also love working with clients that want to grow their business and have fun doing so!
(1) 2012 Rajeev Batra, Aaron Ahuvia, & Richard P. Bagozzi, Brand Love
(2) 2016 Langner, T., Bruns, D., Fischer, A. et al. Falling in love with brands: a dynamic analysis of the trajectories of brand love
(3) 2019 Narissara Palusuk, Bernadett Koles & Rajibul Hasan, ‘All you need is brand
One thing that excites me when working with businesses is to explain what marketing really is.
For a lot of people, it’s all about social media posts, quippy taglines and stand-out packaging. Hence the fact marketing can at times be de- scribed as the fluffy stuff!
This thinking I attribute to a combination of:
- The Australian Culture… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We are not big talkers. We typically focus on producing good quality products in the hope that they sell themselves.
- The Australian market place. We are still a very emerging market. The competition is nowhere as rife as other countries. So we don’t have to try as hard.
- The lack of understanding of what marketing actually is. The rise of social media hasn’t helped this. A lot of people today think marketing is primarily a LinkedIn or facebook post.
This thinking completely undersells the contribution intelligent marketing can make to a business, leading to missed opportunities and significantly reducing the return on any marketing investment.
When done correctly, marketing takes a whole-of-business view. Not only is marketing responsible for the future vision of the business but actually bringing the vision to life.
Every marketing touchpoint is a strategic building block to achieve the long term vision and value.
One single social media post is not a building block, but the collective of all communication touch points across all stakeholders is.
Going back to my uni days, we were taught marketing consists of 4ps: product, place, price and promotions. This is still relevant however I would throw branding in the mix as a stand alone (versus keeping it under the promotions umbrella) for the reason that in the last 20 years our relationships with brands have grown and deepened. Who we choose to work with, where we live, what we buy is very much linked to our personal identity, i.e. We use brands to tell stories about who we are.
Deep breath. Lots to consider. Now overlay this with sales, profit projections, innovation planning, people and culture/internal marketing, business valuation…. not so fluffy!
Marketing sits across all these touch points. It’s continuously connecting the dots, making sure that the backyard (what we are doing in the business) is in step with the short and long term aspirations, and the front yard, the story telling piece (what the outside world sees or perceives), is aligned (and creates the right attention) for the business/brand, market and customer.
Why consider total business marketing?
First and foremost, long term business value. (Note for the sales people out there, weekly sales attribute to long term business value. So yes marketing needs to drive weekly sales also).
So how do you go about total business marketing, i.e. where you start and how you progress (even when curveballs are thrown into the mix)? Here are some tips which can be customised based on your business and resources:
- Ensure that your marketing team has a direct line into the CEO. Business goal alignment is key.
- Ensure that marketing has a comprehensive understanding of the total business and the market. This is not a job that you bundle in with your PA or HR team (something that I heard recently!).
- Acknowledge and support that Marketing owns the responsibility to continually educate the business on marketing.
- From my experience the best business and marketing results are derived from an openness and teachable attitude from both the decision makers (e,g, CEO) and marketing. Essentially we are one team, wanting the same things… long term business growth.
Now over to you, to unleash your marketing beast!
When first starting Run Partners I was very intentional about the word partnership, despite not really knowing how this would play out in a marketing agency / business world.
The name Run Partners came to life because I was running a lot back then, and one of the trainers at the gym said I should run a marathon. Apparently “once you step over the finish line, you step into a whole new world”. A massive statement like this…. I thought it was BS! So I had to find out the truth.
I did the Sydney marathon, crossed the finish line… and nothing! Actually I was still working in corporate at the time, so I thought running events could be a good marketing sponsorship opportunity!!
Unbeknownst to me, change and a whole new world was definitely on the horizon, I just didn’t see it at the time.
Roughly six months after the Sydney marathon, I had left my corporate job and started Run Partners.
The big realisation outside of spending so much time with yourself (both physically and mentally) when you run long distances, was the partner- ship piece.
I would never of run a marathon if it wasn’t for that one trainer. Who not only challenged my thinking, but pushed me towards something that I couldn’t conceptually understand or see at the time.
The power that a partner can bring to your life and business!!! A perfect position that I wanted Run Partners to own.
Run Partners has been operating for 7 years now. The big learning is defi- nitely around choosing and building partnerships.
The best partnerships from my experience, have mutual trust, respect, growth, common goals, shared success and openness, which without a doubt, brings more engagement, fun, inspiration and unstoppable mo- mentum.
This plays out equally with anyone that does work for Run Partners (strat- egist, designers, developers, writers, data analyst, media, directors, pro- ducers, editors, etc). To deliver great work, and to continue to raise the bar strategically and creatively – the team behind Run Partners, are sooo important.
One big eco-system, where everyone is thriving.
For the die hard numbers people, you might feel like this is a bit of fluff, but I see it simply as energy in, energy out. Performance that drives long term impact needs thriving energy.
So if you have partners that you know have the capacity and capability to grow your business with you – nurture them. If they love you and love working on your business they will give abundantly.
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