Why Brands are Failing To Listen To Customers and How To Fix That

As terabytes of consumer data are collected every day, companies have more information than ever about their customers. But that doesn’t mean they understand what those customers need—or how best to serve them.

Without a clear understanding of what customers are experiencing, executives put their brands at risk, according to Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting, which helps companies collect video feedback from their customers. As the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates, a company’s survival in challenging times often requires a strong, meaningful audience connection and swift action to meet customer needs.

So, what can companies do to more effectively tap into customer experiences and build lasting relationships? Here, MacMillan and Rick Reuter, a principal in the financial services industry practice for consultant Deloitte, discuss what’s preventing companies from listening to their customers, the importance of human connections, and how companies should be thinking about the customer experience post-COVID-19.

Companies have access to tons of customer information. So what are companies missing? Why isn’t that data enough?

Andy MacMillan: We’ve become really algorithm dependent. Data and algorithms are useful. But they also mean we aim for the average: What does the average buyer want? We don’t ever learn about the exceptions. It’s become very sterile, and I think we all sense and feel that. The challenge for companies is how to get real feedback from people outside the company, and how to use that feedback to put the team in the shoes of the customer.

How do companies get that real feedback from their customers?

MacMillan: I think you have to be deliberate about the idea that you can’t just stand entirely behind the technology. You have to decide it’s important for people in your company to talk to customers.

If you’re a bank, go out and get 10 or 15 people without deep technology backgrounds to walk you through what it’s like for them to bank online. Then we pull that video in-house and let the teams watch and see what it’s like to be that customer. Or for an airline, it means asking a premium flyer who is not very tech-savvy what it’s like to book travel for his or her family. How do you get your tech team to understand how to alleviate some of those flyer’s concerns, when your team is not the demographic we’re talking about? That’s the personal aspect I’m talking about that’s missing.

Rick Reuter: And sometimes it’s just having a real person pick up the phone. So, it’s not 15 menus of connecting through a call-center app. It’s “Hello, Mr. Reuter, how can we help you? We saw that you did this today. Is that what you’re calling about?”

How is COVID-19 changing the landscape for how companies are expected to interact with customers?

Reuter: I think companies now are getting more and more connected with the human experience than they have in the past decade, and I think it’s refreshing that we have this technology infrastructure to adapt quickly. We just need to continue to make that a priority.

MacMillan: The question, even six months ago, was “How do I squeeze out more margin for myself as a company?” Now for the first time in a while, we’re seeing companies actually thinking about customers and taking measures to keep us safe. This situation has caused us to go back to a time before we relied on the algorithms. We’re saying, “Hey, let’s go talk to some customers. Let’s find out what their needs are and figure out how to service those needs.” It’s a remarkably simple formula, but I would say that hasn’t been the heart of what we’ve been doing for the past decade.

When the COVID-19 crisis ends, what’s going to happen to these customer-centric changes? Will they continue? 

MacMillan: It’s going to be difficult for businesses to just snap back to the assumptions we had six months ago about how everything works.

One of the changes companies should keep is how they’ve empowered employees on the front lines. A coffee chain I go to, each [outlet] had different ways of implementing carryout-only procedures to keep people safe. It was very smart. It was like all the rules had been thrown out the window—instead of a uniform corporate policy, the company trusted employees to make some rational decisions on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep our customers safe, how to adapt to this unprecedented situation.

Reuter: That’s a culture where employees feel empowered and they feel ownership of the problem, which creates opportunity. I think that’s a great example of a large enterprise creating some local angles to be successful.

How can companies empower individual employees in a smart way?

MacMillan: It’s about culture and values. You hear front-line retail workers say, “I wish I could do the right thing more often for people.” And often it isn’t really about the money. It’s just trying to treat people the right way, trying to solve a problem in a restaurant, in a store, whatever that might be.

There’s also something to be said for hiring good people, conveying your shared values as a company and empowering those people to make good decisions in line with your values.

As companies rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and try to meet customer needs, what’s the biggest thing they can do to improve their listening?

MacMillan: I think the issue isn’t for or against technology. I think it’s how do we layer in perspective and actually care about the customer in an authentic way? We talk about an empathy gap, and what we mean by that is, it’s not like people go to work every day and don’t care about the customers; it’s that they don’t have the perspective. They don’t actually get to see these customers and talk to them to know that they’re not hitting the mark.

The lesson companies can take away from this crisis is the way it’s caused us to go, “Hey, wait. I need to find out what the customers really need, and then go figure it out.” And as customers, we’re delighted that they seem to care.

By:Taylor Smith for FastCo Works

Source: Why brands are failing to listen to customers—and how to fix that

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How Brands Can Meet Demands of a Higher Purpose

Many consumers today are expecting more out of companies than just providing good value in products and services. A study shows that a business’ “brand” – how it is identified and perceived by the public – is defined significantly by showing social responsibility and having a higher sense of purpose than making a profit.

Building a company that connects with people on a personal and emotional level requires “conscious branding,” which begins with a business being aware of its identity (who we are, what we stand for, and what future we would like to co-design), the ecosystem it lives in and how it can add value to the world and its people, says Julius Geis (www.juliusgeis.com), a branding expert who has created strategies for over 40 companies and is the creator of Identity Built Branding™ (IBB).

“The way we relate to brands is radically different now, and the upheaval of 2020 magnified this,” Geis says. “People want brands to be a navigator for change. They expect responsible branding and for companies to be proactive and transparent.

“Brands that only see dollar signs need to shed their rigid conceptions of business. The brands of today must be living organisms that are relationship-centric inside and outside the company. When a brand is anchored in an organic identity and moving from a place of purpose, consumers are drawn to its authenticity. It’s time to move away from brand-fakes that manipulate people. Let’s embrace branding designed to strengthen our collective connections.”

Geis offers three tips for businesses to build their brand inside and outside the company in ways that connect people and a higher purpose:

  • Engage in organizational self-searching. Geis says companies can determine their purpose by asking questions such as: What is the core reason we are in business? What are our non-negotiable, guiding beliefs? Where do we come from, and what are our backgrounds of experience? What do we wish for the world to become? “The understanding of a company’s collective self,” Geis says, “or its founding spirit, is the focal point for strategic development and decision-making.”
  • Investigate disruptive relationships. A deep analysis of relationships within the company and with the outside world, Geis says, is a fundamental part of removing the obstacles on the road to company self-identity, unity, and greater purpose. “It starts with your culture and extends to everyone your company has contact with,” Geis says. “Probe relationships, from internal employee-manager connections to the relationships between the brand and its suppliers, consumers, and communities. The problems lie where these relationships are disrupted. That points to the underlying cause and leads to ways to strengthen these relationships in a sustainable manner. But without solidifying the work culture first, connecting in a stronger, sustainable fashion with consumers can’t happen.”
  • Embrace truth and change. “Change happens when a company finds its true sense of self and strengthens its culture accordingly, rather than continuing randomly or aimlessly and manufacturing a false identity that will inevitably crumble under the pressure of reality,” Geis says. “When you’re operating from a place of truth, your relationships are grounded in trust and a like-mindedness that allows them to move and react to the flow of business and culture. Rigid relationships built on false premises or forced connections will always struggle to evolve.”

“Many brands have lost public trust,” Geis says. “They’ve lost their power and their way. But finding or rediscovering their purpose can connect them inside the business, which must happen in order to connect with today’s consumers that demand a world awareness. As we move towards a better understanding of our interconnected culture and economy, branding in its traditional structure and motives will disappear.”

By

Source: More Than a Business: How Brands Can Meet Demands of a Higher Purpose – The Good Men Project

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Why Conscious Branding Is the Secret to Your Success

Today, more consumers than ever are demanding that companies become transparent and take  hands-on approach to making the world a better place. They’re looking for what experts call “,” companies that embody a higher purpose by having an intentional purpose or embracing . Think: Tom’s Shoes or ’s Honest Company.

According to a report by MWWPR, not only do 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to patronize companies that take a stand on social and public policy matters, 80% say they’ll even pay more for products from such brands.

But you don’t have to be a big name in order to transform your into a conscious brand. Follow these three steps to make sure that your actions resonate with your ideal customers, helping you multiply your revenue and make a lasting impact.

1. Be clear about what you stand for

Ben & Jerry’s is an iconic conscious brand. Climate justice, LGBTQ quality and Black Lives Matter are only a few of the socially responsible causes the company has advocated for over the years. And it only makes people love their brand even more.

As people become savvier, trust in is growing more vital each day. It’s not enough to just offer a great product or excellent customer service. Customers want to do business with companies they like, trust and align with.  Those brands that sit on the sidelines regarding important issues are coming under greater scrutiny. Meanwhile, those with the guts to take bold but strategically sound stands are being rewarded.

Follow B&J’s lead and include your views and values in your marketing. Share your beliefs, and ask your audience to take part alongside you in supporting the causes you believe in. By intentionally integrating social responsibility as part of your daily business routine, you can ensure you are doing your part in practicing social and environmental responsibility and be seen as a thought leader in your niche.

Related: In 2021, Consumers Are Looking for Something Extra From Luxury Brands

2. Take action

It’s one thing to talk about the causes you support, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do something about them. People are jaded by outdated marketing techniques,  and businesses and influencers who don’t walk the walk. While building and running a conscious business requires more intentional and an uncompromising commitment to the mission for good, the reward is the creation of a movement that leads to unparalleled success and impact.

is a noted leader in environmental and social responsibility. Their mission statement reflects this well: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” From supporting grassroots activists working to find solutions to the environmental crisis to suing the former president of the United States, Patagonia has taken action on the most pressing environmental issues facing our world.

There are countless ways you can become part of the change for good: collect donations, offer scholarships, take part in . Use the resources you have — your voice, your business and your community — to take action. When you weave these actions into your company culture, and it’s embodied by employees and customers alike, you create a movement. By embracing ethical business practices while creating transparency and accountability, and providing immense value, your brand will rise up over the competition.

3. Cultivate partnerships based on values

Co-branding with another company is an effective way to double the awareness around an issue, increase the impact of an effort and, ultimately, expand the visibility of both organizations. Who you partner with has a direct impact on your reputation, your bran and your potential customer’s perception of your business.

As reported in a recent Hubspot post by Sophia Bernazzani, “In 2015, Target partnered with on a campaign called Kid Power, which committed Target to one of UNICEF’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). The retailer sold kid-friendly fitness trackers encouraging them to complete various fitness activities, which ultimately helped deliver food packets to underprivileged children around the world.”

To ensure that you’re making smart partnering decisions, choose partnerships that align with your values. If you have not yet determined your brand values, make it a top priority. The best way to do this is to follow my 3S Method. First: Source. Do a Google search of “brand value words.” Choose as many words as possible that you resonate with and feel are important.

I like to put them on index cards (or you could use digital Kanban boards) to make step two easier.  Second: Sort. Group the index cards with similar words. For instance, honesty, integrity and truth would go in the same pile. Finally: Select. Choose your final words from the groups by what you feel best represents your deepest values.

Related: Only Conscious Brands Will Survive The 2020s

Now, use these brand values as your North Star. Refer to them any time you are making decisions, such as who to partner with, who to hire, which clients to work with and more. Doing so is sure to help you stand out amongst the noise online and attract raving fans with similar values.

Tiffany Neuman

 

By: Tiffany Neuman / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Source: Why Conscious Branding Is the Secret to Your Success

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How Brand Management Impacts Your Negotiations

Should You Use Your Own Name or Create a Brand Name for Your Business?

Should You Use Your Own Name or Create a Brand Name for Your Business?

A friend and ex-colleague of mine recently left her full-time job and started freelancing as a consultant. Like any freelancer seeking new business opportunities, she planned to create a website showcasing her past work and detailing her capabilities. But first, she had to answer a critical question: Should she create a new to represent her business or simply use her own name? Since I run a brand consulting agency with one full-time employee (me), she asked for my advice.

No matter what kind of freelance work you’re doing – from brand consultant to bookkeeper – this is a question you’ll have to answer. Using your personal name means presenting yourself as an individual contributor and keeping the focus on you. Coming up with a brand name, on the other hand, will require a thorough naming process and will create some “daylight” between you and the business. Either path can work, and deciding which is right for you depends on a range of personal factors. I’ve outlined five reasons below to take the first approach: creating a new brand name for your freelance business.

A brand name suggests scale

In the past, many companies took on their founder’s . Think Lipton, Ford, or . But these companies’ modern-day counterparts are more likely to develop unique brand names like , Tesla, or (For the record, Starbuck is a fictional character from Moby Dick, Nikola Tesla died 60 years before the founding of , and it’s unlikely Robin Hood was a real person, much less had any involvement with the financial services app.). Because of this shift, a unique brand name, rather than a founder’s name (i.e., yours) can create an impression of a larger organization, which implies more breadth and depth.

If you’re thinking, “But I don’t want anyone to think I’m more than one person,” don’t underestimate the disadvantage solo freelancers can face in competitive situations. Remember that people who’ll never meet you – whether they’re decision-makers or procurement personnel – may be making judgments based on your name alone. For example, imagine having to select one of the following brand consultancies: Catchword, Lexicon, or Sally Flakowitz. The personal name creates an awkward, apples-to-oranges situation you’re probably better off avoiding.

Related: Why Brand Name is Important for Start-Ups?

A brand name gives you room to grow

Speaking of scale, another benefit of a brand name is its potential to stretch as your business changes. You may not plan on building a 15-person team – but plans often change. Should your business become more than a one-person operation, a brand name provides room to grow.

This logic applies even on a project-to-project basis. When you take on a large assignment, you may need to subcontract work or hire other freelancers as teammates. When showing up at a client’s office with a colleague, introducing yourselves as independent freelancers who happen to be working together at the moment does not inspire confidence. It creates a temporary, noncommital feeling. It’s much easier – and sounds more professional – to say, “Hi, I’m Rob, and this is Sally. We’re from [BrandName].”

A brand name provides an opportunity to express ideas

What ideas and feelings does your name evoke to those who hear it? Hopefully, amongst your family and friends, at least, a host of positive adjectives are associated with your name – perhaps smart, creative, and hardworking. But for those who’ve never met you? Never heard of you? It’s just a name. Unless you go by “Sting” or “The Rock,” your name doesn’t really convey any meaning. It doesn’t tell prospective clients that you’re smart or creative. It’s not even a name you chose.

But creating a brand name allows you to say something. Some brand names are straightforward and descriptive (e.g., Best Buy), while some merely suggest an idea (e.g., Zipcar). Others venture into the abstract – they don’t carry any relevant meaning but can nevertheless convey a sense of personality, like Apple (simple) or Virgin (irreverent). No matter what approach your brand name has, you can use it to tell people something about yourself and the work you do.

Related: The Do’s and Don’t’s of Naming Your Business (Infographic)

A brand name may be easier to spell and pronounce

Some first and last names are easier to pronounce than others, but chances are the brand name you create will be shorter than your personal name (one word rather than two, for example). And since you’re building the name from scratch, you’ll have an opportunity to ensure its . While there are exceptions, most of the best brand names are short and sweet. Names built from one or more real English words are more likely to be understood, pronounceable, and correctly spelled than many people’s names.

If you have any interest in doing business overseas, you may find your personal name has additional drawbacks. Names that are commonplace in one language or culture may appear strange or unpronounceable in other parts of the world. Your name may lead people to assume – accurately or not – that you’re from a particular country or region and, whether or not it’s fair, that assumption may come with prejudices. English, however, has become the lingua franca of global business. A real English word or two is likely to be understood and pronounceable by many business people for whom English is not a native tongue.

A brand name may be more distinctive

The flip side of the point above is that, in some cases, personal names are so common that they fail to stand out. If your name is “Niamh Moloughney,” good luck getting people to spell and pronounce it correctly. But if you’re one of the over 11,000 Ann Millers on LinkedIn, your prospective customers may have trouble remembering you or telling you apart from other freelancers.

Reviewing competitor names is a critical step in any brand naming process. In creating your brand name, you can choose to use a different naming style, pick one that’s significantly shorter or longer than competitors, or find an initial letter that’s unique to the category.

Ultimately, this decision depends heavily on your given name and surname. How common are they? Are they hard to spell or pronounce? Will they associate you with a specific language, country, or region – for better or worse? Some people’s names almost beg to be used as brand names, like Smart & Final (named after founders J.S. Smart and H.D. Final) or Fox Racing (named after founder Geoff Fox). They’re short, simple, easy to remember, and have built-in meaning or imagery. Unless you’re lucky enough to have such a distinctive, evocative name, consider creating a brand name for your freelance business.

Related: 10 Secrets to Master Your Personal Brand

Rob Meyerson

 

By: Rob Meyerson/ Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

 

Source: Should You Use Your Own Name or Create a Brand Name for Your Business?

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How Brands Can Better & Effectively Use Influencers

https://miro.medium.com/max/1200/0*uPEXSSv59uAYEmc7

Influencer marketing isn’t as simple as choosing an influencer with a high number of followers to post an ad for you. In 2019, there have been a multitude of changes that have taken place in the influencer marketing world which brands need to factor into their strategies to get the most ROI.Consumer expectations around authenticity, an increase in influencers making it harder to reach their target market, and the need for solid evidence of the success of a campaign or post are the key trends we’re seeing shape the changes this year.

Below is a list of things to remember before engaging an influencer for your brand, to ensure the highest success rate.

  1. Influencers are people too

It’s clear that brands need to identify an influencer that suits their image and has an audience appropriate to them, as it’s obvious it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Think of the basic advertising and marketing principles such as brand consistency across its messaging, imagery, stunts etc. All of these principles also apply when it comes to selecting influencers.

For effective market penetration in the influencer space, brands need to change the way they see influencers. It can feel a little strange at first because we’re so used to having our own perception of them through a screen, but brands need to challenge themselves and stop being transactional and start building genuine relationships.

Doing this, not only will your brand foster beneficial relationships for future activity, but the synchronicity between the influencer, brand and audience is the key driver to the most genuine engagement and success of the campaign.

Of course, there is always the irony when it comes to using influencers since brands pay for influencers to post an ad, so it can be perceived as anything but genuine. Therefore, it is important to be mindful that influencer marketing is actually a partnership and when working together, both reputations are on the line.

2. Video is the new black

Like all key moments in pop culture, trends come and go but some stick so well that they stay popular through the generations. The 20s had smoking and flapper dresses, the 60s had the flare pants and tie-dye, the 80s had the boombox and the 90s had the blackberry.

In 2019’s digital climate, the legacy that millennials and Gen Zs have left is the ubiquitous use of social media. This demographic has propelled the amount of user-generated content full of memes, live streaming of stories and videos, which is why video is currently on trend.

Since 90% of Gen Z and 83% of millennials are spending at least two or three hours a day watching videos on their smartphones, brands need to capitalise on creating fun video content and memes that can be easily shared with their peers as it resonates well with this generation more than any other form of media.

3. Authenticity is key

When followers feel like influencers are real people they can relate to and even share similar experiences with, that’s when the magic happens. The most successful influencers have a highly captivated audience because of their ability to produce authentic and relatable content.

Since millennials and Gen Z’s are digital natives to social media and advertising across these platforms, they are naturally more switched on when it comes to recognising when they are being overtly marketed to.

According to a study by Deloitte, 72% of millennials use social media as a good way to stay connected to news and topics that are important to them, while 65% of millennials said that they are happy to receive targeted content if it aligns with their interests – proving they are savvy when it comes to their consuming of digital content.

If businesses want to engage an influencer to market to this demographic, they need to be mindful about content that’s not consistent with the influencer’s audience and brand.

Brands need to change their thinking to view their relationships with influencers as adding a ‘human element’ to their marketing approach, as opposed to looking to influencer marketing as another means to just sell their products.

4. Data is king

Influencer marketing has always been seen as an enigma, with traditional marketers often questioning whether it can yield actual commercial results.

The reality of it is that it can. One of the best examples is homegrown company Hi-Smile. Founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic started the company with $20,000 of their own savings using solely influencer marketing, which then grew the company into a $40M business with over 100,000 customers across the globe in just three years.

Measuring ROI and using data to track the success of a campaign is important, not just because you can say with authority that investing the marketing budget into the influencer space was a wise move, but so you can optimise your campaigns.

Influencer marketing is still relatively new and there’s a huge potential to lead the market.

5. Talking to Gen Z

By next year, Gen Z’s are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers, not to mention social media has become one of the key driving forces for this generation to purchase products, accounting for 80% of purchases.

Instagram (44%), Snapchat (21%) and YouTube (32%) are the core outlets making the biggest impact in this space and influence everything from purchasing decisions, lifestyle choices and even political perspectives.

After almost a decade of focusing on millennials and Gen Y, brands that haven’t started factoring Gen Z into their strategies are shooting themselves in the foot.

Given Gen Z’s have an attention span of about 8 seconds, capturing their attention requires authentic and engaging content that they can contribute to, interact with, or be a part of. They want to feel like they are part of an actual community attached to authentic causes.

Despite the digital landscape’s challenges, there’s an opportunity for brands and businesses to market to consumers in a more flexible way to adapt to this new digital era. With so many opportunities for brands to utilise this generation of social media lovers to their benefit, remember the five key tips to ensure success and tap into a savvy, yet highly engaged type of audience.


Nathan Ruff is the co-founder and CEO of Hoozu, a data driven content creation business that uses creators and content to convert sales for its clients. Nathan has a wealth of specialist knowledge across industry trends, managing risk and ensuring accountability in a relatively unregulated space. He has also successfully founded five companies, including Market Engine, Urban Geek Media and VOLT Media. Nathan has been instrumental in helping to disrupt the influencer marketing industry and bringing accountability to the discipline.

Source: How brands can better and effectively use influencers – Dynamic Business

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