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.”
Tim Maleeny, head of planning at Ogilvy North America, speaks at the BRITE ’11 conference about how Ogilvy has designed a template (The Big Ideal) to help build brand platforms from a combination of a company’s purpose and the relevant cultural tensions it’s suited to address. The BRITE ’11 conference on brands, innovation, and technology was hosted by the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School. Learn more at http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/globalbr…
One of the most noteworthy consumer trends to come out of Covid has been the shift in focus to community-based shopping. Of course, e-commerce has experienced a major surge, but many consumers are now searching online for shops and services in the local area to find what they need, especially as daily commutes are no longer the norm and people are avoiding unnecessary travel.
In addition to convenience, consumers want to support local businesses, as well as the communities in which they live. Shopping local isn’t just about frequenting small businesses, though. Big brands such as Marks & Spencer, Halfords, and Currys PC World are also thriving at the local level because they have a neighbourhood presence and are well-known, trusted brands that have, at least historically, conducted business predominantly offline.
But in the race to win the attention, and business, of these bricks-and-mortar shoppers, businesses must ensure their ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience (NMBX) – consisting of all the touchpoints along the customer journey from online ‘Near Me’ search to offline purchase – is meaningful and positive across multiple channels. Not only that, for global brands and multi-location businesses, this also means engaging with consumers at all levels, whether country, regional, or local.
While many companies manage these communications well at the global level, they often fall down when it comes to building positive relationships with customers at the local level.
Current research shows that around half of Google searches have a local intent, with consumers searching for products and services ‘Near Me’. But consumers aren’t just searching for local store options. They are turning online to plan their journeys, evaluate local store reviews, and engage with brands directly through social media.
It appears that global brands have started to become aware of the ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience (NMBX) and its importance in their brand strategies, with Gartner’s recent 2020 Spend Survey of CMOs revealing that the most important brand metric for 2020 is brand health – namely, what consumers know and think about a brand.
The challenge for brands has always been that the bigger the brand – and the more locations there are to manage – the more difficult it is to maintain the quality and consistency of the customer experience. To create a memorable NMBX, brands must implement the right multilateral communications strategy that ensures the online to offline customer experience is uniform at the global, regional and local levels.
Create an outstanding NMBX
Global brands tend to have their business information and reputation management under control at the global, and sometimes even at the regional level, but this is often not the case at the local level.
This can be the result of organisational silos, where different levels of the organisation don’t share plans, goals, and processes with each other, or due to a simple lack of strategy and resources applied to actively manage the brand experience from top to tail.
The first step for brands to create a successful NMBX is to identify key stakeholders at the global and regional levels to lead the initiative. This project can then be owned at the global level by a single senior marketing lead – CMO or Head of Digital. Limiting key participants tends to generate better outcomes and more efficient project implementation, while still allowing for cross-departmental cooperation.
Develop brand trust through data accuracy
One of the most overlooked, yet vital, aspects of brand trust comes from consistent data quality. Especially now, consumers are searching online for the most accurate and up-to-date information on location, opening hours, and more.However, as local information is constantly changing depending on an outlet’s location, brands need to be able to manage all changes promptly and centrally. This means updating local level data directly via a master data system, or single source of truth, so it can be kept up-to-date across a brand’s entire directory ecosystem. If done right, this will increase visibility in search engines, increase trust and positively impact customer reviews.
When it comes to data accuracy, brands are facing a particularly difficult challenge, as operating restrictions during Covid vary not only country to country, but between regions and even neighbouring cities. Just like the UK, changing government guidelines meant McDonald’s Germany needed to update their opening hours on an almost daily basis. Because local store managers are always the first to know when key business information changes, they empowered them to log in to their in-house master data management system, powered by Uberall, and update the information quickly. This meant that McDonald’s could quickly and efficiently manage data for their almost 1,500 locations in Germany. As everybody was working from a centralized data management system, they were able to stay agile and consistently provide online store information that customers could trust.
For global organizations, ensuring data accuracy across each and every location is no easy feat. But doing so is essential to build and maintain global brand trust amongst local consumers and drive foot traffic.
Strengthen brand health through reputation management and social media
Another key aspect of brand experience is consumer engagement via online reviews and social media. Managing local reviews and engaging on social media effectively can pose unique challenges, as it can be difficult to know who should be engaging with local customers and how to do so at scale, whilst still maintaining brand ethos and identity.
However, online reviews and social media are golden opportunities for brands to interact with consumers the most directly, and, if well-executed, are a crucial way to turn those interested consumers into customers and advocates.
Depending on their aims and goals, brands can manage brand reputation and social media entirely at the global level, or choose to empower local owners/operators with more independent control. Regardless of the strategy, given the breadth and sheer volume of online reviews and social media interactions, a manual approach simply isn’t feasible.
Instead, brands can use digital solutions to manage and shape their online reputation and customer engagement, allowing corporate control but providing local teams with access to online interactions as needed. By utilising a platform that makes it easy and simple to respond, backed by clear guidance and communication about core messaging, brands can make certain that their brand experience is consistent and compelling from global to local.
Today’s commercial landscape calls for a modernised approach to brand experience. Brands that are able to utilise the right technology tools, processes and feedback loops will be able to achieve an outstanding NMBX for consumers at hundreds, and even thousands, of locations.
While global brand reputation will always be important, when it comes to fostering growth, brands must also focus on improving the brand experience at the individual store level. After all, no matter how good a brand is at creating an image of quality, consistency, and trust, if a customer’s experience doesn’t match that promise, they won’t be a customer for long.
Learn what brand experience is to design a journey that leads to the successful outcome your brand offers. —————-FREE BRAND STRATEGY RESOURCES——————– // PRO BRAND STRATEGY BLUEPRINT Download your FREE Pro Brand Strategy Blueprint here: https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… Step-by-step brand strategy development process // BECOME A BRAND STRATEGIST Take a FREE look inside our flagship training Brand Master Secrets – All you need to level up to brand strategy and become a brand strategist. https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… Our flagship training “Brand Master Secrets” has everything you need to become an in-demand brand strategist, raise your expert profile, and grow your branding revenue and business. // BRAND MASTER ACADEMY Brand Master Academy is where brand builders go-to for actionable tips and techniques to, Learn Brand Strategy, Help Their Clients On A Higher Level, Raise Their Expert Profile & Branding Revenue. —————- LEARN BRAND STRATEGY IN THE COMMUNITIES ——————– // BRAND MASTER ACADEMY ON SOCIAL Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/brandmaster… Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/brandmast… Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-h… Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBFW… Twitter – https://twitter.com/BrandMasterAcad // JOIN THE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY https://www.facebook.com/groups/brand… Join in the conversation with other experienced and budding brand strategists to enhance your brand building systems. // EXCLUSIVE TIPS & TECHNIQUES https://brandmasteracademy.com/subscr… Get on the list for exclusive brand strategy tips and techniques —————- LISTEN TO THE BRAND MASTER PODCAST ——————– The Brand Master Podcast is a show specialized in helping professional brand builders and entrepreneurs to build brands using strategy, psychology, and creative thinking. [Two Shows Per Week] https://brandmasteracademy.com/brand-… About This Video: By the end of this video, you’ll understand what brand experience is, the role it plays in raising brand awareness, and converting prospects into clients. First, we’ll look at some of the terms that are often confused with brand experience and how they differ including experiential branding and brand activation. Next, you’ll discover what brand experience is and the ecosystem of touchpoints that contribute to it. Then we’ll uncover the misconceptions of what brand experience is not and understand why brand experience is so important in building modern brands. Finally, we’ll dive into what brand experience design is and take a look at a brand experience example in the form of Nespresso. 0:00 What Is Brand Experience? 1:21 What Is Brand Experience 2:24 What Is Brand Experience Is Not? 2:53 Why Is Brand Experience So Important? 4:30 WHat Is Brand Experience Design? 5:42 Example Of Brand Experience – Nespresso