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Customer Experience

Would your brand pass The Tinder Test?



Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, recently suggested that products are becoming increasingly addictive. Three macro-trends are driving that, he told me, and together they are lifting the addictive potential of all sorts of products and services:

  1. Companies are now able to collect more data about user behaviors;
  2. Interactive technology is more accessible; and
  3. The transfer of data is happening faster than ever before.

You don’t have to look far to see consumers heavily engaging with the apps they have integrated into their lives. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all obvious but Marie Claire cites research that shows there are now 50 million active users on Tinder. On average, they check their accounts 11 times per day and spend an average of 90 minutes per day doing so. In the words of Led Zeppelin, that’s a whole lotta love.

Here are seven reasons why I think that’s happening:

  1. Universal need – great apps cater to something that all humans recognise as desirable. In the case of Tinder, everybody wants company.
  2. Simple – it’s easy to use, and there’s some sort of distinctive ritual that makes it what it is. In Tinder’s case, you swipe. In Pinterest’s case, you pin.
  3. Mobile – people can “check in” on the run, and they can do so through their devices.
  4. Repeatable – this is something that people can do on a daily basis – in fact, many times per day.
  5. Rewarded – there’s rewards for continuing to check in, and as Nir Eyal points out in his book, those rewards are variable, making them more intriguing and addictive.
  6. Social – the focus is on the individual but the app also enables them to engage with other people.
  7. Safe – there are enough safeguards built in for people to feel that they are not taking an undue or unforeseen risk. We could debate the reality of that – but the perception is certainly there.
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Brand Strategy

Brand actions are not the same as brand strategy


Brand actions are not the same as brand strategy

Actions are not strategies. Great strategies change more than where you are, what you call yourselves, what you offer. That’s Michael Porter’s thought. Great brand strategies re-invent the emotional context within which your brand competes against others in the marketplace. That’s mine. A great brand strategy redefines the relationship that people have with a brand over time. People think about you differently because they feel about you differently. That opportunity often gets missed in the rush to give people internally things to execute.

Great brand strategies focus on shifting the consumer inclination. The myriad of things you intend to do over the next 6, 12, 24 months are the means to arrive at that distinctive emotional goal. Turning Volkswagen into America’s most loved car – strategy. Telling people to stop smoking – action. Lifting traffic with a promotional offer – action.

Actions are prompts, and therefore, like all tactics, they function as switches. Yes. No. In response, people do something or they don’t. Change the logo – action. Like. Or not. Notice. Or not. Consumers may be incentivized by an emotion to take an action or respond to it but that’s often as far as the emotive change extends. The residual emotion about the brand and what it means to someone often remains largely unchanged. The brand is what the brand offers at that moment.

So many “brand strategies” are really action plans. Innovations – actions. CSR – action. Sponsorship – action. Content – action. And every “media strategy” and every “digital strategy” I have seen in recent years was, in reality, an action plan. They have all been about getting people to do things. What they don’t do is lay out a distinctive, competitive, emotional arc for that brand that puts in ‘clear space’ to pursue its commercial goals.

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Brand Growth

7 key considerations for brand expansion



As marketing teams finalize plans for the year ahead, the logistics of making growth happen should be strongly influencing the targets you set.

Most of us would agree there are four ways to strategize for growth: increase the share you hold in the markets you are strong in; develop new products for those markets; extend your reach by finding new markets for your current brands; and develop new products that cater to new markets.

But while the strategies themselves are well-known, your capacity to expand is of course directly proportional to your capacities to generate demand and to fulfil. It’s tempting to pluck a number that’s x percentage points above organic growth. But as the old direct marketing adage goes – be careful what you ask for, because it might just come true. Here’s 7 factors I suggest you look at to navigate a responsible course between stretch and over-reach.

1. Access – will your distribution strategy allow you to grow volumes of either current or new lines to the extent you need to? If reach is finite and static, your ability to physically deliver into market will bottle-neck. What have you done to open up access – and is doing so in keeping with your brand’s position in the marketplace?

As my colleague Brad VanAuken points out here: “Distribution contributes to customer brand insistence in two ways. First, it increases brand accessibility so that brand preference is more likely to be converted to brand purchase. But, more importantly, it increases brand exposure, which increases brand awareness … The only situation in which extensive distribution may not be right for your brand is if it is positioned as an upscale or luxury brand.”

Will you be available, not available or too available as a brand for the targets you are setting?

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Brand Culture

Changing The Brand Culture – To What Purpose?


Change Management Strate

Organizations tend to speak about purpose and change as if they are separate subjects. Increasingly, we’ve been asking whether the two could and should be much more closely linked, prompting a shift in question from “Change – to what end?” to “Change – to what purpose?”

If we could focus change on ideas that were more universal than corporate and that spread the perceived benefits more broadly, would that make a difference to the success rate? Because right now, the emphasis on change programs to accelerate growth is not working. John Kotter’s assertion that change, as it is currently implemented, mostly fails is well canvassed and, it appears, time-proven.

Around 70% of large-scale change programs fail to meet their goals – and a key reason for that, according to Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, is that organizations cannot resist managing the implementation of change rather than looking for ways to psychologically and systematically embed it. In effect, the authors suggest, most change programs are too late, too self-serving, too autocratic and too engineered to succeed.

In a world fixated on agile and nimble companies, creating a business that can adapt – and innovate – quickly is difficult. The means moves faster than the minds and at a pace that significantly exceeds habit, embedded behaviors and culture. Simplistically the failures seem a classic case of “the process” over “the people”.

Perhaps a better way forward would be to look at change through an entirely different lens.

The alternative Hamel and Zanini suggest is the introduction of change platforms that syndicate and democratize change across the organization, that are based on initiative rather than mandate and that encourage free-form experimentation and adaptation rather than project-managed milestones. Such an approach, they assert, encourages wider and more accountable participation, fosters honest conversation, diversifies solutions rather than seeking to close everything down to a single answer and seeds local experimentation that can then be refined in a less risky environment before becoming part of the full way forward.

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Brand Growth

Brand Success: Ideas Or Access?


Global Brand Growth

As scale focused brands continue to push their footprints further afield in the search for growth, big distributors, both online and off, offer strong and proven channels through which to reach consumers. Such channels are very attractive – they are major brands in their own right, they bring kudos and market credibility, and of course they have huge client and follower communities. But the share of the asking price that those distributors demand in exchange for that increased market penetration can put them at odds with those who create/ manufacture/ produce.

At stake: who gets to decide price, margin and even quality? The creators – who believe that the idea does not exist without them? Or the distributors – who are of the view that the idea won’t sell without them? The dilemma – who is most effective in realizing the value of the brand? The answer, according to Christine Arden, is whoever touches the customer last.

Increasingly, the price of greater access is the commoditizing of the value of the idea – or at the very least, pressure to make the idea more and more available by making it cheaper. That’s clearly the case with Amazon and the big publishers. It’s also why Taylor Swift said she divorced Spotify this week.

Chris Anderson once said that technology marches towards free. I wonder whether access does the same. As distributors and large retailers gather more data about consumers, gain greater and greater footprints and as the channels they control become ubiquitous, there seems to be increasing pressure to promote volume in order to keep the cash flowing. If you’re a brand in this network, that brings with it huge pressure to continue to drop the take-home amounts in order for the distributor’s take-up model to work.

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