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Category: Brand Management

Brand Management

8 Ways To Respond To Brand Critics

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8 Ways To Respond To Brand Critics

Being non-popular is not the same as being unpopular. Brands that are non-popular are simply not prepared to do whatever it takes to court popular favor. They do their own thing, their own way – and look to attract cult followings via like minds. But brands that have become unpopular have lost likeability. That’s a disturbing development if you’re trying to be liked by as many people as possible.

The hardest thing about seeking to be liked is that we all do business today in an environment where criticism is ubiquitous. The ability for anyone with an internet connection to not just hold an opinion but to broadcast that opinion to the world is freedom of speech on a good day and freedom to abuse on another day. At a time when it’s easier than ever for others to get the knives out, the problem it seems to me has shifted for those on the receiving end. The dilemma these days is less about what do the critics think and rather, which criticisms should you act on and which are you better to brush off as beneath your dignity?

While every brand will quite rightly set its own guidelines, there are some clear principles that make sense to me in terms of meeting the balance between maintaining reputation and over-reacting:

  1. Hold firm on your purpose, your worldview and your values.
  2. Debate priorities, opinions and options.
  3. Initiate or at least participate in conversations about matters that have been raised that you believe have not been properly explored and to which you believe you can bring a refreshing perspective.
  4. Encourage suggestions, feedback and criticism of experiences and service. (As long as you’re prepared to reply stating what you’re going to do about what’s happened.)
  5. Acknowledge and apologize for mistakes, errors of judgment, accidents and cases where you have not been fair or consistent.
  6. Redress scaremongering, inaccuracies, speculations, lies – and sometimes comparison wars and competitor taunts.
  7. Acknowledge, even applaud, a witty joke or satire at your expense (depending on its cleverness)
  8. Ignore idiots.

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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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Brand Management

Brand Strength Is Found In Brand Meaning

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Building Meaningful Brands

Changes in what consumers value in the brand relationship are driven by a number of factors. The manner in which consumers (and we marketers) determine value is absolutely subjective and based on how we describe things to ourselves. A few key trends are evidence that when it comes to shared values, we see that like at Oahu’s famed Waikiki Beach, ‘many surfers ride a common wave.’

Among these trends are increased awareness of at-risk resources, visibility into business activities and the communities they impact, and the notion that brands that “do something to contribute” are more deserving of consumers’ money than brands that don’t. Mark Di Somma recently posed 20 questions every activist brand should answer. These trends prove that corporate social responsibility or CSR might be evolving to a point where many brands might become, or are in the midst of becoming activist brands. At the core of this change is digital where an incredibly variegated media ecosystem connects a single, global network society.

HAVAS recently published their 2015 Meaningful Brands Study, the first global study that “measures the potential business benefits gained by a brand when it is seen to improve our wellbeing and quality of life.” The study covers all aspects of people’s lives including the impact on community in our personal wellness (including self-esteem and happiness) alongside market factors like quality and price. Here is the top 10 with Samsung reining at #1.

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Brand Management

Are You Managing A Deceptive Brand?

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Deceptive and False Branding and Advertising

We all want to do best by the brands we work for. We want them to be competitive, to gain share, to win…But in the bid to make that happen, some brands push the boundaries too far. Here are 19 signs your brand has lost sight of the truth.

1. It doesn’t actually do what you say it does – the claims you’re making wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. They’re optimistic, unproven or simply untrue. Maybe they’ve been part of the in-house lexicon long enough for people to believe they must be true. But objectively…they amount to assertions that you can’t back up.

2. The language is vague – your marketing is filled with words that sound impressive, and people think they understand, but that, on inspection, probably don’t mean anything concrete. Real, natural, organic, integrated, market leading…sound familiar?

3. It’s packed with small print – there’s more exceptions, conditions and qualifiers in your statements than facts. You’re probably banking on no-one reading them, but, if you’re asked about them, you say they’re there to comply with regulation. If you need this much substantiation to make a claim then the claim lacks substance. Find a new value proposition.

4. You retouch results – things aren’t as they were. Images and ideas have been prettied up, and the process has distorted the realities of what consumers can expect. Maybe you removed a wrinkle on a person. Just as likely you changed a stat, shifted a number or took something way of context. It looks great now, but, just like some beauty treatments, in reality your offer is packed with fillers.

5. It looks like one thing, but it isn’t – there’s some classic examples of this with some eyebrow-raising insights as to how they got them to look that way. This isn’t always bad – it helps things look appetizing. But there’s a clear line between optimization and deception.

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Brand Management

Linking Wellness And Brand

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Julie Rice And The SoulCycle Brand

According to a new study conducted by Edelman Wellness 360 in partnership with Edelman Berland, attitudes to health and well-being are changing with some ironic twists. Modern wellness goes beyond doctor’s visits, clinics, and gym memberships. A growing sense of mindfulness is bringing the mind and mind-body aspects of health into the norm, versus looking at health in terms of muscle and organ “mechanics”. What it means is: Well-being is no longer a health measure; it’s a life measure. And that holds great potential for marketers.

At work here is a trend called The “Now” Movement – which brings together the ‘in the moment’ aspects of the mindfulness movement with remixing traditions. Edelman’s study reveals there is ample opportunity to connect with consumers who attach great personal meaning to their health and potential. But there are curiosities in the data that hints there is much more that lurks behind the behavior.

  • From the PEW study, 89% feel they are responsible for their own health and well-being.
  • Despite an overwhelming majority mentioning the benefits of having a social support system, 43% didn’t ask anyone for help.

Clearly well-being is still perceived as mostly a private or personal experience which is ironic given the amount of everything else in modern life which is not private. Why would 43% not ask for help? Whatever the reason, it boils down to the fact that the individual did not have enough belief to drive action. When we look at this study in the full context of The “Now” Movement trend, it offers a possible explanation for the lack of belief.

Consider SoulCycle (Founder Julie Rice Pictured Above): This brand weds traditional fitness with elements of eastern spirituality (think Deepak). The addition of a spirituality layer is finding great appeal in our modern and increasingly agnostic society. 37% of the population acknowledges a higher power of some sort, and because they are not pursuing normal avenues to find that meaning, they are looking in many other directions. Micro-congregations happen every day at SoulCycle, Equinox, etc. While they are not religious, the communal value of celebrating each other’s desire to be healthier and happier is absolutely a spiritual win.

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Brand Management

4 Ways Brands Should Support Sales Teams

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Brand And Sales Support

While there has been plenty of discussion around how marketing and sales teams should play well together, the onus on brand owners to proactively support people in the field seems to have attracted less attention. Customers, of course, make no distinctions between which parts of the organization they are dealing with at any one time. In that sense, brand is sales: a brand is only as good as its ability to attract, convert and retain fickle buyers.

So, could brand managers be doing more to help sales and frontline teams? Here are four ways that these historically distinct teams can get more done together.

1. Build a brand that people want to meet. Salespeople are going to struggle to get appointments if they represent a brand no-one wants to know. Likeability is absolutely a brand responsibility. By creating a brand that is insightful, honed, intriguing and trusted, brand teams can directly help open the door for sales. The more inclined buyers are to want to know more, the more likely they are, obviously, to take a call or a meeting, ask for a demo or search a site. The real power of perception lies in what it enables, and brand owners should be judging their effectiveness on that basis. The responsibility for brand people couldn’t be more clear-cut: build an interesting brand that is a pleasure to sell and represent.

2. Create environments where people come to you. So often, marketers expect sales teams to be the bridgers and closers. They expect them to take what has been prepared out into the world and to bring back new business. That’s a very one-sided view of marketing – because, in reality, brand owners should be intimately involved in the development of communications campaigns and branded environments, online and off-, that invite customers in and make them feel welcome. The role of sales is to drive and close decisions in favor of the brand. The role of brand is to help those decisions feel valuable.

3. Weave the brand through everything you do. The brand and what it represents should be the benchmark for all customer-facing behavior, and sales teams are no exception to this. But if the things they are rewarded for are off-skew with the brand’s values and priorities, then brand and sales will continually be at odds. For that reason, be very careful that what you encourage, recognize and incentivize in your sales team is in keeping with who you say you are and what you say you prioritize. Compassionate brands don’t reward greed. Exciting brands don’t accept complacency. Innovative brands want more on their frontline than order takers. Too many companies have sales cultures, marketing cultures and corporate cultures that are conflicted. Each carries an impression of what the brand is and what the brand encourages into their work and out into the world. As a result, brand encounters can be confusing, even contradictory, for buyers making decisions across different channels. No brand should be confusing. It dissipates meaning and energy. Getting everyone to understand the brand and to apply it specifically to what is required of them takes investment, time and clarity. Money well spent.

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