Displaying items by tag: brand culture

During the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve had a number of clients and prospects seeking our assistance as they attempt to cope in these times of rapidly changing business conditions and associated uncertainty. We’ve had clients asking us to rapidly deploy right sized market research studies, assist them to pivot their brand into a different market adjacency with greater growth prospects, or to simply and rapidly activate a marketing and content plan as they seek to grow sales. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and requests from our e-books on our website too, which are available for free at any time here.

Given the success of the proposals we’ve created and the number of requests being received, we’ve decided to create a number of fixed price, productised solutions that address the challenges of brand right now:

1. Market research: In this post Covid world, research is critical for clients seeking to understand their market, what’s important to their customers and how they and their competitors are performing against these drivers. Asking simply, "How am I performing against what’s important to my clients?"

2. Brand Architecture: This market research often informs a key packaged solution in relation to brand architecture and brand stretch too. This relates to a business looking to pivot its business and brand towards a more lucrative Covid market. The question we’re being asked is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far?" Organisations need greater certainty around risk levels of brand stretch into new markets. "Can I take my existing brand in, or would I be better creating a sub brand or perhaps an endorsed brand?"

3. Brand Positioning: With architecture confirmed and resolved, clients are also seeking assistance on how to reposition or re-fresh their brand in this new market context as well. Asking "How can I be clear, unique, relevant and compelling?"

4. Marketing activation: This packaged solution is the most pragmatic for clients and prospects experiencing a downturn in sales demand. This marketing and activation plan is a succinct set of workshops to get their marketing activated and their content created, in an accountable way.

The benefits of each of these solutions are specifically geared to deliver answers quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. They can be executed independently or in unison. Each of the productised solutions we are developing contain a clear, simple and accountable series of benefits and deliverables, within a defined fixed cost and time frame.

Stay tuned as we communicate further on these cost effective, yet flexibly tailored productised solutions. If you are looking to move more quickly, you can reach out to us directly here or contact Paul Nelson on either 02 99547900 or 0413 028766.

See also our blog on 6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis

6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis.

As Winston Churchill famously quoted "Never let a good crisis go to waste". As a leader during crisis, he became more strategic, communicated both effectively and inspirationally. Brands can take some learnings from this during the COVID-19 crisis in asking how they maintain trust? How do I communicate and enhance consumer confidence?

In an era of corporate transparency and economic crisis, the actions of businesses, industry and brands are under greater scrutiny and judgement. It is vital that brands don’t knee-jerk react, but maintain their integrity, understand what their customers require, stay true to their brand values, and continue to communicate in the most appropriate and manageable way.

It is easy to get distracted, panic and make drastic, non-strategic decisions in times of crisis. But in the past (admittedly this crisis is unlike any other), those who hone their brand, that focus on communicating the right message at the right time will be well placed to see this through.

Here is a 6-point checklist for brands on a mission to find the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.

1. Review your balance sheet - but not at the expense of your skills base

Now is the time to conduct a review and focus on what you don’t need. Financially reviewing your business and cutting unnecessary costs straight away, will allow you to focus on what is important and continue to move forward in a positive way.

When reviewing your operational and capital expenses, there will be a lot of challenging decisions, especially when it comes to human resources. Remember the value in employees, what they were doing for your business before the crisis, and how vital their experience and skills as we move through its duration.

Where skills are lost, a key question is how quickly would you be able to gain those lost skills back once the crisis is over? What is the cost-to-benefit ratio of future recruitment against current resourcing? Are there other ways to reduce overheads so as to ensure you maintain culture and morale?

As all organisations are looking to streamline their operations, it’s critical to figure out what you need and what is prudent to ditch. Look after employees, customers, and suppliers, as they are the three most important groups for your business when we lift out of this tough period.

2. Review your business strategy

Crises drive the need to reframe business strategy. How you are going to get through the next 3 months, the next 6 months, the next 12 months? Business has changed so dramatically since COVID-19 has engulfed the world. Of your revenue streams, which are still performing? Which ones can no longer be supported in our new reality? How ready are you for a more digital environment? Are there any easy to access opportunities within your current market that you could easily pivot to?

To survive, many brands have pivoted dramatically into completely new markets, where areas of demand have been identified as potential opportunity. Some great examples we have seen here are gin distilleries pivoting to hand sanitisers, or manufacturing companies producing equipment for healthcare professionals.

They have asked themselves the important question “What can we do with what we have?” The answer may not be what they were expecting, or what they dreamed their future would look like. But these pivots, transferring resources and skills into unfamiliar areas, may well be what keeps them alive for future business opportunities.

The key takeaway is innovate: think about every angle possible, and utilise your resources wisely.

3. Balance the short-term revenue generation strategies vs long term viability

A potentially damaging strategy that an organisation could take is to sit tight and wait for this crisis to blow over. There is no worse strategy than doing nothing. Fear can often lead to knee-jerk decisions such as selling off assets or cutting costs to the point where they cannot operate. An example of short-term reactive decision making, airlines and travel companies may have thought that holding on to their customers money would have allowed them to get through this period. It was soon obvious that for this sector, the crisis ran deeper than holding on to cancellation fees. This sector is not going to return to its former normality for some time, if at all.

Looking longer term, generating entirely new revenue streams is critical for the climb out of this downturn. There is a massive opportunity for brands to reinvent themselves in exciting and new ways to meet the demands of the world moving forward. Profits and dividends will come later if you make the right moves now.

4. Ensure you keep the communication clear, concise and consistent.

Now is not the time to underestimate the power of communication. Customers are online, they are watching the news, listening to latest updates and in their spare time, they are seeking their entertainment online or communicating with friends online. Now, more than ever, concisely and consistently reaching your audience (potential new and existing customers) is vital.

As a brand, you need to consider your communication strategy both internally and externally. Your messaging must evolve, be reflective of the daily situation and considerate to your customers’ needs, without being opportunistic or playing on fear.

If your website or social media communications have not evolved since the crisis began, your brand may be perceived as being out of touch, or insensitive. Regardless of what your product/service provision, you need to empathise with your customers. Place yourself in their shoes to determine what solutions you can offer to their problems. Your message must continually evolve as we move through the crisis, with a sense of togetherness that will keep you connected to your customers.

Internally, communication is just as important. Don’t ever feel like you are over-communicating with your team. With communication comes confidence and reassurance. Silence can breed anxiety.

5. Don’t stop marketing

Once you have your business strategy and messaging refined, the next step is execution. If you don’t start marketing, no one will be aware of your new positioning or messaging. If you haven’t already developed your marketing campaigns and lead-nurture sales funnels, now is the time.

Create content that resonates, educates and motivates your audience. Pick the most effective channels in which to focus your communications and ensure your marketing is highly targeted. Use your owned media as much as possible as these customers already know and like you. Customers who are already in your sales funnels, or engaged in your brand in any channel are an important asset. Now, and now more opportune than ever, is the chance to reach new audiences.

6. Review, Review, Review

Look at your current KPIs and ask: are these all still relevant? If met, will they help you survive this crisis? You need to be realistic in your goal setting. Now may not be a time to look at profit as a singular metric of survival: ensuring efficiency and effectiveness may be more beneficial, or activity vs output may be a more relevant metric.

It is also important to take the temperature of your audience, get a good read on whether your messaging is resonating, and how your brand is performing compared to your competitors.

Surviving the Covid-19 crisis in the short term may not be enough. Like past crises, it too will pass. However it will create a new normal, and it is in this context your organisation needs to learn how to thrive again.

It’s a sad week for many Aussies as the news breaks about the end of an era, the end of 72 golden years of Holden as an iconic Australian brand.

But the writing was on the wall and the time has come for many automotive brands to take stock of the current market, keep up with technology and consumer demands and embrace the new future of the automotive industry.

BrandMatters’ Managing Director, Paul Nelson reflects on the brand:

“I’m a multi generational Holden fan and my sentiments are a mix of nostalgia and frustration. Sad to see the demise of a brand that was part of my social fabric growing up. Frustrated to think of what might have been, with a different mindset.

So what happened? To me it ultimately came down to leadership looking backwards on what made the brand great in its heyday and losing connection with the next generation of consumers and what they were looking for in an ideal car.”

So what were the factors that contributed to the demise of the Holden brand?

1. The brand suffered from its US owners (General Motors) who didn’t have visibility or a committed understanding of the Australian market. 

2. Holden sales have been in systemic decline, especially since the decision to stop manufacturing here was announced in 2017. As a global player, GM would have been looking at this market and making decisions on the best way to exit.

3. The dependence on Commodore as the replacement for the Kingswood, when the market demanded a much broader range of styles and sizes of vehicle. 

4. Since local production stopped, GM were committed to sell what they had, rather than what we wanted. After all, the Australian market would have represented a very small, and potentially insignificant share of its overall focus. GM further claim their focus was on left-hand-drive markets – Australia today is right-hand drive which, at only 25% of all cars manufactured, meant higher re-tooling costs. 

5. As the range was narrow and the relevance too low, so was the investment in brand building and advertising. A drop in loyalty and pride in owning a Holden soon followed, as Holden had decreasing relevance with a younger audience, who aspire to new emerging, efficient, environmentally friendly brands that increasingly are the norm. 

In a statement made by GM’s President, a nod was made in recognition of the love of this brand in the Australian market “At the highest levels of our company we have the deepest respect for Holden's heritage and contribution to our company and to the countries of Australia and New Zealand," he said. So what was it? What led to the failure? Was it the traditional marketing forces?

It could well be argued that it lacked market commitment, product range, competitive offers and customer understanding. Its brand weakened dramatically as a result. All these factors meant it didn’t take long to lose relevance for today’s customers.

So it was all these local factors that began to spell the end for Holden. But the bigger and more fundamental factors were global.

Global competition ultimately caused the demise of this local brand. In an industry with such high manufacturing costs, a focus on innovation and the need for economies of scale, it seems near impossible for an automotive brand to be localised like the Holden brand was.

Trust is one of the most valuable assets of any organisation. In the B2B context trust and culture – the values, mission and habits of an organisation – are interdependent. When an organisation has a strong and positive culture and an authentic offer to the market, trust and brand advocacy are built over time. This enables long term bonds between employees, and between employees and customers, to develop. When a brand’s culture, which is brought to life on a daily basis, doesn’t meet the expectations of trust placed upon it, an organisation’s reputation can quickly deteriorate under this scrutiny.

We are living in swiftly evolving times where trust across the spectrum is being eroded. From the Banking Royal Commission and ongoing political instability to fears related to job security and low wage growth rates, it should come as no surprise that the prevailing mood for Australians is currently one of pessimism about the future.

 

The proof? From perception to reality

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been charting major shifts in general perceptions of trust over the last 19 years on a global scale. With data drawn from 33,000 respondents in 27 markets, the Barometer is regarded as a reputable source of information to understand the shifting value and importance placed on trust. The currency of this report is only more potent given our current environment where trust has been found to be so low.

 

Shifting sentiments: key findings

The significant finding in the most recent Barometer was that the general adult population across developed nations is largely pessimistic about the future. There is a general sentiment that their lives won’t improve five years from now. Whilst it was measured that only 1 in 5 people globally think that society is working for them, 75% of these people have faith in their employer. The pessimistic figure is more pronounced in Australia with only 1 in 3 people in the general population optimistic about what the future holds for them.

Key findings from Australia demonstrate an overall negative view, but with insights into where opportunities to build trust may be:

Australia – Key Findings:

  • Only 32% of the general population think life will improve for them in 5 years’ time, with just over half convinced that the system isn’t supporting them.
  • Australian women in the general population have less trust (45%) in the system than men (51%).
  • The top 3 national fears are cyber security (68%), dependency on foreign goods (65%) and a decrease in “the Australian way of life” (65%).
  • Trust in media (40%) and government (42%) is lower compared with business (52%) and NGOs (56%).
  • Trust in “My Employer” is greater than in all other major institutions (including government, media and NGOs), and for Australia is 2% higher again compared with the global rate (75%).
  • Almost 80% of Australians want CEOs to take the lead on change as opposed to the government.

 

Employers: A source of optimism in a pessimistic world

 “People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”

Richard Edelman, President and CEO

These key Australian findings suggest that this is the opportune moment for Australian businesses to take advantage of the desire and need for trust. Australian businesses and their leaders have the opportunity at this juncture to include trust as a strategic lever, built into their organisational framework and authentically delivered to their audiences. 

This is not just about the delivery of products and services. Australian organisations now take the lead on many societal issues including diversity and inclusion, parity, gender equality, and are key voices and influencers on government policy. After all, who remembers the marriage equality debate, and the leading positions taken by organisations as diverse as the AFL and Qantas?

The findings from the Barometer demonstrate clearly that trust is conducive to many positive and beneficial employee behaviours including advocacy (80%), loyalty (71%), engagement (69%) and commitment (87%). In fact, these insights clearly show over half of the population has an expectation that their chosen employment will offer an inclusive culture (75%), which enables them to actively contribute to and progress in their career (79%). Furthermore, 65% of employees additionally expect to make a valuable contribution to society through their work.

Employees are actively placing authority in their employers to create positive cultures with a vision for the future that is beyond profit generation. Are CEOs able to lead the change a generally disillusioned public is waiting for?

 

(Re)building trust in a disillusioned world

But where do brands start on their trust journey? In the context of trust deficit, how does a brand locate it’s starting position in the context of a shifting market and benchmark itself against agile competitors?

The Barometer highlights the value in measuring trust over time, and measurement provides organisations and institutions a better understanding of the business, societal and political context in which they are operating.

Brand measurement – the tracking of audience perceptions, sentiments, motivations and purchasing behaviour over time – drives an overall view of brand health. And most critically, measurement benchmarks then tracks the levels of trust audiences place in the brand.

The value of these insights cannot be underestimated in driving positive, incremental adjustments in business and brand strategy to further take advantage of building trust and advocacy with audiences over time.

 

Building cultures that attract the brilliant and the best

Earning trust is essential not just from external audiences but also from employees and future employees. Creating an employer brand the demonstrates, imbues and empowers trust is critical in attracting and retaining the best people in an organisation.

And that starts from the top-down. What value does an organisation bring to its people? Brands that develop a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) provide the reason for why people should want to work there. EVPs are built from the inside out and sustained by motivated and committed employees who understand an organisation’s vision, values and behaviours and the role they play in delivering to these.

An effective EVP is a two-way benefit stream of trust, the employer fulfilling its promise kept to the employee, and the employee positively contributing to the organisational vision. Over time, through authentic and reciprocal engagement, trust is a key tool for attracting and retaining the brilliant and the best.

 

Conclusion

The recent Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrates the erosion of trust as a global phenomenon, a deficit that creates an opportunity for organisations to positively and authentically build their brands and take the societal lead. The opportune moment is now for organisations to have the conversation: are we ready to be the new leaders in Australia?

 

Sources and references:

Edelman Trust Barometer

2019 Edelman Trust Barometer

2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Top 10 Australian Insights

2019 Trust Barometer Australia Topline Results

 

Brand trust

Rebuilding trust in the FS industry and its players - it all starts and ends with culture

 

Brand tracking and measurement

BrandMatters brand research

Brand tracking and why it is important

What marketers can learn from NPS

 

Employee branding and Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

BrandMatters employer branding

Winning the war for talent: the employee value proposition