These days every business wants to be known as innovative. Every company wants a reputation for outside-the-box creative thinking. Everybody wants to be the disruptor and not among the disrupted. Trouble is, very few businesses ever really attain that status. Most managers have no idea how to inject innovation into their teams. They can’t imagine how they can ask to see more creativity out of their employees. Fortunately, last year, Accenture completed a study that revealed the answer: Equality. They found that when businesses that had a brand culture of inclusiveness and fair treatment of everyone, employees felt more empowered to strive for innovative solutions.
There’s so much confusion these days about what’s called the purpose-driven brand. Regular readers of Brandtalk know I’ve complained in the past about how people muddy the waters by assigning different meanings to “brand purpose”. It’s frustrating because many in the business community are already skeptical about branding. Some still think of it as touchy-feely, unmeasurable hogwash. It’s often dismissed as just another buzzword. And part of the reason these misconceptions are so hard to dispel is those of us in the branding community are already confusing people by using different jargon to mean different things. Business people are to be forgiven their skepticism when two different branding “experts” address the same branding problem sounding nothing like each other. We come off as kooks. Now we’re muddying the waters further by each having our own definition of brand purpose. I’d like to propose we, the branding community, attempt to clear this up by standardizing our terminology. I suggest we adopt “brand purpose” to mean the purpose to which a market puts a brand. I propose “social purpose” as the way a brand makes its customers’ lives better. Finally, let’s go with “cause marketing” as the leverage of social issues for commercial purposes. If we could adopt those terms, or some just like them, we’d finally be able to stop talking past each other. And our clients would find clarity.
Q – How do you know when its time to consider making a change to your brand?
A – When there’s been a change in your business.
In point of fact, that’s not entirely true. There are actually quite a few different symptoms that could possibly indicate a branding problem. Symptoms like flattening sales or high employee turnover, among others. (All of these symptoms will be addressed in a future blog post.) However, when high turnover occurs, most businesses look elsewhere for answers. They almost never consider that a weak brand might be a significant contributing factor to the problem. But a change in the business itself? That is one time when management is likely to think about their brand. Because any significant change at all could have a serious knock-on effect. It could result in a change in company culture, a change in positioning, or some other important change in the way the business relates to its market. Let’s look a little closer at how change can affect your brand.
Because of the holiday weekend, we're repeating a popular blog post from the past. This one first appeared on December 18, 2017. Please enjoy.
So you want to launch a luxury brand. I hope you’re well capitalized. In fact, if we were friends, I’d probably try to talk you out of it. There are so many hurdles, so many barriers to entry above and beyond the not insignificant hard work of starting any business. According to Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni, President and CEO of Ferrari North America, when you’re selling luxury, you’re selling dreams. So, to build the luxury brand, not only do you have to reach your market like any other brand, you have to reach into the dreams of your market and become a fixture there. And that is exceedingly difficult. But when you examine the journeys of successful luxury brands, there is not much of a clear pattern to follow. There is no road map, only landmarks. And the threats are many.
Not talking about corporate culture here. Not talking about brands being cultured, as in “Lah-di-dah. What a boring art show. I think I’ll have another canapé.”, either. No, I’m talking about the culture at large, which still is localized at different places around the world. American culture is not British culture is not French culture is not Chinese culture. And even those very distinct cultures can break down into smaller sub-segments. But with all those cultures that global brands have to take into consideration, there’s another trend moving in the opposite direction. And that is that all these cultures are blending too. Populations are moving in all directions. Cultures are mixing, influencing one another. There’s a restaurant in Los Angeles that advertises its Vietnamese/Salvadoran cuisine. In the US, we feel that immigration gives us strength. That’s been our history, anyway. But in Europe, cultural integration is a more difficult process. The jury is still out on whether that can be satisfactorily resolved. But what does it all mean for your efforts to run a business and make a living? What does it mean for your brand?
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Does your brand measure up?
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Thanks, Derrick Daye, for providing much-needed clarity on a topic that is confusing to many.