3-2-1…Make a difference

The conversation about brands doing good is become more and more mainstream. And, as it is, more and more of our CultureQ respondents are telling us that businesses soon will no longer have a choice but to participate. But, how do you start? It’s a big world out there. What can your brand be doing to enrich people’s lives? The idea of doing good and impacting positive change feels formidable to many brands. Some days, it even may seem at odds with business objectives.  So, to make Brand Citizenship more than just talk or a one-off initiative, we’ve developed an easy to follow process for developing initiatives and ultimately one strong direction. Remember, it’s ok to start small as long as you think big! 3  Gain a Holistic Perspective. Identify and assess your…. Brand Beliefs – What do you believe in? What benefits does your brand deliver? How is your brand making consumers’ daily routines easier and enriching their lives? Stakeholder Values – How do your different stakeholders define the value of your proposition? How do they think you make people’s lives easier or better? How do you take people along to make a difference? Community Impact – In what ways, no matter how small, can you make a more of a difference? What things do you believe in that your brand take a stand on? How can you build bridges between disconnected communities? How can you ladder the benefits you deliver to your consumers up to connect them to something bigger than themselves? When you step back and see the gaps a cause, a dream, a vision emerges....

Cool observations on hot days

Summer is the perfect time to people watch, catch up on those podcasts you’ve been meaning to review, and indulge in news articles. So, after a summer of reading, researching, reflecting and of course working, we at Onesixtyfourth have a couple of observations we’d like to share with you before the 2014 brand and marketing planning cycle starts. Gen Z has the power As a 23 million strong generation, Gen Z (under 17 year olds) may not be as sizeable as the Millennial cohort, but what they lack in volume they make up for in influence. This is the generation that thinks dial up was something dinosaurs did, advises venture capitalists on product ideas, and self-publicizes like previous generations played neighborhood baseball or football (dependent upon if you grew up in the US or UK). The technological context that’s empowered them at such a young age has its down- as much as up- side. News of school shootings and terrorists attacks are more difficult for parents to hide. Security drills rather than fire drills are commonplace in their schools, and additional airport security checks are just a routine part of travelling. And, yes it affects them, they’re often less optimistic than Millennials (especially those at the older end of the generation), and seek relationships with brands that are consistent and feel familiar. Their role models aren’t of the same ilk either; they’re often more ordinary than aspirational. Interestingly, Gen Zers value them because of this. Rather than represent the person next door, they are the person next door - with more talent perhaps. Real people teach Gen Zers anything...

Brand Citizenship®: a 360 model democratizing CSR

Weary of being frustrated consumers want to be involved in creating a more positive future As we’ve again been reviewing participants’ hopes, dreams and fears for 2013 from our last round of CultureQ quant, we can’t help but be reminded that people are seeking greater signs of unity.  Our respondents in both the US and the UK are tired of the divisiveness that they perceive is preventing politicians from finding solutions to our most pressing economic and societal challenges.  Yearning to become CEOs in control of their own lives they again emphasize that they’re seeking products and services that help and their families them simplify routines and simultaneously inspire day-to-day living, aid the planet and help society at large.  Overall, many of our participants now appear to have accepted that they’re living in a new normal; they’re somewhat weary of being frustrated and want to be involved in shaping the solution - in creating a more positive future.  As one eloquently stated, “I hope to become the change you want to see in the world, make choices that will impact my community for the better.” Brand Citizenship aligns sustainability and other social responsibility concepts with individual product and service brand propositions And, here’s where Brand Citizenship fits in so perfectly.  Through laddering initiatives up from meeting an individual consumer’s needs to enriching people’s lives and bettering society, it aligns sustainability and other social responsibility concepts with individual product and service brand propositions, rather than managing them solely at corporate levels.  In doing so, it enables consumers to co-create the future alongside corporations through choosing to purchase products and services...

Amazon: Keep calm & consistently practice good brand citizenship

Poor Amazon. What a difficult few months it has experienced. Back in Summer/Autumn 2012, the brand that defines Internet retailing was riding the crest of a wave. Our CultureQ participants ranked it as both a leader and a good brand citizen. Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers alike in the UK and US believed Amazon offered products and services that simplified and enriched their lives by making shopping easier and often times cheaper. What’s more, they touted the brand for its efforts to define new lifestyles and ways of doing things. The last few months, however, have been a roller coaster ride for Amazon’s brand reputation. Despite gathering larger than ever revenues last year and sitting on pile of cash close to $9bn, the company reportedly paid paltry levels of corporation tax in Europe, something which doesn’t sit well at a time when every day people are feeling the full force of tighter fiscal management. In February, the brand’s new Kindle Whitepaper ad, Perfect at the Beach, which makes a non-issue of gay marriage, was well received by some. Early March and another hiccup - its decision to stock the awful Keep Calm and Rape Them, Hit Them, and Knife Her tee shirt line. Brand leadership requires a connection to social context With the shooting in Connecticut still fresh in American’s minds, it’s no wonder people across generations are reporting they’re still very concerned about becoming the victim of random acts of violence (CultureQ, December 2013). Furthermore, some women tell us they’re especially concerned about women’s rights and civil liberties being compromised in the US during 2013 (CultureQ, December 2013)....

Enhancing consumer’s daily lives & their communities fosters brand loyalty

In 2013, expect to see more leadership brands addressing local issues that are pertinent to their consumers’ lives before they campaign on behalf of global challenges. Technological advancement is a hygienic factor for all brands Why? In many ways, technological advancement – often reflected by the idea of “new and improved” – has become a hygienic factor for all brands, regardless of the category. If you don’t continuously evolve in today’s world, you are fast left behind.  So while innovation is expected from brand leaders, participants in our CultureQ research believe brands should positively use their prominence and influence first to enhance the lives of individual users and then benefit communities and society at large.  Overall, participants expect leadership brands to evolve our lifestyles, set new standards and progress society. Not surprisingly, a good product is the basis of a strong brand After years of seeking inspiration and aspiration from leading brands, people are clearly focused on the basics.  In a recent CultureQ study, 663 respondents from the US, aged 16 to 65, first and foremost characterize brand leadership by product and service excellence offered at a fair price for the quality.  Respondents, regardless of their generational cohort, decidedly rank attributes such as produces durable/reliable products or services (48%), excellent customer service (42%), and value for quality (41%) as the most important for fostering leadership from a set of 23 potential characteristics.  Unequivocally, a good product is the basis of a strong brand. Yet, respondents also tell us that to become a favorite and cultivate loyalty, a brand leader must also help me in my everyday life (62%), help...

What’s next for brands? Seven lessons from 2012.

As we’re awaiting the final results of our end of year study to gain a more in-depth understanding of the Zeitgeist, we’ve been discussing what’s next for brands in 2013 based upon our learning from CultureQ over the past Summer and Autumn.  As always, we’ve been reviewing the data from our research in the context of socio-cultural and political events. The highly anticipated IPO of Facebook, the largest in the technology sector and the second biggest offering ever, kicked off Summer. Surely, there was no clearer symbol of Facebook’s market dominance. Anticipation quickly led to speculation about the integrity of the offering, Facebook’s revenue strategy, and many of the company’s policies and strategy, and the public became more cynical about the extent to which Facebook values the people it connects. Consumers are growing notably more frustrated and less forgiving of brands they judge as taking more than they give Although participants in CultureQ respect brands such as Facebook as leaders, they are growing notably more frustrated and less forgiving of those they judge to be taking more than they give. Facebook is one of the few leadership brands that our participants did not also name as a top favorite brand. Increasingly, people’s favorites offer a mutually beneficial relationship that recognizes their contributions to brand development as well as their role in bringing a brand to life. Engaging with users as people rather than just consumers is especially important for brands that want to connect with Millennials. As summer wore on, Chick-fil-A aptly demonstrated the danger of a brand being associated with views that are misaligned with many of its...
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