The call for brands to do good grows stronger

The call for brands to do good grows stronger

The US, and indeed the world, continues to shift at an accelerating pace, one faster than we have seen before. And as it has, I’ve been asked by a number of clients and prospects if I believe the call for companies to do good will continue. Real change takes time—even when it’s a proactive choice. By nature, it’s full of competing demands, and it is far from easy. The path to fully embrace new ways of being is never straightforward. Sometimes one or two steps backward are required before we can leap forward. Although digital technology has enabled us to live in a world of also with opposites coexisting alongside one another harmoniously, populist sentiment appears to be determined to drive us back to a world of either/or, where our social identities are singular rather than multidimensional mashups of conventional distinctions. Although the recent election in France demonstrated that the current populist movement may not be as broad and as powerful as many had thought previously. An increasingly polarized socio-political climate has had many companies—large and small, new and legacy—on edge. During conferences I’ve attended and in a large number of my meetings with clients, the topic continues to come up. Ever hopeful to stay out of the political fray, executives across industries wonder which news flashes to respond to and which to ignore. In assessing each scenario, they consider their brand reputation, the interests of their business operations, multiple stakeholder concerns, and overarching public perception. People—customers, employees, investors, business partners, and fellow executives alike—have been watching closely, curious to learn which brands are stepping up to behaving responsibly...
Transcending the customer: Successful brands solve personal ME worries & solve global WE concerns

Transcending the customer: Successful brands solve personal ME worries & solve global WE concerns

OVERVIEW People’s expectations of government, business and other longstanding institutions have been shifting since 2008.. And, perhaps more so than anything, Brexit and the US Presidential race prove there’s no going back. Business as usual—with ‘leaders’ running the show and people going along for the ride—no longer speaks to the needs, longings, and practical realities of our modern society. So, it’s no surprise that in a populist world, people are looking to the brands they value the most to have a meaningful purpose and mirror their values. FROM PUSH MARKETING TO BRAND PULL Since the late 1990’s, every agency, research company, consultancy and digital firm has hung out a branding shingle. And as they have, the word brand itself has acquired a lot of baggage. Ask any two people what a brand is and more likely than not they’ll give you two different answers, although each will associate the word in some way with creating a cool name, developing an eye-catching logo, crafting a memorable tagline or spending a lot of money on multi-media ad campaigns designed to build awareness. In other words, for most people the discipline of branding is a form of push marketing that leverages advertising and attention grabbing tactics often disconnected from delivering real value for users. Rather than being judged as a strategic investment designed to cultivate loyalty with customers, employees, business partners, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders – and thereby enhance profitability – brand development is often slated as a cost to business in financial analysis. Yet, brands matter more than ever today. In a digital and socially driven marketplace where the lines...

Can brands help Millennials feel more optimistic about the world and confident about their lives?

CultureQ research continues to show Millennials rely on favorite brands to feel more emotionally balanced and psychologically fulfilled.  Our latest insights reveal five ways brands can develop more valuable relationships with Millennials. 1. Fill the leadership void Millennials top five concerns continue to indicate they’re a generation that’s ill at ease, as uncertainty is a permanent feature of their lives. Younger Millennials (16-18) still in high school express concern about weighty global issues (the global economy, political instability, terrorism, environmental sustainability). And are fearful about how the permanent state of uncertainty impacts them personally - preserving their quality of life, achieving longer term security and/or giving their families what they need. As Millennials age and transition more into adulthood, the lack of access to affordable healthcare is a growing worry, despite the launch of Obamacare. They also express increasing concern about the environment and the lack of visionary leadership in government, overall. More and more, Millennials will gravitate to brands with propositions that empower them to feel more secure and confident about their future and that of the planet. Their loyalty is strongest toward brands that fill the leadership void and embed solutions that solve societal issues into their promise. Brands that center on healthcare, education, financial security, and personal wealth are exceptionally poised to do this. 2. Be safe enough to be real Many Millennials are struggling with social media dissonance; the term we use to describe the gap between their off and online identities. As this syndrome becomes more widespread, and exacerbated by legacies of helicopter parenting and over scheduling which have left Millennials little opportunity to...

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...
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