If you need to shift your culture from where it is to a different viewpoint and value set, is there any incentive for change without a crisis? Will a culture make changes on its own or do people need a fright in order to seriously disrupt business as usual?
It’s easy to look at your pitch and to be pleased with your work; to feel that it has captured you perfectly and expressed what you are about and what you have to offer. It’s also irrelevant. Because, to be blunt, no-one’s as interested in your pitch as you are. They’re really only interested in themselves and what you can do for them. They probably hear similar claims and ideas everywhere they turn.
Every brand manager would like to believe that the world will love their brand. Given how much time, energy and experience they pour into trying to make that happen, that seems like a reasonable hope. But is that a true measure of the impact of their brand? Is the brand itself what consumers actually respond to?
Marketers tend to think of their customers only as those people who purchase their brands – and to distinguish them from people who don’t buy any more or who haven’t bought yet. However, in a world where all manner of consumers are connected, it’s important to pay attention to a number of other groups that have influence but may not necessarily be in the aisles.
Being busy doesn’t make you invincible. It just makes you … busy, for now. Except of course being rude to your customers or not returning their calls or treating them like they’re expendable, or doing the one hundred other things we’re all tempted to do when we’re busy isn’t just a now thing. It’s a lot more permanent.
The temptation when you’re working with a brand is to continue to treat it just as a product or service. It’s simpler to do so. It’s contained. You can add features to it or introduce a variation to it. But I’ve wondered aloud with marketers in the past whether treating a brand as the personification of an idea – one that needs to develop and evolve – is not only more interesting but actually vital in a world where story is king and great content is rarer than one might think.
I walked into one of my favourite haunts and they were busy – OK, frantic. Waiting staff were running everywhere trying to get things done, serving people they didn’t know, trying to make a good impression. I got my coffee – and nothing else. No hello, no eye contact, no sign of recognition. Just my usual coffee and cake. Almost dumped at my table. They were too busy dealing with the new people to go through the pleasantries with me. There was no need to smile. I’d become part of the furniture, another regular … This wasn’t the first time this has happened. But it was the last. I finished my drink, quietly settled the bill, closed the door behind me, and said goodbye.
Analytics have changed not just what marketers measure but how brands now appraise success. The temptation is to see all the metrics we have access to as correlated and, by inference, of similar and perhaps even related measurable value. We look at one analytic and wonder what its impact will be on another and on the bottom line.
It’s tempting to believe that our brand story is ours. It’s not of course. Today, it’s owned by everyone – in the sense that virtually anyone, anywhere can input. And that means you’re not the only one telling that story anymore. Once customers simply provided validation that your story was true. Now they are part of the narrative, because their experience of your brand can so quickly become everyone else’s opinion of your brand, or at least part of it.
It’s occurred to me recently that the interesting changes in customer attitude that accompany brand commitment are not necessarily on the radar of enough companies.