Hello, we are social. We’re a global conversation agency, with offices in London, New York, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney & São Paulo. We help brands to listen, understand and engage in conversations in social media.
We’re a new kind of agency, but conversations between people are nothing new. Neither is the idea that ‘markets are conversations’.

We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.

If you’d like to chat about us helping you too, then give us a call on +44 20 3195 1700 or drop us an email.

Interviewing Unilever’s Rahul Welde

by Don Anderson in News

Rahul Welde, VP Media for Unilever Asia, Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, says the number of media and technology options for consumers to engage has evolved “way beyond what people had imagined” and if brands are to remain relevant they need to make listening a priority.

In our continuing series of interviews with top industry thought leaders and innovators, we speak with Welde about Unilever’s plans for digital and social media in 2015, its focus on building brand love, the importance of responding quickly and creatively in digital, and Millennials’ thirst for ‘snackable’ content.

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WELDE: We are on a journey that is continuous. We call it a “crafting brands for life” philosophy. Within that we start by putting people first and really try to understand people in the deepest sense. We glean insights out of what motivates them and what is critical to them. Our mission is to make sure that we translate those insights to build love for our brands.

Is there anything you are particularly proud of?

WELDE: If we look back there are a number of areas where we have made a dramatic impact, most notably in the area of mobile marketing. We’ve had a number of cases across markets that leverage the power of a local insight.

For example, the mobile radio program called KKT (Kan Khajura Tesan) that we run in India taps into media dark areas providing a unique mobile radio service. In these areas, people don’t have access to television but they all have access to mobile. They don’t have access to [traditional forms of] entertainment, so we bring this to them [through KKT], whether it’s music, jokes or dialogues from Bollywood movies. We package it to provide that mobile radio service in a very interesting [locally-specific] way.

A fifth of Unilever’s entire media spend is now direct to digital. Is that enough of an investment?

WELDE: We have to do things that are fit for purpose. We are connecting with different sets of people across different sets of brands. We don’t use digital or any one platform in the same way across all the brands and the consumers. In general, it’s fair to say that digital continues to grow very fast in terms of how people use digital technologies and therefore we have to continue to leverage that.

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In the past you have said speed is critical and that organisations have to move faster than ever before.

WELDE: Speed is indeed critical in the new world. This is driven by technology because access to information and information flows are much faster now. To manage this shift we are undertaking several initiatives. For example we have a command centre in our Singapore office that enables us to do real time marketing and agile management of our campaigns across countries all from one location. There are two parts to agile marketing  – one being how you listen and the second part how you respond to what you’re listening to. As the digital technology platforms to evolve, speed will certainly be the new currency.

You mentioned real time marketing. Do you have a specific definition for what real time marketing means to Unilever?

WELDE: I think there many definitions for real time marketing. My definition of real time marketing is simply fast speed of response. Fast has to be in the context of days and not months or weeks, or sometimes faster depending on what the event is. It all starts by ensuring that you are listening to what is happening out there and having a ability to meaningfully respond speedily. There are different dimensions for outreach, what platforms do you use, do you use social media or use other forms, and is there a creative aspect in terms of the message and what and how do you want to bring to life. You have to be topical, you have to seize opportunities and you have to be fast.

In terms of direct sales, is the expectation for social media to lead to that? Do all roads lead to conversion?

WELDE: It is a mix of things. In the process of communication you build brand equity that eventually leads to sales, but that is not the end objective.  In our philosophy, the idea of brand love is more than just conversions; our idea of putting people first is much more than looking at them as consumers. It’s a fairly strong marketing philosophy that I would say is quite beyond the conventions of just converting to sales.

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Does Unilever use social media for research and development purposes?

WELDE: Social media provides great insights into what’s going on, what is topical, what is meaningful to people and what is impacting at scale. It all goes back to listening. There are lots of conversations going on and brands have to be listening to what is going on. Currently there has been an over-emphasis on what is put out and less emphasis on listening.

Much has been written about the challenges of how to market to Millennials. From your perspective, what is the best way to engage this elusive demographic?

WELDE: The key point about the young is the platforms they use. It’s quite clear that the youth use more platforms and that they use them differently from what other segments do. The second point is about the habits of consumption – these are quite distinct and relate more to snacking. Attention spans and the levels of engagement are more ‘here and now’ than deeply thought through. How you (engage Millennials) really relates to the platforms you leverage and what exactly you do through those platforms. The overall package has to be very compelling. The big difference is the snacking versus the long form. For the youth snacking is key.

If there is one thing that keeps you up at night, what is it?

WELDE: It is the excitement and the opportunity that keeps me buzzing at night. There is so much that one can do. There are so many ideas that are thrown at you whether it be concepts, projects or possibilities, and that excitement is absolutely unparalleled. Technology is a big driver of that excitement.

Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide in 2015

by Simon Kemp in News

2014 was a landmark year for growth across all things digital, and We Are Social’s new Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report indicates that this year will see even more impressive numbers.

Including stats for more than 240 countries around the world, and profiling 30 of the world’s biggest economies in detail, this report is the most comprehensive, free compendium of up-to-date digital statistics and data you’ll find.

So what do its 376 pages reveal?

The Headlines

Global Digital Snapshot 2015

As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.

What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviour is now converging around mobile devices.

Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.

Before that, though, we expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.

In Context: 12 Months of Amazing Growth
The digital world passed some impressive milestones in 2014:

  • Worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion back in August;
  • Worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50% in September;
  • The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November;
  • The number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population just last month;

Excitingly, the numbers in our new 2015 report suggest that this growth shows no signs of slowing anytime soon:

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You’ll find an amazing wealth of data and infographics designed for easy copy-paste into your own presentations in the SlideShare embed above, but read on for our additional insights into the numbers.

Internet
Almost 42% of the world’s population has access to the internet in January 2015, representing a significant jump in reported numbers since last year’s report, when the same figure was just 35%:

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Our analysis of these numbers suggests that much of this increase is due to more accurate and timely reporting of data rather than a sudden surge in access, but there is little doubt that many millions of new users accessed the internet for the first time in the past 12 months – many of them via mobile phones.

As we reported in early November, more than 3 billion people around the world now use the internet via a variety of different devices. However, access is not evenly distributed: the reported number of internet users in Bermuda, Bahrain and Iceland almost equals those countries’ total reported populations, but the data also suggest that fewer than 0.1% of the populations of North Korea and South Sudan have access to the internet.

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Internet connection speeds vary significantly around the world too, from an average of more than 25 Mbps in South Korea, to barely 2 Mbps in India. Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the USA make up the top 5 fastest nations after South Korea, with each registering speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, putting them well above the global average of 4.5 Mbps:

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The average internet user spends around 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day, with Southeast Asians registering the highest average daily use. Research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that Filipino internet users spend more than 6 hours per day using the net, with Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Malaysians also all averaging more than 5 hours of use per day:

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Mobile Internet
Mobile’s share of global web traffic leapt 39% since the same time last year, with one-third of all web pages now served to mobile phones:

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However, mobile’s share of the web also varies considerably around the world: mobile phones account for 89% of all pages served in Papua New Guinea, but barely 0.1% of pages served in some of the smaller Caribbean islands.

It’s worth highlighting that India’s web traffic is dominated by mobile devices, with phones alone accounting for 72% of all web pages served in the world’s second most populous nation:

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The good news is that the potential for faster mobile internet access has grown exponentially in the past year, with 39% of all global mobile connections now classified as ‘broadband’ (i.e. 3G or 4G):

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Social Media
Social media continues to grow apace around the world too, with active user accounts now equating to roughly 29% of the world’s population.

Monthly active user (MAU) figures for the most active social network in each country add up to almost 2.08 billion – a 12% increase since January 2014:

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Meanwhile, research conducted by GlobalWebIndex suggests that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs, with Argentinian and Filipino users registering the most, at more than 4 hours per day:

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Facebook continues to dominate the global social media landscape, claiming 1.366 billion active users in January 2015. Crucially, 1.133 billion of the platform’s global users – 83% of the total – now access the service through mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Tencent extended its dominance of Chinese-language social networks, with Qzone’s 629 million active accounts leading the pack. However, our analysis indicates that a number of the platform’s users have more than one account, meaning this figure may not be reliable as a basis for the calculation of social media penetration.

VKontakte retains the top social media spot in Russia and a handful of its neighbours, although reliable monthly active user figures are more difficult to come by. The latest data suggest the platform has around 100 million monthly active users, of which roughly two-thirds are in Russia.

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Mobile Social
As we saw above, mobile usage of social networks like Facebook continues to grow all over the world. Adding up the mobile users of the top social network in each country, we see at least 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts in January 2015:

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Meanwhile, instant messenger services and chat apps continue their impressive growth patterns, with WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber all reporting more than 100 million new monthly active users over the past 12 months.

Instant messenger services and chat apps now account for 3 of the top 5 global social platforms, and 8 instant messenger brands now claim more than 100 million monthly active users:

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As in other areas of this year’s report, much of this growth has been fuelled by the increasing importance of mobile devices in people’s everyday lives, and this trend looks set to accelerate in 2015.

Mobile Devices
Unique mobile users exceeded 50% of the world’s population in September 2014, and the current year-on-year growth rate of more than 5% suggests we’ll see roughly 200 million new mobile users over the next 12 months.

GSMA Intelligence and Ericsson both report more than 7 billion active mobile subscriptions, but it’s important to note that the average global mobile user still maintains roughly two active connections:

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Smartphones account for an increasingly large proportion of mobile use, with Ericsson reporting that these devices claim a 38% share of the world’s active connections:

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Almost 4 in 10 global mobile connections now qualify as ‘broadband’ – i.e. a 3G connection or better – but as with so many other aspects of this report, fast mobile data access varies hugely from one country to the next:

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Reports suggest that all of North Korea’s 2.8 million mobile connections are 3G or above, although this is tempered by the fact that the internet – or at least the internet as we know it in the rest of the world – is not available to the country’s average citizen. However, at 11% penetration – 65% up on the same period last year – the role of mobile in North Korea may be cause for optimism.

As with fixed internet access, South Korea is streets ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to mobile internet speeds, with the country’s mobile operators delivering an average connection of 18.2 Mbps – twice as much as any other nation.

Singapore and the UK follow, with 9.1 Mbps and 8.1 Mbps respectively. India, Brazil, Argentina all registered average mobile data connections below 2 Mbps, while Vietnam registered the slowest average mobile data connection in this years report, at barely 1.1 Mbps:

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Despite these slow speeds, data reported by Ericsson in its latest Mobility Report suggest that the average global mobile connection uses around 900MB of data every month, with total monthly global data traffic rapidly approaching 3 exabytes – i.e. 3 billion gigabytes:

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However, more than three-quarters of the world’s mobile connections are still pre-paid, and the costs of acquiring a phone and maintaining an active mobile connection continue to represent a significant proportion of household expenditure in many developing nations.

As a result, content producers and marketers must balance their desire to provide ‘rich’ user experiences such as online video with the likely costs that this will entail for their audiences:

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What’s more, 58% of the world’s mobile connections still come from more basic, ‘feature’ phone handsets, meaning many people will be unable to access such content even if they’d like to.

At the other end of the mobile spectrum, the use of tablets increased steadily during 2014, with 7% of all web pages served in the past month going to these devices.

Combined, mobile phones and tablets now account for 38% of all web pages served around the world.

Mirroring this trend, laptops and desktops saw a 13% decline in share of web traffic compared to the same period last year, down to 62% of all web pages served:

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Online Shopping
Thanks to some great data from GlobalWebIndex, we’re delighted to include some detailed data points relating to online shopping for most of the countries in this year’s report.

The United Kingdom leads in terms of active e-commerce use, with data suggesting that almost two-thirds of the country’s population bought something online in the past month

Germany and South Korea follow close behind at 63% and 62% respectively, while the USA comes in fourth at 56%

South and Southeast Asia lag when it comes to e-commerce though, with data suggesting barely 14% of Indians bought something online in the past month. Similarly, fewer than 1 in 5 Thais and Filipinos used e-commerce in the past 30 days:

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Mobile commerce is picking up momentum around the world though though, especially in East Asia, with data suggesting that 37% of South Koreans bought something online via a mobile phone in the past month.

The Chinese are also increasingly active mobile shoppers, with 27% of the population buying something through their phones in the past 30 days:

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Local Country Profiles
You’ll also find in-depth profiles of 30 of the world’s largest economies in the report, in the same format as the China slides you’ll find at the bottom of this post.

Here’s a list of the countries we cover in detail:

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So What Next?
If you’d like to explore the individual country data in more detail, you might like to know you can download the complete report for free by clicking here.

You may also want to refer back to our reports from previous years; you’ll find them all in one convenient library here, but you may find our 2014 report and analysis particularly useful.

We’ll leave you with the country slides for China:

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The Power of Emotional Design

by Jacqui Jewell in News

Marketing Magazine recently published this article by me about helping marketers understand the power of emotional design by dissecting the visceral, behavioural and reflective elements of a weather app. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:

Marketing is fast catching on to the idea that consumers buy an ‘experience’ rather than a product or service. It is all about the ‘relationship’ with the brand and/or product, and with all relationships comes human emotion.

When it comes to experiences with products and services (whether it be a blender, a new TV interface or an online budgeting app) marketers should know that certain elements can be tweaked to ascertain good responses to what is being sold.

Functionality and aesthetics are two elements of the user interface that have often been in conflict. A stunning design serving no other purpose but as an expression of beauty is not going to help you find the enter button on a banking app. A dull, stock-standard but functional interface is not going to inspire the user to return.

It is time we treated form and function with the even-handed consideration reserved for newborn twins; wrapped up in a blanket of ‘we love them both equally’.

Good experiential design means that beauty and functionality are in balance and that we acknowledge the concept of ‘emotional design’, a term coined by Donald Norman, a professor of cognitive science and usability consultant for the Nielsen Norman Group.

After banging on about the primacy of functionality over other considerations in his book The Design of Everyday Things (his critics had a field day), Norman decided to backtrack and explore people’s relationship to design. The result was the book Emotional Design.

Through his research, Norman found that design affects how people experience products, which happens at three different levels, and translates into three types of design:

1. Visceral design: a subconscious and even biologically pre-wired response to a visual (think of your automatic responses to seeing a cockroach or an attractive person).

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2. Behavioural design: how the product/application functions, the look and feel, the usability, our total experience with using the product/application. Users form their perception of a product through use. Thus design needs to ensure the product is easy to use, addresses the end users goal/purpose, is enjoyable and free from causing frustration.

3. Reflective design: how it makes us feel after the initial impact and interacting with the product/application, where we associate products with our broader life experience and associate meaning and value to them. Consumers maintain an innate sense of identity through the consumption of the product over time. (Most of us know the bond we have with our iPhone and how losing it elicit panic).

Emotional design delves into the human aspect of the user experience and takes us on a journey that not only collects the cognitive, scientifically measurable elements of product design but also collects the emotional, affecting parts of the experience.

In the world of marketing, brands need to understand that various design elements in a campaign or other customer touch points contribute to the emotional response of the audience. By recognising the role of design in the selling process and actively integrating ‘emotional design’, marketers can boost the impact of their campaigns and deepen their relationships with their customers.

As an example of the three steps of ‘emotional design’, let’s analyse the Weather app for iOS. (I could use the entire Apple brand to effectively portray ‘emotional design’ at work but, hey, no one needs to tackle that mountain. Let’s keep it simple).

Visceral
On a visceral level we are met with a clean, uncluttered interface, and a pleasant pictorial indication of the weather (blue’s always a good indicator when it comes to weather, yeah?). This is supported by a clear and bold delivery of what we have opened the app for – quick information. A clean and uncluttered interface unconsciously communicates simplicity, ease and luxury. The first part of our journey has begun and so far so good.

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Behavioural
The behavioural part of the design is our total experience with the app.

1. We effortlessly view the visual indicators of the weather (the subtle animations).

2. We connect to the aesthetic of a sunburst and recollect emotionally what that means to our own experience of such.

3. We relate to the visual story of storm clouds gathering and are persuaded to look into this further to see if rain is forecast – a simple finger-swipe to the left tells all.

4. We can then move down to the five-day forecast, laid out neatly in the same screen – universal weather icons tell all.

5. Swiping left or right here brings up other (personally chosen) cities for weather consideration, all with a descriptive visual, leaving us with a nice feeling of connectedness. The world becomes a smaller place.

No frustration has been experienced in our interaction (aside from maybe cracking the sads about a pending rain-storm on a weekend) and we are left with a satisfactory user experience. The brain takes note.

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Reflective
Reflectively we now associate this app with simplicity, clarity and ease of use. It becomes our ‘go-to’ app for whenever we are planning our living activities.

In the bigger picture of our lives we welcome anything that aids us and creates a feeling of effortlessness, such as this weather app. Alternatively, if we were navigating an interface that was unintuitive and messy, difficult to navigate and visually harsh, we would walk away with a feeling of (often subconsciously) unease, frustration and incompletion. We would not be quick to return.

As Donald Norman’s discovery stated:

“The surprise is that we now have evidence that pleasing things work better, are easier to learn, and produce a more harmonious result.”

Not so surprising any more. Emotional design is fast becoming important to marketers as they holistically approach the creation of great user experiences. Each system (form and function) impacts the other and works together. Knowing that emotion is so vital to how we think makes it more important than ever to seek and create a meaningful connection with the consumer and to ensure the best user experience possible.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #245

by Nick Mulligan in News

Google search results link to brands’ social profiles
First up is a news story that we’d say ‘puts the OO in Google’, if we weren’t above that sort of terrible pun. Google search results already link to social profiles for certain celebrities – the same will now happen for brands and companies, on both desktop and mobile.

Social profiles in Google Search

Facebook likes can predict your personality
Computers know you better than your spouse, provided you’ve liked at least 300 Facebook pages. Researchers at Cambridge and Stanford universities have found that, given access to enough information about your Facebook likes, a computer can predict personality traits better than any human. Naturally, this could have a huge impact for brands, as they try to better understand their consumers; We Are Social’s own Paul Greenwood spoke to Marketing Magazine about the possibilities that Facebook data brings:

Facebook Likes offer just one dimension of someone’s attitudes and behaviours. Other signals, such as what people share, what they say, what other platforms they use and so on, can offer a much deeper understanding. The difficulty of course is getting access to that data at scale.

Facebook trialling work-only platform
If you like using Facebook at work, but can’t use Facebook at work, try using Facebook at Work. The new work-only network is being tested with a few partner companies, before it is rolled out fully. The plan is that it will be used as an internal communication platform, where you can do the usual things (post updates, group chat etc.) but only colleagues will see it, and only when using Facebook at Work. At the moment, Facebook has said its focus is growth, not monetisation.

Google catching Facebook for social logins
Q4 figures from Janrain show that Google has cut Facebook’s lead in social logins. Google grew quarter-on-quarter from 35% to 40%, while Facebook dipped from 46% to 43%.

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Twitter useful for TV and film marketers
If you’re in the TV or film game, Twitter is your friend. Two pieces of research have suggested so in the last week, anyway. The first, by Nielsen, suggests that Twitter TV activity can anticipate audience sizes, as depicted by this positive correlation:

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The latter, by marketing analytics software provider MarketShare, argues that the platform can have a real impact on box office sales. In fact, over a three year period, Twitter was shown to contribute to 18% of cinema ticket sales, while £1 of ad spend generated £5.88 in revenue.

The cost of advertising on Snapchat
Snapchat is asking for $750,000 per day of advertising, according to Adweek sources. There’s a question mark over whether that’s too expensive, or worth it for access to a lucrative teen audience. Either way, don’t expect Snapchat ads for your local bakery any time soon.

Avengers trailer hits social media
The latest Avengers trailer has been shared on both Facebook and YouTube, and it’s proven an interesting experiment in how video spreads on both platforms. Facebook saw quicker instant growth, but, as of today, YouTube is far ahead (around 65m views to Facebook’s 7m). It suggests that Facebook is good for viral spread, while YouTube has a higher shelf life. It’s only one example, but it’s good food for Thor-t. Right, guys? Guys?

Gillette’s Tinder experiment
Gillette has used Tinder to research whether women prefer men with beards or without. It’s an interesting way for the platform to gain revenue, but I think we all know the answer: girls love guys that are 24 and still incapable of growing a beard. Trust me.

YouTube’s Superbowl halftime show
YouTube is planning an alternative Superbowl halftime show, hosted by Harley Morenstein, the leader of the EpicMealTime crew. It will feature a whole host of YouTube stars, musical performances and even fake ads.

Buffalo Wild Wings makes videos from tweets
Buffalo Wild Wings is turning tweets into sports analysis videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. For the NFL post-season, followers can tweet using #BWWPostGame for the chance to be included. You can see one video below – there’s another one yet to come, for the Superbowl itself.

Brands respond to college playoffs
We hope you like American football, because there’s another story coming up. Last week saw college football’s first playoff competition, with brands as keen as ever to react to the event. The first two are in response to a turnover after the ball was fumbled, while the latter played on the unlikelihood of a Ducks comeback.

Branded tweets about #FiveWordsToRuinADate
Brands loved last week’s #FiveWordsToRuinADate trend. They loved it a lot. Some of them loved it well, some of them weren’t quite so successful. We’ll let you decide.

Choose your own Twitter adventure
We’ll leave you with a game. Start with the tweet below and see how far you get – it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’, made to promote Timothy Jarvis’s book ‘The Wanderer’.

Building A Purposeful Brand

by Simon Kemp in News

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As part of our ongoing work on #ProjectReconnect with the WFA, we recently explored the premise that all brands today must be ‘purposeful’. They’ve been kind enough to let us share our findings here too.

Purposeful Brands
In today’s competitive world, a great product is no longer enough for a brand to succeed.

A great product is still critical of course; no-one would willingly buy a bad product twice.

But as functional performance differences between companies’ offerings become ever more marginal, people increasingly rely on more intangible, emotional factors to inform and guide their choices.

As a result, the rules of the marketing ‘beauty pageant’ have changed. Today, brands can no longer rely on good looks alone; they need depth and soul too.

Above all, they need a higher-order ‘purpose’.

But what does a ‘brand purpose’ look like?

A Purpose Inspires Hearts and Heads

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Given the choice between similar (and similarly priced) alternatives, people usually go for the option that makes them feel good.

Making people feel good isn’t just about hedonism though; brands that make a meaningful contribution to society, or brands that help people to reduce their impact on the environment, are also highly compelling.

A brand’s purpose doesn’t need to be about saving the world though; brands that offer people hope, or inspire them to improve themselves, are also well placed to earn a place in people’s hearts.

Tip #1: A great purpose engages people’s hearts, not just their heads.

A Purpose Goes Beyond Money

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Ask businesspeople why their organisation exists, and most will offer a reply along the lines of “to make a profit.”

But if all businesses exist solely to make a profit, there’s very little differentiation between them.

Meanwhile, unless they happen to be company shareholders, none of your audience cares whether your organisation makes a profit. Indeed, making too much profit can actively turn people against you (think Occupy Wall Street).

If you want to compel people to choose your brand, you need to stand for something more meaningful than simply ‘selling stuff to make money’.

As John Willshire puts it, we need to focus on making things people actually want, not simply trying to make people want  things we’ve already made.

Critically, you need to show people how you help them succeed, not just how you will succeed with their money.

Tip #2: Make sure your brand’s purpose articulates the value to your consumer, as well as to your organisation.

Define Your Promise Before You Define Your Product

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People don’t buy what brands make; they buy what brands make happen for them.

Think of it this way: people don’t pay for shampoo; they pay for clean, beautiful hair – and the psychological and emotional benefits that beautiful hair brings (e.g. self-confidence).

Moreover, for your customers, products and services are simply means to an end, and these products and services are increasingly at risk from leftfield alternatives that deliver those same ‘ends’ in new or different ways.

In the most extreme cases, these alternatives can destroy entire industries in a matter of months (think Kodak).

However, by building your brand around the benefits you promise rather than the products you make, you can elevate your brand beyond product-centric comparison

At the same time, you also make it easier to extend your brand beyond a specific product category (think TOMS, who have credibly expanded from shoes into eyewear and coffee).

Tip #3: A brand purpose articulates what people can buy into, not just what they can buy.

Making It Different vs. Making A Difference

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Too many brands mistake novelty and distraction for differentiation.

However, such an approach is very difficult to sustain. It may bring in the first sale, but novelty quickly wears off, and the brand must resort to increasingly impressive spectacle to keep people interested – which becomes increasingly expensive and difficult.

There’s an easy way round this though: by focusing on how your brand makes people’s lives better, or how it makes the world a better place, you stand a much greater chance of keeping people coming back for more.

The Essential Tip: Strive to make things better, not just to make better things.

This post first appeared on the #ProjectReconnect website.

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