Brand Authenticity

Q&A: How Authentic Should My Brand Be? 6 Guidelines

I was recently approached on LinkedIn, by a young woman who is currently writing the end of year Dissertation for her degree. She asked me for my point of view regarding brand authenticity and I happily shared my opinions on the subject.

While I was very flattered that somebody would find my opinion relevant enough for their dissertation (it feels like I was writing mine yesterday!), I also found her questions to be very pertinent. They made me realise that I have a lot of opinions on the way that Marketing is evolving, and that I should share them to get the conversation going!

As is mentioned throughout my whole website, I am here trying to help entrepreneurs and small business understand the concepts of Marketing. And one of the key things to take into account for an efficient strategy, is how your brand comes across to your audience: i.e., the level of authenticity that is conveyed through your brand. You can read two pieces I had already written on the subject of good branding here and here.

And now I would like to share with you my answers and therefore my opinion, on what has changed and what constitutes authentic marketing in 2018, and hopefully beyond. I hope you find these insights useful for the implementation of your own Marketing strategy. Do not hesitate to leave a comment or reach out to me with any questions. Remember: I offer a 30min free consultation to any new visitors of my website/blog!

Brand Authenticity

  • What does brand authenticity mean to you? A brand’s ability to stay true to its core values and transparent with its audience.

 

  • Do you believe today’s consumer is loyal to brands? Ultimately Yes, but I believe it is increasingly hard to get them to become loyal in the first place. I think the battle of Price vs Product quality is becoming more and more intense. Ironically, I’m starting to see a trend where very good quality products and services struggle to get noticed, whereas poorer quality products, which also more often than we think happen to be sold at a more expensive price, seem to be doing quite good in their sales strategies. I wonder if it might be a problem with budget allocation: a poor quality product costs less, and therefore more money is left for aggressive marketing actions. Or perhaps people still believe that the more expensive a product is, the more “high end” it is and therefore they fall easily into the trap, find out the product isn’t what it played out to be, and end up putting every business big or small, in the same pessimistic box. In any case, people easily get disappointed these days, which is why it is harder to build a loyal relationship. As a result, we are starting to witness the rise of smaller, more locally produced and distributed products and services. It’s a very interesting space to watch I think.

 

  • What would you recommend an inauthentic brand do to become authentic? I don’t think there is much more to do than get rid of the elements who are making it into an inauthentic brand. I believe every brand is authentic to start with, and sometimes, somehow, ends up in the wrong hands. The hands of people who want to turn the brands into big money making machines and kill the authenticity over time. If there is a real will to change it back, then changing management is a good start and depending on the level of damage caused to the audience and the consumers, perhaps a full rebranding may be necessary.

 

  • What do you think is the most important factor of a brand according to the consumer? I’d say authenticity with regard to the product that is offered, the price at which it is offered and the way it is being pushed to the audience. A good example I’ve been watching closely lately is the health and wellbeing scene and more specifically, the Yoga scene. Yoga is one of the rare “sectors” left on earth that advocates for generosity, authenticity and understanding for all human beings. But recently, it has come into light that a specific Yoga clothing brand is acting very inauthentically. They have utilised the message carried by the practice of Yoga and turned it into a Marketing machine to sell expensive workout clothes to “gullible” young women who “worship” them. By being expensive, exclusive (barely any depiction of coloured or bigger-sized women) and very aggressive in their Marketing strategy, they act in a deceiving manner towards their core audience (I say “core” and not “whole”audience because I believe a lot of their customers buy their gear without practicing yoga, which is fine but in that case they need to change their messaging).  Finally, that brand is at the centre of a big scandal, as it has come out that they are now suing a young Yoga teacher, for reasons that are still quite blurry from a legal standpoint.  For many reasons, they are not acting authentically towards their audience, which as mentioned,  is mainly made up of yoga practitioners and this may end up costing them big losses. I feel this is a great example of a brand that is putting its credibility at a high risk.

 

  • Why do you believe that brand authenticity has become such a ‘buzz word’ in recent years? Because people are becoming very aware of what they are being sold into. They are becoming more aware of the power of marketing and advertising and they feel manipulated. Which is why they are increasingly searching for real authenticity. They are tired of being lied to.

 

  • Do you believe consumers care about brand authenticity? I believe that when it comes to their own consumption, brand authenticity is increasingly important. It embodies plenty of aspects, such as how ethical they are, how sensitive they are to our health and wellbeing as consumers, their price vs quality ratio, how much they care about our feedback etc… To me, authenticity represents the overall behaviour of a brand, and a brand is the full package that consumers buy into.

Brand Authenticity

ANNOUNCEMENT: We have just launched our FREE RESOURCES page! It is filled with plenty of valuable information for anyone looking to build their perfect brand image and marketing strategy. Feel free to visit our new page and download away! You can also get in touch with any questions, or connect with us to keep updated on our latest developments and new releases. 

If you are curious about the mentioned Yoga Brand and want to find out more about the behaviours to avoid for your own business’ sake, you can read more here 

How To Build Your Business’ Brand, Part 1

What if your company were a person? Would you like them as you would a best friend, or would you screen their calls? Would you take them out to lunch, and let them babysit your kids, or would you avoid interacting with them as much as possible?

Right now, you are probably thinking: of course I would treat them as a best friend, what’s the point of having a business if it’s not somebody I enjoy hanging out with?

Well, actually, you would be surprised at how many of our clients replied that they wouldn’t hang out with their business if it were a person. Why? Because their business is complicated and if it were a person, five days non-stop with them per week would be more than enough.

Having a complicated business isn’t a bad thing, but making it seem easy to your audience is the key to increasing your sales.

Your consumers don’t care about the complicated back-office aspects of your business, they want the final, easy-to-consume product or service. They don’t care how complicated it was to get there and you need to bear that in mind. Your brand has a reputation to build and nurture, just like a person!

If you pay attention, you will realise how true the above statement is. As humans, we feel the need to humanise everything. We give personality to things that likely have none, because doing so makes them relatable.

Spongebob.jpg

Spongebob Squarepants is a perfect example of this.

This cartoon is a sea sponge that has the shape of a dish sponge, the face, arms and legs of a human and an actual outfit! If he was just a sea sponge, would he spark that much interest? We think not.

 

We are not saying that your logo should have a face, arms and legs, but we are saying that humanising your business and picturing it as a person in your head and within your team will help make it more relatable to you and in turn you will make sure it behaves like a human in front of your audience.

So, we invite you to ask yourselves these few easy questions that will help you put together a profile for your brand.

  1. What is your brand’s promise? (Both rational and emotional)
  2. How would your customers describe their relationship with your brand?
  3. When your customers experience your product or service, what emotions do they feel?

If this sounds confusing, feel free to reach out and we’ll happily give you a free 30 minute long consultation to guide you through how to use this exercise to your advantage!

ANNOUNCEMENT: We have just launched our FREE RESOURCES page! It is filled with plenty of valuable information for anyone looking to build their perfect brand image and marketing strategy. Feel free to visit our new page and download away! You can also get in touch with any questions, or connect with us to keep updated on our latest developments and new releases. 

Christmas Card Ideas

2017 Best Ideas for Your Corporate Christmas Cards

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and therefore, it’s beginning to look a lot like that time when we need to send out our beloved Christmas cards to all of our clients and prospects.

As a Marketing Agency, we are currently full on looking for good ideas of cards to send to our clients for the festivities and naturally, we are looking at our options with a Marketing oriented perspective.

So, we went scrolling around Google and Pinterest to gather the best ideas for our upcoming E-Card. We found some serious, some fun, some hilarious and some disturbing options and we thought that rather than letting you spend the same precious hours looking for your own options, we would share our selection of favorites on the blog, for all who need inspiration this Christmas.

We hope you find what you are looking for, Hohoho!

The Gif(t) E-CardChristmas Card Ideas 2017

The GIF E-card is a classic. It acts as a virtual snow globe for most of its recipients. One could sit and stare at the falling snow for hours and try to depict every smallest detail within the picture. These are great to spread cheer get people to fully immerse themselves in the spirit of Christmas.

The Poster CardChristmas Card Ideas

We had never come across this idea before, but we sure think it is brilliant (provided you have good Postal budget. This one is especially useful if you have a shop front or a restaurant. Otherwise, you could always take a day off and travel around town to distribute them yourself! Provided that it is nicely designed, your brand could end up hanging on the wall of your clients’ office.

The Kaleidoscopic E-Card Christmas Card Ideas

This is one of our personal favorites. Kaleidoscopes ring out the inner child in most of us. And after all, what is the point of Christmas, if it isn’t for us to bring back our inner child over the course of a night. This design is also very classy and can reflect both an original and a poetic side of your company for this gorgeous time of the year.

The “Can Haz Burger” E-CardChristmas Card Ideas

This is perfect for the less serious among us. (And it is particularly fit for pet-related companies). But what is the point of a Christmas card if you can’t get a little silly?

The Animated E-CardChristmas Card Ideas

These designs are sleek and generally tell a small, sweet story that often brings out some form of emotions within the recipient. Plus, you can never go wrong with pets!

The Secret Santa CardChristmas Card Ideas

This is our personal favorite in the more standard cards. They take the shape of a business card or a paper bauble. Big enough to write a very personalised message on the back yet small enough to be carried around in a wallet and handed directly to your clients on your pre-christmas visit to them. We love the very classy designs and believe that sometime, less is more!

The Personalised (and for the ridicule-immune) E-card

Christmas Card Ideas

This is the absolute creme-de-la-creme of the ridiculous card, but you are sure to give your recipient an immense giggle. We’ve found that generally speaking, these kinds of e-cards are kept internal and share around by the employees of a same company as a way to bond and have a laugh altogether. It is used more as a team building tool than an actual greetings card for clients, but it does a rather good job at what it is used for!

We hope our selection helps you find inspiration for this year’s Christmas cards, feel free to let us know if you’ve come across any other original or beautifully designed ones. As for us, you will find out what we went for soon. Watch this space!

Merry Christmas!

Event Planning in London

Hosting Events in London just got Simpler!

Did you hear the big news? Meetup and WeWork have just announced that they will be joining forces in 2018!

If like us, you are a Small/Medium sized business, or even a Startup, an entrepreneur or someone looking to explore your interests with other like-minded people, then it is very likely that you have heard of the platform, Meetup. We have been using it for years to attend events and organise our own.

But if like us, you have been using the platform, then you most probably know how hard it is finding a place for everybody to meet without having to pay tremendous amounts of money.

Well, Meetup seems to have found the solution to our problem, by joining forces with the WeWork network, and that could be a real game changer for all event organisers.

Imagine no longer having the stress of looking for a nice, professional place to host your prospects and clients. No longer having to meet with business people at a noisy pub. No longer having to advance the money from your own pocket, with no guarantee that you will get as many guests as you thought to at least break even.

Meetup and WeWork will be blowing all of your troubles away with their brand new alliance. Now, the only real question is, what cost will be associated to this joint (ad)venture? They are still keeping the terms of their agreement very secret. Guess we will have to wait until 2018 to find out!

Watch the full promotional video by clicking on the picture below and click on this link for more information

Where to host events in London

The Marketing Mistakes to Avoid if You Don't Want Your Company to Come Crashing Down - The case of Easyjet

The Marketing Mistakes to Avoid if You Don’t Want Your Company to Come Crashing Down

I was coming back from my holiday in Nice to London Gatwick last week and had to take the only airline with room left at this time of year: Easyjet.

The reason I am mentioning this trip on the blog is because Easyjet made a series of unforgivable marketing mistakes, ensuring that I would never use their services again but also giving me great inspiration for this article. I want to use this article to share with you the mistakes that were made and why you have to make sure never to make the same mistakes if you want to keep your customers.

There is only so much a customer / client / patient can take before they fully stop using your services. It wasn’t the first time that Easyjet had let me down, but it will be the last. And the reason for that isn’t that they ran into some problems that highly impacted how my day went, that happens to every company, it is because of the appalling way in which their customer services handled the situation. I want to share with you the marketing mistakes that they made so that you can avoid making them yourself.

Every business has its share of issues, problems, challenges that sometimes stop them from functioning properly. But in the face of a crisis, a strong and efficient customer service ‘and in-case-of [fill blank]’ marketing plan can turn a bitter experience into a “they did the best that they could and I was very impressed with the way they treated me and the situation”. That’s the very thin line between shutting the door forever or keeping it slightly open, hoping that the next experience will make up for it.

Now, back to Easyjet. They are famous for their lateness so I was expecting a good hour’s delay. We were meant to land in Gatwick at 1.10pm. We had initially arrived above Gatwick on time but then the plane started circling around for about an hour or so.

Eventually, the captain announced that we were being rerouted towards Stansted because there had been an issue at Gatwick causing the airport to close down the runway.

So far, I’m not too annoyed. It happens and there’s not much Easyjet can do about it. They had to land somewhere! What comes next though, is what led me to make my final decision.

The plane taxied and stopped next to the staircase. The doors opened… but for the next two hours, nothing else happened. There was no communication whatsoever between the captain and us. He once told us we were waiting for security to come out and guide us down the stairs and 30 mins later told us we were going to taxi back out and fly back to Gatwick. During two hours, we had no idea what was going on.

Finally after two hours, the captain asked us to get off the plane and claimed that there were buses waiting outside to take whoever had a connexion, back to Gatwick. So we got off, passed security and went to fetch our luggage.

But as we arrived inside the airport, we noticed that there were no members of staff there to tell us where the suitcases were or where the buses were. Easyjet just left us alone to figure out what was going on.

The screens didn’t indicate which belt the suitcases were expected to come out of and the Easyjet Office only had one member of staff barely bothered about trying to figure out what was going on and being frankly extremely unhelpful with the situation, handing out pieces of paper with a customer hotline number.

At 5.30pm on the dot, when we had already been waiting for 1.5 hours, the member of staff from the Easyjet Desk simply left to go home and closed down the desk. It took another 1.5 hours to find our luggage, time during which I heard all sorts of explanations including “airport staff isn’t paid by Easyjet to get the luggage out so they’re not doing it”, “The plane went back to Gatwick with our luggage in it” and “The baggage hold door is broken so they can’t access the luggage”… all of which go to show the complete lack of communication on EasyJet’s part.

Finally, there was no compensation whatsoever, whether in the form of reimbursement, special offer for the next flight or vouchers of any kind because “the plane didn’t land more than 3 hours late”… well, sure, but hum… I mean… It didn’t even land in the right Airport! And if we add the countless hours of waiting around for luggage to come out, by the time we get back to our actual initial landing airport, Gatwick, the 3 hour mark has literally exploded…

Where am I getting at? Well…

As businesses, we are all at danger of making these simple yet lethal mistakes. So, what are the lessons that we should learn from this experience? We should learn that money saving has its limits, and Marketing is one of them. Not investing properly in a good marketing strategy can be very dangerous for a company and here is why:

1/ Communication is KEY – Had the teams on land communicated properly with the captain and had the captain told us the truth, we would have got very annoyed but at least we would have known what to expect. The man sitting behind me was expecting to take an MRI scan  on the very same day that we landed and in view of a heavy operation the next day. Until the last minute he was hoping he’d make it until he had no choice but to face the fact that it was’t going to happen. And that’s all because the captain kept changing his story every 30 mins. Passengers’ expectations were managed very poorly, if even at all.

As a business, you must ALWAYS communicate the closest version to the TRUTH to your clients in order to start managing their expectations. If you know a deadline is too tight, SAY IT. If you know it will be hard to repair their device and that it would be cheaper to buy a new one, SAY IT. If you think that dress makes them look 10 pounds heavier, SAY IT!

2/ Availability SAVES – By that I mean it saves your image. Once we got out of the plane, there was nobody to help us. A good company would send their staff running around trying to find a solution. One of my co-passengers told me about an experience they had with Emirates: the suitcase had been forgotten in Dubai while the passenger was on a plane to London. During the flight, a hostess came to tell them about it and offered for the suitcase to be delivered to the passengers door step on that very same day. A courrier was sent to deliver the forgotten suitcase by 11.30pm on that same day. Easyjet should have ensured that some members of staff would be there to try and communicate with the airport staff and report the situation to the passengers, or better yet, offer alternative solutions to the problem in order to avoid a three hour long wait for their suitcases.

As a business, you must ALWAYS be available for your clients. Whether it’s in the form of yourself, your staff, your PA or even a receptionist. But if there is an emergency, you must be able to have someone tailor to the problem until it is fully fixed. Any member of staff will suffice, as long as the communication channels are good and that they can as quickly as possible redirect the client to the appropriate person. People need to know that they are being taken care of and not left to deal with a situation by themselves. 

3/ Compensation KEEPS – By that I mean, keeps some form of relationship going. The fact that Easyjet did nothing to compensate was the last nudge I needed to promise to myself that I would never use their airline again. And there will be no going back. Because even if I do end up getting my money back, it’ll be the results of hours of fighting and back and forth e-mailing trying to get them to pay for their mistake. I will be disgusted for life and it’ll be too late to get me back.

As businesses, we all make mistakes and we all fail to deliver sometimes. But the important thing to keep in mind for an overall successful relationship with our customers is to compensate for our mistakes. Whether it is in the form of a voucher, a special offer or a freebee to name a few, if we want to admit our shortcomings and try to save the relationship, we must prove our goodwill with a gift.  It shows respect for our customers, a real initiative to try and make up for our mistake and keeps them around just long enough to try to work our way back into their heart. 

As mentioned earlier, during a crisis a good implementation of the above three points will determine whether you find yourself behind a fully closed door or if there is still room to fit your foot. Make sure that your crisis-management marketing is impeccable. 

In total, I wasted 6 hours of my day between the rerouting, waiting to get out, waiting for my luggage, and traveling all the way back across town to get back home.

What I will keep from this appalling situation is this: should I need to use low cost again in the future, I will gladly use the Jet2 airline because they had a member of staff there, who even though she wasn’t related to Easyjet in any way, tried her very best to get someone from the airport to talk to us and sort the problem out.

So to all businesses out there, don’t do like Easyjet: don’t risk losing valuable customers over a Marketing shortcoming.

Have you had similar experiences? If you found this article useful for your own business insights or simply for the trivia, please share and like!