Nick's Insight

Be Better Than You Were Before

April 14, 2020
Nick Prescott
Managing Director

As you prepare your companies’ journey into the post-Covid World here's five things your brand needs to be if you want to be better than you were before.

Be Authentic

Sinek's book, you know the one, propagated the purpose goldrush; businesses of all kinds racing to pin an artificial WHY to the top of their brand manifesto because they think it will bring them success. What was once the secret sauce of an earnest few is now the magnificent bullshit of many. Frustratingly too, and especially at times like now, you will see those same companies who don't ordinarily promote worthy causes or openly praise their staff suddenly jump on social media to pitch their phoney humanitarian credentials. Sinek’s book's not to blame for insincerity, poor judgement and terrible implementation though; ‘Why Bother’ is probably a more apt title in that sense. Thankfully some brands do understand the book and do it justice.  

Please resist the temptation to hijack a fake purpose or reach for the sentiment tap each time there's a call to arms or opportunistic headlines to hang off. Keep it real. Turning on a false pretence to attract goodwill is disingenuous and a tad ugly. People see through it, and some will find it distasteful so it can be extremely detrimental to an otherwise half-decent business. Be authentic, stand by what you are and keep your brand honest, always.

Be Incredible

When something's so good, you have to pinch yourself to make sure it's real. That's when you know a brand experience is incredible. In truth, many of us will never enjoy such feelings from a brand, or perhaps have but not appreciated them at the time. One person's burger is another's steak and all that. The only true benchmark is our own emotional response to an experience or situation. Anyone who's unpacked a new iPhone from its silky box will have known the kind of personal satisfaction that some brands can deliver; the experience as endearing as the product itself - you'll feel just as good again in a couple of years when the upgrade arrives too. Consistency is key.

But opening a phone isn't an incredible experience. Being truly incredible takes more, like the story of Jack, a Virgin Atlantic passenger who gave up his First-Class seat to economy passenger Violet, 88, a retired NY City nurse so she could live her dream to sit upfront. The heart-warming story went viral as fellow passengers and Virgin staff heaped praise on young Jack for his selfless deed. Being incredible isn't the reserve or responsibility of big brands; beautifully simple it's something we can all do. Try it.

Be Relevant

Almost every person in sales will have fired off perfectly composed prospecting emails into the abyss, wondering why they've met a wall of silence from recipients. 'Perhaps they're busy, maybe on holiday, is my email working?’ Blind optimism giving way to questions, angst and frustration. Upon failure, it's easier to blame the tools used rather than how they were employed. So, undeterred they change tactics and try bothering unwilling targets on Linkedin instead, it's less invasive, right? And since they're connected so almost friends, they'll surely respond. NO, THEY WON'T. This pointless activity is as senseless as the marketeer who's advertising stairlifts in Pro-Surfer Monthly because the space was offered cheap. No amount of creative genius is going to make that fly; unless the dichotomy attracts attention or surfers are long-term planners.

I know it sounds crazy, but you know what I'm talking about because you've either done it or been tempted. A big pat on the back if you haven't (liar). It's easy to fix; you just have to be relevant, that's the good news. The bad news is that being relevant is both tricky and limiting; your field of view and options become severely reduced. Be prepared to take a good honest look at your brand, your offer, your team. To be relevant, you may need to identify needles in haystacks, lower the bar on your ambitions, or change your DNA to create synergy with those you want to do business with. Know your audience, be relevant or become extinct.

Be Inclusive

One of the most significant failings we encounter in our work is where a company's existing brand focus is external, and the people inside the brand are overlooked. Neglecting to bring your own people on the brand journey is a massive mistake. Humans are pack animals, we all like to be included, be part of what's going on, be recognised and acknowledged at home and in our roles at work.

It's almost inconceivable to think that forward-facing decisions around brand strategy, identity and expression could be made exclusively at board-level without engaging and consulting the internal teams who sit at the heart of it. But it happens, more than it should. People are the DNA of a brand, forging its culture and value through their personality, behaviour and actions. The most successful brands are inclusive; they invest equally in the external and internal facets of their business and human ecosystem. They are as attentive to cultivating a vibrant workplace, as they are committed to creating brilliant ad campaigns. Through this symbiotic awareness and application, they foster greater loyalty, attract the best people and in turn, grow strong relationships with the best customers. How inclusive is your brand?

Be Beautiful

It's in the eye of the beholder, yes, but that's not an excuse to have a hideous identity that only its creator could love. So many businesses limp along in ignorance, held back in part by an awful appearance that far from inspiring confidence builds a wall of objection. Rather than drawing people towards their business, a poorly conceived brand identity serves only as a warning sign to those who might encounter it. It shouts, 'stay away; this business doesn't give a damn about itself, let alone you'. What may have seemed like a winning investment in your mates' design skills when you started could turn out to be your Achilles heel if you don't give it the attention and investment it deserves.

In contrast, everything about a prosperous brand is beautiful; from what they say to the way they do things, in their logo and website design to everything else bearing their colours. Their identity instils feelings and projects intent; it conveys their values and communicates messages with clarity and consistency. Be the kind of brand that people want in their lives, be beautiful inside and out.

Be Ready to give mediocrity the middle finger.


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