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When living and breathing your Brand becomes literal

May 20th, 2022 by

What is ‘Brand’? It’s so much more than a cleverly worded tagline or mission statement. It’s the lived and breathed experience at every touchpoint of your organisation. That includes obvious things like your communications, website, and the interactions your customers have with your staff. But there’s also a sometimes overlooked element: the environment in which you operate – your office space.

There are two parts to this. First, the experience your customers have when they visit your office – does it align with and speak of your brand and values? Secondly, less often considered, is the impact of your working environment on your personnel. At a time when employee diffidence with the idea of returning to the office is at an all-time high, it’s time to start creating the sort of environments that people want to spend time in.

We need to create spaces which give people something they could never replicate at home: spaces which encourage collaboration, connection and creativity. Spaces which reflect your brand values in a tangible, living, breathing way.

It’s unlikely that we will ever return to five days a week in the office environment. In fact there’s pretty compelling evidence that that is not the best outcome for employees, or their organisations. So there’s an opportunity here for organisations to embrace the notion that reduced square footage presents an opening to funnel funds towards creating spaces which, for the two or three days people are in the office, spark joy and stimulate productivity. Spaces which are human-centred and support wellbeing. Spaces that will allow your people to deliver on your brand purpose.

Future of work

Once again Google are leading the way with their latest Bay View campus. Google say the interior of the buildings reemphasize their vision for the future of work, designed in response to its understanding of why Google’s employees come to the office, what they need from their teammates, and what they need from the company. The campus incorporates biophilic design principles, including greenery, natural daylight and views outside from every desk to improve the health and wellbeing of those inside the building.

Authenticity

As Google demonstrates so well when they regularly canvassed their employees in the creation of their new campus, it’s vital to ensure that the spaces you create are aligned with your brand and your people. This will ensure that there is an authenticity to what is created.

To do this it’s essential to take the time to dive deeply into all the elements that make up your brand: to speak to all your stakeholders.; to layer that with what the wider market is doing; and then weave all the intel into a brief which speaks with such clarity of your brand that it creates an energy which feeds into all areas of your business.

It’s time to start creating workplaces of the future. It’s time to start listening.

 

In-depth customer insights projects – do they have a role in the age of online surveys?

October 25th, 2020 by

Have in-depth customer insights projects had their day? After all, it’s hard these days to buy even the simplest thing without being hit with a customer satisfaction survey: “Rate on a scale from 1 to 10 how satisfied you were with the service you received today”. Surely the organisations which utilise these tools have all the information they need?

Whilst these data collection vehicles have their place, when someone answers a ‘2’ or a ‘5’ or a ‘10’, the real question which needs to be asked is: “Why?”. It is the stories behind the ratings that can provide organisations with enormously rich and invaluable data. The sort of data that can propel an organization to leap ahead of its rivals in this competitive and fast moving world.

The stories behind the data

If your customer rated you a five, the really important intel lies in the story behind it. Was it that the product or service itself was sub-optimal? Or was it that the salesperson the customer had interacted with had been pushy, or uninterested?  Or was your mediocre score a response to the fact that your brand had failed to convey a compelling vision or purpose? All these reasons would require an entirely different response from you, and knowing which reason is at play is vital in being responsive and agile in this VUCA environment.

Nuance and context

Investing in a comprehensive customer insights and stakeholder engagement process which incorporates face-to-face in-depth conversations, context gathering, as well as possibly some online surveys (they have their place), will reveal the whys behind the data. It’s about understanding the nuances that affect relationships and customer decisions; the feeling that your brand evokes; the changing temperature of societal attitudes and beliefs.  As Christian Madsbjerg says in his book Sensemaking, it is vital to look at “the Savannah and not just the zoo”. It’s about looking at the context of customers’ decisions – the myriad influences that play into the ‘hows and whys’ of people’s actions. Done well, it should also encompass an investigation into the ways in which your business can respond and adapt.

It is this kind of intelligence which gives organisations real insights that can genuinely inform strategic direction and vision. We are living in the age of insights-driven organisations. These organisations are outstripping their competitors as they listen and adapt to changing customer needs and wants. An online survey simply won’t cut it.

To discuss how we can help you achieve genuine customer insights, deeper layers of understanding, sensemaking from data and intelligent analysis of the meaning in the stories, contact Heidi Todd, on 0421 398778 or htodd@brandillumination.com.au.

Love and knowledge in the time of Covid

June 15th, 2020 by

There was a time when, for some, VUCA was a term which got tossed around as the mood took them, rather like a play thing – a colourful shiny ball – to throw around for a bit of amusement and then put away again, forgotten about as the busyness of everyday life crowded it out.

And then along came Covid – which slammed into us and showed us what VUCA really looked and felt like. It showed us that the ‘Unexpected’ was exactly that. And those who had just been playing were caught napping.

Companies who had truly understood what being prepared and ready in a VUCA world was all about, were ready to pivot, respond and adapt.

New ways of working do not happen without a grounded understanding of what you are

And what underlies that ability is a clear sense of organizational purpose and standing in the world. The ability to harness all your resources and know that the whole organization will be able to turn, as one, to embrace new ways of working does not happen without a grounded understanding of what you are: what you are internally; what you are externally; and from there, clarify and articulate a clear brand purpose.

Now, more than ever, companies need to understand that there has been a fundamental shift in business and consumerism and in the very nature of what it means to be a brand. This has been explained as ‘glass box’ vs ‘black box’ by the people at Trendwatching.com. In the past, companies appeared to outsiders as something of a black box – for outsiders, it was pretty hard to see what was going on inside. The brand that was visible to the outside world was whatever you put on the outside of the box.

Now, businesses are glass boxes. Outsiders can see inside: the people, the processes, the values. So when consumers look inside the glass box that is your brand, they need to like what they see.

Properly understanding the mood, values and drivers influencing their internal culture and, by extension, external brand has never been more important

However, for many businesses, properly understanding the mood, values and drivers influencing their internal culture and, by extension, external brand, is assumed, rather than regularly and carefully monitored and measured, missing out on the sort of valuable data which can be used to develop targeted and strategic change management processes.

Covid has radically altered so much. It would be impossible for any company to know, absolutely, what their staff and employees are currently feeling and expecting of the post-lockdown world. So many previously understood ‘non-negotiables’ around flexible working and remote team meetings have been turned on their heads. How many will want to return to the way things used to be? What will the aspects of our lockdown ways of working and operating will be people be quick to drop, and what will they want to hang on to?

Organisations who listen now and embrace a willingness to co-create a new way of working have the opportunity to build a new internal culture. And harnessing intelligence from within the organisation can illicit other unexpected insights which can inform new strategic directions – and, more importantly – foster a culture in which people feel heard and seen and from which powerful futures can be created.

Heidi Todd – Brand Illumination

If you would like to talk to us about conducting a stakeholder analysis or internal culture audit, please contact us on 0421 398778

How to write and share a blog that matters

May 21st, 2016 by

Recently a client asked for some guidelines in creating a blog for their business and true to our own advice we are now sharing that information with you in this blog.

We’ve been writing blogs for Brand Illumination and for many client businesses for the last five years, and over time, we’ve defined a process that works well. We don’t dictate that everyone should follow every point – rather this is our suggested process. We encourage clients and readers to create their own version. (more…)

Easy Content Marketing – start with customer questions.

March 26th, 2013 by

We’ve worked with many companies over the past five years to implement effective content marketing strategies – the biggest barrier to implementing this powerful marketing strategy is often something like – oh yes, but I haven’t got time for creating all that content. The truth is you’re creating content in your business every day – every time you answer a customer’s question, respond to an email enquiry, put together a proposal or quote you are drawing on your knowledge of your industry and what works best for a customer in a specific situation.

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Details are important. They are part of overall mastery.

May 1st, 2012 by

iStock_000019677014MedMy son recently broke a toe, not a major event unless you’re a serious dancer – which he is. In the rehabilitation process we’ve been supported by some fantastic mainstream and complementary medical practitioners, including the ballet physio.

 

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Vegemite: a lesson in brand story chutzpah!

February 21st, 2012 by

How’s this for a perfect example of a brand connecting with and celebrating a bigger story.

Down under, we celebrate Australia Day on January 26 with a national holiday. This year, I was eating breakfast and doing a bit of lazy jar reading (as you do!) when I noticed this message on the Vegemite label. (For the uninitiated, Vegemite is an iconic Australian breakfast spread).

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Why are Australians spending in Zara and TopShop yet not with our local brands?

February 13th, 2012 by

Online shopping is not the only reason our local brands are challenged.

Shopping in ZaraDecember 2011 was the opening of the first Topshop premises in Melbourne.  Hundreds of people waited in line, in the unpredictable Melbourne weather – some for over 17 hours, just to be first into the new Chapel Street store.  For their trouble the first 20 die-hard shoppers were awarded with a $100 voucher to be spent in Topshop.

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