Love and knowledge in the time of Covid

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

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

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.

Creating a Good Ending – When it’s time for someone to leave

In a recent coaching session a CEO asked for advice about a tough, yet necessary conversation; it was time for a person in a leadership role to leave the business. The role had been important during a period of transition and the executive had contributed a great deal to the team and the business over the previous four years. At times the executive had been challenging and had been prepared to disrupt the status quo to create new awareness for the rapidly growing business. The CEO wanted to ensure that she and the organisation acknowledged the contribution this executive had made to the business, and that their season of working together was now at an end.

 

We discussed the idea of creating a ‘Good Ending’, which aligns with systemic principles that enhance flow within an organisation. A ‘Good Ending’ would be important for everyone – the CEO, the executive, the other leaders in the business and the staff – everyone would have an opinion and perspective on how well or how poorly it was managed. In preparation, the CEO mapped out some things she thought were important, and together we arrived at some principles to hold during the conversation and ensuing process. It would be important to be able to keep these principles top of mind while navigating what could have been a challenging conversation.

So what are the three principles for a Good Ending?

 

Brand Illumination – Good Ending Infograph

 

Setting up well

  • Be aware of your tone and attitude going into the meeting; choose your language and tone carefully.
  • Be prepared to listen: people often need to express their disappointment up front.  Give them some space to do that but hold clear and firm with your decision.
  • Even if they get a bit upset, don’t behave reactively and defend the decision
  • Be generous: everyone will be watching what happens and they will feel your generosity or lack of it.

 

Recognition / Acknowledgement

  • Ensure the person knows their contribution has been part of the organisation’s success.
  • Recognise what you have personally learnt in your time working together.
  • Acknowledge 2-3 specific things that have made a difference to the organisation and to you.

 

Good ending

  • Organise a social event with the team and others in the organisation at a time when most can attend.
  • Send an email to invite others to attend which includes some praise for the person’s contribution


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  • At the event, publicly acknowledge their contribution to the team and the organisation


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  • Give a meaningful gift as an expression of gratitude.

 

 

Why does it matter?

Every action is either creating or eroding brand value; the way someone leaves an organisation communicates a lot to everyone else.  When others see that you have managed the process with grace and equanimity, they feel safe and assured that people are valued here – that this brand cares about each individual and is prepared to acknowledge and celebrate that contribution.

Since the exit, I’ve had the chance to speak with the CEO and the executive – they tell a similar story of how well the exit went, how respectful and honouring it was, and that it was a positive experience all around.

If you would like help with creating a ‘Good Ending’ (or Beginning), a  ‘Successful Transition’ or with the cultural aspects of Succession Planning please email fiona@brandillumination.com.au

 

WRITTEN BY: FIONA PEARMAN & HEIDI TODD

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The brand management work that Fiona Pearman from Brand Illumination has and continues to undertake with us has been a key to our success and growth over the past 5 years.

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To some people, the idea of having a personal brand can be a little off-putting. It can feel superficial and some of the articles and tips on this subject provide instructions that are truly superficial. Pretending to be something you are not, will not serve your personal brand, it will create a horrible expectation to be someone you are not.

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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.

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