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Branding – what do I need to consider nowadays?

I’m pleased to have been asked to follow up on the article that I wrote last year in German for SpaCamp and also the presentation that I made at last year’s event – a great many of you suggested that you’d be comfortable with me sharing my thoughts in English, and so I’m pleased to fulfil that request…

About Beneficial Brands

Today I would like to give you a short introduction into some thinking about what I call beneficial brands, in my recent talk in Berchtesgaden I showed these in a hierarchy as a more modern form of brand with different, more robust characteristics than either classical descriptive brands or current luxury aspirational brands. In the space available I will try to give you the main ingredients that I think need to be considered when making a beneficial brand or adapting yours to become more beneficial.

What factors affect your choice of brand? (c) Foto: Adrian Scoffham

What factors affect your choice of brand? (c) Foto: Adrian Scoffham

In a recent radio program I heard on Austrian Ö1 the researcher into technical change Carlota Perez described the fact that organisational forms in business and society have largely changed from being pyramids towards being networks – to my mind it would be foolish for us to ignore these changes. In fact, for those of us in business – particularly customer facing service businesses these changes have greater implications than for most.

How organisational changes affect us all

It seems obvious to state that communication is a two way street, yet for most of our adult lives this has not been true when we’re talking about the way that brands communicate. In the 1960s (The era you can see shown dramatically in the TV series Mad Men) advertising agencies discovered that push advertising is a powerful driver for brands and so as a result we saw advertising grow over the following four decades to become highly sophisticated, emotionally intelligent and highly persuasive. Yet as we have become confronted with more and more advertising brand messages so our filters have become stronger – this is the position that a great many businesses find themselves in today: throwing snowballs at a wall.

In about 1995 the Internet started to grow rapidly, yet no-one really grasped the level of change that it would bring. Fast forward to today and we find ourselves in the era of social media, where information can be shared globally at virtually no cost – so what has this got to do with branding I hear you ask? Well it pretty much changes everything. Where in the past it was possible to: think up a nice story, get something produced abroad for cheap not really worried if customers were happy or not and do great damage to the environment in the process, nowadays brands have to think very carefully about the PR implications of literally everything they do. These conditions were the backdrop to the creation of Pure Green Brands, our reasoning and the values behind what we do.

What you need to consider when brand building

The result is that if you’re going to make a brand nowadays you’d better consider who is going to benefit from what you do, and the correct answer is: not just you, the business owner or your shareholders – in this new world of transparency customers, suppliers and employees, not to forget the communities we work in all have to be taken into consideration: the more we look after their interests the better our brand will do. We need to keep in mind that just as quickly as good news about a product launch can spread, bad news about customer service can also spread doing serious damage to the brand. I had to laugh the other day when I discovered an American company offering online reputation management services – if you follow the ethos of running a beneficial brand it’s unlikely you’ll ever need a service like this.

Factors influencing brands today (c) Foto: Adrian Scoffham

Factors influencing brands today (c) Foto: Adrian Scoffham

The benefits for you

The good news is if you already have a brand you don’t need to start from the beginning again, all that is necessary is to consider is what your value proposition to the various parties operationally involved either in the provision of production of your product or service and what impact that particular product or service has not just for the customer but for wider society is. You no longer need the Mad Men of Madison Avenue to promote your brand and tell your stories – to use a British metaphor my grandmother taught me „if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves“ – mindful attention to detail and understanding every area of your business as potentially having Marketing & PR value as outlined in the brilliant „Unmarketing“ by Scott Stratten (twitter: @unmarketing) are a great place to start towards making your business more beneficial and thus capable of weathering the rapidly changing conditions of the technological revolution we find ourselves in the midst of.

Yes it’s a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth the effort; it’s no longer about who has the biggest advertising budget but a more meritocratic situation where it is mindfulness, consistency and the strength of your ideas that will count – if you ask me that’s a pretty good situation we find ourselves in.