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Branding as we know it is changing rapidly…

During the recent Soccer World Cup we have seen a dramatic presentation of new, innovative designs; ideas and marketing campaigns. One could truly say that the 2010 Soccer World Cup has become a major “lovemark” to many consumers (fans and previous non-fans alike).

At this point I have to acknowledge that I myself did not have the slightest interest in soccer (and for that matter the World Cup). In fact, I was traveling to the magnificent islands of Spain for the past 4 weeks. The atmosphere was already tantalizing in Mallorca with the approach of the World Cup. An interesting realization dawned on me while I was exploring the Balearic islands: If you are ever in doubt about your own love for your homeland, South Africa, just visit a country overseas during the time such as the soccer world cup (hosted in S.A.) and you will feel a surge of pride and patriotism for your homeland in its beautiful colours of red, yellow, blue, black and green. I can not explain the pride and love that I felt for my country every time I saw the South African flag or heard the “Whaka-Whaka” song. Foreigners were singing as loud as they can to the tune on their cellphones: “Its time for Africa!” South Africa truly showed the whole world that we are not only capable of hosting a world cup, but that it can build strong patriotism amongst all South African citizens and provide visitors with an unforgettable, unique experience (without showing them the wild lions and rhino’s that walk in our streets at nights!)

This country proved it’s competence and excellence in branding and marketing initiatives during the past year leading up to the world cup. The dramatic Soccer Stadiums were extremely well designed and finished on schedule. Soccer merchandise such as the iconic Vuvuzela and the Makarama hat will forever be remembered and associated with the spirit of Africa! These designs have been created, not by executive designers or branding/marketing managers, but by common South African citizens who seized the opportunity to live out their entrepreneurial spirit. Sadly, corruption has stuck its ugly head in one such a wonderful invention.

On Tuesday 6 July 2010 the SABC3 program, Special Assignment addressed the issue of intellectual property rights. They investigated the raging arguments about the rights to ownership of the Vuvuzela the Makarapa as well as allegations against the LOC for having stolen an idea. The creator of the famous Makarapa hats, Alfred ‘Lux’ Baloyi, is currently fighting the battle to retain the rights to his creation that paved is ‘rags to riches’ tale. (see link: http://www.sabcnews.com/portal/site/SABCNews/Special_Assignment?forum=specialassignment). This inspirational man has been mislead into signing a document that stated that he will hand over the intellectual property rights to his fellow associates in the business. It states that both the Makarapa hat intellectual property rights as well as any future designs by Mr Baloyi will belong to the company… and NOT to him! To make matters worse, he was not even aware of what he was signing… no one explained the implications of the contract clearly to him! Not only does this genius creator not even have rights to his own invention; he will not be able to pass the business (that HE founded) on to his son; and he does not receive nearly the money that he deserves!

This indicates the sad truth of intellectual Property and Patent Rights in South Africa… Our country is completely rich with bubbling and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit… but sadly, most of these bright minds are students or people who can not afford the price of Patent Rights or Intellectual Property. To complicate matters even more, there will always be companies and rich opportunistics with hungry eyes on the lookout for naive entrepreneurs who are willing to sign away ideas that have massive potential!

My dream for South Africa is this:… a trustworthy company that could nurture these wonderful ideas and support the young/inexperienced creators thereof to become masters of their own creations! Our country is bursting with potential… but untill we can find a way to support it and save it from bloodthirsty money scavengers… the fight for fairy-tales such as Mr. Baloyi and his Makarapa hats, shall continue…

What does service excellence mean? Who decides upon the standard of service that will provide consumers/customers with an unforgettable experience, one that will wet their appetite for more? And where does the magic of that unforgettable experience come from?

According to a blog that I discovered on the Web called “Decision to Lead” the word “Service Excellence” is defined by the authors as “consistent delivery of a high value/price experience, day after day, year after year, regardless of who happens to be on the front lines of the delivery process. It is the systematic output of a service model that is designed explicitly to produce it.  It is not the typical way we consume good service today, which is when entrepreneurial employees take it upon themselves to meet our needs in spite of the system”. This definition is based on the grounds of reliability. (See: http://decisiontolead.com/2009/04/07/service-excellence-defined-and-illustrated/ ). This concept is like an iceberg… only the tip is visible to the eye of the receiving customer… but below an entire body of ice is necessary to support that tip.

“Service Excellence” is very difficult to define precisely as it can be applied in various services compromising of very different aspects of service standards and quality definitions. In the end of the day, it simply comes down to what “Service Excellence” means in the eyes of the customer. No matter how many stars your hotel claims to have, no matter how many prizes your iconic wine has won in numerous wine shows, no matter what famous actor endorses your perfume or designer jewellery, no matter how many customers you receive on a daily basis. The quality of service and service excellence will always be decided on by the customer and their perception of your service standards. Customer perception does not necessarily reflect the reality and to furthermore complicate things, the degree of “service excellence” experienced by the customer can also differ from person to person!

How do you therefore decide what qualifies as good service? The best way is to start by defining the exact profile of the type of customer that you aim to attract. Once you have defined the customer profile, customer surveys may be conducted in order to define the customers’ perception of quality in your industry. Now you will be able to pinpoint factors that can be utilized or enhanced in order to create the desired service quality and thereby exceed customer expectation of your service!

Another important factor that many high aspiring businesses fail to achieve is to deliver what you promise to deliver to your customers. As a rule of thumb it is recommended to always promise less and deliver more. One can only dream of providing customers with service excellence if you are able to provide them with service that they never expected to receive… i.e. they were never promised to receive it. The magic really starts working when this good service experience is advertised by satisfied customers through positive word-of-mouth… the best free advertising medium any company can dream of having! In the end of the day, consumers trust other fellow consumers’ opinions more than they trust the traditional methods of advertising: TV, newspaper, pamphlets, billboards etc.   

I have recently travelled to the Balearic Islands (Spanish islands) where I stayed for a month on the island of Mallorca. Captivated by the atmosphere of classic Spanish culture, people, music, long summer days and breathtakingly romantic Spanish architecture and sunsets I felt as though I was living in a Chocolate or Moulin Rouge scene!

My sister and I were staying in Port de Sòller, a picturesque town arranged around a small port that housed some of the most breathtaking views I have ever witnessed! One evening we decided to experience true Spanish cuisine and picked a restaurant next to the port where we ordered traditional paella and tapas. Seeing that we picked the restaurant that had the best price (cheapest) for paella, we already did not expect too much in terms of service quality and did not have any other expectations other than being able to witness a stunning sunset over the port, with the comfort of being served a plate of traditional food… at last… and to emerge ourselves in the Spanish environment we found ourselves in. We were therefore already in a position where we would easily be impressed by any unexpected extras! The wonderful Spanish waitress brought us some appetizers before the meal: olive bread; locally preserved green olives and a pate without us expecting anything more than maybe a bit of bread. After witnessing our excitement and our trail and errors in trying to practice Spanish cuisine annunciation she offered to take a picture of us with our camera and further surprised us by presenting each of us with a decent glass of traditional apple liqueur Spanish drinks… on the house! She never once made us feel like we needed to get a move on… even though the evening was bringing along many more customers looking for a dinner spot. We comfortably kept on chatting and enjoying ourselves for a good 2:30 hours! The best of all was that the food was actually very mediocre… I have personally had much better paella back at home in South Africa and the tapas did not raise my eyebrows much… in fact, the food was not even steaming hot as it should be! But after being treated as such special guests by the waitress, we were clearly very happy and pleased with the service at this particular restaurant. This attracted many other consumers: our laughter and happy chatter. We were already a live advertisement to others who were passing by!

To get to the point… the magic of customer service excellence does not necessarily lie with BIG changes and fancy additions to service… more often, it is delivering more than you promise; empowering employees to use their own initiative at the right time in order to indulge consumers; and knowing your customers’ and their expectations of your service.

Seeing that “people” are at the heart of building a “Personal Brand” it is highly unlikely that anyone will be able to create a full-proof plan in terms of creating a winning “Personal Brand”… but the following discussion aims to provide guidelines for building and strengthening the Brand-ME.

  1. 1.    Believe in yourself

… because no one else will do so first. The secret behind building a strong Personal Brand is to ensure that you have an authentic Brand-ME that you whole-heartedly believe in! As mentioned in my previous post,”Project Brand-ME”, it all starts within you. In order to “sell” a Brand-ME  that you want others to trust and believe in, you must first truly believe in yourself! Like a car needs fuel to take on the highway, you need to be motivated that you have what it takes to be a “Top-Of-Mind” brand in the eyes of others. Everyone wants to be unique and admired. Most often people look to each other… but then the question remains, how do you obtain a unique selling proposition if you only copy what others are doing? This is, unfortunately one of the perils we, as citizens of today’s society, are faced with: “the fear of standing out in a crowd”. As said in an ABSA-advertisement:

“It is the crazy ones, the outcasts who have the courage to change the world.”

“Narcissism” is a selfish and self-obsessed love for oneself which is a different concept than “believing in oneself”. By “believing in yourself” you need to respect yourself and others around you in order to reach your maximum potential. You need to believe in and embrace your differentness, because that will ultimately build your sustainable competitive advantage. The best of all…? You won’t have to pretend: once you decide to explore your own brand essence… talent and being yourself will come naturally!

2.    Put pen to paper

As with any other brand strategy, you need a plan of action; a guideline that will direct you on your road to building your own brand that also serves as a reminder of who you are and where you are heading with this brand-ME.  As stated by Dr. Hubert Rampersad in Authentic Personal Branding the 11 factors that help to build an authentic Personal Brand are as follows:

Vision + Self-knowledge + Self-learning + Thinking + Mindset change + Integrity + Happiness + Passion + Sharing + Trust + Love

= an Authentic Personal Brand

See: http://www.brandchannel.com/print_page.asp?ar_id=1360&section=paper

During this step you need to define and formulate your own Brand-ME. Start by thinking of all the factors of your “Personal Ambition”: internal, external, knowledge & learning and financial perspectives. Identify the elements in your life that creates the 11 factors as presented in the equation above and write them down!

Now you are ready to formulate your “Personal Brand” by creating a unique and memorable “Personal Brand” promise which will serve to direct you in staying true to yourself and thereby staying true to others by retaining who you are and what you have to offer. In doing so you will give others a reason to trust you and have faith in you.  During this step you analyse and document your own strengths, weaknesses, as well as your personal ambition and brand objectives (your goals).

3.    Know your target market and competitors

In order to create a compelling and attractive Brand-ME you need to identify and analyse your target market i.e. know what industry you opt to excel in and know which companies are the key players in that industry. Analyse their business composition, the CEO’s background and what they want in their employees. What are the “target market’s” needs and preferences?

Also analyse your competitors and learn from their mistakes and successes. This is not as a method to copy others, but to learn from them and to add to your own unique success by identifying what makes you different and unique from them. I.e. know yourself; know your competitor brands and know what makes you different!

Once you have completed your analyses, you can incorporate the factors you identified as important into your brand strategy as well and use it to reinforce the Brand-ME strength. Decide on your field of speciality and focus on strengthening the core service you will be providing to others around you.

4.    Add your own magical essence (signature move!)

The secret ingredient to the ME-mix… that is YOUR secret… Where do you get your inspiration from? What drives you? What gives you a skip in your step? It can be a talent; a unique, beautiful smile; the sparkle in your eye; the firm grip of your handshake or the way you are able to capture an entire audience with your presence. You may not be aware of a specific “signature move” or “personal logo” of yourself at this stage, but it will become an intricate part of who you are once you have started to understand and believe in yourself. Only then will this personal aura automatically present itself. Keep your eyes open and ask others what is they find compelling/unique about you.

5.    Implement!

As any athlete will tell you: “Practise makes Perfect”… The concept of “Perfect” is very objective but I believe I can safely state that any strategy (no matter how brilliant) will remain a strategy…. until it is implemented… Only then it will have the potential to become a reality!

6.    Stay in touch…

This is the most difficult, but also the most exhilarating part of Personal Branding: Personal Branding is not a once of stage production, it is an all year-round performance that feature at different venues and will come into contact with new audiences and “sound & lighting – managing” teams. Once you have started your Brand-ME it is very important to re-evaluate yourself now and again; to analyse your target markets’ as well as competitors’ moves in order to adapt the Brand-ME promptly if necessary.

In this same context it is equally important for you to view criticism about yourself by others in a positive light… criticism is only negative when you choose not to use it as an opportunity to build your brand value even stronger. By learning to separate yourself from your Brand-ME  and view it objectively through other’s eyes, you may grasp their understanding of you better and can utilize that knowledge to leverage your brand equity!

But most importantly: “You have to stay in touch with yourself.” Being true towards others starts with being true to yourself… to Brand-ME.

See: “The Brand Called You” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/brandyou.html

A closer look at the importance personal branding… and the secrets it hides…

I would like to start this discussion by stating the following:

EVERYONE is building a personal brand of their own selves and continuously reinforce those brands’ values and characteristics every single day of their life!

The way you answer your cell phone, reply to an email, a Facebook comment, the way you address your friends, family, colleges and even the cashier at your local supermarket… every action and thought amalgamate together: forming a unique brand called “ME”. As with product brands, your Brand-ME can be controlled strategically in order to maximize your brand equity. Knowing this, it is also very important to realize that even if you should choose not to strategize Brand-ME… it will be formed spontaneously, seeing that the brand itself (YOU) can not be terminated!

A brand’s equity is formed as a result of the brand knowledge structures that consumers hold true to the brand in their minds. This applies to Personal Branding as well… people will form their own opinion of you, whether you are aware of it or not. Consider the following:

“You are the first one to create an image of yourself and the last to know about a bad reputation you have created”.

Secondly, we as human-beings tend to focus extensively on the world around us and the demands thrown at us every day. Few people truly take time to consider the “brand”-message they are portraying every day in their actions and interactions with others. Even fewer individuals specifically make an effort at improving their internal “brand-strength” through critical self-evaluation, their values, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Most would argue that life in the 21st century does not allow time for introspection and yet others may simply be too terrified at what they might discover. My theory about Personal Branding is:

It is like baking a cake: if you do not consider what you throw into the mixing bowl, or how much baking powder you add or how long you bake it… you will end up with a collapsed excuse for a cake… not something you would proudly present to guests! Strengthening the internal brand and measuring the characteristics that make you unique, THAT is what enables you to present a Brand-ME that maximizes brand equity (and thus the value you provide) in the eyes of friends, family, fellow colleges and prospective employers. One needs to therefore focus on one’s psychological make-up…  What you cultivate and strengthen inside of you will naturally and effortlessly be portrayed to your external environment.

As in the business world around us, competition is increasing exponentially: their will always be newer, better quality, more reliable brands on the market… any successful production can and will be copied… but your personal identity: that remains true only to you! The career industry is especially tough seeing that there will always be candidates who are smarter, has more noteworthy references and better educations than you… but they will never be able to be you! Your own bit of magic essence can be the winning recipe on the road to success (both within your personal as well as professional life). The “magic essence”? Answer: Be a “Purple Cow”… have a “Big Moo”. Find out what your passions and strengths in life are and just…. BE YOURSELF!

A third important consideration is the fact that once people have positioned you in their minds… it is very difficult for you to alter that positioning. For this reason, people should be very careful of how they portray themselves, especially in their online persona (i.e. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc.). Some argue that the best you can do is to embrace other’s viewpoints of you and use it to strengthen your unique positioning value! Example: if you constantly find yourself being the joke of the day, learn how to laugh at yourself with others and embrace the fact that you have made someone’s day!

Finally, Personal Branding serves as a leveraging platform, especially when viewed from a virtual socializing network channel, from where you can obtain with fantastic contacts that can advise you, guide you and present you with valuable opportunities for the future!

Ultimately a strong and authentic Brand-ME  will also motivate you to acceptance and embrace yourself and thereby build your psychological well-being as well as giving a deeper “meaning” to your existence: by not only realizing what your strengths are, but being able to give meaning to others’ lives.

Defining, understanding, readjusting and embracing your Brand-ME will leverage your unique value positioning and improve your ability to build and maintain the positive brand image that you reflect in the eyes of those around you.

See: “The Importance of Personal Branding” http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/the-importance-of personal-branding/

See: “Personal Branding” http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/02/personal-branding/

See: “Personal Branding is More Important Than You Realize” http://www.instigatorblog.com/personal-branding-important/2009/04/15

Author: Seth Godin and The Group of 33

Place: England

Publisher: Penguin books Ltd

Publication date: 2008

Edition: Special edition

184 Pages

Price: R154 (at Exclusive Books, Stellenbosch)

ISBN: 978-0-141-03645-8

 

What does it truly take to make your business absolutely remarkable?

This is the main question that Seth Godin and the team of 33 award winning business writers tackle in this book.

What is the next step after a Purple Cow (something “remarkable” that makes you/your business stand out) has been created? You need the good word-of-mouth to spread… After becoming so noteworthy, how do you succeed in getting people start talking about you? We need a Big Moo: an innovation or new idea that will add to the “remarkableness” of your business. It is no longer enough just to “be good” in today’s competitive environment. According to the book’s synopsis, “… sometimes you need something even bigger than a purple cow. You need a big moo — an insight so astounding that people can’t help but remark on it.”

This book is not only “remarkable” because of its unusual approach towards modern marketing strategies and making use of a pithy, racy and clear writing style… furthermore: 100% of the profits made on this book is given to charity! No THAT is something worth noticing and truly remarkable/memorable.

Written by Seth Godin in collaboration with 33 other renowned business forward thinkers and best selling authors in their own right, The Big Moo focuses on convincing and inspiring its readers to be daring, to go the extra mile, to take a risk (not as risky as not risking The Big Moo) and to let go of their traditional ways of thought to embrace being “exceptional”. What makes this book exceptional is also the fact that 33 writers composed it… making for a compilation of different writing styles, different viewpoints and different experiences (but all centralized around the concept of creating “something that is worth talking about – the Big Moo). It is, however a bit frustrating not knowing which author wrote which section, but then again, it might have been to distracting from the flow of stories (interrupting the reader to focus on the writer instead of the message). The essence of this book is not to glorify the well-renowned writers who wrote it, but to collectively strengthen the goal of motivating marketers and businesses to take a leap of faith and create a Big Moo after they have succeeded in creating a Purple Cow.

The Big Moo is packed (like the Purple Cow) with real-life case studies that “sticks” to the reader’s mind and illustrate what power of success a good Big Moo can provide for a business (or what Big Failure can result when NOT investing in creating the Big Moo). The stories it tells read very easily and differ from each other, yet they are all thematically similar. Each one of these stories is written to drive a specific “take-home” message to the reader. Seeing that one of the main characteristics of a good “sticky” message (in advertising) is “storytelling” (because our brains remember and can easily visualize story-sequences to recall again in the future); this is a very good tactic utilized by the authors to dive their messages home.

Some of the most inspiring pieces to me is the story of the how the Berlin Wall fell:

“This was the biggest change any of us will probably ever see in our lifetime. It took a month, it cost nothing, and it started with a handful of people in a town now one would ever have pegged as the birthplace of a revolution.

 

Remember that the next time someone says, ‘It can’t be done’.”

To any reader, marketer who embraces forward-thinking and like to be challenged in the conventional way of marketing, this book (like Seth Godin’s other books) will guarantee a fascinating and thought-provoking read. The book encourages one to proactively consider one’s own business situation and ways in which one could start to make it “remarkable”. As you read through the book, it is irresistible to grab a pen and notebook and start jotting down a view ideas and concepts of your own. What Seth and his team of writers succeed in here (once again) is to activate the motivation to react… to start by considering your options if you were to decide to embrace the Big Moo theory. The first step of change starts in your mind, the way you think.

This can be illustrated by the following section of the book called “Ten Things Smart Start-Ups Know”:

  1. Failure is an Option
  2. Bravery is Contagious
  3. Invent the Market
  4. Customers are Last (and First)
  5. Rule Books are Dispensable
  6. Grind Coffee Not People
  7. Test for Kool-Aid
  8. Always On
  9. Fire the CEO

 

One of the most memorable parts illustrates that the conventional “rule of the bigger the better” does NOT always apply when it comes to creating a successful business and sustaining that success level: in the story called “Don’t be like Pete”:

“Pete runs a print shop. He’s been in the same location for fifty-two years. He loves what he does and he’s good at it. All the local real estate agents, teachers, and businesspeople rave about Pete’s place… He loves his customers, and his customers love him.

Two years ago, Pete decided it was time to expand. ‘Print on demand is just the thing to move us into the Internet age. We’ll be just like Kinko’s!’ he declared.

Pete’s customers weren’t very happy. No more coffee. No more chats. No more chocolate-chip cookies. Pete’s problem was that he wanted to be like someone else, when what made him remarkable in the first place was just being himself. Had Pete asked his customers about his idea first, he would have saved himself tens of thousands of dollars and dozens of longtime customers.

 

Your customers are your best advisers.”

 

The application of this message in your own business: Status quo is not always the best option for YOUR situation. Copying what others do to make them successful does not make you remarkable, it makes you a copy. Embracing the things that your loyal customers value most about your business, and reacting on their suggestions… now thát is your golden ticket (I could not resist a bit of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory magic in this one!).

 

It is an entertaining read packed with thought provoking insights that can be applied in practice. Even though the different stories are not chronologically organized in a way that leads up to a coherent point, it succeeds at providing a piece of “remarkable” knowledge to almost any browser. This actually makes the book even more interesting and useful seeing that different stories in it can be used as a reference again later in the future (without having to read the entire book to find a particular take-home message).

One might wonder if the simple (almost child-like) writing style is suitable for a business book at its core? Well, consider reading a book like this; written with the main intentions to inspire, provoke thoughts/ideas, and to convince readers; if it was written in a complex, intellectual and formal fictional writing style?

Some might say that this book is merely an extension of the Purple Cow, and that we have already heard it all. However, I believe that we should view this book in as a companion of Purple Cow, and does NOT serve as an improvement of its precursor. This mixture of unrelated stories (not indicating who wrote what) provides more reassurance and lessons that are applicable and realistic as a way of supporting the first book, the Purple Cow, which was the first to introduce this type of radical “get out of your comfort zone” approach to successful marketing. In theory, everything stated and illustrated in the Purple Cow and the Big Moo is bound to lead to success. But in practice, it is a very terrifying thought to expect of big, established companies to suddenly change all their traditional ways of conducting business and marketing. Seth needs to emphasize and push motivation just to cause conventional marketers to consider “what if I could help make my business more remarkable?”     

As written in the Editorial Review From Publishers Weekly (on Amazon.com):

 

            “Some writers note that competent imitation of proven ideas is often a better strategy

than innovation… and that hard work and paying your dues does pay off.”

I completely agree with this statement: what makes an inspirational read on business very difficult is that there are no recipes of success to follow and no guarantees. One can merely inspire through well articulated true-life stories what innovation and a touch of daringness can do to drive one’s business on the road to success.

Most big companies are so set in their old ways, and absolutely terrified of change as a means to grow their business success, because “change” equals “risk” to them and “risk” equals “failure”. So they keep their old practices and never seize the opportunity to become remarkable (something that is in itself often far less riskier than merely staying on the safe, boring and doomed road).

This is a wonderfully thought-provoking and take-home message book, challenging companies to take a risk at being remarkable. It is also a perfect study case to use for discussions, sharing and applications. The essence of a innovative and inspirational book like this, is not to lecture the reader on the ‘does and don’ts’ but to provide pithy true-life stories to prove the success of Big Moo’s in our time. And once you start to realize the opportunities waiting for you and your business, you burn with a desire to know “what will happen if I did indeed create Big Moo after 25 years of success?”

It is clear from the examples provided by this book that the road to ultimate success for some well-renowned companies is by always being on the lookout for the “next Big Moo” the idea that will not only distinguish them from their competitors, but will also make them worthy to be talked about in the very saturated and competitive business markets of our time.

Your Nose Knows!

Establishing Top-of-Mind Awareness (TOMA) is the main objective of successful branding that any marketer hopes to achieve. Bottom line? The brand must provide the consumer with an exceptional experience!

The more experiential you can make your brand… the more:

  1. Memorable
  2. Unique
  3. Compelling

…it will be. Hence, the more TOMA and brand loyalty will be created towards your brand!

Think of your favorite fast-moving-consumer good (FMCG) brand. Why is that specific brand so memorable and important to you? How does it make you feel when you consume that brand? How accurately can you describe that brand? 

The answers to all these questions will indicate that consumers establish concrete associations with their favorite brands. These associations are often sensational experiences (ie. how you experience the brand with your senses). The specific sensational stimulus (of a brand) that is most attractive to a consumer and creates a positive impression on him/her about the brand, gives that brand an edge… a unique selling propositions!

The human senses include: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch (tactile feeling). Of all these senses: “sight” and “sound” are most often used in branding and especially in marketing communications. What about the other remaining senses? (Smell, touch and taste). For example: When you think purple… you will probably think “Cadbury’s”!

Taste might be little bit more difficult to integrate with the marketing aspects of different types of products. It is, however, well utilized in promotional in-store displays: often seen as food taste-testing-tables (excuse the alliteration) of new food-products. But image trying to give a taste test of a new lavender-aroma bubble bath brand (excuse the alliteration once again).

That leaves us with smell and touch. According to Dr Stoll in Ask Dr Stoll Bulletin Board (BB) regarding Aromatherapy, “The most direct highway to the brain is through the nose and sense of smell.” Another source, Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Chicago, “The quickest way to change a mood state… quicker than with any other sensual modality… is with smell.” He concluded that specific odors can have drastic effects and cause changes in your mood. This phenomenon therefore gives us a tool to link consumers emotionally with brands!   

According to M. Lindstrom, author of Brand Sense , “Consumers use all their senses to experience a brand and the sense of smell emotionally affects humans up to 75% more than any other sense. Yet 83% of all brand communication is to the eyes alone.”

The “Stopping Power” that a signature smell can create is very strong and very influential. What woman can resist the crisp, clean Axe (formally known Ego) deodorant smell? Who can walk past a display of imported coffees or special handcrafted soaps without picking it up and having a free whiff of the promise that brand gives?  

According to “Aromaco”: If aroma is a fundamental characteristic of your brand, put it to work! Research shows that for many products the smell is the primary factor in consumer decision making – product efficacy is often assumed. So communicate the characteristic that influences consumer choice at the point they make that choice.” (see www.aromaco.co.uk)

 

The newest addition to Television sets are 3D TV sets! (Already improving the “sight” aspect of the product). Now imagine if we able to SMELL the programs and advertisements on TV’s in the future (“Smellovision”?). The selling power that a tantalizing smelling brand commercial would be able to provide will be enormous! Imagine being able to smell that sizzling Steers steak burger or that Radox Revitalize body wash commercial on the TV!   

The recipe for establishing a successful connection (emotional) between a brand and consumers?…

 

The more senses involved in communicating the brand, the stronger the connection. Once this connection has been established as a positive one, the consumer will be more likely to buy the same brand again in the future.

It has also been proven that people/consumers react stronger positively, based on the signals received by the nose than by visual signals alone. This is due to the fact that a sense of smell connects strongly with the consumer’s emotional response rather than his/her logical/rational response.

The more senses we incorporate in marketing communication strategies, the more memorable and desirable our brands will be perceived by targeted consumers.

So… Does your nose know? Yes… spaghetti bolognaise for dinner, topped with Ladysmith strong cheddar cheese with freshly cut basil and a splash of extra virgin olive oil (… and its your favorite)!

When we talk about attributes that make a specific endorser a perfect fit for a certain brand we look at the TEARS model:

– Trustworthiness: The degree to which an endorser is loyal, honest, believable and has a sense of integrity. This will dictate how much consumers will trust the endorser, and consequently also the brand he/she endorses. 

– Expertise: The amount of expertise the specific endorser has about the specific brand he/she endorses and that is perceived by consumers. This makes their opinion and advice about the brand more credible to consumers

– Attractiveness: It has been proven! Even babies are more fascinated with attractive people than regular looking people. Choosing an physically attractive endorser to represent your brand will capture the attention of consumers and improve the chances of switching their brand preferences to the brands that the endorser represents.

– Respect: The way that an endorser lives his/her life and their personalities, values and morals will help to win the respect of consumers (both for the endorser… and the brand he/she endorses).

– Similarity: The more the endorser resonates with the target market, the more attracted they will be towards his beliefs; opinions and perspectives seeing that they associate themselves with him/her.

A good brand endorser must therefore be:

  1. Credible (Trustworthiness + Expertise)
  2. and Attractive (Physical Attractiveness + Respect + Similarity) 

In the same way we can use these attributes to result in successful marketing strategies that help us to achieve our objectives (weather it is personal branding success or actual product branding success). 

Personal branding success:

We are all brands in our own right. And we have control over the development and success of the brand-image that we project. The world around you, the people in your life, but most importantly your own personal experiences helped to mould you into the unique brand that you are today.

BUT… you have the power to control this brand that is U!

Thus: consumers favor certain brands because of the “TEARS” of the endorsers that represent those brands. In the same manner the people around you: friends, colleagues, employers and businesses will view and judge the image that that you portray about yourself in terms of these “TEARS”-concepts.

You have to build on the “I”-brand credibility and attractiveness in order to win the hearts and the minds of clients, colleagues and employers.

– To be Trustworthy is a non-negotiable characteristic needed in any employee, CEO or the everyday man.   

– Be an Expert at what you do. Make sure that you grow and excel in your knowledge and experience on a specific topic/interest that you have. Thus: “Know it all” about your field and “do it well”. Stay up to date with evolving topics and technologies in your industry and build connections with other knowledgeable mentors. Successful business people are people who are not only trusted, but they are known for doing the best job in their industry/business. BUT: Being an expert does not only refer to being in a position to delegate. Active involvement in your field of interest will further improve the sense of credibility others will perceive of you.

– Be Attractive: This does, however not only focus on physical natural attractiveness as much as it focuses on being “presentable”. How do you talk to clients? How do you answer your phone-calls? How do you appear to your colleagues and friends? How do you respond on emails? “Dressing” yourself for the position you envision for yourself is a very important part in the process of achieving personal branding success. The more likeable you are to others, the more they will take your words to heart.

– Respect is one of the quickest ways that you can build or destroy the “I”-brand. The way you live your life, your philosophy on life and the actions you take on the things that you believe in, will win the respect of others around you. The brand that promises everything, but fails to deliver on those well-meant promises will loose the respect of consumers. Even though it is important to communicate your philosophy and objectives to others… it is even more important to deliver on those promises. Also very important: Respect others as you would like them to respect you.

– Similarity: The more consumers can relate to aspects of a brand-image… the more they will be attracted to the brand and the attributes that it provides to them. The more others can relate to you or find ways to resonate their experiences with yours, the more they will trust your opinions/expertise on a subject. Do not make yourself unreachable to others: work with an “I am one of you” attitude and embrace others’ opinions and ideas. More knowledge can still be learned from others even when you believe that you know everything about a certain subject. No-one is ever done learning!

These basic principles will add to the success of any personal marketing strategy. Consider this as a way to create an “I”-brand that is unique and successful: resulting in personal marketing that brings “no-TEARS” … only SUCCESS!