Embrace the unexpected

As InSites Consulting is wrapping up 2015, it is time to look back before entering 2016 full force. In February 2015, we presented 7 ways to help you grow as an organization and to stay future-proof. Reading through the endless end-of-year lists, it is interesting to see how a lot of companies have embraced at least one of those 7 guidelines and can present better numbers by doing so. Let us take a detailed look and discover how Coca-Cola, Burger King and many others embraced the unexpected.

1. Glocalisation

In order to succeed globally, even the biggest multinationals must think locally. This is exactly what Fernando Machadoas was hired to do at Burger King. He was appointed as the first president of global brand management to unify the Burger King image worldwide. He was tasked with creating one global strategy for the restaurant chain that could then be copied onto the different markets. The appointment to this role reflects the brand’s move away from decentralized marketing strategies toward fewer, more impactful campaigns. The same solution is used by Alex Wolpert – founder of the East London Liquor Company – who states that the vodka brands nowadays focus more on heritage and locally sourced spirits rather than to just push a global brand. A brand like Absolute Vodka is evolving from merely playing on the global aspect to being “a global vodka made by local partners in cities around the world“.

2. Brand beats product

A brand no longer stands out from the crowd by delivering a better service or quality. Consumers expect brands to be more than that; they expect brands to be engaging, the added value coming mainly from emotional experience. This emotional experience is what makes consumers bond with a brand. One of the biggest brands around the world, Coca-Cola, announced their One Brand strategy in 11 markets, no longer pushing their different sub-brands but instead moving to a “single branded house, different identity, strategy“. This one-brand strategy offers the potential for greater clarity, synergy and leverage. By adopting this unified strategy, Coca-Cola slightly modified their brand promise from Open Happiness to Choose Happiness. To some extent, the same move could be witnessed when Google introduced their new corporate brand Alphabet, focusing on core products like search, e-mail, YouTube and Android.

3. Cherish diversity

In order to survive today, diversity clearly has to outweigh homogeneity. By opening up to diverse sets of people with different backgrounds, interests and skills, we can all do better. Many of the best advertising campaigns of 2015 champion diversity. The boundaries between genders are nicely illustrated in Selfridges Agender campaign, which is trying to do more than portraying women in suits and men in dresses. At Cannes, we saw the introduction of the Glass Lion, which honored work that challenged gender bias and shattered stereotypical images of men and women. Winners include P&G’s #Likeagirl and Sport England’s This girl can, showing real women exercising; the latter campaign was born from the mere fact that 75% of women say they would like to exercise more but refrain from doing so for fear of judgement.

4. Learn from the edges

In order to create an environment where new practices, ideas and solutions can flourish, it makes sense to learn from the edges of your organization by e.g. actively involving people who would otherwise not be included in any decision making and allowing for a more entrepreneurial spirit across the organization. A beautiful example is the campaign Listerine developed this year. Tooth paste companies are renowned for their overly excited white-tooth models, but Listerine went down a different path with a heartwarming campaign bringing the power of a smile to the blind. The brand launched an app allowing blind people to feel when people are smiling at them. The app uses facial recognition and augmented reality to let people know (by beeping or vibrating) when others are smiling at them. Listerine wanted to engage a younger audience and speak to them more captivatingly and engagingly. The video is a huge success, obtaining over 2.5 million views since its launch.

5.  Speed up your internal clock

Today’s networked age is outpacing and outwitting most organizations as their inside clock is not fully in sync with that of the external world. A proven way to accomplish this is to put customers at the heart of organizations, allowing management to better keep up with the market dynamics. A lot of organization are increasingly turning to marketers to fill the job of CEO. Research from Heidrick & Struggles has shown that the number of CEOs coming from a marketing background has increased from 15% in 2011 to 21% this year. Disney’s CMO for the UK and Ireland, Anna Hill, speaking at M&C Saatchi event, agreed that marketers are steadily gaining more respect from board members as they are perceived to be closer to consumers.

6. Peer to peer connections

Only 14% of people believe what a brand tells them, while 90% trust what other customers say. Messages coming directly from marketers are perceived as much less attractive or relevant to consumers. That is exactly why peer-to-peer connections are an important solution to stay future-proof by facilitating growth. These days, consumers share their experiences, wants and things they like or dislike 24/7 with their peers. Examples of companies focusing on peer-to-peer connections like Airbnb and Uber are already well-known, which is why we want to introduce another company, namely Lithium. This company focuses on building consumers’ trust using peer-to-peer connections via an online platform. Steering these digital conversations is crucial for a brand and that is where Lithium plays a role.  They help companies connect, respond and engage on social networks and steer the online conversation in an online community.

7. Embrace We

We are sure you have already noticed how sports fans talk about their favorite sports team. Everything they say is we: “we won the game“, “we should not have used this tactic“, “luck was not on our side“. It’s we, we, we… If your employees, customers and other stakeholders are talking about we, you are really doing a good job! An organization which has implemented this in their recruitment strategy is First Direct. According to Karen Walker, customer services director, they “train for skill; hire the smile and don’t knock the personality out during training”. Staff at First Direct are not trained to follow a script when answering the phone, but are encouraged to listen and respond naturally. In order to keep up with changing demands, the company also encourages their front line staff to submit potential ideas for improvement as the company feels they are in the best position to anticipate change. Likewise, Richer Sounds encourages staff at all levels to improve the business by submitting ideas. Stores are also given autonomy in dealing with customers in the most appropriate and fitting way, leading to kind messages from customers valuing they were given advice and service, rather than a hard sell.
Happy holidays and good luck embracing the unexpected in 2016!

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