Posts Tagged ‘Brands’

How to Practice Radical Honesty

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

FORSSA, FINLAND - MAY 17, 2014: Sign Volkswagen against blue sky. The Volkswagen Group delivered over 9 million vehicles in period from January to November for the first time ever in 2014.

The Volkswagen scandal serves as the most recent reminder that it is important to be honest with your customers. Once a company has been “outed” by the media—or anyone other than itself for that matter—they have a long and arduous uphill battle to regain brand trust.

Back in the days of the TV hit show, Mad Men, the corporate “spin machine” might have churned out a well-crafted response in a time of crisis and then the public may have given a collective sigh of relief, as trust in organizations was fairly high at the time. But as authors of the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Volkswagen and the end of corporate spin” point out, the public today, as a general rule, errs on the side of mistrusting organizations. Although people can be quite forgiving, organizations seem to be starting at ground zero on the trust barometer scale, and must earn their customers trust over time.

The article points out that those feelings of mistrust, coupled with the landscape of social media along with other factors, has completely transformed the environment in which we must communicate today. The authors suggest that corporations take the notion of “corporate transparency” one step further, employing what they call “radical honesty,” whereby one is proactive about its transparency, making everything publicly available, and quickly.

While “radical honesty” may not seem like your cup of tea, we agree with the authors that, in today’s world, an organization’s truth not only will get out, but it probably already is out. In the spirit of this belief, the article provides some excellent general guidelines to communicate effectively in today’s brave new world:

  • Straight and soon. Get the story out honestly and quickly – always assume you have less time than you think.
  • Flood the zone. Use many channels – you need to connect with different kinds of stakeholders, different generations, genders, cultural backgrounds, with different communication habits.
  • Good, bad, and ugly. Encourage honest conversations about both hopes and fears. Remember that power relationships sanitize information that gets to the top. Ensure people can bring bad news, not just good.
  • Distill and simplify. Keep communication simple and relevant, don’t drown people in irrelevant data.
  • Repeat. Find ways to reiterate the message and build feedback loops. Remember that trust builds slowly and quickly fades once the message stops, or when people see or hear contrary data.

At McKenzie Worldwide, we help our clients communicate their authentic brand voice to customers, as well as guide them through this new world of communication—during day to day operations as well as in times of crisis.

What are you doing to help “keep it real” with your customers? If you need help, give us a call!

Is the Future of Brand Building Mobile?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Over Thanksgiving my cousin and daughter talked up an iPhone and Android game called Angry Birds.  It’s a very simple game where you launch birds from slingshot to take out egg-stealing pigs hiding behind various structures. Simple in concept…and absolutely addictive.  Believe me.

On iPhone it sold something like 12 million copies for $.99 largely through viral word of mouth and has been the best selling app for many weeks. More interesting, from a brand-building perspective, the game is free on Android and supported by advertising.  The game’s maker Rovio is reportedly making approximately $1 million per month just from advertising and it has already hit over 8 million downloads.

The ads, for things like search engines or cosmetics, are pesky but since the game is so fun and addictive you just skip over them and keep playing. To be sure, you do notice them.  And, hey, if they keep the game free why not? Do they work? Probably too early to tell, but I were a media buyer and wanted to get eyeballs on my message, I would definitely not want to pass this one up.

As smartphones become more and more pervasive, 20 million downloads will seem like nothing. Future games will be in the 100s of millions of downloads globally – turning them into powerful vehicles for building brands. Rovio has cracked the code for how to do it with games.  In this video, put together by Google’s AdMob team, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka offers some interesting insights on how it’s done. Is this the future?

Super Bowl XLIV Ads a Wise Investment

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Committing to buying a spot in the Super Bowl is always a big risk due to the vast sums of money at stake.  For those with the wherewithal to pull it off, a big splash around the Super Bowl may generate more buzz than a year’s worth of mediocrity.

The year’s game, featuring one of football’s biggest stars in Peyton Manning and the feel good story of the past year in the New Orleans Saints, was the most watched TV show in the United States ever with 106.5 million viewers.  With all the entertainment options people have now compared to when the previous record was set by the MASH finale in 1983, this is an amazing accomplishment.  (more…)

Let’s Get Brand Appy

Monday, November 16th, 2009

With the successful launch of the Verizon Droid, the best-selling Android phone to date, app-capable smartphones are well on their way to becoming the standard for

The new Motorola Droid on Verizon.

The new Motorola Droid on Verizon.

cell phones.  The wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all seeing big spikes in revenue and profit as consumers sign up for data plans in droves. This is leading to escalating battles to build out faster, more capable networks and over time lower prices for data plans.

What all this points to is widespread, mainstream adoption of incredibly powerful and well-connected smartphones. Within a few years, there’s no doubt that today’s spiffy Droid will be obsolete and Verizon will be all but giving them away if you sign up for a two year deal with a heavily discounted data plan.  Sure there will be people who say they don’t need all the features etc., just as there are people who still don’t have email accounts.  Whatever.

The era of smartphones in everyone’s pocket has arrived.

If you’re in the business of building your company’s brand, now is the time to figure out your personal branding app strategy.  Stake out your space, figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  Over time, you can count on your competitors to match your every move, but there’s a big advantage to be had for those who figure it out sooner rather than later.

One objection we’re likely to hear is that with so many apps already available, how many apps could someone actually need or want?  The answer is that people will want as many apps as make their life better in some incremental way or add entertainment value.  There will also be a long-tail phenomenon and every app will find a target audience of some sort.  The way I see it, the opportunity to get customers to interact with your brand on a personal and meaningful way is too good to pass up.

As a homeowner and committed do-it-yourself type, I spend a lot of time snooping around my local Home Depot. I could see how a well-designed app could improve my loyalty to Home Depot, improve my shopping experience and save time and trips on projects.  The app could start with an intelligent shopping list function with helpful tools like conversion tables and so forth. Once the list is built, the app would confirm with the local stores if the items I want are available. At the store, turn-by-turn navigation would route me through the aisles in an efficient manner. It would also alert me to specials based on my buying patterns, and of course provide plenty of sponsorship opportunities for manufacturers to explain why their tape measure is better than the next guys.  The app would also link to my Facebook account and let my buddies know about the great deals on nail guns or PVC pipe.

And lest you think DIYers aren’t’ a great demographic, check out this list of the 10 Essential Apps for Do-It-Yourself already available on the iPhone.

This brings up the platform discussion. While Apple has a big lead at the moment and has demonstrated the value of the smartphone application model, my take is that Android is poised to become dominate in short order. It will be similar to the PC industry where Apple sticks to its closed, proprietary and heavy-handed control over the developer community and keeps about 10 percent market share.  Android is more open, developer friendly and being promoted by a host of vendors. It’s the industry vs. Apple all over, and in that scenario Apple loses.

Want to build your brand? Start looking for an app developer, preferably one who’s been to an Android developer boot camp.

Update: Highly influential blogger Robert Scoble on his Scobelizer blog stresses the importance of apps on smartphone. His post is in response to comments by Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie that apps won’t be a differentiating factor on smartphones.  I’m not sure Ozzie realizes how ridiculous he sounds, but Scoble’s response is more proof that apps are where the action is in mobile. Check out the discussion here.

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