I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. Bottom line is, these new resolutions often only last the first couple of months, due to a lack of long-term commitment. If it's not part of our DNA, it doesn't last. Think of how many people sign up in January at the local gym. The first couple of months are crowded; when comes March you only see the regulars.
The same applies to brands, as brands are created by people, and in some way are living entities. People create a brand's new resolutions, and are accountable for the brand's commitment to successfully implement them in the long (or short) term.
Going back to the gym analogy, you are more likely to stick to the gym over several months if you are working towards a goal, such as participating in a (mini) marathon in June. Chances are, by June, you will have settled in a work-out routine and exercise will then be part of your DNA. The same applies to brands as well.
Here is what I wish brands will do more in 2016 to be successful:
Your brand's purpose is not defined by what you do for your customers. It is defined by why what you do matters to your customers. By focusing on the why, you show empathy to your customers.
Not only do you understand your customers' needs (which leads to innovation and new product ideas), but you also understand their emotional journey and what message resonates with them (which leads to defining a roadmap for the customer experience, the foundation for your brand strategy).
Focus on insights & personalization
Many companies develop their products on what the CEO thinks his wife or children (or even himself) would want; on what the R&D team or Software development team think is cool to create based on the engineering complexity of it; or simply on the principle of what-competitors-do-and-we-can-do-it-cheaper-or-better. It sometimes works, at least in the short time, often time it does not.
Empathy for customers based on research and customer insights are so important to uncover unmet needs, understand customers’ behaviors, and define the customer journey. If you don’t focus on customers, customers won’t focus on your brand. Your brand will mean nothing to them.
Customers connect with brands who resonate with their beliefs. They expect a personalized experience and a personalized message in return. With mobile technology nowadays, coupled with beacon/location-based technology and big data, brands have the opportunity to cater and deliver an experience and a message that is personal to one individual, not just a demographic group anymore.
Successful brands in 2016 will be able to deliver personal experiences and messages in the relevancy of time and location.
With a click of a button on a computer or a tap of a finger on a mobile device, customers can in real-time compare product/service offerings, prices and make a purchase decision instantly. Only 28% of consumers are loyal to their providers and brands. Because customers are more volatile than ever, bringing them excitement is critical to create than instant need and trigger to purchase.
Excitement is a neurological push that triggers customers to make an impulsive purchasing decision. While empathy helps define how to create loyal customers in the long term, excitement helps convert a "lead" into an instant customer. The repetition of exciting personalized experiences and messages will help keep customers coming back.
Give back to the community
Successful brands are successful because they make a difference in people's lives. It's only natural for brands to continue to show empathy and to give back to the community to support other organizations making a difference in people's lives.
More than 85 percent of millennials correlate their purchasing decisions and their willingness to recommend a brand to the social good efforts a company is making. Businesses interested in selling to millennials can't afford to ignore the opportunity to create social good. The "one-for-one" model proved that companies could have profit-driven goals while integrating philanthropy into their business’s bottom line. Millennials now want even more.
Be socially and environmentally responsible
According to a recent Nielsen survey, two-thirds of the “sustainable mainstream” population (a cluster of three of the five segments) will choose products from sustainable sources over other conventional products. These consumers will buy as many eco-friendly products as they can and have personally changed their behavior to minimize their impact on global climate change. Additionally, these consumers are more likely to buy products repeatedly from a company if they know the company is mindful of its impact on the environment and society.
Millennials (age 21-34) appear more responsive to sustainability actions. Among global respondents in Nielsen’s survey who are responsive to sustainability actions, half are Millennials; they represent 51 percent of those who will pay extra for sustainable products and 51 percent of those who check the packaging for sustainable labeling.
What are your 2016 wishes for successful branding?