Does your brand pass the ethics test?

People are buying from ethical brands more and more – we’re becoming values-based consumers. So we want to know if your brand passes the ethics test.

Every brand we help to develop is always built on whatever drives that business – its purpose and the genuine customer promises it stands by.

We call this brand personality – the DNA that roots a business to its core set of values.

But the narrative is changing and we’re substituting the word ‘values’, quite rightly, with the word ‘ethics’.

So what do we mean by ethics? Let’s break it down as we see things right now.

Three questions are becoming key drivers for us as customers when we decide where to buy our goods and services.

  1. Does this business have a clear purpose other than just making money?
  2. Does this business look after people and its local community?
  3. Does this business care about the planet and its future?

Look at the statistics

We can back this up with some key findings from a recent survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Deloitte.

  • 28% of consumers said they had stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns
  • For Generation Z (people aged 25 to 40) this percentage is 45%
  • There is a 50/50 split between those willing to pay more or not for ethical and environmental brands
  • 34% of consumers say lack of information is stopping them from choosing ethical brands

So, as you can see from this survey, our habits are changing. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, there are some clear indicators.

Mintel’s 2030 Global Consumer Trends shows that we want control of our purchasing decisions. We want to see transparent information that makes us feel that we’re in the driver’s seat.

We also want to see brands demonstrating ethical actions, rather than ethical commitment. And we want to see brands being honest about their weaknesses and how they plan to improve.

Take our ethics test

A good place to start addressing these issues is to take a long, hard look at your brand by answering these six questions:

  1. Is the information you share clear, transparent and centred around your customers’ needs?
  2. Do you have a company purpose and set of values that show you care about people and the planet?
  3. Do you live up to the promises you make to your customers?
  4. Have you got a plan to improve your ethical credentials?
  5. Can you evidence your customer service claims with third party endorsements?
  6. Can you explain what being ethical means to your business?

Basically, an ethical business is a force for good. It thinks about the impact its actions have on the world. It has a social conscience driven by doing the right thing, not by legislation, regardless of the impact on profits.

Yes, this is a high bar for us all to reach but it’s something we all need to think about if we want our businesses to survive in the ‘new norm’.

Right now, we’re reviewing our own brand because we know we need to do more. If you think we can help your business, please get in touch. We can all learn from each other.

Why you need to understand the power of your brand

It’s really important right now to understand the power of your brand and the difference it can make to your business.

This is because the world has changed since the global pandemic – we’re questioning the fundamental way we live and work.

And this includes redefining the things we value most, the people we trust and the expectations we have from products and services.

Just look at these recent facts taken from 50+ Eye-Opening Branding Statistics – 2021 Edition. They definitely prove how the pandemic has changed our buying habits.

  • 89% of people stay loyal to a brand that shares the same values
  • 69% of consumers buy from brands that want to positively change the world
  • Nearly one in three people have stopped buying from brands due to ethical or sustainability concerns

It’s no wonder then that word-leading brands are taking a long, hard look at the way they do business.

That’s because they understand the power of their brand The Power Of Branding In 2021. And they know why it’s critical right now to revisit their purpose and values.

How a world-leading brand showed its human side

To illustrate this, let’s look at Coca-Cola after Prime Minister Boris Johnson named and shamed it recently. He said it was one of 12 major corporations now producing the bulk of plastic waste.

“But we want to be the solution, not the problem,” Coca-Cola responded, stressing its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2040.

And, given its purpose Refresh the World. Make a Difference you can see why it wants to lead on sustainability. Looking after the planet is in Coca-Cola’s brand DNA and it has, undoubtedly, met the issue head-on. This huge brand has not only revisited its values, it has reinvigorated them.     

Clearly, this company understands its brand, the promises it makes and, unashamedly, invests time and energy into promoting its values.

That’s why its Chairman and CEO James Quincey recently said: “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot act alone. The crisis has shone a light on the interconnected nature of our world. The lessons we learn must be applied to help us emerge stronger… to get to a more sustainable and inclusive economic future.”

Why authenticity is the key differentiator in 2021

We think there is honesty and humility in this statement as well as reassurance that Coca-Cola hasn’t got it right, but it’s trying.

This type of authenticity is what we believe, as brand consultants, should be the byword of every brand.

Yes, it’s the right thing to do but don’t forget that customers are more wary of superficial brands. If you read Attitudes to brand sustainability and authenticity in Britain | YouGov you’ll understand what we’re saying.

Also, customer expectations are higher than ever. This report is worth reading Consumer Expectations Research – FleishmanHillard if you want to know more. 

Hopefully, you can now see why it’s so important to show the power of your brand. And here’s one last statistic that says it all:

  • 86% of people want to buy from an authentic brand

So what are you waiting for? Get out there now and show that you’re living up to your promises and staying true to your values.

We talk about this subject in great detail at our Brand Doctor workshops. If you would like to join us please let us know. We’d love to talk with you more.

Why your brand is your best business asset

We believe that your brand is your greatest business asset – no matter what you sell, how big you are or where in the world you work.

Yes, this is a bold statement for us to make so let’s talk you through our reasoning.

We’ve already posted about brand value, explaining why this intangible asset equates to up to 80% of your organisation’s overall value.

What gives your brand this value?

Our answer is simple. Great brands attract great people to work for them. Right! And we all buy from brands we like. Fact!  

Basically, your brand helps you to build your second best business asset, your employees.

This is because people are attracted to a company or organisation because they identify with its vision and values. They buy into its ethos – it’s not just about the pay cheque.

Your brand also helps to create your third strongest asset, which is your data. We all know that customer information is king these days in business. Every connection that your brand makes is an opportunity to collect data.   

How do you make a brand great?

Let’s turn to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, one of the most valuable brands in the world. He should know what he’s talking about. Jeff says: ‘A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person’.

Bang on Jeff! This is exactly the point. Your reputation as a person or a business is critical to success in life. Make the right impression and people are hooked from the moment they first interact.

But, here’s the thing. Even if you make the right impression you still need to build on that instinctive, instant connection.

You need to invest in your brand to make it live and breathe – to show its personality. And you need to behave in the right way by making promises to your customers about what they can expect.

Our six golden rules

  1. Engage meaningfully
  2. Be authentic
  3. Earn trust
  4. Give something back
  5. Show you care
  6. Tell the truth

Look at the facts

Each of these six rules is backed up by statistics showing us how customers make choices on what to buy and from where.

And their importance is growing – heightened during the global pandemic. Relationships have been tested, built and broken during these difficult times.

Those businesses that have worked hard on their brand traits have not just survived, they have thrived.  

Here’s a link which backs up what we are saying.

So, remember, it only takes a 1/10th of a second to form an impression of someone or something.

If you want to build a strong brand it has to be about personality and emotion. Think of it as a person. What’s its DNA? What does it look like? And, what does it feel like?

Now think about the brands you love and why. It really is that simple!

If you want to know more, don’t forget that we run Brand Doctor workshops. You can find details here.

How much is your brand worth to your business?

Every business has a brand and every brand has a value. Do you know how much your brand is worth as a business asset?

Probably not if you’re reading this post! So, we’ve put together six simple steps to help you work it out.

But, first of all, let’s remind you why brand is so important to the success of your company or organisation. These are some well-evidenced facts:

  1. Intangible assets such as brands equate to up to 80% of the purchase price when it comes to selling a business
  2. Large brands carry billions of dollars’ worth of value
  3. Even small businesses can have high brand value within their local marketplace or sector
  4. Total value of UK’s leading UK brands is £326.7 billion – even with an eight per cent dip since the global pandemic

These statistics are referenced at the end of this blog along with links you can follow if you want to read more.

Ok, so now we’ll show you the six steps:

Step 1: How much did you invest?

Work out the cost of everything you have spent to set up your brand. This includes logo creation, as well trademarks, domain names, signage and your brand materials. If you’ve brought orange furniture or branded mugs and mouse mats, everything can be counted.  

Step 2: How much does it cost to achieve your current level of market awareness to attract new customers?

Assess how much your marketing and promotional activity has cost your business each year to date.

This can include things such advertising, digital promotions, publicity as well as posters, banners, leaflets and business cards. It can also include your membership costs for networking and events.  

Step 3: How much does it cost to retain your current customer base?

Calculate the amount you have spent on advertising campaigns aimed at existing customers, loyalty programmes, giveaways, rewards and corporate gifts/entertaining.

You also need to include your costs to gather and analyse customer data and feedback. This can often be quite an outlay.

Step 4: How much can you charge for your goods and services?

This is otherwise known as price elasticity and basically means you have to work out how much people will pay compared to another brand. If demand stays high when you charge more, the value of you brand is high.

If you then push up the price, and demand stays high, then you’re really onto a winner. Obviously, this isn’t something you can cost out but it’s really important to factor in when we’re doing this exercise.   

Step 5: How much are your income-based and future net earnings worth?

Now look at your current income, earning potential, cash flow and any cost-savings you have made. What might they be next year or in five years? Then consider the value of your business premises when you bought them and what they are worth now. How much would the rental be if you decided to let your space? Add any potential increases into the overall pot. 

Step 6: How much is your brand worth compared to others?

Lastly, take a look at competitor brands in your market place that are similar to yours in size and offer. How much did they sell for, what’s the sale price or how much would you be prepared to pay? It’s just like selling your house and getting a market-based evaluation. 

These six steps aren’t the only ways you can work out the value of your brand but we think they are definitely worth knowing. We hope you do too! Here are the links we used as part of our research. Check them out if you want to know more:

Here are the links we used as part of our research. Check them out if you want to know more:

Top UK brands 2021 | Statista

Brand Valuation Methodology | Brandirectory

10 Branding Statistics You Need to Know in 2021 [Infographic] (oberlo.com)

Why not sign up for our monthly blog. Next time we’ll be talking about why your brand is your best business asset.

Also, let us know if you’re interested in joining one of our Brand Doctor workshops. You can find details here

How your brand adds value to your business

Do you understand how much your brand actually adds to the value of your business? If you’re looking to merge, sell or attract investors, it’s really important to know this.

It’s also helpful because you can make the right case for spending money on your brand because you know it adds to the bottom line. You can even factor this spend into the balance sheet and include it as a sizable chunk of your business’s intangible assets.

So how does it work then?

Firstly, we should look at some historical facts and figures. Large brands carry billions of dollars’ worth of value. For example, the Apple brand comes in at around 323 billion dollars with Amazon not far behind. Here are some more stats on UK brands.

Yes, these are eye-watering sums of money but even small businesses can carry strong brand value within their sector or local market. Some brands even command 40% of the purchase price when companies decide to sell.  Since this is where most of our businesses operate, brand equity is certainly something we should leverage in terms of growth.

It’s no surprise then that John Stuart, Chairman of Quaker, said: “If this business were to split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar. I would take the brands and trademarks and I would be far better off than you.”

And this was back in 1900! Think about the brand value of Quaker as it stands today. Now we’re starting to see the big picture, aren’t we?

Why we need to invest in our brands

Another fact backed up by research is that your brand is worth more when you invest in it. Every modern company that has driven above average profitable growth has invested heavily in their brand.

OK, enough of the facts, now let’s talk about how your brand adds value to your business.

Basically, there are three key things that affect your positioning in the marketplace. Valuable brands:

  • Are highly recognisable
  • Are positively perceived
  • Have loyal followers

Now let’s break this down to explain what we mean here.

We believe that a company is deemed to be highly recognisable if its:

  • Purpose and brand values are clear and people buy into them
  • Brand personality is evident through everything it does – from the way it speaks to customers to the way it shows integrity and humanity
  • Attributes are a key differentiator over other competitors
  • Brand story is believable and creates an emotional connection with people

But these are only some of the things we think are important. There are many, many more ways that your business is seen and heard.

Next then, what do we mean by positively perceived? These are our three main criteria:

  • Customers trust and rate your business highly and would recommend you to friends and family
  • Your business is seen as a force for good and gives back to its local community
  • Partners and suppliers are happy to work with you and support you

Lastly then, let’s discuss customer loyalty. We’re not just talking about people who follow your business on social media here. It’s about customers who endorse your products and services.

You need to engage, capture and measure feedback in order to build a loyal customer base. And you know if your customers are loyal if they’re:

  • Happy advocates of what you offer
  • Willing to pay a little more for your products/services
  • Giving you unsolicited positive feedback

Want to know more? Sign up for our monthly blog. Next time we’ll be talking about how to work out how much your brand is worth.

We also run Brand workshops, so please let us know if you’re interested in joining us. You can find details here.

How to keep your brand real and relevant

If your brand is authentic, people will buy your products and services. It’s as simple as that!

But making sure that your brand is real and relevant isn’t that easy. It takes time and effort to build an identity that stays the distance – especially in these very challenging times.

So here are two things that we genuinely believe will work for your brand. 

Shout about your values

Our number one ‘must-do’ is to make sure that your purpose and values are clear in everything you do.

So, firstly, make sure that you and everyone who works with you understands your brand DNA. This means what you stand for and what makes your business different from the rest.

Then try to find ways to amplify your values in your social media activity and your day-to-day interactions. Your brand needs to live and breathe as if it was a person. And social media activity is one of the best ways to do this.

Basically, if you say you care, then show you care. If you promise to go the extra mile, then do exactly that. And, if you claim to offer the best service in town, then make sure you do.

This is because words are cheap but actions aren’t. Every time you connect with a customer, it’s called a ‘moment of truth’.

So get it right and your customers will come back for more. But get it wrong and they will go elsewhere and, worse still, they will steer people away from your business. Then what? Your customer ratings will drop and so will your profits.

Show your human side

Our second suggestion is to dial down the marketing hype and have genuine conversations. Ditch the email and telephone scripts and let your people be themselves.

This is because we’ve been through so much during the global pandemic that trusted relationships have become crucially important.

After all, being human is the one thing we all have in common you don’t need to be afraid to be real.

So be honest and make things right if something goes wrong. Ask people what you can do better and do something positive with your customer feedback.

These little interactions make a huge difference when it comes to brand loyalty and, in turn, how this is affecting the bottom line.

But, if you need proof, there are stacks of new statistics showing how buying habits are changing. Yes, more of us really are favouring ethical businesses that are prepared to show their human side.

Here’s a blog we found particularly interesting when we were looking for facts to back up what we’re saying. https://www.tailorbrands.com/blog/branding-statistics

Can we help?

We’re brand consultants with bags of experience, so get in touch if you want some guidance.

hopecreative.co.uk/contact/

Five ways to improve your online brand presence

If there’s one thing every business should have learned through lockdown, it’s the importance of having an online brand presence.

That’s because doing business digitally is here to stay. But if you’re not convinced, there are some pretty compelling statistics emerging.

Yes, no matter which survey you read, it appears that over 80% of people read online reviews before they buy.

And over 80% now search for a product or service online. For the purposes of our research, we checked out smartinsights.com 

So the high street might be opening back up again, thankfully, but the buying experience definitely starts online.

This means improving your digital presence is a must so we’ve come up with some key pointers which might help.

  • Be visible

Firstly, help your customers to find you. Build a captivating website so that search engines can easily find your products and services.

And, remember, it must work on mobile devices because this is where people do their research.

This is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short, which sounds complicated. That’s right, it isn’t easy to get your head around but it’s so important.  

  • Be valuable

Our second tip is to make sure that your website is engaging and useful for your customers. For example, share your expertise and offer advice – it’s not about the ‘big sell’.

Writing a blog post and sharing it on your social media channels is a great way to do this.

Or, sending your customers an e-newsletter they can sign up to is another great way of showing your value.

Whatever you do, the content must be helpful to them, not a sales pitch.

Also, make sure people can see that your business is legitimate, caring and authentic. This means having clear brand values and purpose.

  • Be sociable

Thirdly, you should connect and interact using social media platforms that suit your business offer. However, you must think about this in a strategic way.

Any channels you choose must be specifically useful for your line of business, so do your homework. And don’t forget, it’s about quality, not quantity.

It’s also really important to show your human side. Today’s consumer wants to know you personally – they expect you to be their friend and they want a conversation. So keep it real.  

  • Be active

Tip number four is all about your brand. That’s because strong and healthy brands live and breathe by being busy online.

This means investing time in your website, your social media channels and your digital marketing.

It’s important to schedule a specific slot into your business week and to stick to it religiously.

Basically, engaging regularly is the difference between building your online profile and actually having an online presence.

  • Be different

And so on to our final pointer. One thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to marketing your business is being unique. That’s why it’s so important to develop and understand what we call your market differentiators.

In simple terms, this means showing customers why they should buy from you.

What do you do differently from your competitors? Essentially, this is your brand DNA and this is the bedrock of your business offer.

How we can help

If you think we can help you to build your online business presence, please let us know.

How to build your brand in the middle of a global pandemic

Science says it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. This suggests that you should be used to the ‘new normal’ by now. You should be developing your brand during this global pandemic in different ways.

But have you really adapted your behaviour since the ‘new normal’ reshaped the UK economy? Or are you just rolling with the punches until there are fewer unknowns. Realistically, can any of us still continue to build our brands while so much hangs in the balance?

There’s so much uncertainty that many of us are reluctant to change because some of the new ways of working might not stick around. This is especially true if it means investing your time and money.

So, as brand consultants, we decided to look at things we think you can take as ‘given’. We’re sure there are three new habits worth adopting for the long term. That’s because we still believe that your brand can grow from strength to strength. We’ll talk you through them now.

Habit 1

Raise your digital profile

We know there has been a seismic shift to digitalisation and e-commerce. ONS statistics in February this year showed that online sales increased to a record level in January 2021 reaching 35.2%. This was up from 29.6% in December 2020 and was far higher than the 19.5% in January 2020, reflecting the impact the pandemic has had on consumer behaviours.

These figures underline why boosting your online business presence has never been more important and will be pivotal in the fight to survive this crisis. It’s a move that we think is definitely worth making.

Habit 2

Promote your purpose and values

We know that consumers are acting differently. We’re buying online from brands we trust – those that show they care about us and the environment. Your brand identity, purpose and values as a business have always been crucial to success.

This will always be the norm and is another given in these strange times. So make sure your customers know what you stand for and why they should choose your services.  

Revisit your brand identity and make sure it’s working for you across all your communication channels. Improving social engagement and showing authenticity are the things to focus on here. 81% of customers say trust in the brand is a key buying factor since the pandemic. 

Habit 3

Improve customer experience

We know that the way we interact with our customers has to change. Satisfaction ratings are at their worst since 2015, according to the Institute of Customer Service

People want to deal with real people that understand their needs and are willing to show their human side. More consumers are also prepared to walk away from a brand they love because of just one bad experience.

So this is the right time to get to know your customers, to find new ways to connect and to gather feedback. Make it easy for them to contact you, really listen to their ideas and suggestions, find ways to make them smile and put things right if you can when things go wrong.

Simple but effective steps you can take right now. Getting into the right customer service habits will always be the right thing to do. Some things will never change!

If you want to talk to us about your brand and how to introduce some of the new habits we’ve discussed in this blog, let us know. Fill in the contact form on our website by clicking this link: https://www.hopecreative.co.uk/contact/

Why it’s make or break for your brand

As business owners, we might feel like we’re in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ right now but not if we start thinking differently. We can get through this if we change our mindset.

But, before we get into the ‘how’, we need to look at the ‘why’. Let’s go back to last year when Covid-19 took over our lives and threatened our businesses. Why didn’t we see it coming?

Maybe it’s because, as business people, we’re natural optimists. Or, as problem-solvers, we find a way to deal with most challenges. Perhaps, more likely, it’s because we never really think the unthinkable.

Okay, yes we plan for risk and make our forecasts, but, this is exactly why we need to change our perspective. It’s ‘make or break’ time for our brands.

We have to think round corners to make sure that the global pandemic doesn’t destroy our livelihoods.

So how can we do this? There are two topics below that will challenge your thinking.   

Topic 1: Time to diversify?

One thing you can do is change your offer. It’s a risky move but diversification can lead to new markets and new customers.

By adding new products or services, or even launching into new sectors, you can add value to your business and your brand. Ask yourself and your team:

  • Is there a gap in the market?
  • Is there demand for something new?
  • Can you adapt your business to meet this need?

Start by weighing up the risks before you invest time or money. Then think about the untapped expertise you have within your business that you could exploit. Where could this take your business?

Don’t forget to ask your customers what they want because buying habits have changed dramatically since lockdown began.

Most of us now buy online, buy from businesses we trust and buy into more ethical brands. There are some startling findings in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020.

Also, make sure to get the right people with the right skills you need to support your new venture. Take a look at The Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs‘ skills and employment programmes: information for employers.

Topic 2: Time to innovate?

An even bolder step is to reimagine your business completely. For opportunists, innovators and entrepreneurs, this is your year. Change direction, change your brand, why not change everything?

Did you know that lockdown has spawned thousands of new businesses across the UK? Often this has meant specialists in one sector closing up shop and starting again in a different sector. Yes, scary but true, and probably unthinkable before the pandemic.

So what can you do? What’s the big idea? Where’s the opportunity? Every business is different so we don’t have any pearly words to share here except to say be brave, be bold and be different.

We’re running free webinars from April so sign up now if you want to join us. We’ll be sharing our thoughts, predictions and ideas together on how we can all survive and thrive through 2021 and beyond. It’s good to talk!

To sign up please click on this link https://www.hopecreative.co.uk/contact/

 

Core values, trust, branding

Do customers value your brand?

Trust has always been important to customers and we’re now told that 70% of people are buying from a business because of its values. 86% of consumers will only support authentic brands.

The global pandemic has helped to drive this shift which is why we should all be focussing on social connections, meaningful relationships and keeping it real.

Being a force for good and showing customers that we genuinely care will keep our businesses relevant during these strange and uncertain times. We must think about ways to surprise people with small acts of kindness and show the human side of business.

So, if doing ethical business is the new benchmark, how do we know we’re one of the good guys? If the answer to all of these questions is, yes, then you’re going in the right direction:

  • Are the things you value evident in everything you do?
  • Do you gather feedback and act on it – good or bad?
  • Do the people you work with share your ethics?

Right now we need to do more. We need to give people a reason to do business with us by living the values we sign up to and by winning trust and appreciation for what we do. We need to improve our service offer and communication channels. We need to show that we’re still relevant.

If our brand values are clear and connect with people, then we won’t just survive, we’ll thrive.  

 https://www.hopecreative.co.uk/