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How to keep your staff motivated and engaged in our new world of work

One of the biggest business challenges this year is keeping people on board because the pandemic has left so much collateral damage in its wake.

We now know that the world of work has changed completely. HR and internal comms managers are now facing growing issues around staff morale, absence, and loyalty.

People are insisting on hybrid working and much more flexibility. They want more from their employer and they are questioning their whole career path.

Even the most loyal employees are now asking: ‘Do I really want to do this for the rest of my working life?’

High staff turnover has and will continue to impact every sector, every job type, and every business, everywhere.

But there is a way to use these challenges as a catalyst for change. The ‘build back better’ mantra that organisations including the government are adopting, for example.

This is an opportunity for you to put internal communication at the top of your business agenda and to get buy-in from your senior team.

It’s the right time to show that your organisation has a shared sense of purpose and to bang the drum about your ethics.

‘We love working here and we know why,’ should be your rallying cry.

This is your chance to show your people that they are listened to and valued and to make sure that information flows freely within your business.

You can start by asking your senior team a couple of key questions.

So, let’s look at each question and then drill down into the issues and potential solutions.

Question 1: Are you communicating your messages clearly?

Successful organisations attract people who connect emotionally with their brand. This means you should use creative ways to reinforce your key messages, especially when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff.

But clearly, this approach hasn’t become best, or even, standard practice, if you look at the statistics from earlier this year.

A recent VRAMP survey shows that 48% of organisations are sending out employee communications without measuring if they are effective.

If you want to make sure your organisation communicates effectively, here’s our advice:

Before you communicate, you need to know these things:

  1. Who are you talking to?
  2. How do they access information?
  3. What’s the right channel for them?
  4. Are you telling, involving, or listening to them?
  5. What is this communication about? What, where, when why?
  6. What do you want people to know, feel and do?

And then you need to ask if the communication was successful. Did people understand your message? Can they recall what you said, are they responding positively, and do they feel well informed?

Question 2: Are your people informed and engaged?

Open, interactive communication drives every thriving workplace. But remember, people who say they are satisfied at work are not necessarily engaged.

According to Gallup only 15% of employees are engaged in their work.

This is a difficult fact to deal with but there are things you can do right now to start turning these figures around.

For instance, you can set up social networks to share information and knowledge. Virtual notice boards are also increasingly becoming a key part of the internal comms toolbox.

You can ask for feedback regularly and show that your leaders are really listening to your people. This in turn will build trust which is paramount in the workplace. It always has been and always will be.

And you can invest in employee wellbeing. One thing that the pandemic has taught us all is just how important it is to feel cared for in the workplace.

If people are working more remotely or they’re returning to your offices, now is a good time to carry out a ‘keep in touch’ or ‘welcome back’ audit.

This is your chance to find out how your staff are feeling and to pick up on any common issues. Again, it underlines the trust element and shows you are listening.

Here are a couple of links we found useful when we were doing our research for this blog. Take a look if you have the time.

5 Internal Communications Trends You Need To Know In 2022 (unily.com)

8 Top Internal Communication Trends 2022 (snapcomms.com)

If you want to know more about how to inform, engage and motive your teams, we can help.

Or, if you want to develop your internal communication skills, we offer a range of bespoke training and mentoring services.

It starts with a chat, and we can take it from there.

How we developed our brand story with a new-look website

We’ve been blogging recently about the importance of ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability if you want your business to succeed.  

And, as brand creators, we must practice what we preach. So, with that in mind, we put our own brand through a rigorous health check.

We do this with our clients as part of our tried and tested approach to building great brands. We help to diagnose problems and then suggest remedies as part of our Brand Doctor service.

Firstly, we looked at our purpose and the promises we make to our customers. We asked the three questions we advise our customers to ask themselves:  

  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?

Next we revisited our ethics to make sure that we remain true to them and can evidence them with our actions. If your business isn’t built on solid principles that you genuinely believe in, it simply won’t thrive.

Then we checked out our messaging to make sure that we communicate clearly and effectively.

Our findings showed we had some work to do on developing our brand story. That’s because brands never stop evolving. We must work hard to keep our brands relevant in today’s ever-changing marketplace.

We knew we needed to evidence areas where we’re trying to work more sustainably such as reducing our carbon footprint.   

Also, our messages had to be clearer and our commitment to caring for people and our planet had to be more evident.

One way to achieve this would be to revamp our website and so this is what we did.

Our aim was to simplify things and to underline the things that matter most to us as a business.

This meant rewriting content, repackaging our service offering and rethinking the imagery we were going to use on the website.

Making the right connections

We wanted to make a connection with people by showing how we work collaboratively and creatively in a relaxed atmosphere.

So, we turned to experienced Midlands photographer Graham Oakes, our long-standing associate, on a trade for trade basis. We help him and he helps us. Simple!

It was a case of creative minds coming together to create something great.

Graham suggested the Jewellery Quarter, an historic Birmingham landmark, for the photoshoot. It’s a place where people come together to share their ideas.

It was a cold but sunny winter’s day and we needed a hot drink to get the creative juices flowing. So we set up our session at Urban, coffee house in the Big Peg and then Graham went to work.

We’ve collaborated for many years so working together is second nature. It’s all about teamwork and a shared sense of trust in one another’s skills.  

No wonder the results were exactly what we wanted. A big thanks to Graham for doing what he does best. If you think we can help you to develop your brand story, please get in touch.

Why sustainable brands are winning more customers

We talked about ethical brands in our last blog and why more people are buying into them these days.

Now we’re going to look at sustainability and how it’s driving customer behaviour, particularly since the start of the pandemic.

Essentially, a greater sense of social responsibility and environmental awareness means people want to invest in brands echoing their values.

This means a quality product no longer wins customers and their loyalty. We want more.

So you need to be asking: “Is my business sustainable as well as ethical?”

And we need to work out ways to make our products and services ‘greener’ and to show accountability for our actions.

But what do we mean by sustainable?

To answer this question we turned to our friends at Deloitte UK. They carried out a survey last year which threw up some interesting findings.

  • The five sustainable brand practices that consumers value most include:
  • Waste reduction,
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Providing sustainable packaging
  • Committing to ethical work practices
  • Respecting human rights
  • There is a 50/50 split between those willing to pay more or not for environmental and ethical brands

Surely, it won’t be long before that even split becomes more like 60/40. So this is the year to start your journey towards becoming a sustainable business.

Think about one thing you can do right now and make a commitment to your customers to do more.

But don’t make bold promises that you can’t keep and avoid the ‘greenwash’ that is creeping into business. Keep it real, keep it honest.

What is greenwashing?

This is where a company shouts about their green credentials but does little in reality to look after the planet. This isn’t just unethical, it’s now illegal.

The UK’s Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) issued a new Green Claims Code at the start of this year to stop businesses from misleading their customers. It’s definitely worth reading.

Another thing to think about is making your business carbon-positive, not just carbon-neutral. The narrative has changed – it’s not just about planting a tree to offset travel any more.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Are your materials sourced sustainably from ethical companies that pay liveable wages and treat people fairly?
  2. Do you source locally to cut down transport costs and to support the local community?
  3. Have you measured your carbon footprint?
  4. Can you do more e-commerce – is your business set up to trade online?
  5. How about working remotely – do you need that expensive office space?

We can help you to become a more sustainable business. It might be with digital marketing, your social media or setting up your online shopping.

Let us know if you want a chat and we can take it from there.

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.