Categories
Strategy

Are Multiple Brands Better Than One?

When companies undergo the process of transformation as they seek to differentiate themselves and solve for ever-evolving consumer pain points, it’s not uncommon for new ideas, product lines or service spinoffs to hatch. Unrealized possibilities tend to be unearthed and opportunities to break into new audience segments are revealed.

 

Many organizations soon encounter the challenge of fitting new brand offerings within the original parent brand. With each addition to the product or service line, do you create a different name, package, and marketing strategy? What is the best way to maximize the value of both the unique offering and the brand as a whole when you introduce something new?

There are several common approaches: masterbrand, endorsed, individual, and hybrid. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals and the needs of your customer.

When to Link Brands Together

If your company makes multiple products or offers multiple services that play well together, you’ll most likely have success sub-branding them or creating a brand extension. This type of structure can include the following approaches:

 

  1. The endorsed brand in which each sub-brand may carry the same values, but will have its own distinct brand identity. An example would be Marriott with its JW Marriott, Residence Inn and Ritz Carlton sub-brands.
  2. The branded house or masterbrand in which the parent brand influences the identity of the sub-brand. An example here is Google with Chrome, Maps, Drive, etc.
  3. The hybrid, which is a blend of individual and masterbrand. Coca-Cola Company for example, has multiple individual product brands like Sprite, Dasani, Fanta, etc., but they also have their series of classic Coca-Cola products.

The so-called “halo effect” of sub-branding in the hybrid brand scenario can permeate into new audiences who may not be served directly by the parent brand’s core offering.

Let’s look at Uber Freight as an example.

 

Created by the parent company Uber, Uber Freight looks, feels and performs much the same as the app the company is best known for, but it serves a completely different, and very niche, audience. Based on the needs of this particular audience, the brand was able to take the “Uber experience” and tailor it to this untapped segment while maintaining its core brand principles. Uber didn’t stray from its core offering of better transportation, but the two brands have completely different strategies for attracting users and a different voice, tone and messaging.

 

Uber knew that when it came to truckers, they didn’t have the benefit of brand recognition – in fact, most truckers at that time had never even heard of the app. The company had to take a step back and really learn the market: The pain points, how to get truckers to adopt new technology, and how to communicate with them. The Uber Freight team hyper-focused on a specific region (in this case, Dallas), hired people who were experts in the industry and could speak the language, and began more of a direct outreach approach. A sub-brand with the same underlying purpose as the namesake brand, but a different approach and infrastructure for gaining users.

If your company offers multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences…

Then, in this case, the individual brand approach might be more fitting. Companies that offer multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences, so much so that a given customer likely wouldn’t even consider buying one product but would be very interested in another, could benefit from brand individuality.

 

This is not to be confused with brand extension, whereby a company will branch out into completely different product spaces altogether (like Guinness brewing beer and publishing a book of records). An individual brand is more like a sub-brand with a completely different look, feel and even price point. It’s where a parent brand will have a series of unrelated, independent brands under its umbrella. Think Unilever with Dove, Persil, Vaseline, Lipton, Korr, etc.

 

With the individual approach, each brand has vastly different personas they appeal to. Going the individual route is tricky for this precise reason, but the opportunity to increase personalization with each brand in order to reach disparate audiences can be enticing for organizations.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

When To Build From Scratch

Finally, in some cases you’ll find two completely disparate brands that ultimately can be traced back to one company. This is often done if the two brands serve different audiences and have completely different visions and values. If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn’t share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn't share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

When this occurs, the originating entity often doesn’t publicize the fact that they are behind the two brands, and in many cases customers of either brand is none the wiser the other exists. This tends to be the least common of the three brand architectures, as most organizations have an underlying vision, purpose or stance that is echoed throughout each of their offerings.

 

Also read: What’s In Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

How to Know Which Strategy Is Best For You

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers. Does your current customer base have a need that this particular product or service solves for? Does the new product fulfill upon your existing brand’s deeper purpose and vision, or does it have a completely different mission of its own? Answering these will help you determine which approach is the best option.

 

Keep in mind, if you commit to the individual branding approach, while it’s not completely necessary to make perfectly clear the brand connection, it is important to ensure you carry the same vision and values through each of your separate offerings.

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers.

Another advantage of individual vs. pure sub-branding is that one misstep with a individual brand won’t damage your overall organization as much as a sub-branded failure. Because most sub-brands are visually and tonally in line with each other, bad publicity or a colossal failure in even a smaller venture can have disastrous consequences. We’ve seen this play out with well known brands like Samsung with its Galaxy Note 7 and Apple – even the most diehard Apple fans will abandon the brand across the board if one product doesn’t meet their expectations.

 

Individual brands don’t carry quite the same risk, though the lack of obvious association can be a drawback if a smaller off-shoot brand performs particularly well. It’s also worth noting, when a company brand spins off too many offshoot product brands all geared towards a similar audience segment, it can cause a tremendous amount of confusion.

 

An example of this is Centrieva, an accreditation management software for higher education. They launched a series of new products, each with its own brand name and all for a tangential market, and consequently, their customers and prospects became increasingly confused about the offerings. The solution to this problem was to parse out Centrieva as the corporate brand (which would live in the background) and create Weave as the master brand with each product as a sub-brand of Weave. In applying “Weave” to each product name, we helped create brand association and recognition and showed how each product works together as one cohesive platform.

 

On the path to transformation, as you uncover the latent (or obvious) wants, needs and desires of your audience, it will become more clear which brand architecture is best suited for your organization. You may discover, like Uber did, that you are dealing with a completely different audience segment who doesn’t even know you currently exist. If you’re creating a product that addresses a subsequent pain point of your existing audience, your brand name will likely carry levity. And in that case, you could go the route of Virgin, applying your brand name to product descriptions or sub-brands.

 

Note: This article was originally published on October 11, 2017 and updated and republished on December 29, 2020.

Categories
Strategy

How to Set Content & Design Teams Up For CX Success

Content is crucial to a brand’s success because it communicates what a brand is all about.


Design is equally as crucial to a brand’s success because it helps customers retain those very messages that took so much effort to thoughtfully craft.


The ways in which content and design teams collaborate can often vary from company to company; some organizations umbrella all content and design employees into one big creative team who collaborate on projects regularly, while other digital companies break them up and pair them together on a project-by-project basis.


When working in silos, both components individually contribute to the way consumers feel and think about a brand, but when performed synergistically, they deliver seamless experiences that support the same objectives, speak to the same audiences, and project consistent characteristics. The end result? Increased customer sentiment, satisfaction, and likeliness to return.


Whether you’re building a website from scratch, developing an omnichannel marketing strategy or executing a complete company rebrand, there are a couple things that must happen in order to set content and design teams up for collaborative success.

Start with research

When planning a strategy for a digital CX transformation, research is key. There are two areas of research that design and content teams should prioritize: their audiences and their competitors.

Audiences

Both teams need a common understanding of who their audiences or core customer groups are, but they can’t just know the who – when crafting CX, it’s crucial to understand the why. These are the basic demographic questions that brands typically answer to identify their “who”:


  • What does your target audience look like?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What generation do they belong to?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What questions do they often ask themselves?

However, by answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups:


  • What deeper motivations or beliefs drive their decision-making?
  • What is causing them to seek out solutions now?
  • How do they assign value to the things they deem important?
  • Why do they value what they do?
  • What are their interests? (This is different than their hobbies) What are their opinions on ___________? (Fill in the blank as it pertains to your product or services)

By answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups.

Competitors

When looking at competitors, teams should choose 3-5 of their top competitors and take a deep dive into their CX strategy. How do they speak to their audience? What do they highlight as their defining features? Which social platforms are they utilizing? What types of content (video, infographics, blog post, etc.) do they have? What are their colors? What is the look and feel of their photography and design? What is the voice and tone?


The most important component of competitive research may be looking at competitors as a collective to discover opportunities to stand above the crowd. Gaps in the market allow brands to be unique and develop key differentiators and characteristics in design and content strategies.

Write the story

Every brand has a story, but it has to be written down and widely shared (and repeated) for cross-company alignment to manifest.


When developing a brand story, it’s important for companies to define their objectives: What should potential customers understand? What are the key takeaways? What are the shared values that drive them forward? Creating a shared understanding of the story lends way to crafting a mission statement and list of core beliefs that employees and customers can rally around.


On top of that, decisions must be made about the brand’s verbal personality and attitude – namely, voice and tone. Brand voice reflects how language is used to convey purpose and intention. It’s defined by a brand’s style of communication and can vary based on persona and values and can range from intellectual or authoritative to fun, witty or anything in between. Conversely, tone can change depending on what channel is being used or who is being addressed – however, a framework of how and when different tones are used should be established for consistency.


A brand story should be simple, clear, and straightforward, so much so that any stakeholder – internally or externally – could sum it up in one sentence. Of course, that’s not always easy. In fact, it often takes months of writing, rewriting, debating, discussing and exploring a variety of approaches and perspectives before a brand’s message becomes clear. When that’s complete, though, design and content are armed with a singular ethos that can inform the implicit and explicit messages their creations deliver.


  • An effective story should:
  • Communicate what a brand does
  • Make customers – both internally and externally – care
  • Explain the problem the brand is trying to solve for
  • Foster trust & loyalty with everyone it touches

Here are some brand statements from top companies that do just that:


  • Apple is dedicated “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
  • Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman believes, “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” And Nike, “stresses to show each and every person how to reach the athlete within themselves.”
  • Airbnb is creating “a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
  • Coca-Cola strives to, “craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit.”
  • Southwest strives to, “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Then visualize that story

It’s not just words that drive initial interest. emotional attachments or an overall experience with a brand. In fact, sometimes, design can play an even bigger role in that, especially when viewed through a lateral or psychological lens.


Voice and tone, as mentioned previously, set the stage. It gives a designer purpose to create, illustrate, and plan around. But taking that voice and tone to the next level with a visual archetype that aligns with things people have seen before, creates connection and relevancy, or elicits an emotional response can enable a brand to be understood without ever having to read anything.


A great example is Pinkberry. When defining the brand story, they chose a sweeter, more feminine look. Their visual design, whether on social media or in their yogurt shops, reflect a consistent aesthetic and mood. By using cursive typefaces, pastelle and airy colors, and curved illustrations, customers – old or new – immediately associate the brand with playful, approachable, youthful and delightful attributes.

 

Photo of Pinkberry's website

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story. Some things they take into consideration are:

Color:

  • Red: Communicates energy and urgency; Red is often used to communicate boldness, youthfulness and excitement
  • Orange: Sometimes perceived as aggressive, orange creates a call-to-action; it can elicit feelings of confidence, cheerfulness or friendliness
  • Yellow: An attention-grabber, yellow typically elicits feelings of optimism, clarity, and warmth
  • Green: The easiest color for the eye to process, green is often used in fields related to science, government and HR. It can cultivate feelings of peace, growth and health.
  • Blue: Often associated with feelings of trust and security, blue is seen as clean, calming, and professional, as well as dependent and strong.
  • Purple: Regularly used in the beauty industry, purple is associated with being wise, creative and imaginative.
  • Gray: The most practical and timeless of the colors, gray is used to communicate balance, neutrality, reliability and a level of calmness.
  • Black: Often used by luxury brands, black is seen as powerful and sleek. It can contribute to feelings of credibility, power, professionalism, and precision.

Shape:

  • Circular: Elicits feelings of community, friendship, love, partnership, unity, stability and innovation. Example of brands with a circular logo include Google Chrome, Starbucks, and Audi
  • Angular: Elicits feelings of professionalism, stability, and efficiency, as well as power, strength, balance, and reliability. Examples of brands include Mitsubishi Motors, Microsoft, and AirTable
  • Linear: Elicits feelings of exuberance, balance, sophistication, energy, and dynamic movement. Examples include AirBnB, Adidas, and Cisco

Whatever colors and shapes are used, the end result should visually represent the brand’s values, voice and tone.

Make the creative game plan

One question brands often ask is: Does the design framework come first? Or should content be strategized and written to drive design?


The answer: There is no answer. In fact, figuring that out is part of the creative process.


Some designers prefer to have content before they create a mockup. Some content creators prefer to know what space they need to fill before they begin writing. There is no right or wrong answer to your team’s plan as long as it is clearly defined, timelines are established, outlines are created and good project management is executed.


Teams who stick to the schedule and hold one another accountable benefit from more effective communication that helps bring the brand vision to life.

 

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story.

Evaluate your work & iterate regularly

As content and design work together, flexibility is key. A good CX strategy should be consistently evaluated, refined, evolved and transformed to meet ever-changing audience needs and compete with advancements in the industry.

 

Delegating tasks can help brands stay on top of potential and necessary updates: Direct content teams to share new trending keywords that can relate to a brand’s business or audiences and designers to report on new industry trends and evolving capabilities.

 

Ideally, all assets and content creation strategies should be evaluated at least once every six months.

The bottom line

Content and design can create powerful and consistent customer experiences when they work synergistically and are aligned on desired messaging. By bringing a number of creative brains with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to the table, you’ll be able to rethink what’s possible and create something that not only drives initial brand differentiation, but a process for continued improvement and growth that exceeds customers expectations and delivers exceptional value at every step of the journey.

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Mindfulness Strategy

Help Us Support Healthcare Heroes This Holiday Season

In the words of our leaders, 2020 was surreal and challenging, but also a year of immense of learning.
  
Through it all – the pandemic action plans, work from home, civil unrest and political elections – our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities. They have felt the long hours and longer days, held our loved ones who’ve recovered and passed, forfeited memories with their own children and partners, and supplied us with information when we needed it most. We are so thankful and forever in debt.

Throughout it all, our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities.

Help us help them

 
To put action to our words of thanks, on behalf of our Tallwave employees and clients, we are donating meals to the healthcare heroes of Banner Health. If you feel so inclined, you too can give back in the following ways:
 
  • Give a monetary donation here.
  • Donate personal items: If you have connections to secure bulk items of individually packaged meals, snacks and beverages, or bulk donations of personal care and comfort items (gentle and unscented skincare products, lip balm, cooling towels, mini fans, and more), contact Loren Bouchard at loren.bouchard@bannerhealth.com or 602-747-7439.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, our healthcare workers need our support more than ever. No action will ever be thanks enough for all they have done and continue to do. We are so grateful. 
 

A few words from our leaders

 
If you’d like to hear a few words about 2020 and how Tallwave navigated through the year, please watch the message from our leaders below:

Categories
Strategy

Solving for the Lack of Diversity in CX

Diversity and inclusivity – or lack thereof – in customer experiences impact all internal and external stakeholders touched by a brand. First, employees and second, consumers.

 

Throughout 2020, many companies – including our own – vowed to increase education, advocacy, and efforts towards diversifying talent and improving inclusivity in brand messaging. They set their sights on reaching new audiences and, in doing so, growing their core customers to include minority groups. But, as we’ve learned first-hand while working with Dr. Daryl Jones – a leadership development, organizational transformation & DEI consultant – that’s easier said than done. Creating diverse CX isn’t just a strategy to connect with external customers, it starts within a company’s walls where the true drivers of your experiences live and play.

 

In this Q&A, we talk to Dr. Daryl Jones about what it really takes to solve for the lack of diversity in CX and how this work contributes to the trust, confidence, and safety customers feel throughout their individual journeys with companies.

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

Q&A with Dr. Daryl Jones

Photo of Dr. Daryl Jones

Tallwave: Thank you so much for speaking with us today! To kick this off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

 

Dr. Daryl Jones: Sure, I grew up in the Midwest… completed my undergrad at Michigan State with a marketing degree. I went to graduate school in Chicago at DePaul and then went on to get my doctorate at Case Western in Cleveland. From a career perspective, I started off in the automotive industry and ultimately ended up in the sports industry with Nike. I spent about 19 ½ years there in a number of different roles, primarily in revenue generation, but I also did a really formative stint in diversity and inclusion. I was really focused on transforming the internal culture and how we made decisions around diverse communities. I taught college for a couple years and now I have my own consulting practice focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

TW: So, as you mentioned, you guide and consult organizations through diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) work. What are some high level trends you’re seeing in your work right now?

 

DJ: I’m seeing a lot of energy around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of learning around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of sensitivity in bias awareness. Where the fork in the road tends to appear is that separation between using this work as a branding opportunity versus an opportunity to transform and evolve the existing business model. That becomes a personal decision based on leadership. I am also seeing some really tough decisions having to be made, especially depending on the industry, about what a company’s vision is and how they foresee the nature of their workforce – demographics, psychographics, etc. Changes are having to be made if they plan to evolve…. But I’ve also seen companies use this [COVID] as a real opportunity to transform. While the chips are down for other companies, a lot of them have taken a leadership position in this zone and it has paid off.

TW: Why does work around improving diversity in CX have to start from within? A lot of companies want to craft diverse experiences for external customers but they can’t do that without first making internal choices and change. Why is that?

 

DJ: I think it’s very difficult. You may have a few [external CX] wins just by being innovative but eventually you’ll screw up, and when that time comes, the price can be heavy. We see it all of the time. It’s the minute you try to do too much and you convince yourself that you’re an expert in something you actually know very little about – which oftentimes is culture – or you appropriate a culture, that’s when the light shines on you. So, I think before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are and to what extent they embrace diversity across seven clear principles [voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture]. Not just the way we think or the experiences our employees have, but do you embrace this whole concept and the entire journey of every single employee that you have psychographically and demographically? And is their experience allowing them to add value to the organization like anyone else? Just having the numbers usually isn’t enough… Before you try to be an example or guide someone or a customer, you have a lot of work to do internally, whoever you are.

"Before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are."

TW: Many companies want to attract more diverse clients. How have you seen DEI changes within the company impact external success?

 

DJ: There’s a lot of two-way learning that takes place at that executive level [during the DEI work]… From an optics perspective, it’s important that the organization sees what the executive team says it values actually play out. [When that happens], the optics change. “Wow, okay, I see that person in the seat. I see that person making a decision. I see that person adding value at a high level, it’s not just talk anymore.” That’s empowering for an organization. From a business perspective, we talk a lot about how it adds to innovation and it does. But beyond innovation, when I talk about diversity, I assume talent. I’m not talking about making any concession to bring diversity on. I assume a high level of talent just as I do with someone who’s “non-diverse.” So, you’re adding talent to the organization – folks that have a professional journey that no one else has. That adds value to the organization…. That cascade [effect] has many aspects to it. The tough part is when organizations have operated so long without it and deem themselves successful. It can be tough to get around that corner because you’ve never experienced it. You are 70% of the time hitting your profit margin goals; your profit logic seems to work for you. Leaders sometimes question why they really need to make this change any higher than the baseline folks in the organization.

TW: It comes down to what you deem success as. Hitting quotas and making money is one type of success, but if you’re in the business of serving your community – even if you’re achieving your goals and the board is happy – you’re not really succeeding in the community.


DJ: The community aspect is really important. I’ll even stop short of that and say how successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity? There are markets you haven’t even pursued. So you’re making tough decisions now but it’s going to [end up benefiting] everything… If you’re serious about maximizing opportunity, I think not pursuing high level diversity is a big mistake.

 

TW: Let’s rewind and start at the beginning. How does your DEI work with a company typically begin?


DJ: I start with a conversation with the highest level executive team. I like to understand what their sense of the organization is right now. What’s prompting them to do this work? Are they willing to make really tough decisions down the road and maybe have some discomfort? Then I shift into a conversation with that second level of the organization and understand what’s the history been around diversity? What are the statistics telling us? What are the demographics of the organization? Then I like to hear from the organization and that’s where cultural assessments come in. It’s very difficult to do this work if you jump into training and development, but you haven’t accessed the organization across critical principles – that’s the next step. That’s the beginning of the work for me. It’s oftentimes the toughest part, especially when the data is staring you right in the face and the organization has been clear because everything we do is anonymous. So those are the first steps – to hear from everyone in the organization and not assume anything.

 

"How successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity?"

TW: How do you guide people through the realization and acceptance of the statistics that they did not intend to be racially unequal or biased in the company?

 

DJ: Fortunately, I have a pretty long history with a company who has had its peaks and valleys as it relates to racial diversity, and gender diversity quite honestly. So, part of what I can do is speak to experience and how – if a decision is made and embraced – how successful you can be… On the other hand, there are certain organizations that I wouldn’t try to convince a racially diverse employee base to work with because the culture is wrong for them. So, what I try to do is convince a leader that this journey they’re about to embark on must be personal and professional, but it must be personal first. If you’re disconnected outside of work, you’re going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work. Don’t think you can step in and step out – the Clark Kent Superman scenario – you can’t do that. This becomes a life journey and the two entities [personal & professional life] are connected. And if you don’t see it, employees see it. There’s a transparency piece to this that extends beyond working in the office. What does your life at home look like? And that’s the part that is often tough – you have to bring that personal shift into the office, you can’t put it on once you get to the office.

TW: What are some things people need to evaluate about their life at home? How does that impact their diversity efforts in the workplace?

 

DJ: Well, there’s a couple things. How willfully ignorant are you? Do you allow yourself to stand on the periphery of racism? Or are you active and addressing it? How complicit are you? Do you allow conversations to be had that are unacceptable in your presence? Are you dismissive? And I think another one that people really tend to overlook is how conflicted you can become when these other three things happen. Are you saying one thing at home and in your social circles and trying to say something different at work? I think that’s more important.

" If you're disconnected outside of work, you're going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work."

TW: How does social media play into this? How powerful is social media as an activist?

 

DJ: Well, I think social media can be powerful, but I think there are a number of people who use it as a crutch. There are some people who don’t post anything at all who are doing more work than any of us. Social media can tell us a lot, but I don’t rely on it for my answers. I have a process that I use to separate the branding aspect of this from the business model aspect… Social media plays a role, as it does in so many different sectors of life, but I personally don’t rely on that to make any determination on where a person is in this journey. It’s too easy to post or not post, or be so innovative in other aspects of your life, but when it comes to [DEI work] you become a re-poster, for example. So, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.

 

Also read: Social Media Mission Statements: What Are They & How Do They Help Your Strategy?

TW: Many companies shared sentiments of support for #BlackLivesMatter on social media but were then challenged to share what their plans for learning, listening and improving really were. If a company said the right words but didn’t know what actions to take, where can they start?

 

DJ: Honestly, maybe I’ve been around too long, but long enough to be skeptical. I don’t buy into the narrative of confusion and not knowing what to do. I buy into the narrative of it not being important enough. There are so many aspects of business where leaders have become experts because it was important to them and it was an undertaking that was a requisite. This isn’t treated as a requisite. I don’t know how you could be so confused about this, but so enlightened in other areas of the business. So, when I hear the words, “This can be confusing!”, I’m skeptical of that. I think you haven’t decided how important it is to you, yet. Or you have and you’re not talking about it. You’ve made a decision – it’s not important to you. I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me.

 

TW: That makes so much sense. You’re really fond of golf, and you want to be an expert in golf, so you go out and do it.

 

DJ: First thing you do, you hire a pro. Second thing you do, you buy clubs and you start practicing. It’s very simple if you want to be great at it. DEI is no different. What hasn’t been decided with a lot of leaders is “I want to be good at this and I want to make change.” Because there comes a point when the data is there and the numbers are staring at you, and it’s not about what I tell you anymore, it’s about what you want to do. And I love it when we get to that point because it’s not in my hands, anymore. The charter is there. The people who have stepped up and exercised their voices have done so with passion. What are you going to do?

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data Driven

"I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me."

TW: You’ve mentioned the need to make tough decisions a couple times. What are some of those tough decisions that companies often have to make?

 

DJ: If your executive team is all white and you claim you want to build a diverse organization, you have a tough decision to make. If you want to stay like that and still claim you’re going to be diverse, I think you have some really tough decisions to make. It’s not easy to change the composition of a team, initially… Oftentimes, I find that the work that they do remains lower down in the company. There’s no intention of shifting that homogenous group at the top. But to think you can remain static [within your leadership team] and bring [other] diverse employees in who think, “I’m not even going to get [advancement] in my head because there’s no one there that even looks like me, understands me, wants to connect with me.” I don’t see how that’s a viable journey for business leaders. If you say this is your vision, then you have to rethink everything. So, one of the toughest things for me is when we get to this charter phase – developing a charter for diversity – these decisions start to fall on the organizations. I can provide skeletal models and [outlines of] things you need to think about, but then decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them.

 

TW: So what kind of data or KPIs do you usually suggest for measuring how efforts are playing into overall business?

 

DJ: It’s critically important to understand the seven aspects that are critical to DEI – voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture. I measure employee sentiment on each one of those using a SWOT analysis. Do the responses represent a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat for your organization based on your employee feedback? Same with all seven. That tells us a number of different things: A) How employees feel because the SWOT analysis is anonymous, and B) what to measure our progress against. It provides a baseline for future work to see how valuable the change implemented is when we do additional assessments in 6-12 months. So, as opposed to simply relying on narratives, we use hard numbers. That tends to provoke folks to act. Along with that, we do supplement with narratives. Say more about the company’s voice and ask employees for feedback on that. It’s pretty much consistent though with the scores that we get. What’s interesting is we can get scores that range from a nine, which means this is a strength for the organization, or one, which highlights a threat. Leaders have to own all of the responses that they receive. For example, if you have an organization of 75 employees and 10% of your organization say opportunity is a threat, but your score ended up at an average 9.2, are you going to own that 10% or does that not matter? That threat is living and breathing in the organization. If it’s anonymous, what does that 10% look like? It’s the 10% who doesn’t feel relevant to the culture. So, we’re very diligent about that step in the process and were very diligent about leadership taking accountability.

"Decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them."

TW: Any last comments you’d like to share?

 

DJ: I believe in people and I believe in talent. I know how I grew up, and I don’t think hard work is enough. I think we have to acknowledge certain things that are systemic and certain things that we may not want to buy into. I like to get leaders out of embarrassment mode as soon as I can because a lot of embarrassment comes with this. You’re typically not producing when you’re in embarrassment mode. It’s okay to be embarrassed for a night when these numbers come through and you don’t like them. Turn around, get back to work, get out of the embarrassment mode, focus on what we’re going to do. Because often, this was never a focus. How could you have great assessment numbers?… [Leaders] can relearn and we can create new habits and beliefs, [they] just have to put in the work.

 

Learn more about Dr. Daryl Jones by checking out his podcast The Conscious Vibe and following him on LinkedIn, and read more about Tallwave’s culture on our website here.

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Strategy

What Is CX & Why Does It Matter

Just like life, CX is a compilation of moments. Not to be confused with UX – which describes experiences delivered through singular interactions, such as finding information, completing a task or searching a web page – decisions made in CX design are done so in a more holistic, long-term and enduring way that creates long-term trust and good will. When done right, it drives differentiated value and results in one million touch points over the course of a lifetime that empowers meaningful bonds with customers.

Often measured by overall experience or likeliness to continue use and recommend to others, CX is ultimately about making people feel good. It’s the new dark horse consciously and subconsciously driving buyers’ decision-making. With so many options and more power than ever to choose, customers can be more discriminatory about who they spend their time with and reward their money to. Simply put, if they don’t like you, they probably won’t continue to support you. On the other hand, if you give them an experience that is personal, memorable, and connects with them on a deeper level, you’ll win more than just their wallet share.

Simply put, if they don’t like you, they probably won’t continue to support you.

What does good CX look like & entail?

Good CX aligns purpose with value, is consistent, builds trust, and adds ease and enjoyability to every touchpoint and stage. It creates lasting impressions that drive customers – and employees – to shout your praises from the rooftops.

 

Crafting experiences is less about designing and controlling every single interaction. That’s not possible. It’s more about crafting the conditions in which certain types of interactions – ones that result in a positive and feel good impression – can happen consistently and reliably over time. That type of work takes data, commitment and, perhaps most importantly, strong cross functional collaboration.

 

Also read: How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

It all starts with your customer

You can’t have a great customer experience without understanding your customer – not to only understand what they think, feel and value, but why they think, feel, and value the things they do. It’s this type of data gathering, analysis and segmentation that enables brands – despite the industry or legacy longevity – to personalize their entire customer journey to satisfy customers’ unique needs.

 

Using both qualitative and quantitative strategies to gather information and compiling psychographic profiles as well as demographic ones can give you powerful insights into what your customers value most. The energy you invest into getting to know and truly serve your customers is the energy they’ll give back to you.

Then it takes heart

CX encompasses both internal and external stakeholders – in other words, employees, and customers – and when crafting CX, brands must prioritize human needs before business needs and work from the inside out. That means taking a hard look at the culture and experience provided for employees and mending areas of friction, breakdown or inconsistency with the brand’s core values.

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t All Be Data Driven

 

Part of cultivating a positive culture is empowering cross functional collaboration, a crucial component of integrated success that directly impacts external CX. Each person and team must understand the goals and play towards the same result. Crafting operational CX is like conducting an orchestra – each player contributes to the final product. No singular team can be the designated driver of CX. It takes collaboration between different functions to provide a holistic experience from the surface to the core that stays true to the brand’s purpose and delivers consistent messaging and predictability across all touchpoints, channels, and platforms for the end user.

Core Messaging Framework | Tallwave

Never stop evolving

Just as people evolve and grow over time, so should CX. Doing so requires a commitment to establishing feedback loops and signals that tell you how you’re doing, as well as a commitment to iterating and improving the areas of your business that impact CX. These include your personas, content, design experiences, marketing channels, product developments, and your employee-customer interactions. Doing so will ensure you will continue to deliver unforgettable moments that increase loyalty, build community, keep competitors at bay, and plant seeds for future growth.

 

Investing in excellent customer experiences is just that, an investment, but if done right, it can create a snowball effect of success.

 

Also read: How Companies Are Adapting Their CX During COVID-19

Stats That Prove the Importance of CX

Many studies have been completed around customer experience and sentiment through the years. Here are a couple stats that prove just how much a good CX strategy can impact business:

  • A PWC survey found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that deliver positive customer experiences.
  • A Globe News Wire segment survey found that personalized experiences motivated 49% of buyers to make impulse purchases.
  • Out of 15,000 surveyed, PWC found that 1 in 3 consumers would abandon a brand they loved after just one bad experience; 92% would abandon after 2 or 3 bad experiences.
  • Customer service is dictating purchasing habits. A Salesforce survey reported that 73% of people who experience CX from one business raise the standards they hold other companies to. 

And with more and more companies investing money into improving their customer experiences each year (79% of surveyed executives told Simpler Media Group that improving digital CX is a very or extremely high priority for 2020 & on), some are already leading the way. Companies including Drift, AirBnB, and Lululemon continuously set the pace and expectation standards for their markets and are always looking for the next best way to personalize journeys to their customers’ needs.

The Bottom Line

Not every business or brand needs an altruistic mission but it does need to connect with its customers and be cognizant of how it makes customers feel at each stage in the user journey. “Experience is everything” is not just our rallying cry at Tallwave, it’s where we see consumers moving and where consequently brands need to move, as well. Companies who deliver exceptional experiences and make consumers feel good about their interactions will be the ones who become and remain relevant. It takes work and it requires continual commitment, but if the relationship with your customers matters to you as a brand, then it’s a commitment that should be fun and well worth it.

Categories
Strategy

How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

 

COVID-19 may be the business disruption on everyone’s mind today. But business disruptions can and have occurred for many reasons, including cataclysmic weather events, terrorist actions, major economic setbacks/recessions and many more. When you think about the past couple of decades, events like these come along once every few years. Whatever the curve balls thrown at your business, there’s always one thing that can help you shake off disruption. And that’s a strong brand.

 

A powerful brand creates safety, giving customers a sense of consistency and security in times of uncertainty. A strong brand also creates loyalty, allowing businesses to pivot to new products and services when the circumstances warrant it. The best brands are able to do this simply because what their customers are buying is not the product, but the actual brand itself.

Nearly a century’s worth of brand momentum puts the ‘+’ in Disney+.

Since its origins in 1923, The Walt Disney Company has been building powerful emotional connections with multiple generations of consumers. In March 2018, Disney undertook a strategic reorganization and created a Direct-to-Consumer division in anticipation of integrating 21st Century Fox’s assets. One of the first new products to be announced by the division was the OTT streaming service Disney+.

 

Such was the level of anticipation for the new service, Disney+ was the top trending Google search term in 2019 in the US. The service launched on November 12, 2019 and by the end of the year had already achieved 26.5 million subscribers. By April, Disney+ had reached 50 million paid subscribers, and 60.5 million subscribers as of August 4, 2020 –– less than nine months after its launch. To understand the scale of this accomplishment, consider it took Netflix nearly 10 years to achieve 60 million subscribers.

 

On first glance you may think, of course, Disney+ would be this successful. But there are countless examples where businesses tried to make a similar jump with brand extensions and fell flat. Colgate Dinner Entrees, Cosmopolitan Yogurt and Harley Davidson After Shave are just a few memorable examples. The reason we believe Disney was able to do it so gracefully was due to their remarkable brand affinity.

Starbucks serves up outstanding experiences and OK coffee.

In 1989, author Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase ‘The Third Place’ in his influential book The Great Good Place. The notion of the third place — with home being the first place and work the second — was enthusiastically embraced by then Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who made sure his fast growing coffee chain offered an attractive and comfortable environment in which to sit, use the wi-fi to surf the web, talk on the phone, get a little work done and drink a coffee or two.

 

Schultz didn’t exactly blaze the trail of the notion of the third place; arguably the British created the original third place with their public houses or pubs hundreds of years earlier. He didn’t have the best coffee either — Consumer Reports ranked the coffee at Dunkin Donuts both better and cheaper than Starbucks. But what Schultz and his team built was a world-class experience that consumers loved,  embraced and returned to time and again.

 

As was the case with the Disney example above, it wasn’t about the product, unless you define the product as the entire experience. But it’s this experience that has given the Starbucks brand permission to broaden their offerings from coffee and tea to sandwiches, wraps, salads and other food options and even beer and wine in the evening at some locations that include stages to become live music venues.

Patagonia resonates with its audience through shared values. 

Patagonia, a manufacturer of upscale outdoor clothing, is known for its various environmental sustainability efforts. The company has been known to promote wearing used clothing and in its 2011 Holiday campaign even asked consumers to think twice before buying its products. In spite of what appears to be an anti-marketing effort, the company saw its revenues grow about 30% to $543 million in the following year. In 2019, the company achieved over $1 billion in sales.

 

Patagonia has built a strong emotional and tribal connection to its customers which not only protects the brand but also allows it to succeed even as it adopts an alternative course to what most manufacturers would consider the established best practice. For example, Patagonia has led an effort to expand the useful life of its products, an effort that is at odds with the planned obsolescence approach of most manufacturers. It seems the company’s environmentally friendly efforts have resonated with the sort of consumer it targets. More of these people are buying Patagonia products as they see the company’s long-lasting wares as a way to demonstrate and express their values.

“Don’t Buy This Jacket.” 

With consumers becoming more frugal during the Great Recession and its aftermath, they were less inclined to buy on impulse and tended to shop more for value. Consumers were becoming more interested in goods that lasted a long time, and Patagonia saw an opportunity there to promote its own long-lasting wares. 

 

The marketing strategy led to the company’s running an advertisement during the 2011 Thanksgiving season that read “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The advertisement talked about the cost to the environment of one of the company’s best-selling fleece jackets, asked consumers to reconsider before buying the product, and instead opt for a used Patagonia product. 

 

What resonates with Patagonia customers is that the company doesn’t just talk the environmental talk. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, an accomplished rock climber, also backs up the company’s talk with its actions. The company donates a portion of its revenue to environmental causes and uses recycled, “Fair Trade” certified, and organic material in its clothing. It also uses solar energy at its company headquarters in Ventura, Calif., and it is one of the founders of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a group of companies that has promised to reduce its environmental footprint.

 

The company’s message has resonated with the sort of environmentally conscious and upscale consumers that Patagonia sees as its target audience. These sorts of consumers like the idea of buying a product that is made by an environmentally friendly company in an environmentally friendly manner.

World War II was just the beginning of the battle for Jeep, one of America’s most admired brands.

Jeep’s early history and its role during World War II is the stuff of legend. On the battlefield, it was fast, nimble and tough and could handle nearly any terrain. It could ford rivers and traverse lakes. But even as Jeep became hugely popular in the post war period, the brand was held back by a succession of weak corporate owners. From Willys to Kaiser to AMC to Chrysler, each corporate entity that acquired Jeep subsequently failed and some entered into bankruptcy — for reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with Jeep.

 

It was the strength of the Jeep brand that ensured it prospered even while a succession of corporate parents did not. It was Jeep that pioneered the development of the enormously popular SUV category which is a large part of what attracted former owner Chrysler and current owner Fiat S.p.A. to acquire the brand.

 

It speaks to the enormous power and affection that exists for the Jeep brand that it can survive that many missteps and changes in ownership. For 80 years now, Jeep has made its mission to provide “Vehicles enabling life’s extraordinary journeys.” And fulfilling that mission has taken the brand on an extraordinary journey of its own.

 

Ready to build a strong, resilient brand for your company?

 

If you’d like to protect your business from business disruptions and stagnation by building a strong brand that resonates with your customers and employees, give Tallwave a call. We’d love to discuss your objectives and show you how we’ve helped other brands prepare for and respond to changing circumstances in their business and marketplace.