We First Founder and CEO Simon Mainwaring recently hosted a webinar detailing how companies can develop human brands that all its stakeholders will want to build together. The following is select excerpts from the webinar, which can be watched in its entirety here. To begin your personal or business journey toward becoming a human brand yourself, check out We First Works — a series of online courses that help you and/or your company define and activate purpose.
SIMON MAINWARING: What we’re going to focus on today is the human brand and it’s really important for a number of critical reasons:
- It doesn’t matter how much technology is out there. Whether it’s social, mobile, digital, AR, AI or VR, you still need an emotional connection with a brand if somebody’s going to pay attention and buy your product.
- As employees come to consider where they’re going to work, more than ever they’re looking their emotional connection to the brand. Do they feel like the brand cares and stands for the same things as they do? If you want to win that war with your competitors, you need to have emotional resonance out there in the marketplace.
- Brands are increasingly being held accountable for what they stand for. They’re functioning as movements. Advertising is morphing into activism and advocacy, in which case the humanity of your brand is absolutely critical.
How do you become a brand that all stakeholders want to build because of their emotional connection to your company, its products and its services? And as we think about this topic, we need to consider human storytelling, which is about mobilizing the emotion of the brand and the passion of the brand. How do you do that?
- Know that story transcends technology. I don’t think there’s a child born today whose very experience of life isn’t going to be informed by all the data that’s going to be shared on its behalf. That said, we’re still human beings sitting around a campfire telling stories. We need to have that emotional connection to story. People often make the mistake of thinking story as codifying the past, but story does an equally powerful job in terms of defining the future. The narratives we tell actually frame how we’re going to behave and think, which determines what happens in the future.
- You must define a human story worth telling to be a brand worth sharing. You all know somebody who can tell a joke and you all know somebody who can’t tell a joke. You’re not going to repeat the joke of the person who can’t tell the joke because the joke sucked. But the person who’s really good at telling the joke, you’re more likely to tell the joke. Similarly, you’ve got to tell a story that people are going to want to share and then how well you tell that story and how well your humanity shows up will really determine how well others can share it on your behalf.
The real power of social technology out there is not so much the ability of you to broadcast about yourself to others, but rather for you to reach somebody and inspire them to share it with their peer group, their colleagues, or their network. So, it’s not one to many, it’s one to one to many. On the strength of that, you’ve really got to empower a lot of people who aren’t professional marketers — customers & consumers — to really understand your brand and share it with others. So how do you do that?
- Create compressed complexity. The challenge we all face is distilling down your brand to a singular, fundamental, human property — an attribute, an emotion, something that speaks to the humanity of the brand, that’s your touchstone that you can return to time and time again. You’ve got Unilever distilling down its overarching global messaging with its portfolio brands down to “Sustainable Living.” Starbucks with “Shared Planet.” “Smarter Planet” with IBM. Airbnb: “Belong Anywhere.”
- Declare your mission and values upfront. If you really want to unlock the value of purpose as a brand out there in the marketplace, it has to impact all aspects of your business from supply chain, to culture, through to product innovation, through the marketing and, yes, community building and CSR.
- Be specific. It’s great news that more brands are becoming purposeful out there. At the same time, it makes it more competitive, so the more specific you are, the more differentiated you can be. If you look in the nonprofit world, there’s many organizations out there that are all addressing a similar cause: clean water, child mortality, education, etc. If you all just speak to the cause and say, “We’re supporting education for youth” — you’re not differentiated. You’re not giving anyone a reason to support your individual non-profit and the same is true of your company.
The fundamental need of any brand today if you want to drive growth is a simple, consistent, and scalable message. The only way to break through this is to inspire every stakeholder in your brand community to work with you so that everybody becomes an extension of your marketing department.
For more insights watch the webinar in full. If you want to unlock the value and growth described above for your business, visit WeFirstWorks.com to access courses that will show you step-by-step how to define your company purpose. It will not only ensure you are relevant to today’s marketplace but it will ensure every department of your company add value to drive business growth. Click here for all the course information.