The #futureofmarketing | Why Meaningful Branding Matters?

A few month earlier I ran a workshop for the Outbox Incubator, a very interesting initiative of Stemettes to attract more young girls to stick to STEM subjects and get interested in entrepreneurship as well. The particular challenge in putting my slides together laid in their age: how do you explain branding in the simplest of terms, to primary or high school students? But when it finally came together, I realised, this may just be the perfect way to explain these ideas to any branding virgin adult too. (And maybe provide a bit of a material for all brand marketers out there when they need to support their strategy.)

Let’s start with the basics: what is a brand?

My view and favourite explanation is that every brand serves as shortcut in reality. There is a mind-boggling variety of products, services and potential choices in almost all category. No wonder that people opt for wearing the same uniform every day or become somewhat repetitive in their breakfast choices: making decisions is hard and takes a lot of energy away. Even if the famous jam experiment has since been disproven, human brains are still geared towards efficiency and we are generally very happy to just beeline for the usual products and not worry too much about the content of our basket. (I mean look atMorrison’s 2010 study, the average British supermarket basket is not even very much different from those of 50 years earlier.)
If we have trust towards the brand of that product, that is.

Read the rest of it on Linkedin, where it has been featured, woopwoop.

Ripples and Real Life Effects of Startup Hype, #1

It’s been on my to do list for some month now to translate an earlier trilogy of articles from Hungarian to English, and magic has finally started to happen. Published on Barcinno, you can find some ideas on how the startup craze effects real life and longer term thinking. Here is the first part:
Most trends and waves run the same course. A few crazy visionaries start it, followed by innovators and early adopters, and then the big ones eventually reach the tipping point, spilling over into mainstream consumerism. They become well known and available to the masses – think last autumn’s high street fast fashion punk inspiration overload – and in the same time somewhat less hip for those picking it up in the first place.
On the other hand, more time, practice and eyeballs also mean that we understand the trend much better, hopefully leading to more development and more successful outcomes. In the particular case of startup culture, we are currently somewhere nearing this tipping point. I mean my mum reads about Prezi and Ustream in the Hungarian Marie Claire, tech can hardly get much more mainstream than that.Read the rest of it here!

Water Drop

Food Waste and Its Solutions

During the last few weeks I was working on a study on food waste, and how our attention started to shift to this problem.

In many aspects, the story of food waste is a story of success. Rich countries produce 3-4 times the food they actually need, which means feeding the world is a solvable problem. 
In many other aspects however, the situation is more than tragic: we waste 1.2 to 2 billion ton of food every year, produce most of our grains and many other grocery products for animal consumption and destroy rain forests and biodiversity to cultivate food we don’t even need really. 

But it’s up to us if the story becomes a tragedy or a comedy in the end: with surprisingly straightforward and common sense steps, a bit more of conscientiousness, information and better tech, we can solve this question and reduce hunger all over the world. 

You can read the full article accompanying the slides, and how a Barcelona startup aims to disrupt the current distribution system here on Barcinno.

Branding for Startups – Can trust become competitive advantage against big brands?

When I wrote about the advantages of building your startup with a brand focus from the beginning I got the question: isn’t a brand something that requires years and a long-term approach to build? It does, to stay alive and relevant for a long time. But we shouldn’t give into the belief that a brand, an image is a constant, an unshakable quality that will never evolve. 

It can be downright challenging for big brands to stay relevant and recognize the time to let go of a heritage that is meaningful no longer. Though some luxury and heritage brands will always stay on demand – as Burberry became chic again only after they cut off the franchises, returned to domestic production and focused on the traditional product line and quality – others will thrive to disrupt themselves to stay exciting and fresh for younger customers.

if brands would disappear

And only exciting is not enough. A maturer, more demanding kind of consumer generation is growing up, already requiring to be able to trust the brands they buy from. They look at businesses as responsible members of the society and decisions are increasingly made based on the transparency of said businesses. 

Not to mention it is easier to maintain trust then gaining it back again. Do you trust big corporations? Is it easy to believe that they are up to no mischief? In our era privacy finally becomes a real concern for the average customer – and is definitely already super important for your early adopter – so as sustainable solutions, local products and the actions and beliefs of CEOs. 

Thanks to almost unlimited information we are quick to boycott Firefox – otherwise a big favorite for their development principals and privacy policy – because of a comment denouncing gay marriage. In effect similarly, Abercombie&Fitch suffered 17% drop in sales since they declared how they are only for the cool AND slim kids out there.

This perceived access to all information works in favour of startups. First, conscientiously building on transparency to communicate our genuine good intentions is also easier when you are just starting out. Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles is a good example: I salute their aim to eliminate the use of down plucked from geese still alive or force-fed for foie gras. However, if you are building a clothing company right now, you can choose your supplier with this requirement in mind and look better from the start.

You also don’t need to turn around a whole organisation and convince a board of directors either. Imagine how much work it was for Auchan to make their complete sustainability report available for every customer!

consumer trust

Secondly, many projects would never be able to spring to life without this trust. Running a successful Kickstarter campaign based on a promise wouldn’t be possible without people willing to try out new things and early adopters couldn’t inspire mainstream usage either.

In terms of communication, the biggest challenge for established brands comes exactly from this: clean slate brands, startups often embody contemporary customer values better. The values our users seek are our owns and communicating them honestly trumps any clever strategy. It’s easier to be sustainable, ethical and accessible from the beginning, than changing already existing perceptions and building up a new image. 

Yes, if you want to build a strong brand, you are in for the long haul. But whatever you do, will contribute to how consumers perceive you as a company and as a brand, even if marketing is nowhere on your mind. Better to be mindful about it, and use all the advantage you happen to got.