Article | February 17, 2021
In today’s world, brand marketing goes much further than marketing campaigns and advertising.
When it comes to brand advocates, we typically think of social media influencers and the more traditional brand ambassador. However, what better brand advocate than your very own employees?
Matthew Hayes, managing director of brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains the importance of using employees as brand advocates and the benefits to both the brand or business and its staff.
What is a brand advocate?
A brand advocate is somebody that shares the same values and ethos as a brand, representing them in a positive light, often helping to increase brand awareness and even sales.
Typically speaking, a brand advocate is often a social media influencer, a brand ambassador or there is some sort of mutual, or contractual agreement in place.
However, who are the most powerful spokespeople for a brand or business? The people who work there, of course. These people are often the living embodiment of the brand and front-line representatives that can make or break that brand interaction.
It may not be the most traditional concept or the one we necessarily think of first, but it definitely makes the most sense. Particularly in a time where employee retention and communication are so important.
Brand advocates are a way to drive organic and authentic traffic to a brand or business. Whilst the Internet and social media are incredibly powerful tools for raising brand awareness, nothing quite beats word-of-mouth marketing.
In 2016, a global study found that 50% of employees share something on their own social media channels about their employer. And given that social media has upped the ante over the last few years, I expect this figure to be significantly higher in today’s climate.
So, with that in mind, brands should be working towards improving their internal communications to create a better relationship with employees, promote their vision and mission, and raise brand awareness through organic brand advocacy.
Brand advocacy builds brand love
When done correctly, brand advocacy can build brand love and there are a number of ways to do that.
Whilst many brands focusing their attentions to external communications, however, many neglect or overlook the importance of internal communications and training.
Internal communications are a phenomenal way for brands and businesses to collectively communicate with their employees. Whether this is done via training courses or conferences, internal Intranet or even an email newsletter, this can help improve employees’ knowledge of the business, the brand and the products or services.
Not only that, but internal communications help boost staff morale, providing them with motivation and detailed information ensuring they are involved and up to date with all aspects of the business.
They also provide a sense of togetherness, connecting employees through a series of shared visions, missions, goals and objectives.
Here, is where consumer and employee sentiment is key. Consumer sentiment has always been an important variable in businesses, allowing owners to forecast production, plan ahead or adjust their output depending on popular opinion – and the same goes for employees, too.
And if brands aren’t entirely sure how to turn their attention to employee sentiment, the first step to make is investing in a brand audit or brand value proposition. These can help to educate and ensure stakeholder and employee perceptions are aligned, as well as making sure people are communicating the same messages, vision, mission and values of the brand.
A brand vision is simply intent. The vision should support and reflect the long-term business strategy and help guide the future. And a brand mission, is a statement that communicates the purpose and objectives of a brand.
And with the vision and mission of the brand in mind, it is important for brands and businesses to consider both employees and consumers to ensure values are shared across the board.
Employees are key
Employees are a pivotal part of any business. And quite simply, without them, businesses wouldn’t be able to function. It is the employee’s business just as much as the employers, so it is only right for them to play a part and get involved.
We are beginning to see more well-known brands implementing this strategy and using their employees as a face of the brand, rather than just working their magic behind the scenes. Disney are a great example of this as its employees have been the embodiment of the brand and its ethos for years.
The likes of Sass and Belle, Lindex and Zoella are all putting staff at the forefront of their brands, getting them just as involved as main stakeholders.
Sass and Belle, for example, have a website filled with images of their employees and often share quotes and content from them, too. This in turn, creates a more personal and emotional bond between the brand and the consumer, as the brand is no longer faceless.
Similarly, in 2015, Lindex launched an underwear campaign and instead of tapping into their network of professional models, they used their own employees and have continued to do so. Again, this improves their position in the market by appearing more relatable and creating that all-important emotional connection.
And Zoella often shares content, crediting employees for their ideas, allowing them to take part in social media takeovers and truly getting them involved. By doing so, they are adding personal and humanistic elements to their branding – and it’s paying off, too.
In doing this, the brand achieves an even wider reach as employees share the brand’s content across their personal channels, get to know their online connections and create organic relationships with potential consumers themselves.
Not only that, but this creates reputation, making brands come across as a desirable employer and recruiter, as well as helping to retain current staff and employees.
Listening to new ideas, accepting criticism and being transparent is also paramount. Your employees may well be your consumers too, and as they say, the customer is always right.
After all, employees are the ultimate representative of a brand, and Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at Influencer Matchmaker says, “It’s important to remember we’re living in a social age where employees are becoming micro-influencers in their very own right.
“For example, Emily Rose Moloney started out as an employee for ASOS and now, working as a fashion influencer, is promoting them on her social media channels, with her Instagram account gaining almost 80k followers.”
What employees think of a brand or business they work for speaks volumes. And employees help to drive brand awareness, so empowering them through a plan of brand advocacy is a sure-fire way to achieve great results.
So, next time you are seeking to boost stats and see results, consider the power of your employees and come together to create your very own culture.
Lead by example, work together and invest in your employees.
Article | January 27, 2021
As we enter 2021 with a fresh and positive mindset, we are also entering the New Year with a brand-new set of tactics to help reach new consumers by placing brands, products and services at the forefront of desired audiences.
When it comes to brand marketing, storytelling is pivotal when trying to create relationships with consumers. By utilising emotion and taking a humanistic approach in this, brands are able to provide consumers with reasons as to why they should buy into their products, without a pushy, non-emotive hard-sell.
And with that in mind, Matthew Hayes, Managing Director at brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains why storytelling is a must-have tactic for the year ahead.
The art of storytelling
Now more than ever before, resonating with the audience on a personal level is key, and what better way to do that than through storytelling.
Marketing doesn’t always have to be about a direct sales pitch, but rather a connection and relationship that has been built up over time. And with that, comes brand loyalty and customer retention.
When done effectively, storytelling is truly an art within itself. Sales should equate to product education rather than direct instruction. And it is this, that makes people subconsciously realise their need or want for a product or service.
Storytelling takes the customer on an educational journey, allowing them to understand the brand, what it stands for, what the benefits are to them and why its products are good value for money. This then leads customers to build strong feelings of want and desire, rather than just need.
This is all part of creating a brand. Customers begin to feel something about it, which is want warrants a business or product the status of a brand. And it’s this emotional connection that differentiates you from being just a commodity seller based on price, and positions you as a recognisable ‘brand’ that people engage with on a deeper level.
And research demonstrates that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable and effective than facts, which is why brand storytelling is a must-have tactic for 2021.
How to tell a story
Creating a compelling narrative requires a carefully devised long-term strategy. But, while this is an important element, what is perhaps the defining factor in commercial success is its ability to resonate with us, as humans.
Storytelling should be powerful and filled with emotion, in whatever capacity that may be. From laughter and happiness to sadness and grief, emotion can come in a plethora of varieties.
Emotion is what captures the consumer and when a story is both personable and relatable, it builds brand love and deepens the connection between the brand and the consumer.
Not only that, but emotion also impacts the purchasing decisions of consumers and without it, businesses are much less likely to make that all-important sale.
And if brands combine emotion with consumer needs, then they have the recipe for success.
With the rapid onset of digitisation across all industry sectors fuelled by the COVID-19 crisis, the way in which a brand tells their story is having to change in order to keep up with the times and meet the newfound needs of consumers and channels.
With the plethora of channels and shortening attention span of the consumers, video content is the best way to evoke emotion. Put simply, videos are more engaging and because of that, will continue to play an increasingly important role in the marketing mix throughout 2021.
They are easy to understand, digest and share and typically create a deeper connection between the brand and consumer, meaning that people will resonate with it much more.
Storytelling done right
No one is better at brand storytelling and investing in emotions than the world-famous Disney. From its theme parks and hotels to its films, merchandise and staff, the entire brand has been built from the ability to tell a story, and consistency of delivery.
For consumers to truly connect with a brand, they must implement consistency across their strategy, messaging and storytelling. And while there may be creativity in the way these messages are conveyed, the underlying messages and ethos must remain to be consistent.
The Disney experience plays a pivotal role in the brand’s story. It’s narrative and essence completely come to life when consumers interact with its offerings, taking on a role within the storyline. In doing so, deeper emotional bonds are created, bringing the brand to the forefront of both people’s minds and memories.
Similarly, gym-wear brand Sweaty Betty have also become well recognised thanks to its ability to tell a story. What began as a normal brand selling high-quality gym-wear that sat outside of the norm, became known worldwide for changing its narrative by becoming so much more than just a provider of gym-wear.
Sweaty Betty is not only a brand for women, created by women, but a brand that listens to its consumers. It’s messaging such as ‘respect your sweat’ and ‘empowering women through fitness and beyond’ is reflective of inclusivity, body positivity and raises awareness of diversity, using its brand, products and people to continue to tell that very story.
A must-have tactic for 2021
In order to keep up and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds, brands need to focus their strategies on telling a story.
Storytelling is as old as mankind, dating back to cave paintings and the bible. And modern-day storytelling allows brands to use the full extent of multi-channel media, applying to all of the five senses. It allows the brand to educate, taking the consumer on an educational journey rather than advertising, which can only convey one message at a time.
It can build in sub plots, ethos, ethics and values, bringing the full personality of the brand as well as the people behind these brands to life, while also highlighting how these ‘personality traits’ mirror those of the consumer.
It is through this 'bonding' that the consumer can feel for the brand, rather than simply seeing or knowing about it. Feeling is a pivotal part of branding, and without it, the brand and its products, are just a commodity, based on nothing more than consumer needs and cost.
Brands are consumed based on a want or desire, with price being far less prevalent. Therefore, brands offer businesses far greater profit margins and a more loyal consumer base - the holy grail.
And when executed effectively, the story helps build brand love through evoking a deeper, more authentic connection with its consumers.
As a result, brand storytelling is priceless, and quite simply a must-have tactic for 2021 and beyond.
Article | February 27, 2020
Many startups think that content marketing is confined to creating content and pushing it on social media. This is where they lag because content marketing is much more than that. There are many slants of content marketing that has the potential to give a boost to your business. Content marketing if done efficiently can open new doors of opportunities for your business. It helps you to design an effective brand communication strategy for reaching your target audiences. Therefore, it is necessary that as a startup you should know the best way to do it and avoid making mistakes that could put an adverse impact on your business.
Article | August 11, 2020
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has proven to be one of the fundamental building blocks of the digital marketing niche. Almost every online business implements SEO strategies to boost their online visibility and improve search engine rankings.Take into account that approximately half of the web traffic worldwide comes via mobile searches, and your heed automatically shifts towards the all-important domain of mobile optimization.Google has been pressing the point of mobile-first indexing for the past few years. It rolled out the mobile-first index in 2018, but more recently, it has announced mobile-first indexing for the whole web.