Undoubtedly, it is important for brands to be where their customers are, talk to them, learn from them but these actions are not accomplished with digital transformations only. The great temptation for brands is to convert technology into its primary means of transformation. Although technology is necessary, it is only a mean. Transformation is the emergent property of an evolved brand.
Apart from being on the cloud, of building “seamless” experiences, of offering excellent digital services and really attractive contents, we have to maintain and add to the human part of the equation: have a unique purpose, meet the important needs of the others and strive to improve people’s lives.
The 80% of a brand building is achieved through human behavior. People want to know the objective of a company and they want to see if they deliver on their brand promises.
In these times of abundance of information, where trust is a scarce resource, people demand brands to have a more key role, not only in achieving superior economic results but in innovating and growing up and also in solving social and global environmental problems. It is not enough that companies hire more people or develop more and better products, services and technologies; people want to know the purpose behind the brands.
Thanks to technology, people in any role (customer, consumer, investor, employee, stakeholder, baby boomer, millennial, generation Z…) are more global and can solve global problems by networking. In any role, the goal is the same: that the brands take care and improve the world. With our decisions we can either reward or punish brands based on their behaviors.
For example, within primary audiences we can find:
- Consumers that increasingly wonder where the products and services come from. They know that their purchase options play a more direct role in persuading companies to behave responsibly. They want the brands to involve them more, to reflect better their efforts of being on the right track.
- People who, at the time of looking for a job, also seek companies that are active agents in society.
- Conscious investors that use their investment options to influence corporate behaviors.
In order to meet these expectations, brands can do two things: work at cooperating and coordinating (in this order) what one thinks, makes and says: use its purpose as an operating system and build significant relationships with their key audiences.
- Purpose as an operating system: Once it is defined, the brand´s purpose works as an operating system upon which the company operates, chooses what products and services it offers (and which ones it DOES NOT), in which sectors and geographies it operates (and in which ones it DOES NOT), whom it hires; what products it develops and how it develops and promotes them; whom it dismisses, what businesses it acquires, what assets it owns, what efforts it makes to manage corporate responsibility, how it markets and sells products, how it gets related to the stakeholders, what kind of stakeholders it seeks, when, why and how often they get into contact; how it manages its supply chain, how it selects, manages and operates its facilities, who it lends to and borrows from, … and so on every day.
- Significant relationships with key audiences: Audiences can be managed to act upon risk and/or on purpose. The first approach prioritizes to reduce bad outcomes and the second one, prioritizes to enhance good results. Business is a good platform for change. On balance, there exists a great opportunity to positively influence employees and customers worldwide, making them part of the strategic positioning of the brand.
Audiences interested in the company:
Primary (Market): Those on whom companies´ decisions have a direct impact. These include: employees, owners, investors, consumers, customers, banks, suppliers, distributors, contractors
Secondary (Non market): Those on whom companies´ decisions have an indirect impact. These include: Government, community, civil society, trade unions, cooperatives, associations, media, academic institutions, competitors.
If brands serve the interests of the main parties involved, this platform of common objectives between the needs of the company and the needs of the audiences creates long-term discussions that generate the results that enable the functioning and growth of the organization, as long as its purpose is relevant.
The race will be won by those brands that broadly define their purposes and integrate them into their organizations, offering social, environmental and economic value and by conducting business in a way that will serve the community.