A very pertinent question all businesses must answer is – ‘How do you create value for sustainable growth?’
The wrong answer is to concentrate on “selling your stuff” rather than clarifying the value of what people are actually buying. Instead, entrepreneurs and businesses should concentrate on creating value! HOW?
On Saturday 17 March 2018, at The-Encubator Coffee Chat, over 30 participants were given a compact yet comprehensive answer to this question from Christina Yong, who has directed marketing for top brands at FnN, L’oreal, Colgate, U Mobile, Bolton, Wipro Unza; and currently at Southern Lion whose care products includes Top, Shokubutsu, and Systema. Christina’s experience in brand building spans 30 years.
Why do some brands keep growing while others wane and eventually die? It is due to those in charge having a passion for continual learning – because life never stops learning – in a process more like a marathon rather than a sprint.
Learning to create value starts with clarifying ‘Who we are’; and then ‘How do we convey who we are in a way that is meaningful to customers’. This can be expanded into 4 points as follows:
1. Who are our prospective customers?
Understand your prospective customers according to their likes, dislikes, passions, hates, and write them down; instead of just profiling customers according to their demographics, which do not really captivate their values.
2. What are their (customers) priorities and values?
Gather insights and note the things they aspire to have, the changes they seek to attain, the problems or inefficiencies they seek to overcome.
3. Who we are to our customers; and are we a passionate extension of those values they seek?
You must define the ‘what and why’ of your market identity. If you don’t define it, then the marketplace will conclude for you what you stand for.
4. Building a Brand is both a science and art of creating value for sustainable growth. If you are not building a brand, then you are just a commodity, in which case price determines all, and the lowest cost producer is the eventual market winner.
Brands function as a way to simplify choice and reduce confusion in a crowded market segment because they assure (or guarantee) quality. Strong brands also enhance customer experience by adding fun and inspiration.
To build a good brand, Christina lists 12 points (with clear examples from her varied industry experience, which really resonated with her hearers):
1. Seize the high ground.
2. Having a meaningful purpose.
3. Create a great product/service.
4. Develop a single message (and not many).
5. Speak in a way that can be understood broadly.
6. Cascade the message to every level in the organisation.
7. Be consistent with your brand promise.
8. Benchmark. Stay pace with and watch your competition.
9. Examine the bounce-back or feedback from your customers.
10. Strive for humanness.
11. Win advocates by using customer PR and not just advertising.
12. Get social to improve reviews and ratings.
Many participants eagerly asked questions following such a dynamic presentation by Christina Yong. The Coffee Chat session ended with a fellowship lunch.