As we prepare to downshift our minds for the holidays I thought it might be fun to create a snapshot of what brands that succeed in 2013 will look like. It may help to orientate our minds as they do a lot of important unconscious work over the holiday break. Its so rare these days that we actually allow ourselves sufficient time to integrate the firehouse of information we each receive every day. Treat it as a checklist and ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how well your brand embodies each of these ten characteristics.
1. DEFINED: Before you dismiss this characteristic as obvious, most companies send their marketing dollars broadcasting their schizophrenia. And since an undefined brand is unsharable, this oversight is deadly in an increaisngly social and mobile marketplace.
2. INTEGRATED: Even the best defined brands fail without sufficient leadership, employee and consumer buy-off of the brand positioning. Yet too many companies rush to market before ensuring their workforce represents a unified marketing front that establishes why their company is meaningful to its customers lives.
3. HUMAN: The phrase ‘brand personality’ has been bandied about in marketing circles for years, but now that companies are in a real-time dialogue with their customers, it’s taken on a whole new level of importance. Corporate speak is out, and human, fallible, and apologetic communication is in.
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4. COMMUNITY-FOCUSED: It’s so easy within a company to think that your marketing is all about you, especially when increased competition makes it harder to meet your sales objectives. But today’s consumers reward social responsibility so the fastest way to profit is through the well-being of the community.
5. ATTENTIVE: This applies both in the sense that the brand leads with listening to coustomers (rather than speaking), and then diligiently follows up on the needs they have identified. Only then will customers be inspired to use their own social channels to talk about your brand.
6. FALLIBLE: This means more than apologizing for making a bad product or sharing an insensitive tweet. It means recognizing that your customers are now partners in creating the company’s future and suspending the need to constantly be in total control and “right.”
7. CO-CREATIVE: By extension of relinquishing some of the control of a brand and sharing it with it customers, companies must invite customers to co-create the products, services and marketing that will determine their future business success.
8. MOBILE: If Black Friday and Cyber-Monday are any guide, the success of your business in the future will be determined by your ability to market through smartphones, and with web and social media time on smartphones rising even higher, the opportunities increase every day.
9. CURIOUS: Social technologies and consumer behavior are moving targets and so, as overwhelming as the market may already seem, every company must develop a fascination with what is reshaping sales and maintain that curiosity.
10. GLOCAL: Appropriately defined, every brand should represent some core human value relevant to their category. That gives them the ability to scale across geographies, media and channels to connect on both a local and global level. To ignore this is to miss the opportunity to scale through the web, social media and smartphones exponentially.