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Well, that’s what Burger King did, we learn. Here’s the story put out by Trend-Watching:

whopper

On McDonald’s yearly ‘McHappy Day’, the brand donates proceeds from sales of Big Macs to aid children with cancer. On November 10th, Burger King in Argentina contributed to its competitor’s cause. Every Burger King in the country refused to sell Whoppers and redirected customers to McDonald’s so they could buy a Big Mac instead (thereby aiding McDonald’s charitable initiative). Though Burger King’s campaign was a bit cheeky – customers were told to go to the ‘place where they don’t flame-grill their burgers’ – they did help their competitor sell more burgers than they ever had on McHappy Day. And McDonald’s even thanked its rival off-the-record.

Burger King took this opportunity to showcase two sides of its brand personality. Firstly, it proved its empathy and selflessness by sacrificing its own sales to support a charitable effort. How could anyone not get behind that? Secondly, the brand put on a massive show of confidence. Because what it’s saying to customers (without saying it) is, “we’re fine sending you to McDonald’s, because you will like our burger more and you will come back!”

And yes, this is a marketing stunt. But what a stunt. Think about it: Burger King stopped selling their flagship product for entire day, at all its stores in Argentina (109, to be exact), then they directed hungry customers to a competitor! Kudos to whoever was brave enough to pitch this idea…

That’s what a brand story is all about!

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Source: Trend-Watching, a site that makes interesting observations on what happens in very diverse fields.

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A significant new asset class is now named that may one day appear on Balance Sheets!!! What more, organizations already have these assets! No new acquisition costs to be incurred!

However, this asset is a double-edged sword, could make or mar. Some organizations have leveraged it to great advantage for their brands and business while for some it has turned out to be the cause for their hara-kiri.

An edited extract of a well-articulated article on this kind of asset taken from here  appears below

Take a moment to think about what a brand is. It’s the emotional and associational touch points that consumers have with your business. It’s what they see of you, and what that makes them feel about you.

Back when a business was a black box, the brand was limited to what was painted on the outside. The leaders of the business had a high degree of control over that. But now that a business is a glass box, the brand is everything that’s visible. Every person. Every process. Every value. Everything that happens, ever.

Glass Box

In 2017 your corporate culture is becoming your brand

You can sum up in a single word what people see when they look deep inside your organization. They see your culture. Once, your internal corporate culture was just that: internal. But now that a business is a glass box, there’s no such thing as an ‘internal’ culture.

The opportunity here? In 2017, your internal culture could become the most powerful brand and marketing asset you have.

Think about the power of stories such as those told by Starbucks: how they have a program to help staff in London raise a deposit on a home, or how they opened a store in Kuala Lumpur dedicated to hiring deaf people. Or that told by US-based yoghurt brand Chobani, which instituted paid parental leave for all staff after the birth of CEO Hamdi Ulukaya’s first child.

The danger? Internal culture could also become your most powerful brand liability.

The founder of Uber resigns after a culture of sexism and bullying is exposed. The CEO of HSBC in Taiwan walks a gay employee down the aisle after her father refuses to attend her wedding. A smartphone video of United Airlines staff forcibly dragging a passenger off a plane goes viral.

What to do about it?

Read more here.

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Part 1

An edited extract from an interesting article in here on brand messages (for that matter, any message sent out) getting thru to or lost on the audience:

“…

So why do we say we hate so much advertising, and yet there are clearly ads that inspire us? Is it just a quality thing, or is there more to it than that? Partially I believe social media and the ready availability of news, views and entertainment has shifted how we categorize what we are seeing. Increasingly we consciously or otherwise and mercilessly sift the streams of all the content that presents itself to us into two categories: noise and signal.

SkipAd

Noise is the stuff that clutters up our day, that interrupts and annoys and where we see little worth. The ads…loud, imposing, uninteresting selling. It has many of us reaching for the mute button within seconds, or hitting Skip Ad as soon as we can on the videos we watch online…

Much is made these days of our shortened attention spans, and that our ability to concentrate is now 0.5 seconds shorter than that of a pet goldfish. That, some commentators rush to explain, is why marketing increasingly doesn’t work…

Signal is different. It’s the stuff, from a range of sources, that we choose to form an opinion over. It does more than inform us. It entertains or provokes us. It makes us proud or angry…increasingly it’s this content that forms our talking points on a daily basis through sharing, commenting or liking …examples: two babies bouncing on a Powerfit machine, Jean-Claude Van Damme straddling a Volvo truck, the latest Air New Zealand safety video, TED talks, box sets of our favorite TV series and so much more…Signals are what people share, because they’re made up of items that are conversation drivers, because we agree with them or not, because they’re trending, because they amuse us or they bring us together in some way. And the format of that content is becoming less and less important. It may be an ad. It may be an interview. It may be gossip…

Jonah Berger, in his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, argues that we are drawn to what affects us and to ideas that we remember and that we believe others will be interested in. He suggests six factors: 1) Social Currency – we’re fascinated by things that are remarkable, literally, in the sense of worthy of being remarked on…They are only as interesting as their ability to rise above the surrounding noise 2) Triggers – this one will be no surprise at all to marketers. We like things that we can remember easily and where the associations are well known, because they act as shortcuts (acronyms) for life. You say “Kit Kat”. Everyone around you gets “have a break”…3) Emotion – similar to social currency, in that we’re drawn to things that affect us…The emotions that a group share around an idea—for or against—can be a powerful cohesive factor 4) Public – these are the ideas that are easily replicable and that gain strength as they are adopted. Think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. They work because they enable people to share in an activity and at the same time provide their own interpretation 5) Practical Value – this, says Berger, is the news that makes living easier. It’s why YouTube is so popular – simple, visual, practical and 6) Stories – again, no surprise to marketers. The power of shareable narrative is now well established. Increasingly brands are looking to stories rather than just “spots” to weave a longer more intricate view of why they matter and the value they add.

We all look at Berger’s list, and, four years on, I don’t think there are any surprises here. And yet turn on the television and in your average commercial break, it’s getting harder and harder to find advertising that has any of these qualities…There are very few good stories. It feels to me that brand owners have failed to see that they are competing in a new context, and that media presence is, by default, noise—unless a brand makes specific effort to make it more than that…

Part 2

Here’s a success story (in an edited extract) from our own backyard appearing in here:

Ever witnessed a television brand not talking about any impressive features – such as high-definition picture quality, surround sound audio system, movie theatre-like attributes – in its ad film?

Have you ever seen an ad campaign for a television brand where the protagonist is a visually challenged person?

Well, chances are you haven’t!

For the first time, Samsung has dared to take an unconventional step, and stirred the emotional quotient of viewers, rather consumers, with its latest ad film ‘#SamsungService’. The home appliance major has launched an ad campaign as part of its initiative to take customer service to the doorsteps of consumers, in both urban and rural India. (In October last year, the television manufacturer launched 535 service vans to ensure timely service to customers in the remotest corners of the country) … With this, Samsung’s reach will extend to customers in over 6,000 talukas across 29 states and seven union territories.

The enormous success of the film is owed to a taut narrative with an element of surprise backed by a fine performance of the cast. The new campaign showcases the journey of a Samsung service engineer, who undaunted by rough terrain, reaches a house in a remote hilly area to repair a television. The story retains a certain freshness and induces a ‘what next?’ feeling though this theme of bridging distances has been already milked by telecom co’s (and perhaps by a few others) some years ago. The film ends with the visibly content engineer leaving the house as the voice over is played, “Rishtey nibhaney ke liye kabhi kabhi thoda door jaana padta hai. Isiliye Samsung service vans jaati hai desh ke kone kone tak” (At times one must venture a little further than usual for the sake of relationships. That’s why Samsung service vans go to every corner of the country). A simple yet stirring message that we can readily relate to even outside of its Samsung context in myriad ways in our daily lives amidst family and friends!

The four-minute-long film, neither overtly mushy nor tear-jerking, which was released on December 30, clocked in a whopping 18 million views on YouTube in the first couple of weeks and 103 million+ views till date…Yes, a 4-minute+ clip in times when companies are struggling to achieve even a 15-to-30 second stickiness!!

Watch here:

https://youtu.be/779KwjAYTeQ

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Credits: Conceptualized by Cheil India, the film directed by Anupam Mishra, and produced by Crazy Few Films. Dhruv Ghanekar composed the music, while the song played in the background sung by Mohit Chauhan.

Source: Articles from brandingstrategyinsider.com/2017/08/how-brands-can-convert-noise-to-signal.html and afaqs.com/news/story/49662_18-million-views-in-6-days-Samsungs-4-minute-film-gathers-digital-moss

 

 

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On a certain December day, on platform 22 in Tokyo Central Station, a work unit clad in the red uniforms of Tessei Co (formerly known as Tetsudo Seibi Co Ltd) line up with military precision. A bullet train on the Tohoku shinkansen pulls in, and the workers, at the given signal, step aboard and hastily go about their work. The time is 16:56, and in just 12 minutes, the same train, designated Yamabiko-Tsubasa No. 147, will depart. Since five minutes of the 12 must be allowed for passengers to disembark and board, the cleanup crew has just seven minutes to perform their tasks.

Normally, notes Shukan Post (Dec 21-28), two to three workers are assigned to a first-class car, as opposed to one to clean up a regular car. In addition to checking for items left behind on the overhead racks and seats, they must flip the 100 seat backs in each car to make them face the front of the train, and while doing this, they scan the aisles and floor for any refuse, a task generally performed in roughly one minute, 30 seconds.

They then proceed to wipe off the table tops in front of each seat and adjust the window blinds. If any of the white covers on seat backs appear begrimed, these are exchanged for clean ones.

At the two-minute warning, they turn their attention to emptying the waste receptacles between cars. They also team up with other staff, whose task is to tend to the lavatories and washrooms. After a final check of all assigned jobs on their list, they assemble outside on the platform and bow in unison toward the passengers awaiting boarding.

“Ideally we get seven minutes, but when the train’s crowded, it takes passengers longer to disembark, and it’s rare for us to be able to get in the entire alloted time,” says Akio Yabe, Tessei’s senior vice president. “So we try to get the job done as quickly as possible.”

…But as Yabe puts it, “There’s more to it than just cleaning the trains. If the cleanup takes too long, the shinkansen trains will be delayed. So part of our job is to keep the trains running on time.

And a big job it is. Each day from Tokyo station’s four platforms, a total of 210 trains pull in and depart, with average intervals of four minutes. Each team of 22 Tessei workers cleans an average of 120 trains per day, and at times of peak demand, it might handle as many as 168.

Currently, Tessei’s work force numbers about 800, of whom 481 are full-timers. The average age of the work force is 51; about 40% are female.

…”

An amazing orchestra-like performance day after day from a work-force not pampered in any ways! Honest, visible and verifiable in public.

Well, this has drawn world-wide attention just like our own dabbawaala’s in Mumbai.

Should be part of the induction program at least in the airlines sector.

It brings into sharp focus once again the avowed Japanese culture and ethics  and inimitable process efficiencies at work-place. Reminds me of an old film wherein a factory-shift begins at 8-00 and the work-men are in their overall’s at their station with jobs mounted and tools in position all set to go by 8-00! Of course signing the muster included.

Besides, the story is an outstanding example of brand building. Note how even a non-core process could be made the subject of a story.

Leaves you thirsting for stories such as this from nearer home.

Going to be a long wait?

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Source: japantoday.com

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In my treasure hunt for stories on customer service/experience, I reached out to who else than Rajanga Sivakumar, a revered Guru on Hewlett-Packard’s vast range of testing and measuring instruments/solutions, and now practicing as a Business Excellence Advisor.

In this guest post he pulls this story out of his jumbo bag of anecdotes – my first success in getting him to tip over his bag 

[This is a real incident, the names of players, organizations, car models etc. not specified]

This was year 1998. Prem was delighted when the company informed he had become eligible for a pricier company transport. He could now get for himself the car he fancied – the newly introduced model Z of a well known international manufacturer (Brand A), to be made locally in India. In the pre-liberalization times, cars were available from the three local manufactures, their models at least a decade old. Even better the company was allocating Prem from the first lot of model Z assembled from imported kits (SKD) with no locally sourced parts. Model Z living up to its reputation, Prem and his family were happy with their choice. .

The car came with a prized accessory for Prem and his family – an audio tape player. Though disc players were also available then, the family preferred the audio tape player to avail of the large collection of audio tapes of Carnatic music they had assiduously accumulated over years. They loved to hear the music especially when travelling long distance.

After functioning quite well in the first six months, the audio tape player began acting up. In the space of about year and half it had to be repaired over five times at the retail service centre of the well known auto agency from where the car was bought.

Help_Desk gsagri04

Prem was very much irked with the frequent failures of the device and the inordinately long times taken to set it right. Now he asked the agency to replace the under-warranty unit for its erratic performance. And he wanted it done in time for his upcoming travel.

After many rounds of discussions and referring the matter to the principal’s (Brand A) HQ in Delhi – Prem himself participated in the talks with the principal – the agency came up with a solution: they would replace it with a new unit with the customer bearing 50% of its price. This was not acceptable to Prem and the matter ended there.

Argument

In about 3 months Prem retired from his current employment and joined a newly formed software company as a consultant. His new employer offered him the facility of a new car. He promptly replaced his model Z with model U of Brand B.

Also, Prem was consulted by the company on the different brands and models available for many of the executives joining then. Needless to add he struck Brand A off the list, the latter immediately losing out on sale of two large and two small cars conservatively estimated to be about a whopping Rs 19 lacs+.. And of course, it didn’t end there.

Against this loss what did the agency and its principal save to their (dis)credit? Rs 4,250 they had asked their customer to fork out.

A clear case of an easy opportunity squandered away, to forge loyalty in a favorably disposed customer at so little cost, through inept handling that was neither prompt nor gracious. Altogether a forgettable experience he did not forget.

And more importantly not seeing a customer as more than a customer. Someone out there had not been astute enough to assess the potential of Prem – for future purchases for himself and more significantly as an influencer in his circles.

While on the subject, I recall:

“Diamonds are forever
They are all I need to please me
They can stimulate and tease me
They won’t leave in the night, I’ve no fear that they might desert me…”

That was Shirley Bassey in the eponymous James Bond’s movie of 1971.

Well, customers too could be forever – if their experiences are right+ and sustained.

Thanks, Rajanga for the elucidating story.

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PS: Rajanga may be contacted at: rajangasivakumar@gmail.com. The image is from openclipart (gsagri04).

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