If 2012 is the year of mobile – has Barclays got off to the right start?

If 2012 is the year of mobile – has Barclays got off to the right start?

In December, I noted that the mobile would become the primary focus of many interactions for customers and brands in 2012. This year, Smartphones are going to outsell PC’s – with nearly 90% of the world – be that poor, developing, emerging or developed markets – having a mobile phone. More people have a phone than a home, a car, a living wage. Whereas the developed world has great infrastructure, that allow for interconnectedness at home or work and have utilities and banks with systems that rarely go down – indeed systems that are more trusted than those in charge of them – the vast majority of the world can only really depend on their mobile devices.

Money transfers and healthcare applications in the developing world are already ahead of those in the “more connected” developed world. However, this is changing. While the financial institutions are struggling to regain trust following their culpability in sending the world into recession in 2008, they recognise that their customers are demanding not only more transparency, they are expecting services that are more useful. Banks need to look to new innovations that recognise this.

In the UK, First Direct is leading the way…again. Their customer service approach has always led the way – not just in financial services but in across the board. Their use of social media has added to their fantastic phone based service to their customers. Their first direct labs and first direct live offers are great. They launched the twitter service @firstdirecthelp to more success – see the attached Econsultancy report.

As an organisation, first direct are organised around customer service and has been for years. They are a leading example of a 21st Century Brand – indeed they already were in the last Century. Customer driven innovations will always beat me too innovations and new offers that simply ones jump on the bandwagon. Too many organisations attempt to have digital and social media offers or channels without linking them to two core foundations;

  • Is the offer directly linked to the company’s purpose or DNA
  • Is the offer clearly meeting a customer need

If neither is being met, the service will flop and the brand will be damaged. If this is done in public (and all social media is in public), the damage is magnified significantly (and rapidly). Getting it right deliver significant benefits, that magnify the word of mouth of the brand, and create advocates who praise the experience. Brands need to test these innovations out internally, with small pilots. Then when they are ready to launch, control the environment so that more learning can be captured, in order to constantly improve the offer.

So it was interesting to look at Barclays new mobile offer Pingit that was launched this week. The Pingit application allows people to send money to each other using simply their mobile phone numbers. Via Smartphones, Pingit allows Barclays current account customers to send money, but all UK account holders will be able to receive money through the system, by registering online.

The messages Barclays are using to promote the service are positive and customer driven – offering a small, useful service for friends and family – rather than a world beating e-commerce (or m-commerce) breakthrough. Barclays are containing the initial users to small amounts of money and only for their own current account holders. But they’ve also announced a 2nd generation app is due that will open the service for other bank customers. This suggests further learning is being gathered before offering it to a wider audience.

While the data protection regulations prove a significant stumbling block for this kind of innovation – especially where banks need customer data to hone their offers in more targeted shapes for their customers, Barclays have got this right so far. I suspect they have a good dialogue with those of their customers who want a simpler way to transfer money. Their insights have allowed them to shape the offer for them rather than simple copy software that exist in Africa and Asia already.

Where brand have a good dialogue with their customers, then customers share not only their dissatisfaction but reveal more needs and wants. These deliver the insights for brands to shape new offers.  I think Pingit will grow significantly and be the forerunner of more apps that Banks will develop for their customers to use. If that usage provides a positive experience, then maybe the bank’s relationship with their customers will start to rebuild trust. Those, like first direct, will remain the preferred choice. Has Barclays turned a corner?

Marketing Small Businesses

Marketing Small Businesses

Had a very productive session with a small business this week, when bringing the company together around a new brand proposition. It’s interesting to note that if all the changes that are affecting marketing & branding in the 21st Century is hard to grasp for some big multinationals, it’s pretty mindboggling for those SME’s who represent the engine of most economies.

As people, the leadership of these small companies are aware of the big marketing tools like Advertising and Social Media but know that to fully engage with them is costly, confusing and time consuming – in many ways they are scared off. But given that most are B2B organisations, the fundaments are actually relevant to them.

As a service focussed company, there are two important shifts that are usually needed to help bring  a marketing approach  that can help them grow.

First, a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs (current and future).

Second, to reframe their service offer, less as a series of products, but as a way of helping meet those customer needs.

Making these 2 shifts will allow the company to tell a new brand story from an outside in point of view. These new stories will make future growth more achievable. Most small businesses are constantly trying to sell. Often, they are all consumed in the process of selling and doing, they spend all their time in the business they’ve always done. There’s no time left to think about where their business could go…let alone how to get there. By chasing the sell, they can end up differentiating more and more on price and price alone. This means their offer is treated as a transaction rather than a service

Making these 2 shifts, will allow their service to be more valued – over and above the transactional price negotiation. While there will be a fair bit of change in getting to understand their customers and amending their dialogue and future conversations with these customers, the cost will be mostly an investment in time. Time with their own people. It will also involve time for deeper conversations with their clients.

Both these “time investments” will be rewarding. There will be no need to have big, new, costly campaigns in marketing communications. It will need focus around clarifying the brand story and a way of sharing the customer insights amongst the whole company, so that the new story is told consistently and coherently by everyone. But the service will become more valued as customers will feel more engaged. And they will value that engagement over and above the price they may receive from competitors who offer a similar service. That customer-centric approach, when delivered, will also cause these customers to become advocates of the company and generate a better word of mouth for them too.

And positive word of mouth is the most valuable of all marketing communication there is today.

 

 

Fixing brand for the outside starts on the inside but with only with an outside-in view!

Fixing brand for the outside starts on the inside but with only with an outside-in view!

Had a quick coffee today with a small business owner who was struggling to change the focus of his company culture from one that was Sales driven to one that needed to offer more of an experience. He was struggling because they’d been successful and to stay successful he felt he needed to change. He wondered if a new brand would help but his view of what a brand is, suggested that it wouldn’t help. Yet. For brand change to work on the outside, they’d need to change the inside first…and fundamentally so.

A B2B service organisation is often driven by customer numbers – whether by driving new customers or focusing on client retention. Companies that have grown primarily by the former have a dominant sales culture that pervades the organisation and dictate the Silo hierarchies. Those that have grown by focusing on client retention have a dominant customer service culture that coordinates the organisation to be customer centric.

Both types of culture use marketing and brand practices to achieve their goals. In the former, Sales & Marketing are often under the same leadership and communications are judged on their tactical success in delivering numbers. Short term offers, usually price discounts, occasionally delivered “loudly”. For the latter, Marketing is focussed on understand customer insights, trialling solutions and offers with those customers and rolling out the offer to reward the customer’s experience of the service.

In the former, brand is used to carry the messages out to potential customers. You’ll hear terminology like direct, consistency, efficiency, offers, brand manuals. In the latter, brand influences the organisation’s culture, their service delivery, response times, their processes and capabilities as well as their external communications. Here, you’ll hear terms like dialogue, satisfaction, innovation, brand stories, effectiveness.

While each can be successful, what is really tough is to change from one to the other – especially if tried quickly. What can happen is that brand and marketing can be tasked to change the perception of the service before the internal offering is able to deliver it. Promising something, that is not then actually experienced, leads to rejection. These are empty promises. However well executed the promises are they will be empty. Price driven tactics cannot deliver a premium brand experience. Telling customers is not the same as listening to customers. Showing customers you are prepared to listen by a sms or email campaign isn’t enough. Changing your name or logo, to suggest you care or you are a premium offer, isn’t enough.

If success is not instant because the service offer is left unchanged, or the organisational silos remain disconnected and the company then blames Marketing for subsequent customer churn, then the understanding of brand and its influence remains old fashioned and so ineffective.

Brand will be effective once the organisation recognises the changes needed inside to affect those on the outside. By listening and talking to the customers – about what they value, what they want and what they will or might want – you’ll have a blueprint for change. These changes start on the inside – from the top of the company, to all their people on the customer journey that tough the experience of the service offer – by signalling change, recognising change, rewarding success, adding new companywide service KPIs vs. Sales KPIs will start to affect the internal culture. This can lead next to a change in where and how the service is experienced by the customers so that it is actually experienced by those customers and their reactions will create positive advocates and cause loyalty and importantly, recommendations much more powerful that a 50% short term discount. Indeed this is the premium service of the future.

Such change is hard. It is fundamental change. And brand can indeed help. 21st Century branding encourages the outside in blueprint for such change.

2012: Looking forward … optimistically.

2012: Looking forward … optimistically.

Many myths have circulated about this coming year – most stemming from the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica (Mayans were a tribe in this civilisation) predicting cataclysmic events on December 21st. As at the start of any year, we are seeing many more predictions – some frivolous and some hopeful – but a lot are gloomy and serious – from economic woe to further environmental damage.

The gloom will effect society in general and hurt billions individually. The start of 21st Century is literally seeing change happen – via the 24/7 connected world on a screen in their pocket, on their lap, on their desk, on the move…on…always on. The changes could be as fundamental as the Industrial Revolution but are happening incredibly fast and being unprecedentedly viewed in real time. The economic woes have trumped the environmental danger in the immediate turn – as the effects are still to hit, while people’s wealth-led expectancy is being threatened daily.

The economic cycle will turn and will get better. For some economies that will happen in 2012 and for others in a year or two. There will be winners & losers in economies that emerge stronger as well as those that slump. In business terms, this is already apparent with the shifts from West to East, from big to small, from company to consumer, from mass to value.

Companies that act to recognise these shifts by experimenting with new business models, with an outside-in view of the company’s offers via innovation, honesty and awareness of the effect on their communities will survive and maybe even thrive. Those who cling on to outdated models – chasing shareholder profit programs, cutting for the sake of promises for quarterly meetings, fixating on competition before customers – will be left behind.

Brand can be a positive asset for all companies – it can be a central pillar of support to staff and customers, representing the emotional truth of a company’s offer – whether a service or product, whether local, National or International. The traits of a 21st Century brand demand a dialogue with customers, ensuring the offer is useful and open. Those companies that use their brand successfully to meet the challenges facing their customers will likely overcome the challenges they themselves face. These companies already understand the value of Conscious Commerce and will extend this further in 2012. These brands are positive and optimistic for the future. And for some massive multinationals and emerging markets, this will not only affect the economic challenges they will also begin to address the environmental and societal challenges positively.

Therefore on December 22nd, 2012 – a potentially massive “morning after the night before” – I’d love to look back and see the following successes… my personal brand led predictions I guess

  • Unilever’s Sustainable Living takes off – their goals are commendable
  • London 2012 Games are a huge success and the Legacy kicks in – living up to the brand promise…
  • BRIC growth continues and we see true global brands emerge from the emerging markets (Tata is a good start)
  • The UK’s biggest misfiring brand – the NHS – reasserts a central core value of care rather than one for performance

And of course that there is a morning on December 22nd….

Is Brand 3.0 better suited to B2B marketers?

Is Brand 3.0 better suited to B2B marketers?

Business to Business (B2B) and Service Brands have long needed brand thinking that is different to the Mad Men inspired thinking that broadcast messages to consumers and relentlessly defended the positioning against competition. Customers and Users have moved on. Services and products cannot be based on a transactional basis alone because customers demand more understanding of their own “unique” needs.

Customers are complex and demanding of experiences that are rewarding – not just for themselves and their own company and customers, but for the communities they exist in. The bigger companies exist in communities that can be better named as society and the Multinational’s community impacts on the environment, mankind and future generations – think of Paul Polman’s Unilever Sustainable Living program or Bono’s Product (Red) or the Microsoft’s legacy work of the Gates Foundation. Sustainability is now a core tenet of 21st Century growth and companies on both sides of the B2B equation know this. Soon Procurement will look not simply for lowest cost tenders but how future offsetting on sustainability policies are incorporated. Carbon trading is becoming regulated by the governments and will soon be a mandatory prerequisite in many big tenders.

Great B2B marketers know the value of Partnerships and that by innovating new products and services via partnership can mean that Enterprises can shape and test new business models – but also that they will see new revenue streams to lift their old models.

Understanding the wider benefits for the customers’ communities and using new partners & business models to grow will add value to the company’s offer by adding an enhanced benefit to the customers (& their own customers & staff). Another tenet for the 21st Century is speed. Expectation for improvements, for new, for understanding or for better…all to be delivered at faster speed. For some more traditional companies this is harder to achieve than for some newer tech enabled successes. Companies that may suffer from “Silo Slowness” will need help in change & marketers can help bring this need for speed to fruition by bringing more business creativity initiatives into the organisation’s processes.

Marketing in a B2B environment has never really been a pure communications role – the organisation has traditionally been geared up for service – so an understanding of the customer journey (or their customer’s customer journeys) is already part of successful B2B companies. Marketing must be relentless in understanding customer’s needs – not what they were but what they are & importantly will be – not just insight but foresight.

As marketers, their roles are complex and can be a mix of investigator, integrator, innovator and instigator. B2B marketers have to help bring a company’s focus to customers future needs – and today that can mean being useful & optimistic.

In order to connect to their customers they must be useful – consumer marketing is many ways are still learning this. Engaging customers is not simply a good story well told. Mad Men thinking is fast being left behind. Indeed B2B never needed Brand to mean advertising campaigns or corporate logo – they needed brand to rally the staff and the service around a customer’s needs. Cisco and Oracle are fundamentally benefit driven. Brand as communication was termed tactics not strategic – strategic brand thinking centred on R&D for their customers. Today’s economic woes mean the inertia many companies are struggling with needs marketers to look positively into the near future and identify some quick opportunities and highlight possible actions that can lead to grab them.

Where B2B marketers can struggle is when the organisation is geared in delivering products or services that are complex – in the building of the product, in the testing, in describing or in their delivery/installation. Such companies can consider they’re a specialist and will be run by engineers or technical experts who have grown up with the company or the category. These leaders will understand the complexities of the offer/service and develop it incrementally year after year. Innovation may well be inherent inside the culture (as they are always seeking improvements) but this innovation will be familiar rather than surprising. Incremental sales and efficiency are valued and expected. In such companies, Sales and Marketing often work as a service to the engineers and developers. Country & category operations run the same way. Customer service will be ensuring products/services work as promised and lessons learned are shared back to organisations sporadically. These leaders believe marketing as a support function should deliver 20th Century branding.

Marketing can still be useful – but needs to be heard. This can mean being challenging and even disruptive – but from a need for change perspective, engaging cross discipline teams on new initiatives, on creating a few, small actions that are future facing, the results of marketing’s voice may rise.

Without an effective voice from marketers, B2B companies can over focus on their product features and then attack with pricing tactics vs. competition, and not the benefit experiences their products and services deliver to their customers. Benefit driven pricing can be higher if they are clearly valued. Cost optimisation comes to the fore, everything is shaved & discounting can become a primary sales strategy, and they have to price their products like a commodity.

B2B marketers can succeed & own the new brand thinking by

  • Great insights and foresight on the customer’s needs
  • Innovating partnerships for new business models (& new revenue)
  • Drive value via the benefits for customers vs. simply delivering best competitive pricing
  • Seeding the internal story around the brand so building the value to customers communities

Brand 3.0: Feed your users.

Brand 3.0: Feed your users.

Digital marketers and social media champions are taking brand thinking on at a pace that threatens to leave traditional brand thinkers behind. As brand thinking develop new tools and descriptors for the Brand 3.0 version, one shift that intrigues me is in how as brand “ownership” has shifted from inside an organisation to those outside.

In a few short years, how organisations think of their customers in brand terms has changed (& is still doing so). Since Mad Men’s glory days, they were treated as “viewers” where messages were delivered from the company via TV, radio, print media – and in broadcast thinking, brand was measured mostly in Awareness measures. Agencies were full service and could do everything in house to keep those messages flowing and tell the brand story.

Some of the biggest broadcast brands were consumer products and the thinking evolved into speaking to the “consumer” and the marketing communications industry added more means & more skills to deliver more messages to help consumption. Militaristic language of campaigns, positioning, defending vs. the competition were boosted by short term tactical efforts (such as shopper marketing, coupons) to balance the strategic efforts (long term advertising ideas and corporate identity driven guidelines) to keep a brand at number 1. Brand ideas were based on great consumer insights. Emotional brand stories were still important. Specialist agencies grew and media separated from creative houses. Budgets began to become fragmented. Sales began to be measured in a direct relationship to the activity undertaken and ROI measures hatched.

This product led brand thinking didn’t work that well for service companies and with an increasing focus on understanding the customer journey, the brand focus moved onto “customers” and how they experienced the brand throughout the journey and how & when they learn about the value/benefits of the service. The ROI measurements of different touch points became important indicators in balancing the marketing mix and an integrated approach to the customer was demanded.  Brand had to work inside the organisation with their people/staff (as well as with the customer) and involved more than simple internal communications to become brand behaviours. These complexities needed a holistic approach from both inside an organisation and outside with their agencies. Marketing teams grew along with the many discipline specialists. ROI thinking and detailed analytics helped measure impact of the brands efforts and most importantly, the customer became part of the process – not simply via insight and understanding, but bands began a rudimentary dialogue with the customer. Customer care efforts grew and were rewarded with customer loyalty when it was recognised consistently. This customer thinking seeped into consumer thinking as the Nineties became the Noughties.

The latest thinking today recognises the power of today’s digital landscape. People now don’t spend time waiting for advertising to inform them of new offers or new services. They learn about these things online in real time – actually on the products and services that have become the world’s biggest brands – Google, Apple, Microsoft. They are “users” of brands, products and services. People are individuals rather than audiences. They have peer groups and friends that are communities. These users have the ultimate power of “use” – to use more or less. To stop using. To recommend the usage to others in their communities. Use is about experiencing that usage. The brands that understand this best are the real brand winners – this user thinking is faster, focussed, looser, innovative, frequent, rewarding, value not price, individual, action orientated. It’s about utility not about ideas or campaigns. And brand utility as judged by the user. To deliver these actions, brands need small, creative teams, focussed on that project or action & who are happy to start small in a “do-learn-do” methodology in order to test and capture success before rolling it out or starting again. This way of collaborative team thinking exists in Silicon Valley, in Bangalore, in Shoreditch but it’s not always apparent in brand thinking.

Brand 3.0 thinkers need to ensure this jump is quickly made and feed their users.

 

6 tenets of 21st Century branding for brands to survive the downturn.

6 tenets of 21st Century branding for brands to survive the downturn.

With the global economy’s continual reduction of growth estimates and increasing predictions for a double dip recession, more companies and consumers are not surprisingly becoming distinctly risk averse. Media pundits and headline writers continue exacerbate this.

This results in a further reduction of confidence and an increased inertia by many companies to save their cash, reduce costs and continue to delay hires that were identified and approved before the summer. Worse, more people are being laid off and a generation of youth face an incredibly tough start in their adult life.

The US is deflecting its economic issues with the Presidential hoopla and even from the UK, we saw how it really hyped up the post Thanksgiving sales day of “Black Friday” – early reports suggest a success but mainly for the bigger safer stores (like Costco & Wal-Mart) rather than those already weaker chains where bigger discounts may not have been offset by enough sales. It leaves us all wondering what their longer term plan to ignite growth is.

The UK still watches the Eurozone nervously and George Osborne, the UK Government’s Finance Chief announces his Autumn report with an expectation to say Plan A remains (A = Austerity) & no Plan B exists. He’ll announce that macroeconomic growth with be stimulated by the twin forces of “Credit Easing” for small business loans and “Infrastructure Investment” programme (paid for by allowing UK pension funds to invest as well as further cuts in benefits), which are geared to encourage new jobs as a prime outcome.

If jobs are created, great, but this will be a slow injection of positivity. Those consumers with jobs (still the majority remember) will need to drive the economy by continuing to spend, invest and survive. This is what will get us all through this downturn. It always has.

Brands are as important as any factor in helping this growth – however slow.

The stakeholders of 21st Century branding need to recognise this. Brands remain about having a meaningful relationship with their customers. Meaningful as determined as much by the customers than the companies. Meaningful as determined by value for different customers and their communities rather a set of values (= cold words to put on a website or on the walls of Head Office).

There are 6 interconnected tenets for brands to consider – even in these difficult times

  • Choice
  • Preference
  • Useful
  • Sharing
  • Dialogue
  • Open

Choice: Consumers and customers have and need choice – whether to spend more or less, now or later, this brand or that brand, that service or a new service. Keep the choice relevant and not static. But they will choose, even if it is between paying for a utility rather than a new sofa. Share of wallet not share of voice or share of category.

Preference – A choice is influenced by factors of loyalty, price, current & past experiences, relevance to the person, whether the customer feels they are understood rather than taken for granted.

Usefulness – The 21st Century Brands that will succeed will be those that are most useful – that understand their role in customer’s lives and constantly demonstrate it. They are flexible, relevant, fresh, consistent, upbeat, honest – however the customer describes useful – and there will be many different descriptions for the same brand.

Sharing – brands that give back will succeed. Give back to all their stakeholders rather than simply their shareholders. Indeed, those brands that represent firms that continue to chase profit at all costs will fail. Giving back, in various degrees, to their staff, their consumers, their customers and suppliers, their communities and the world. While the short term economic conditions will affect the scrutiny of this balance, ignoring it will have dire impact on the brand’s ability to survive a return to growth. Conscious commerce is a business model that works and will be a prime economic driver for the years and generations to come.

Dialogue – the only way to understand these dynamics is to have a constant dialogue with customers. That means listening rather than talking at or broadcasting to them. Today’s brand research revolves not around a launch or a crisis but through regular (weekly), expansive, free form dialogue with hundreds and thousands of customers – not a few small irregular focus groups or tick box awareness studies. This is more possible via the online communities and social research skills today than ever before.

Open – Throughout the 5 tenets described here, there is a need to be open with your staff, your customers and your communities. Open means honest, regular and relevant. Act on and admit errors and address complaints quickly. Celebrate positive news. Trust is so much easier to lose than to gain (and significantly more so than to regain!)

I wrote earlier on the dangers of Inertia for brands. Actions can be small and meaningful if brands intend to learn from them. As we look to 2012, there will be brands that succeed. These brands will fuel the growth we need to keep ahead of the downturn as well as driving us out of it.

This is not an exhaustive list. What would you add? Leave a comment or forward to others to do so, please?

What can we learn from old & new media?

What can we learn from old & new media?

Great video from Brian Stelter on stage at the Mashable Media Summit.  Brian came to  New York Times from being (& still is) active on social media. He talks well on what lessons old media can learn from new media. It’s geared towards journalists learning to meet today’s needs for news.

Good tips about honesty and speed. Good encouragement to use online video to report.

Made me think what brand agencies can learn for 21st Century work

  • Do things fast – social speed – 10 weeks to execute…fail!
  • Trying stuff ahead of obtaining buy-in
  • Brands need honesty and creativity – more than process
  • Egos can get in the way creativity
  • Don’t self censor – don’t hold back…put things out there early and try
  • It’s important to learn before you teach (preach)

Utility Companies: prioritising relationships with customers not shareholders.

Utility Companies: prioritising relationships with customers not shareholders.

British Gas & E.On both announced this week that they are changing the way they have a dialogue with their UK customers.

Quite right.

Energy markets are relatively straightforward – companies buy the product and supply their customers. Their customers use the product and pay for it. There is variability in price of the product  that the suppliers pay (usually in advance) and different ways the users can pay (before, during & after use).

However, by chasing increasing returns for shareholders, utility companies have over-complicated the market and lost the trust of their customers leaving them confused and, increasingly, disillusioned. Their biggest sins being

  • Ridiculously complex tariffs – 400 different ones – and complicated bills
  • Aggressive cross-selling
  • Inconsistent & apologetic messages

The relationship between company and customers have eroded significantly over the past few years as the economic slump hits our pockets, 21st Century branding offers clear guidance for regaining trust for service companies and these big energy companies have got great advisors. One of them would have a chance to take a competitive lead in their market by improving their relationships with their customers – by providing better experiences, by building trust via simplicity and transparency.

But it has taken their regulator Ofgem to mandate such change! “As part of urgently restoring confidence we are calling on all suppliers to get behind Ofgem’s reforms to deliver what consumers tell us they want – a simpler, more competitive energy market,” said Ian Marlee, of Ofgem.

So 2012 should see relationships improve. We will be looking for honesty, transparency, simplicity and a proper dialogue with customers. Let’s see. 21st Century brands depend on a consistent rewarding experience from the customer’s point of view – not raising profits for shareholders at their expense.

Phil Bentley (British Gas MD) made a good start last night on the BBC. He announced they “hadn’t made it easy for customers to trust them” – Honesty. He also admitted they had subsidised some tariffs in order to get to the top of comparison sites.  He said their customers should have 2 tariffs, variable or fixed – simplicity. British Gas had also secured a deal with Norway’s Statoil that could help insulate against future price volatility.

Mr Bentley spoke clearly and positively, He was believable and honest.  A good start. He said he was “committed to having an honest conversation with his customers” – that sounds like start of the dialogue the company needs. But it’s a start. Everything that touches their customers has to now reflect it.

The proof will be found out in a year or so when the changes are embedded and if his customers begin to trust British Gas again. If they do, they will steal a march on their competitors. E.On says they need 6 months to review everything in order to change. That may be too long.

In the face of difficult times, practical actions can inspire.

In the face of difficult times, practical actions can inspire.

My friend Noel Penrose shared with me some thoughts, articles and advice that he put together to help ground his sons who are at University and face an uncertain future according to the media-driven gloom merchants.
The notes are optimistic, practical, pragmatic, useful and bristling with suggested actions. Noel makes references to many inspiring people from Martin Luther King to Bill Gates. The most inspiring person of all is Nick Vujicic – “Get Back Up”.

Noel’s advice to his boys is just the kind of advice most companies and most brands need to thrive and survive in the 21st Century. By taking actions that are achievable, short term, testable and positive, brands can build towards providing meaningful experiences for consumers. At the same time, brands have to operate under developing needs for societal sustainability via conscious commerce business models such as that led by Unilever’s Paul Polman.

Noel seeks to inspire his family and community.

Paul seeks to inspire his near 200,000 staff and 2 Billion customers.