Connected care – what it takes for brands to go from good to great
Most good brands tick four out of five boxes required for greatness. What are they missing? Connected care, says Lee Naylor.
Recently, we have seen a number of tech businesses facing immense reputation damage to their brand and credibility. Uber and its lack of diversity, Facebook’s seemingly endless stream of data breaches and Foodora’s reluctance to treat its workers fairly are notable examples.
These problems have been caused by real issues at the very core of these businesses – a focus on fast growth, an obsession with ROI and a debilitating mindset of short-termism. All factors which have ultimately resulted in a lack of humanity.
The pursuit of greatness
According to The Leading Edge’s recent report, ‘The pursuit of greatness: Building brands for a sustainable future’, when it comes to the brands that Australians perceive as great, there are five distinct qualities that consumers identify as important. These are:
- Passionate vision – the brand is a visionary and consistently challenges the status quo.
- Connected care – the brand cares about the people that are actually connected to the business, be it customers, employees or suppliers.
- Active social change – social responsibility echoes everything the brand does and is much more than just lip-service.
- Celebrating origins – the brand applauds originality, is consistent and remains true to its roots.
- Human Inspiration – the brand encourages and enables us to be better humans.
Each of these qualities should be seen as roads to becoming a great brand – each road is a quest and brands can travel the roads concurrently or sequentially. While you can travel more than one road, each of them requires time, energy and investment. Crucially, our research highlighted that a brand rarely travels more than two roads successfully, so we recommend choosing one or two roads and ensuring you do them well – which is enough to be seen as ‘great’ in the eyes of Australian consumers.
Putting the passion back into ‘compassion’
The majority of start-ups and innovators are excelling in the ‘passionate vision’, ‘active social change’, ‘celebrating origins’ and ‘human inspiration’ spaces, challenging old ways of doing things and helping to solve the critical issues facing increasingly outdated business models.
An area that we are seeing lag in the technology sector though, is within the brand quality of ‘connected care’.
Given that most industry disruptors like Netflix and Uber are perceived as companies that identify real customer problems and offer original solutions, it is expected that these brands would shine as connected to their customers. However, our research highlights the majority of brands that feature in this category herald from a retail background, with Microsoft being the only tech brand mentioned by consumers.
Retailers such as Aldi and Coles rank high for developing meaningful connections between their brands, their employees and their customers. Brands that demonstrate ‘connected care’ look after their employees and ensure that their staff are happy and proud to work for them. As a result, customers identify with this positive treatment and subconsciously feel as if the company would care about them too.
Consider Aldi: a business known for paying its employees higher than average rates and for consistently offering its customers great value products. With everything becoming increasingly digitised, brands must realise that having a reputation for treating the people you work with – and the people you work for – well, remains important.
Conversely, while it has undoubtedly revolutionised the world’s transport industry, building a heavily responsive and customer-centric platform in the process, Uber struggles to show that it is a caring business through its lack of employee diversity and untimely response to discrimination allegations within the company. Because of this, Uber is considered a good (but not great) brand.
Fusing technology and the customer journey
For technology-driven, enterprise-based businesses the pathway to ‘connected care’ is critical. Without this connection to people, businesses fail to differentiate themselves within the market and are vulnerable to being disrupted by the next wave of innovators. The ‘connected care’ pathway ensures that your brand represents more than what it physically offers in the way of products and services. It demonstrates that the business as a whole actually cares about its employees, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors and end users.
Moreover, good brands are more susceptible to competitors whereas great brands endure. This is because a positive perception of great brands ensures the longevity of their businesses. With Uber, for example, we are seeing competitors such as Taxify and Ola moving into Australia’s rideshare market, with Lyft set to enter in a matter of time. The global ride share company is also a long way from turning a profit, totalling a loss of over US$4.5 billion dollars in 2017 according to Business Insider.
How brands embrace digital transformation and rapid advancements in technology has always shaped which brands win or lose market share. However, becoming a great and enduring brand requires your business to look beyond the ways in which new technology can create efficiencies and generate extra revenue. The focus must shift towards utilising technology, such as chatbots and subscription-based user models, to listen to customers and provide ongoing brand relationships.
There are lessons to take away from this research for tech platforms that are trying to connect their products to customers. It is no longer enough to simply focus on products and services that make your customers’ lives easier. This only allows your brand to be considered good. To become truly great, businesses must think beyond the core ingredients: fusing technology, CX and a sense of connected care to all relevant stakeholders.
Lee Naylor is managing partner at The Leading Edge APAC
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Image credit:Kipras Štreimikis