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Best in Brand & Innovation for May

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Every month we bring you the best articles we find in brand, innovation, and creativity.

It’s simple. Just be human. That’s this month’s advice given by experts who are studying the shifts customers and other businesses are desiring to observe within companies. More than ever, customers want brands that are authentic about their values. And people are supporting the brands they believe in while speaking out on social platforms about the ones they don’t. To provide some insight on focusing efforts on genuineness we spotlight articles about acculturating brands through storytelling, why employees are the best word-of-mouth marketers, who is driving this cultural shift in branding and more. We leave off this month’s digest with a tip about the psychology of sensory branding to create meaningful experiences for your customers.

What Happens When People and Companies Are Both Just ‘Brands’? – New York Times Magazine

“At its core, branding is a process of humanization: It imbues companies with personalities,” Amanda Hess writes in this article about the way branding has seeped into every aspect of our culture, on a personal and corporate level, in both positive and negative ways. She references the article “The Brand Called You”, written by Tom Peters in 1997 when lifestyle branding had just become relevant. Peters envisioned workers using branding as a way to remove themselves from corporations. However, writes Hess, “What actually happened was the opposite: our corporations divested from us.” Hess covers everything from corporate branding to personal branding and what it means to live in a world where “brand is everything”.
Amanda Hess @amandahess

The human face of branding – Creative Bloq 

In this article, Ruth Hamilton interviews guru, Debbie Millman on the future of branding. Millman believes that the push for people to brand themselves is a bad decision. “…To position yourself as a brand is to eliminate the richness and the character of what it means to be human,” says Millman. However, through teaching design students she has learned that forthcoming branders are more focused on standing up for causes within their work than branding themselves, which Millman believes is equally as important as their portfolio.
Ruth Hamilton @RuthEHamilton

How Gen Z is driving a cultural shift in retail branding – Retail Dive

“It’s young people and their desire for greater purpose and holistic inclusivity that are requiring brands to take a hard look at their own values and understand how those values are expressed at every turn — from hiring to product design to advertising,” writes Meredith Ferguson. And with generation Z (who will represent 40 percent of shoppers by 2020) taking to social media to support or rally against brands, companies are being pushed to decide who their customers are and to take a stance with them or risk losing respect. Ferg says the best brands are diverse, inclusive, socially aware, apart of a larger dialogue and are focused on building their brand values.
Meredith Ferg @MeredithFerg

Branding Energizes – Lane Report

Author Brad Flowers offers a rundown on how and why communicating your business values both internally and externally (to employees and the rest of the world)  is so important. From talking to your team about the company to building a website that really represents the brand, Flowers says the process is invigorating and uplifting. “[Branding] is an investment in the culture of your organization that has cascading positive outcomes,” says Flowers. And successful branding leads to tangible benefits.
Brad Flowers @BullhornBrad

Why branded workplaces inspire Millennials (and every other generation) – RE Journals 

Design Director Scott Delano writes about branding within workplaces and the importance of creating engaging workplaces – especially to millennials. “…Millennials, more than other generations, seek out companies that cultivate a corporate culture in keeping with their values and interests. They understand that happiness at work is important—and the physical workplace setting can make or break their employee experience,” writes Delano. He focuses on the office layout to reflect company values. Consistency is key both physically and mentally – between the entrance and the main workspace as well as the common room and corporate brands. Inevitably, how a company designs their workspace tells employees and clients about the brand and what they should value.
Scott Delano @sidelano

The power of employee stories for employer branding – People Matters

Employer branding is key to obtaining the best employees. “An employer brand now needs to be transparent, authentic and stand up to the scrutiny of  ur ever more connected world, writes Matt Alder. “The companies that are rising to meet this challenge are the ones who are open and honest and let their employees speak as advocates for them to provide the social proof of an insider’s point of view,” he says. Employers should be partaking in authentic storytelling as a way to communicate their brand values and company culture.
Matt Alder @mattalder

Why Brands Need Signature Stories – Forbes

Creating Signature Stories: Strategic Messaging that Energizes, Persuades and Inspires is a new book written by brand and marketing Vice Chairman David Aaker about why telling signature stories to support brand purpose is so efficacious. Chief growth officer at Prophet and Forbes contributor, Scott Davis interviews Davis on his new book in this article. “Signature stories help us savor memories, and remind us of what really matters,” says Aaker. Not only do they draw attention away from negative press but are in a society where customers steer clear of pitches and assertions of capabilities they give customers what they’re looking for – successful case studies. On the same token, a key piece of advice form Aaker is for brands to stop doing what they’re naturally included to do – relying on facts alone – and instead start investing in authentic, personalized storytelling.
Scott Davis @scottdavisshift @DavidAaker

Using sensory branding will create more meaningful experiences for customers – The Drum

Our conscious minds are driven by the subconscious. “The subconscious, anatomically known as the limbic system, is where we store our long-term memories, where we form our habits and patterns and where we get our intuition and creativity,” writes Becky King and Michelle Hone. “All senses are engaged during the course of a consumer’s experience.” And according to The New York Times, they write, “81% of consumers would choose a product they could smell and see over one they can only see.” When companies utilize sensory branding they give customers a chance to be engaged. It’s a sure way to attract customers and remain memorable. But King and Hone encourage brands to incorporate sensory branding at the appropriate times and to be careful to not overdo it.
Becky King @king_becky Michelle Hone @MichelleHone

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