Best in Brand & Innovation from August
Every month we bring you the best articles we’ve found in brand and innovation.
This month’s list is full of branding lessons that range from community building and cohesion in your messaging to the pitfalls of being too positive. We also look at how the time of day dictates your creativity and how boredom aids it.
Brand values and a beautiful logo aren’t much without a community of supporters to back them up. Zach Ferres of Entrepreneur says a big driver of web growth is a healthy network of domains that refer back to your website, essentially lots of links. When these links are unprompted, coming from other sites who genuinely love your product or service, your brand develops as a result of the community. The first step in building your brand’s tribe? Stay focused. Do one thing better than anyone else and the community will follow.
Zach Ferres @zcferres
Creativity declines with age, a new study by UC Berkeley psychologists shows. Compared to children, writes Rohini Venkatraman of Inc., adults used less creative thought processes in a problem-solving experiment. There are methods, however, to combat this. First, entertain the non-obvious by considering out of the box hypotheses. Second, zoom out from situations to consider environmental impact on outcomes instead of an individual’s impact. Third, reevaluate your preconceived notions when you receive new information. Creativity is not synonymous with efficiency, so expect to spend more time on problem-solving but to arrive at more creative resolutions.
Rohini Venkatraman @rohinivibha
In a study of 428 students tackling six problem-solving scenarios throughout the course of a day, researchers found that individuals’ insight thinking came at their non-optimal time of day. So, night owls found themselves thinking more creatively during the day, while early birds thought more creatively in the evening. The original study was published in a 2011 edition of Thinking & Reasoning, but its findings may lend a hand to creatives who prefer a certain time of day to think and work.
In an age where every aspect of your company contributes to your brand (charity, community, founders, pets, offices, etc.), it may seem like the company culture takes care of the brand on its own. But that’s not the case. It takes a lot of background effort, starting with continuity. Getting the entire company on the same page about brand messaging doesn’t have to be boring, so Suneera Madhani of Forbes put together three exercises to help bring cohesion to teams. The first step is to not only define what your company is, but what it isn’t. This can help a team set parameters that guide company strengths and core values.
Suneera Madhani @suneera921
What does all overly positive brand messaging have in common? Clichés, write Nicola Brown of Skyword. It’s what doesn’t set a company apart from the rest. If your brand is trying to gain the trust of an audience and eventually of clients, it’s honesty, not positivity that needs to be conveyed in brand messaging. The middle point between the vice and the virtue, per se, is what brands should aim for.
Nicola Brown @nicolathinks
Studies measuring brand loyalty as a primary purchasing decision are inconclusive, but psychology helps the brands who find that their brand keeps consumer loyalty thriving, Jayson Demers of Entrepreneur writes. The list of elements that determine brand loyalty begins with novelty, a product or service that outbids the competition by a landslide. Second and third, positive associations and reinforcement, which means capturing your audience’s attention and presenting them with positive feelings to associate with your brand.
Jayson Demers @jaysondemers
The instinct to flee boredom works against creativity by giving the brain something to focus on constantly. Free association and new ideas spring up with boredom, Jessica Stillman of Inc. writes and retraining yourself to embrace a bored state may help you be more creative. The first step? Let yourself zone out and resist the mindless use of your phone. Resetting standards for communication to allow for thoughtfulness will prevent frantic busyness. Lastly, embrace uncomfortable feelings you normally push away with self-prescribed distractions.
Jessica Stillman @entrylevelrebel
Keeping the pulse on your company’s customer service can be challenging because you’ve never been in your customer’s shoes, as a patron of your business. It helps to try though, and Nate Vickery of Customer Think curated a list of ways companies can begin to fully understand customer service from the other side of the fence. The first step is knowing your customer, inside and out. Having a brand persona, or personas will help you envision how you can help your customer by zeroing into specific needs. Another tip is using mistakes to your advantage. This means customer service recovery, which, if done correctly, can build trust and earn credibility.
Nate Vickery @natemvickery
A company called Brandless is embracing simplicity, right down to flat pricing and straightforward labeling, Katharine Schwabb writes for Co.Design. CEO Tina Sharkley says the company isn’t particularly anti-brand, but that they’re more interested in redefining what branding means and how they can push the boundaries of transparency and honesty for the consumer. At the end of the day, Brandless does have a message, but that message is to brand less and live more.
Katharine Schwabb @kschwabable