Is Your Brand Ready for the “Inside Out” Movement?
Professional services brands may want to take inspiration from the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which the architecture community is touting as the next truly great building of this age. Why? Because big screens on the outside show who is practicing and performing on the inside. It shares itself with the world. It adapted technologically to our human desire to “be in the know” about everything all the time. Brands in the next generation will have to be the same way. They will be expected to show what’s on the inside (their values), not just talk about their services. Brands must reflect the DNA of the company within.
Opening the Kimono
Many professional services companies were pushed into the first iteration of this “inside out” movement with the advent of social media, but having a social presence is no longer enough. Brands need to share their thinking and culture with their customers in a meaningful way. Brands have lost trust over the past decade and they are not going to gain loyalty back by navel gazing. “Research shows that firms who put values first, last longer and do better; the same can be said for countries competing in the globalization arena.” Customers, like constituents, know when you are driven by your culture and values. This bodes well for professional services firms who traditionally sell on the quality of their relationships and customer service.
Turning the Inside Out
The second iteration of the “inside out” movement will be about how companies use the customer intelligence and market research they have collected to show, not tell their customers why they are the brand to do business with. This goes beyond Big Data and understanding where your customers are on the social web. Success will come from converting customers to loyal brand ambassadors, not only by excellent customer service but also by opening the kimono and showing the world the good stuff that lies inside the walls. “Megabrands are suffering a collapse in legitimacy as we find that what looks good outside (Lehman, Enron, the State of California) is often weak on the inside.” We live in an age of transparency when customers can learn about brands as easily as you can learn about them – so it’s time to up the ante. Big brands that already have the public eye need to say something meaningful in the limelight to showcase their core values. Smaller or lesser known brands should take this opportunity to push the envelope, tell their story and sell on the platform of their culture and innovation.
If there were ever a year to promote your company ideals, the culture behind your brand and who you are, it is 2013. It is not enough for clients, prospects and consumers to have a connection to a brand – they have that, they know you are watching. Now they want the connection to be meaningful. Show them something, as the Barclays Center does, that they didn’t know or expect. They are ready – are you?
Cortney Stapleton is EVP and head of professional services at Bliss Integrated Communication. A marketing communication agency serving clients in the healthcare, financial services and professional services areas, Bliss focuses on goals, audiences, messages and results. To that end Cortney develops and implements overall messaging, content, thought leadership and digital and traditional media strategy both locally and globally for the firm’s clients. She plays in a large sandbox that allows her to partner with people in the branding, advertising, and design realm of the marketing world to ensure the most creative outcomes for her clients.