In this episode, Kristina Shea, a Virtual CMO and the founder of K Vision Marketing and founder of wellness brand BlueSkys Life™, shares her perspective on the purpose of branding and how to use it to boost revenue.
Some topics we discussed include:
- What is the purpose of branding
- How your company’s image is more than just a logo. The difference between a logo and brand
- What is the purpose of branding in marketing
- How to use the purpose of branding strategically
- What makes a brand successful
- What does branding have to do with understanding your customer
- Looking beyond loyal customers to employees
- Metrics to ensure a business is on track
- A checklist to evaluate your brand
- and much more…
Vinay Koshy 0:00
There is a question that I encounter regularly irrespective of the size and maturity of a business. The question is what is the purpose of branding? as companies strive to differentiate themselves in overcrowded industries. In attempting to differentiate themselves, they do so by beginning to look for ways to position themselves in the marketplace. And they focus on things like products, services, and marketing campaigns. Well, these things are important to any great enterprise, your unique selling proposition isn't the factor that forms the heart of your organization. Today's brands need something more if they want to stand out. And I would argue that they need a purpose, our guest who loves champion purpose driven brands that she resonates with. And this is what I know about her. She is a virtual cmo and the founder of K vision, a full service marketing agency in Ontario, Canada. She has a diverse background from creative direction to entrepreneurship. And her professional history includes working with a top financial institutions, as well as companies involved with cannabis, public companies and not for profit organizations. To put it simply, she is an expert at building an integrated marketing approach to deliver stories that will resonate with audiences to deliver business results. Christina Shay, welcome to the podcast.
Kristina Shea 1:24
Thank you so much. It's a pleasure. And thank you for having me again.
Vinay Koshy 1:32
Christina, it's a pleasure having you. I'm curious, you call yourself a virtual CFO? Was there a moment when you realize that this was the thing to do? And if so, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Kristina Shea 1:45
It's funny because I guess everything is gone virtual. Now, you know, during the pandemic, is not this is something that I created the term LogMeIn, I'm sure it's been around even before me, but probably about five years ago, and I'm very digital first, obviously, marketing is is you know, integrated and full spectrum really, but very much about digital first. And that's really where the audience is. And you know, people are on the go. So I and I had a very busy life, like, I'd like to travel and like to work wherever I want to, but also my clients are doing the same. So it made perfect sense for me, just to put that in there. And people would always ask me, What did that mean? And then I could tell the story. So they're like, Oh, that's perfect. So they would love to work with him, because it was just so easy for them. And if you can make something easy for somebody, all the better.
Vinay Koshy 2:30
And giving you a journey to date, what would you say is your personal area of strength, given your journey to date?
Kristina Shea 2:37
hmm. I think branding as a whole would be my my strength just because I came from that. But also, you know, I'm utilizing that in my own business, as well as others, and really telling stories and helping people tell their brand story. So I think that's really important, now more than ever, is to tell those stories, and when people think about stories when they go to bed, but those stories that you were told when you were a child, you remember them a lot, or how they made you feel anyway. And that is really what a brand is all about is telling your story and sharing it with others. And you know, how do people listen, but you also listen to them, and you engage with them and interact. So you're creating that emotional connection. And no matter what the story actually says, We are brand, but it's really how you make people feel inside, connect with them.
Vinay Koshy 3:22
from a business point of view, what would you say is something that businesses don't know, but should in that area of strength?
Kristina Shea 3:31
I think is consistency, probably. So, I mean, some people do are aware of that. But there's so many different things. And also not only consistency, but also across the different channels. So it can be consistent across the different channels. So really know who you are as a brand and know what that story is. And it might change and evolve over time. You know, especially during the pandemic, people have pivoted and done all sorts of things, but really to be consistent with that message. So if you're saying one thing on social media, Don't say another thing on your website, if you're doing press release, or if you're speaking in front of the public, make sure that your persona is consistent. It's just like a personality. So you want to resonate with that audience or that specific audience. So you want to make sure it's consistent for them. And I'm not confused on you're who you are as a brand.
Vinay Koshy 4:15
So you talked about brands, being able to evoke an emotion in an audience. But what would you say is really the purpose of branding? Is it isn't just to tell stories, or does it involve a lot more than a logo and stories?
Kristina Shea 4:36
Yes, definitely. That's a great question. Because branding is an integrated whole is definitely more than a logo. A logo is what people think that branding is, I think they create a logo and they're done. And I think of Nike and they think of all that, but they don't see the big picture. Often if they're not familiar with marketing. They think of that logo, but there's a whole not just a story, but there is a whole brand purpose, vision and mission. And then they really tell that story through all the channels. So I think that's again, consistency. But there's a lot more to it. And there's, it's an integrated approach. So branding is really about the personality of the brand. And yes, graphical element of a logo is part of that, or those visual identities, your colors, your palettes, etc. But those might change over time to you've seen many brands actually change and update their logo, but, or just minor modifications. But that's really only one portion of it, I always tell people to think of a brand as a personality or a person. So if you're in a room, not everybody has logos, right? Maybe you're networking or you're at an event, I don't mean I have a logo, but not everybody has a personal logo. So what you remember that person for good or bad, right? If you were talking to them, or maybe they weren't memorable at all, and you don't remember them. So I always try to tell that story people like Oh, they understand. So consistency again. So if you're too faced, for example, as a person a brand can be to face they don't walk the talk, I say that, that a lot. So really the consistency. And again, it's really about walking your talk being memorable, Top of Mind, being integrated in your approach. So you know, as a person, I might dress one day, and then you know, if I don't know, maybe I'm rock and roll one day. And then one day, I'm a, you know, office executive by day that might confuse people, but maybe for different audiences, you're different things, right? So it's really knowing your audience. And you really want to have a good reputation. It's really all about that. And I think people do and brands do as well, and to really, really engage and start to build that trust. And that's what people I think everybody wants to know, when they leave the room, that's the most important thing when they leave the room, what do they say about you? So your brand is the same thing. So, you know, even if you might ask people, what do you think of my this or that, but, you know, it's really about what they think about you when they leave or when they're in the store or, or how they think of you maybe after something that happened in the media. So all those things, they really build upon each other. And it's just like you have a relationship with a person. So that's really what it is. It's a relationship with the brand or the business with the consumer, just like a person that another individual.
Vinay Koshy 7:10
Great points there. I was just thinking, as you was saying all that. But it's almost like a true identity. Yeah, would that be correct, that they essentially live by day to day and kind of guides the culture of everyone within the organization, as well as perhaps an invitation to others as well to come along with them on their journey?
Kristina Shea 7:32
Exactly. That's a really great point and analogy. I think brands are basically creating a community community, so a community or a tribe, right. So you hear that word a lot on social media to build your tribe. But that is really what you're doing is you're trying to find really, you should know who you're trying to target sometimes shifts and you find it Oh, I'm really actually speaking to these people over here, or I resonate better in this demographic, or this group of individuals. And that's really what a brand is, is knowing your audience, knowing how to communicate with them, and inviting them along that journey, and really making them trust you. A lot of people think it's just you know, branding is about your unique selling point or your product. But it's really how you communicate and how people connect with you, as I was saying, so yes, it's definitely about culture. And we'll make talk about that later. But inside out and outside in I always say customer obsessed so but then it also reflects within your culture, as well. So if your employees don't believe in your mission, or what your brand is about, and really is your living and breathing, and it's your like your DNA. So but you know, as brands as people we sometimes evolve in sometimes we change that we add people just as brands do as well. But it's it's very important to not confuse people. So if you're doing it, you're doing it slowly, or you're evolving in such a way that you're communicating or over communicating really is really what you want to do is what you're about and why you're doing it. And I often do talk about purpose led brands, like we've done before, in some of my other podcasts. So really knowing your why and why you are you know, creating a product you're doing or why you're delivering the service and what value you provide for others and invite them into join you whether it's you know, a journey on, you know, use helping service them or discovering what that is, or you know, teaching them about your product and how it can help or benefit them in their lives.
Vinay Koshy 9:25
If I would to kind of think through the key essentials of branding from what you were saying. It would really be to consistently deliver a message confirms the brand's credibility in the marketplace, emotionally connect with their community, and also to motivate potential customers to make a purchase and most importantly, of course, create loyalty. Would that be a good snapshot?
Kristina Shea 9:54
Yeah, that's an excellent snapshot too. And I always say yes, it's top of mind and will they Not only buy once will they buy it again. So that's your loyalty piece. And that's very, very essential and to really build on that, because your existing customers are essential. And they're your brand advocates as well. So if you can get what we call a net promoter score, and marketing language, they're basically your advocates, your ambassadors, so that you want to create that emotion, that connection. I don't know if you recall this as a while ago, but Saturn was, I believe, a subsidiary of GM, and they had their own kind of cult, like, community with their Saturn didn't even have events and people would drive this is kind of before social media was a huge thing. And they would just connect. And that was really a tribe of people that they really, you know, connected with not only a brand, but with a product, and they created a community, community and advocacy within them. And that's really what you want to do with your brand no matter what the product or service is.
Vinay Koshy 10:49
Okay. So looking at the purpose of branding, I think one of the issues that at least some businesses make, is they tend to use branding and marketing almost interchangeably. But that's not the case. Marketing should really be driven by branding. Would you agree?
Kristina Shea 11:04
Yeah, I would agree totally. I mean, as I said, brand is more that personality or the persona that you want, and that that messaging that you want to deliver and, and tell that brand story and connect, as you said, emotionally, build that loyalty, etc. and how you're doing that across the integrated channels. Now Marketing is, it's a huge, huge umbrella, I often do try to explain it, the difference really is your message and how you're going to send that message out to the world. So marketing is delivering that message of brand, whatever that is, whether it's your service product, but also who you are, through the channel. So marketing, I can now integrate, it's often called integrated marketing. So you have social media, you have obviously a website and digital other formats. You have press releases, you have events, you have all these other tactics, that you have to send that message out. So you can mark it up to your audience. And that's where they're going to get to know you, or they're going to converse with you engage, participate, hopefully, like you and want to buy or use your services. And they'll want to do it again. And not only that, they'll want to refer you. So marketing is really a broad term that I like to explain to my customers. That brand is your message. And marketing is how I'm going to deliver it.
Vinay Koshy 12:16
Would you say that brands should therefore be purpose driven brands?
Kristina Shea 12:22
Yeah, I, I am a firm believer of that. Because if you don't know why you're doing it, and why are you doing it, you have to believe in your product. And it's very hard to sell. Like, if you were a salesman, and you didn't believe in your product you were selling, it's really hard to sell that right shoe, or a door to door salesman, you're really like hate your job and you hate this product, we're going back to like the 70s, it's not going to sell very well. But if you're enthusiastic and you believe in it, it's going to sell and I think also people and consumers in general, they want to see that you do have a purpose that you're not only, you know, providing value for them, but you're also making a positive impact on the world. And you see a lot of brands now that they really do have to really incorporate sustainability. Still, bottom line, I know is important. But people are really really drilling down, they want to read natural ingredients, they want to see sustainability they want to see that they're giving back to the community through my phone is they really want to see that there is a purpose behind what they're buying, especially I would say in the millennial generation more than ever, you know, a definitely brought up been brought up on social media and digitally first, and you can see that there's all sorts of things that, you know, activism and with Black Lives Matter, for example, it's very disappointing sometimes to see brands that weren't behind that movement. I mean, that's a personal political thing. But at the end of the day, it's really about being good human beings. It's about being a good brand, and not staying on the fence. You know, political views are one thing, but I think when it comes to human rights, or something like that, or sustainability, environmental, ethical labor, all these things, but also believe in your product, does it provide value, as I said, so if you don't know what you're doing, I know I'm kind of going on a long answer here. Like it's like, even like if you were going to university, I say, Well, why are you going to university? Why are you studying what you're studying, if you don't know why it's probably going to lead you down a really great path. But if you have a mission or vision, you really know where you're going, it's your compass. And if you keep all those values while you're doing it, and your core values of your brand, together, you'll have your compass in your direction. And when sometimes when things enter your business, and they don't align with those core values, or the mission of why you're doing what you're doing, you'll be easily much more easy to clarify what you should be doing and what you should not be doing. And always go back to that core belief system and why and your core values. So
Vinay Koshy 14:41
If I could unpack that, just for listeners to make sure that we understand this, it all starts with your way and perhaps people have watched the whole sequence in a way video to illustrate that point. But that in turn, drives I think your vision, which is what you'd end To achieve, which in turn would then drive your mission, which would be how you want to achieve that. And then comes values and positioning. So values would be the things that you essentially stand for and determines perhaps how you behave. And positioning, I guess the difference from your competition?
Kristina Shea 15:24
Yes, that's very true, like core values would be your belief system, just like positioning would be, for example, yeah, and how you're going to deliver that against your competition. Like, for example, maybe my product piece, maybe I'm delivering skincare and my jungle back to natural ingredients as natural ingredients and, and is ethical labor and is sustainable. All the things that are maybe in my core values, right? Sure, wait aligns there, but maybe my competition, maybe they're missing one or two of those elements. So I'm standing above them perhaps, or maybe I'm a family owned business. And we've done this for generations. And that's part of our positioning, and we're also supporting local. So you know, you could be a local company that's really, really servicing the community locally. And maybe you're, you know, a huge company, like Revlon or something. But you really have to find that some unique differentiator. And that will help position where you want to be in the market.
Vinay Koshy 16:20
Just going off what you said, the purpose, vision, mission, and values would pretty much be an internal process that you need to work out and define. And positioning is really where marketing comes into play. And where you begin to play on your strengths, your core values and vision and mission in order to stand out from the crowd.
Kristina Shea 16:45
Yes, exactly. You can also think of it like I mean, I have so many analogies, mission vision. I mean, it could be like a roadmap, I always like giving people metaphors, because So again, if I didn't know where I'm going, and I'm just getting jump in the car and go on an adventure, while it might be exciting, but I have no idea where I'm going to land. But if I say you know, I'm going to go across Canada, which I'm from Canada, I'm going to plan out maybe the stops that I want to see, and I'm going to choose to go on a car, maybe I'll get on a train, and maybe I'll get on a plane, or maybe I'll just go on the car. So it really gives you a roadmap. And then you can take your belief system with you when you get in that car. And you know where you're going. So you're not going to do things that maybe are against your value system through which
Vinay Koshy 17:26
are there any particular brands that kind of encompass this way of thinking?
Kristina Shea 17:32
I mean, there's so many that come to mind...
Yeah, there's so many obviously, I mean, you can think of, I'll just use I love Nike, so I'll use Nike as a really, you know, is that brand with a slogan, and that's an easy one, just do it. And, you know, it's, it's becoming more inclusive to not only diversity, but also age, and so on. And they really have active, really an advertising strong foundation in their retail sector, but also in their social media and channels. And they do have a core strong belief system really, which is about you know, active health, you know, fashionable, were reasonable, were making it comfortable and easy for people to get ready to go and do their, their workout or whatever it is. Then there's other brands like that are value priced, for example, like McDonald's, we all know the golden arches, we know we're going to get an inexpensive meal, I'll be a may not be healthy, although they are trying to now shift a little bit more with the evolving world and how people want to be healthy. So you can really see that they've put their core values like one is about active, living, really making it fashionable, you know, just do it. It's a very bold statement. I think McDonald's would be keep smiling. And people always have stories to for example, about you know, maybe they went to McDonald's with their friends when they were a kid or their families or no breakfast. So there's all in there's a lot of stories like that. And just other brands. There's I'm trying to think of a I mean, Google, for example. It's an interesting brand. I don't know what that I can't think off the top of my mind what a slogan is for Google, but I do remember now people see in one of the shows, I think, was Buffy the Vampire. They actually used Google as a verb for the first time I googled it. So now it's, it's just like, even if they're using a different search engine, they're gonna say I googled it. So it's really been top of mind. And it's an interesting brand that suddenly takes you places on your browser and get, you know, helps you learn, maybe book a trip, buy a car, you can do anything. So yeah, so it's quite interesting how the different types of services and value products, deliver their message and also resonate with people.
Vinay Koshy 19:37
Perhaps the listener would argue that these are pretty big companies out there. Other smaller plays that you feel are making a mark in the world?
Kristina Shea 19:46
There's so many, but I don't know if they would know the ones I would be referring to. I'm just trying to think of one. I mean, I know a lot of local Canadian ones. So Sure. Like, I mean, Shoppers Drug Mart is still a very big brand. I don't know if you have that but on Use it as a Canadian for larger brand. Again, now they've really created a really interesting retail structure. So I can't think of the Shogun, I'll be honest, I don't know if they have one. But it's really about the experience when you go in there. And you have rewards and loyalty cards and Canadians love loyalty cards. I don't know what UK but we've been probably one of the top users of loyalty programs. And they have a great system that's now been embedded across all sorts of grocery chains, for example, that are smaller, like 14 years. So they've strategically partnered with other brands that are smaller than them, even gas stations. So I can get points using my gas, I can get points when I'm doing my groceries, or I can get points when I go into shoppers and shoppers sells everything from beauty products, to you know, basically getting picking up your pharmacy, and they're very digital first now as well. And they're also really interesting because they're coming into the cannabis space and serving the medical community. So they're, they're really integrated and how they're approaching. There's also you know, for example, I'll use one of my friends brands, Martin's Martin Reid, he's he owns a small distillery. So this is very local. So we're going micro Now, what I really love about his brand, he started, you know, just as, basically two years ago, he decided he wanted to open up a distillery. I did that to downtown Toronto area. And he's really built an interesting community because he had events and had all sorts of interactive, engaging with his customers. So people would come for the events for music and drink some gin and learn cocktails. Now he's in various, you know, I would say we call them lcbo. But it's liquor boards across Ontario, and then also across Canada. But he's expanded. And during COVID, what was essential, I really started out walking and talking purpose that he's there to serve the community and help. So not only just create entertainment, and create cocktails, and lessons and all that, but they went and used their distillery and all their ingredients to develop hand sanitizer. So they gave out all the frontline workers to people walking in for free. And so that says a lot about their brand. And people remember that, because they were mentioned in all sorts of Toronto blogs and, and other, you know, instances in the media. So that one small action, which took a lot of I know, you know, a sweat equity from them to actually produce all of that. But they did. And they helped and created a positive impact. So I think that's also essential, especially within local during the pandemic, you'll see a lot of those stories were rands, maybe restaurants, for example, they've been giving meals to frontline workers, because they know they're tired and burnt out. And so that goes back to telling the story, because it really makes people think about, they'll remember that brand, or remember that restaurant or remember who it was, who gave them a taco or burrito when they were starving, and they didn't have time to. And that's an emotional connection as well.
Vinay Koshy 22:45
So just going with what you were saying the examples you're talking about, if I were to think about the purpose of branding, and how to use it strategically, my takeaways, at least from a positioning point of point of view would be to think about taking a stand, or study movement, and utility. would those be correct? And is there anything else that you would add to it?
Kristina Shea 23:07
Yeah, definitely taking a stand of who you are, what your brand stands for walking your talk. And you know, yeah, again, I do feel that, you know, we do have a responsibilities, especially the larger corporations to take a stand on whatever, you know, whether it's about the environment, whether it's about human rights, etc. And I think that is very important, because culture, as a whole speaks to also the general public. So your brand culture is contagious. So it can, you can see, you know, I won't say instances politically, but you know, one finger or one brand can be very contagious in their outlook. So it's brand, goodness and kindness. Why not? And also people will remember that.
Vinay Koshy 23:42
Now, I was just curious when you said utility, what would you What did you mean by that?
Especially as it has practical value? It's solve that problem?
Kristina Shea 23:51
Yes, exactly. So solving a problem creating value. Amazon is a great, that's a giant, but it didn't start out as a giant, right, he started in his garage. But what was interesting about him is he was customer obsessed. And I don't know if you know, Amazon, before it became Amazon was called relentless. So yeah, so interesting, right? So he was relentless about his obsession with the customer, and always creating value for the customer. So making it easy. So that That, to me is the biggest, unique positioning point for Amazon is it makes it easy on everything, I can order it online, it's delivered usually the next day, I don't have the only problem I have is Maybe someone's stealing something off my porch. With that, you know, they they make it so easy. Now, they used to just sell books, and they realized, Oh, I can sell a lot more books, we can sell other retail things, we can also not only make it easy for the consumer, but we can make easy for third party sellers. So that's when they really exploded, because they figured out a different customer in a different audience and how they could really make it easy for people to sell online and create another an online store essentially. So yeah, so that I think that's a really good example of really creating value. There's so many others, of course, but I think that's a prime example. And it might be a giant one. But remember, he started out very, very small. And it was just an insight that he grew upon with a relentless obsession on how to deliver value for the customer.
Vinay Koshy 25:14
Certainly. And, and two questions arise from what you were just talking about, at least in my mind, one being storytelling, which, which I'd like to get into. But this, this other question that comes to mind is, you've talked about a few brands and started out with what I might say were charismatic founders and CEOs, who will pretty much the brand, and the brand kind of evolved from them and their personality. What does an organization need to do in order to keep the flame burning, when it is an individual that's kind of liking the path forward in terms of their personal brand?
Kristina Shea 25:59
And that's a good question as well. I mean, as organizations grow, I'm sure Amazon has experienced some hiccups and challenges while they're growing. But it is really about brand culture. And you know, also knowing who who you want to hire, right. So you want to make sure that people that you hire are on board with your brand message, your I'll call it the DNA of the company. And so they live and breathe it as well, but also making it a pleasant place for them to work, consistently relaying that message to the employees. And also, you know, as a founder, I mean, I think real quick, I'm going back to these big personalities, but Richard Branson, who has developed a brand would talk about personalities. So he not only does he have a personality with his consumers, and he's very, you know, engaging with them. And he even jumps on airplanes and converses with him, but he's also very engaging with his employees. And he makes time for them, I can't make time for every single person, but he does his very best, not only in events, and meeting and greeting, but you know, engaging with them on social etc. And really recognizing I think reward and recognition is really, really important for all organizations, people work very, very hard for you, you know, whether you're a small company or a large company, definitely recognize their efforts, make them feel that they are contributing value, if they indeed are, and obviously set your bar high when you hire, you know, I do feel that's really important, just as you would maybe with you know, someone that's a friend or a marriage, you want to set that bar high, because those people are going to be representing you, and you want them to grow with your company, and you want them to stick around. So it's just like that. And so it's and also, I'm going to add to that, a lot of CEOs, I mean, it depends on organization, but they often pay visits, and they do what they call a walkabout and I think that's really nice is for people to see that real face. I know with the pandemic, we cannot do that. But there is, you know, there zoom, and people are getting zoomed out maybe a little bit, I think it's still essential to over communicate, I would say that I don't like it's not not only your consumers, but your employees, because they are going to represent you. And if they're not happy, guess what, you're your brand and your company's most likely going to suffer. So make sure that you are being authentic, that you're being fair, recognizing rewarding, communicating, don't leave them in the dark, make sure you're reiterating your mission and brand vision, consistently. And that can be through not only, you know, maybe like promotions and messaging through the intranet, and so on. But maybe there's events and stuff like that, where you recognize employees who've done more than, you know, the average bear, so to speak, but also also engaging even in like charitable, especially right now, with a pandemic, it's really great for people to feel they have a purpose outside of work to another company where they does walk their talk, so maybe it's helping with the food bank, maybe it's helping hand deliver, with, you know, making hand sanitizers, whatever that is. I really think it has to be almost like a family. I know it's not your real family that you come home to, but you should treat your employees like a family and set your bar high when you hire them, communicate, be there for them and be Richard Branson. Like I love his style. Like I think it's a fabulous story too. But there's a lot of local restaurants who are also wonderful for their staff like here, they're really suffering. I don't know what UK Are you in lockdown? I'm not sure.
Vinay Koshy 29:22
I'm in Australia and unfortunate, fortunate enough to be not there.
Kristina Shea 29:26
Now we are here very lucky because here people are really suffering and it's really hard to see but you see the PVC The difference with the businesses where people stick around because they really believe in the company and they believe in the leadership. And that is key. If they believe in the leadership and the boat is going in the right direction. they'll stick around. But a lot of people are feeling very, not only to satisfy maybe they realize they don't want to work 80 hours or 60 hours a week where they're not being compensated not only financially but they're not feeling fulfilled. So I think there's a lot of self reflection not only for people right now. During the pandemic, but here in North America, for businesses as well on how they conduct business and how, and how not only they they treat the consumers, but also again, their employees and how they really need to work on how to instill a positive, approachable and rewarding career for their employees.
Vinay Koshy 30:18
So culture and in turn hiring is a key part of ensuring the legacy of your brand. Is there anything else that you believe would make for a successful brand? Gosh,
Kristina Shea 30:32
there's been a lot of elements. I mean, obviously, as I said, consistency, if I'm going to talk about, for example, like a checklist, obviously, you're going to start with some basics, like a brand guideline. And that's kind of like your Bible. And it'll help set your roadmap or your playbook, which is all the things that we talked about your mission, your vision, it's a document that you're going to create, and it will have not only your visuals and all that, but how the tone of voice like how are you going to speak to people formal and informal. All those guidelines in there are really, really important. I think, as a checklist, I think, you know, beacons customer obsessed, as a brand, that's really, really important to also think about your employees and maybe the same manner almost, and really deeply understand where they are and what they want. So what you're talking about the value, so understanding what they want, and then talking about the employees from inside out, so your employees to the out, and then outside in, which would be your customer obsessed, sort of approach. So I like that just to sum it up inside out to outside in. That, to me is a really great way to put it there. Because then you can really put yourself on a strong trajectory, and everything will fall into place.
Vinay Koshy 31:37
So you talked about brand storytelling. And in the example of a distillery that that you mentioned, where they pivoted to making a hand sanitizer and managed to get into various publications, that's great in that their efforts in providing a service that was very much needed, gained attention, and gotten the suddenly the mentions in those publications. But is there a certain amount of choice, especially strategy and purposeful thinking that most brands need to invest in, in order to ensure that their brand stories get out there and are being put up consistently?
Kristina Shea 32:26
Okay, that's that's also an interesting question. So yeah, so taking that story, and then, so I'm just going to rephrase or confirm your question. So taking that story, whatever that story is, and using that purposely and strategically, and how to implement that, is that really the question?
Vinay Koshy 32:44
Yeah, so I guess there's a number of stories, at least in my mind, one would be perhaps an origin story, or a current event story. But then there's also the everyday impact that the brand continues to make on people's lives. And a lot of companies don't usually invest too much in that. But yet they are relevant examples of the difference that started with and continues to make.
Kristina Shea 33:09
Yeah, and there's, I mean, I think this is another great example of brand storytelling. So there's an airline, I mean, I think there's a South America or something. So I mean, I know in Canada, it's called westjet. And then there's another one that's kind of similar in style in the US. But westjet, obviously, they deliver value, they provide economical airfare right now No, because they fly by what they do, do they keep their brand very much alive. But today had a lot of interesting stories where they would do videos where they would reunite, long lost family members, or maybe it could be so simple, as you know, maybe they're making a delivery that's really going to impact someone's health or, you know, taking them to a hospital or something that they need to get to. So those those things really impact them emotionally, but they're also providing value in their lives. And so there is the About Us and how the company started, there is that story, and that story can be really interesting, depending on what that story is, usually they all are interesting, and depending on how you try to tell that story. But then there's how, as you said, evolving and, and how you're going to always be continually there telling that continual story to your customers. So I think, you know, using examples where you might think like, even as I was saying, you know, meals like Dairy Queen on us as another food one people often have in Canada, and we have Dairy Queen In Australia, but a lot of people would have stories about how they had ice cream. It's an ice cream company, you know, with their mother or their father and or after a baseball game. So and even though it's a story that is maybe old, because there's people from 20 years ago, remember that but there's still stories about it now and you can reinvent them and retell them with different characters, different customers, different people, and it still resonates and it's still very relevant. So it can be anything From simple as an ice cream to, you know, someone that's, you know, evolved from, you know,
I guess Amazon where now you're shipping parcels all around the world and their gifts, like their gifts that are making people smile, or there's something that they really need. So you're not you're telling you're not only delivering value, but you're really impacting people with stories. So people are unwrapping presents this Christmas, they couldn't go to the malls here. So because or they're limited in their resources and how they can get out shopping with the risk of COVID infection. So now everybody's shopping online, not only Amazon, obviously, online communities, as well. But Amazon's a great example, because that little smiley logo, you know, it's a box. So it's wrapped up it is under the tree and now you're you know, you're able to give your child or your or deliver for someone that you're not going to be able to connect with a lot of families are now disconnected, they're not going to be able to meet up for Christmas here in Canada. So you can deliver a gift and it can still create joy and tell that story in a different way,
Vinay Koshy 35:55
with the idea of brand storytelling, and maybe I'll broaden that out to content. In general, I get the idea that we should be producing content with no real sales intention, other than to reinforce the brand story and the purpose and impact that we're able to make, or to add value. But then we should also add a call to action in order to have sales,
Kristina Shea 36:28
I think always that call to action. I mean, I mean, I mean, there's places and times obviously, perhaps doing depending on what what you're doing. I mean, obviously, during the pandemic, I might might not be right oh visit, you know, such and such store to buy this after we just, you know, it might be a little bit out of bad taste, but you can always reinforce that through social media too. But I always do believe in general, like, if you're telling a story, like visit to learn more, or how to, you know, deliver the gift of Christmas to your loved one. So, you know, you now you're speaking in a different language is not just buying now, you know, those kind of harsh, aggressive call to actions, um, they can work, you know, if it's like, you know, perhaps it social media thing, and then you just got 30 seconds, but I think it's a softer call to action that sometimes is more effective. So like, or how it's going to really create an impact. So to me delivering, you know, a gift of joy or something to somebody that's much better than by now. So, I think always try to put that call to action. And whether it's a subtle one that's worded carefully, or in the right time and place, it might be by now, but I really think it should coordinate or be congruent with the story that you're telling. So it's an emotional story, like westjet, I wouldn't say buy your tickets now for $99. I would say, you know, connect now with your family, you know, and then you're gonna have a very visual click here, where you don't basically get booked, your tickets are booked, you know, book book now to connect with along with law, you know, whatever, with your loved ones. Sure. That's a very deep connection.
Vinay Koshy 38:07
So context is really what we should be mindful of as we develop the call to action.
Kristina Shea 38:12
Yes, I think so. Very much. So I think Yeah, and again, it can be compared with the messaging. So if one is emotional, maybe a call to actions emotional, if it's a very, I don't know, conversion oriented in such a way that, you know, maybe by now is appropriate, if it's feel is 999, for Boxing Day, maybe it is by now. So I think it really has to just take some just logical approach to it.
Vinay Koshy 38:38
So you talked about NPS scores and terms of ensuring that brands are on track. We can even monitor social media comments, but is there anything else you would do to ensure that we are tracking in the right direction? on a regular basis?
Kristina Shea 38:56
Yeah, definitely metrics are or we also call them as key performance indicators, or until to really understanding your success or where you should give it or adapt. So we're just gonna, I mean, it depends again, on your purpose. So understanding the objective and goal of your canvas user campaign, whatever that is, maybe it's a campaign for Christmas. So if you're doing definitely want to have metrics for every single one, say it social media, say it's like conversion on your website, it could be also just brand awareness, it depends on how much time and how much resources you have to measure them. So really, I mean, a larger organizations often have time to do things like perceptual, top of mind to people recall my brand, what are their brand sentiments, and so on. And you can do that through surveys, you can do it through social media. Smaller companies may not have time to do all that. So really, some really basic ones. Obviously, your Google Analytics, find out what your website traffic is. Find out if they're where they're buying If they're bouncing, find out, are they making their journey to that shopping cart? Are they abandoning the shopping cart? Maybe there's something with your UI, like we're talking now. And one of the tactics here that really needs to be adopted, or maybe it's the price or maybe the shipping, like, try to figure out what that problem is. And then fix it right? Social media, definitely you want to look at engagement, not only just vanity metrics, like followers, right, a lot of people were obsessed with, obviously, they're important, you want to have someone listening to your message. But more key is really that people share, engage, comment, and participate in the dialogue. So if you're not, if you could have, you know, a million followers and people just like your photos, but nobody's sharing them, or nobody's commenting in particular, there's probably a problem, or you're having bots and stuff like that. So, and also following that customer journey. I mean, there's some more sophisticated platforms that can really help you measure the attrition or attribution to where they came from. So did they come from social media to your website? Or did they come from Google search or, you know, paid search media, so really understanding where they're finding you and also understand, like, we have to know the channel, so say it's paid search, we'll just use the two, for example, social media, use those two channels, you put money, maybe you put a lot of money into search, but you're getting more conversions out of your social media. So maybe you're going to now put a little more money into your social media campaign, and maybe a little less on the other. But it takes a lot of testing and a little patience. But you can usually find out pretty quickly, on your website, just Google Analytics will help you understand the audience where they're coming from, not only where they're finding you, perhaps, but also the area and regions. So for example, maybe you're getting a lot of abandoned carts, because they're coming your customers or maybe from, I'll say, from the US from here, and the shipping is really expensive. Maybe you're targeting the wrong customers on your social media. So So there's all sorts of things to look at. But I think social media is definitely key Google Analytics, analytics, really understanding where they're coming from, and understanding and making sure you're targeting the right, people. So I think those are definitely it's always important to measure. If you don't measure you don't know if you're really being successful. And you don't know how to
Vinay Koshy 42:18
Kristina, we've covered a fair bit. But is there anything else that you would want to highlight when it comes to branding or purpose driven brands that we haven't done?
Kristina Shea 42:30
Well, I mean, we probably covered a lot of what's been top of mind for me, I just want to reinforce to people like your brand is your personality, as a personality. It's a living, breathing, entity. And just like a living, breathing person, you will really evolve over time, you have to listen, just as you will listen to your friends, if you're a good friend, you're going to listen to them, you're going to hopefully take their feedback and whether it's you know, maybe you have some negative attributes you want to change or maybe you're maybe they love everything about you. But you really want to know what makes people like you. Sometimes it's always good to know some people, like celebrities, we all are attracted them for XYZ, but they all are attracted to different audiences. But really knowing your your tribe, your community, your living, breathing brand, so evolve with evolve with the times, don't be stuck, what you were doing 20 years might not work, what it did ago, but also look forward and look to where you're going as a brand and who you want to be when you grow up. So maybe you do have dreams that you want to be an Amazon like giant, but you still want to retain your core values. Keep true to your path. Be authentic to your customers, listen to your customers and also listen to your employees, they might always have some great ideas to share and help build your company. Excellent.
Vinay Koshy 43:50
Some really good points to note there. Christina, if listeners are curious and would like to know more or connect with you, where would you recommend they head to?
Kristina Shea 43:59
Well, you can actually reach out to me in a couple places, but Christina with a K. K ri STI ne so Christina at K vision.ca is my email. You can also Google my website, k vision.ca. I'm also starting some new companies a wellness company that's focusing on women's needs, and in a very inclusive, you know, LGBTQ and so on. So it's called Blue skies life. And you can find that one on Instagram and blue skies is spelt with a Y because it's all about your y. So you can find me there as well. Excellent.
Vinay Koshy 44:33
Thanks so much, Kristina.
Kristina Shea 44:35
Thank you. It's an absolute pleasure and I look forward to hopefully connecting with you again. I wish I was in Australia. I think it's warmer than it is here.
Vinay Koshy 44:42
It certainly is.
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Links and resources mentioned
- Check out Kvision
- BlueSkys Life
- Reid’s Distillery
Connect with Kristina
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