“My Name is ‘Sue!’ How Do You Do!?”

Have you ever looked around the office and considered the untapped potential in the room? Too often, organizations categorize employees by putting them in boxes according to their assigned functions and forgetting to consider their complexities. When we talk about people, especially in terms of recruiting, we refer to “talent” without recognizing that many among us are multi-talented!

Here’s a famous example that few people are aware of:
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Update on J. Rieger & Co.’s COVID-19 Response

As we recently discussed, J. Rieger & Co. provided a remarkable example of flexibility and civic-mindedness when they diverted some of their manufacturing capacity to produce hand sanitizer at a time when supplies were low. Not only did their quick thinking provide a necessary product to consumers when they most needed it, it has helped them keep bills paid and employees working.
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J. Rieger & Co.: A Case Study in COVID-19 Response

In this time of uncertainty and distress, one Kansas City company is providing a remarkable example of how to produce what their customers need when they need it.

As the looming threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to sink in, store shelves were emptied of hand sanitizers and disinfectants by panicked consumers stocking up for the duration of the crisis. The initial rush on disinfecting products left many people, including some of the most vulnerable to illness, unable to find what they needed to keep themselves safe and healthy. Consumers didn’t know where to turn.
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Crafting a Compelling Strategic Narrative

We’ve been discussing consumer trust and how brands can create and maintain it through consistently prioritizing the consumer experience. Trust is the foundation for long-lasting relationships with a brand’s core audience – but where does this journey begin? In a digital era marked by an abundance of available options, brands stand out by developing a compelling narrative that inspires consumers to choose them over the competition.

A strategic narrative sets a brand apart by connecting with consumers in a unique and indelible way. Stories, after all, have been part of the human experience since long before the development of written language – a way to understand the world, our place in it, our ties to the past, and our hopes for the future. 
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Earning Trust in the Consumer Decision-Making Process

Earning consumers’ trust has always been a top priority for savvy brands, but in today’s increasingly crowded marketplace, trust is an even more critical asset. When a brand’s strategic narrative includes the promise of trust and responsibility, it’s vital that the consumer journey reinforces those ideals. Let’s take a look at the consumer decision-making process and how trust can be built at each point along the way.

The Consumer Decision-Making Process

The EBK model of the consumer decision-making process was first codified in 1968. While the consumer experience has changed drastically since then (this video from Directive Consulting provides an interesting overview), the five steps of the EBK model are still used by marketers and brand-builders today. Here’s how brands can gain trust at each critical moment of the consumer journey:
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What the Iowa Caucuses Can Teach Brands About Earning Consumer Trust

The run-up to the 2020 Presidential elections is well underway and a wide field of Democratic candidates are competing for the party nomination. After several debates and months on the campaign trail, the first big moment of primary season is fast approaching – the 2020 Iowa caucuses. As the Des Moines Register reported this summer, the candidates’ campaign stops and events in Iowa alone surpassed 1,000 in August and are expected to reach nearly 3,000 by February, when voting will take place.

For me this prompts a question: in today’s digital world, why are candidates flocking to Iowa to make a record number of personal appearances? With massive media budgets and social media staff at their fingertips, the sheer commitment in dollars and man-hours from candidates speaks to one vital goal – building trust.
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Markers of Trust: Finding Great Restaurants

One of my favorite local restaurants is Story in Prairie Village, Kansas. My wife and I have enjoyed many meals there and admire their consistent quality and first-rate service. In 2013, the head chef and owner of Story, Carl Thorne-Thompsen, was named a James Beard Award semifinalist nominee for Best Chef in the Midwest. This is a very prestigious nomination from the James Beard Foundation, which highlights the best of the best in American food culture by recognizing talented chefs, world-class restaurants, and the media platforms that make a difference through their food coverage.

A few years later, Alice and I found ourselves traveling in Minneapolis and searching for a place to have dinner. The thought occurred that we should look at local listings to see which restaurants had been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. Through this process, we discovered Corner Table. It was a delicious meal and a memorable dining experience. It is currently closed for a “refresh” according to the owners.
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Embracing “Constructive Disruption” in Marketing and Beyond

Pioneered by startups and tech companies seeking innovation by reshaping systemic processes and industry landscapes, the goal of creating disruptive change has trickled down through nearly every aspect of today’s business environment. In fact, the term is so ever-present that its value risks becoming diluted.

However, recent remarks from the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing conference might prompt us to see disruption in a new light. Speaking to a crowd of attendees, Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Mark Pritchard praised what he calls “constructive disruption” in marketing practices. What does that look like in practice? Pritchard’s answer provides a road map for the ways in which brands can best reach consumers in the future.
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Discovering What’s Next: Accidental Innovation

Some of the greatest discoveries in human history have happened by accident. Whether the result is penicillin or Play-Doh, the microwave or the Slinky, many curious minds have stumbled across products that have impacted (and sometimes even saved) our lives. 

One of the challenges of innovation and leadership, as we recently discussed on our blog, is recognizing “what’s next” when we see it. Too often, our pursuit of a specific result keeps us from recognizing something brilliant that happens along the path. Let’s take a look at a recent accidental innovation that probably won’t change the world, but might change how we value the process of discovery.
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Managing Major Change: How Brands Navigate Pivotal Moments

Our recent exploration of sustainability initiatives in the fast fashion industry raised one big question: faced with increasing consumer demands, how can brands make big changes without compromising their identity? For the fast fashion space, this is a tricky proposition – after all, their identity is built on providing clothing that is trendy and disposable. When consumers decide they want to support sustainable brands, how can the giants of fast fashion (or any industry) make those necessary shifts?

Incremental change is the safest approach, but when consumers are clamoring for something new, they expect brands to act quickly. The issue of sustainability is particularly time-sensitive, as reports continually surface about the environmental damage caused by industries including fashion. The change process isn’t easy, but consumers are ready to reward the brands that take the lead.
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