Archives for January 2022

31st January 2022

Trends for 2022

Time for a fresh start with fresh ideas, we are all looking for the next big thing in our arena. While the past two years has been unpredictable, there has been encouraging news with the relaxation of restrictions and the government encouraging us to end WFH and to get back to some kind of business normal.

With that in mind, our strategists have put together some ideas on trends to consider for the year ahead...

 

Written by senior strategists, Rob Williams and Martin Reid.

 

Web3 gets its wings
Web3 is going to change the way brands make themselves known. Where currently brands grapple with monoliths such as Facebook or Google to get seen on their platforms or harness customer data, web3 gives ownership, agency, and transparency back to individual users.

There’s already traction for web3 in creative sectors. Pace Verso invites artists to sell art as NFTs under its brand, while MetaFactory invites communities to vote on fashion lines and to share profits and exclusives with its users.

But B2B brands can weigh in on the fun too. From using NFTs as access passes to digital events or racing to establish real estate in the metaverse, the opportunities are endless. And financial service brands and retailers are of course changing tack to address how to bring cryptocurrency offerings and accommodations to customers (we are seeing our clients pioneering in this space).

This transition to Web3 will probably happen gradually as more people invest in crypto and curiosity peaks. Where customers go, brands will follow.

Even bolder creative
The tools, talent, and time it takes to make great digital creative are vastly improving – accelerated by WFH and the demands for better UX and CX. The upside is that branding can get much braver. Out with the traditional creative formats like downloadable eBooks and in with the interactive slideshow or parallax website. Even brand identities can become richer, more responsive, and even take a life of their own with AI and generative algorithms.

The downside? Standing out from the crowd. As always, the brands that have their strategies and stories straight will go further with their creative than the brands that throw budget at shiny propositions that don’t have much relevance.

Growth of Hybrid events
We’re not out of the woods yet, which gives rise to hybrid models. With many brands and businesses looking to return to face-to-face events, launches, meetings and conferences, a middle ground will need to be found to meet the needs of those unable to attend physically, with those who are eager to be in the same room.

Therefore, hybrid events will grow in popularity, offering a combination of in-person and virtual connectivity. Couple this with the rise of VR and the metaverse, we will see a monumental shift that blurs the physical and virtual, with experiential design that caters for both audiences.

Brand Switching
Electric vehicles. Reducing single-use plastic. Plant-based food. Exposing supply chain malpractices. It’s no surprise that consumers are shifting to conscientious consumerism, empowered to make the right choice by switching to brands that align with their values around sustainability and social movements.

As the past few years have further accelerated this shift, brands too must now take a hard look at themselves to ensure they are aligning with this movement, as well as progressing the conversation by nurturing these values to support positive change.
A brand’s ability to communicate these values will be critical to building resonance and trust, without being seen as pandering or greenwashing. With nowhere to hide, businesses must assess their entire operations to identify where fundamental changes are required to exist in this new world.

Brand purpose finds its purpose
In the last few years, many businesses went big on expressing brand purpose 
– soul-searching about their existing beyond earning shareholders profit and aligning 
to support or remedy social and environmental issues – only to face criticism of 
green-washing, youth-washing, rainbow-washing, woke-washing etc.

In 2022, brands will work harder on how they communicate purpose – with more precision on solving matters directly relevant to their brand and less focus on lofty language, inauthentic causes and ‘bandwagoning’.

Shared values
Brand collaborations are certainly not a new concept; however, we should expect the rise of collaboration in 2022.

In response to hyper consumer-awareness and conscientiousness, consumers expecting more from the brands they interact with means that false promises and self-indulgence marketing will no longer cut it. For brands to cut through the noise and build an authentic dialogue with consumers, they need to focus on shared values with their target audiences.

As brands look to increase their audience reach further, a shift from competition to collaboration is a clear choice. What better way to strengthen your brand than by finding other brands that share your values, or run in the same circles, and working together to combine your reach as well as giving social proof to one another by linking efforts for the benefit of the end-user.

It’s not just about awareness either, there are many economic benefits of combining efforts. Accenture calculates that successful brand collaborations can decrease logistics costs by as much as 3-4% and manufacturing costs by 5-15%, as well as optimising inventory management.

Reality bites
Here’s one reality worth remembering, brand trust is at an all-time low. According to the ‘Brutally Honest’ report by ImagenInsights, 0% of Gen Z respondents said they’d trust brands in 2022 – because they don’t provide meaningful or emotional fulfilment.

Brands need to work on managing reputations and aligning talk with action, CX with UX, and products with 'purpose'. It takes more than better design to be a better brand.

With the promise of the metaverse to add more ways to interact with customers, brands should focus on sorting themselves out in the real world before expanding into new spaces.

 

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13th January 2022

Podcast: Episode 4 – ‘Delight your customers’

The KISS Principles is a new creative partnership between Structure and host, Parker Crockford. It's a new podcast about the lost art of keeping it simple in business.

Aimed at founders and start-ups, or anyone looking for advice on business, it's a bi-weekly series of fireside chats discussing the barriers and challenges faced by founders in the European B2B marketplace.

 

Check out The KISS Principles website for more info.

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Episode 4: 'Delight your customers' with Felipe Navío, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Jobandtalent.

Felipe chats about his own experience of pivoting a business eight years down the line to hit a billion-dollar revenue four years later. He believes if something isn’t working don’t ever be afraid to change it and in the power of the 10x experience.

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Episode 3: 'Embrace the tough' with Leda Glyptis, CCO, 10x Banking.

Leda Gilphis PhD, discusses the market needs of first and second wave European founders, with host Parker Crockford.

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Episode 2: 'Be Bold, be brave, be visionary' with John Galpin, Co-founder, Design by Structure.

Branding guru John Galpin talks to Parker about when B2B founders need to develop their brand, the trap of poor brand positioning and communications, and he reveals the principles to building a brand.

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Episode 1: 'You have to lean into sales' with Seth DeHart, Venture Partner, Point Nine.

Seth DeHart discusses the best approach to go-to-market (GTM) and sales strategies for European B2B start-ups. Answering why he thinks ‘sales’ is considered a dirty word in European markets and why some founder’s don't value it as a business tool.

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19th January 2022

From Seed to Unicorn: Company culture

 

Rob Williams

In our previous articles of this series, we explored how a newly created tech venture’s, brand strategy and visual identity should be curated alongside its business strategy to ensure a clear articulation of its purpose, as well as a unified identity.

In this, the final article of the series, we consider how a startup’s culture and employer value proposition forms the third prong of a well-rounded brand strategy.

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When we think of culture, we often think of the physical elements – namely the office. While physical space is an important aspect for general wellbeing, gone are the days of the startup image – a bootstrapped office space, sparsely decorated with a ping pong table, neon-lit logo, and some mismatched beanbags. Instead, the growth of the co-working/shared office spaces has provided professional outfits to even the smallest of teams. The rise in open-source and freemium technologies has enabled better collaboration and systems.

But culture is so much more than just our working environment.

Culture is the co-collection of values and behaviours of both the employer and the employee. A workplace culture aligns employee behaviours with the Company policy, as well as the purpose of the brand and business. It acts to inform the needs and wants of those individuals who may choose to work there – their attitude, work-life balance, career aspirations and job satisfaction.

So, why should a small startup be overly concerned with its culture? After all, it’ll likely be a small team at the beginning – perhaps two co-founders working closely together on the next big thing.

The answer, simply, is that things will scale at pace. Two people will quickly become five, five will quickly become 10, and 10 will eventually become 100+. When the size of a workforce means that you no longer have direct involvement with shaping an employee’s individual experience, it is critical that structures are in place to ensure consistency and cohesion across the entire Company. And when it comes to recruitment, a Company’s culture is what will set your value proposition apart in the minds of prospective candidates in the race for talent.

So where does culture start? As cliché as it may sound, it always starts at the top.

Lead by example

When building a Company’s culture, first you need to consider your leadership. If you’re hiring into a newly formed C-suite, consider that these people will be tasked with setting an example and embodying the company values.  Do these people’s personal values align with the Company’s purpose and values? Do they exhibit what your Company stands for, in behaviour, integrity and attitude? By placing people into highly influential roles that will set the direction of your Company’s culture, you need to spend the time to make the right choice from the offset, ensuring that you and they are aligned on the vision of the Company you are building.

Culture is more than just our working environment.

Core values

Next to consider are the values of your Company’s culture. These are the fundamental DNA strands that will inform everything you do and should be aligned to both your business and brand strategy. These are often communicated at policy level, perhaps through job descriptions, role remits, sign off processes, team structures and internal committee initiatives.

When building a values structure, it’s easier to break them down into categories. For example, you may start with:

  • Accountability: How you empower everyone in the Company to own their outcomes, act with authority and autonomy to deliver towards the overall vision.
  • Communication: Even more critical in a post-pandemic hybrid working world, ensuring communication channels are open for everyone to access team members, leadership, and peers, to facilitate better collaboration and information sharing quickly and effectively.
  • Authenticity: Recognising and developing a diverse and inclusive culture so employees feel safe to bring their true selves to work. Having a workspace that encourages freedom and respect of everybody’s identity and working styles.
  • Recognition: Is in two parts, recognition of the value being added by an individual through continual reviews, openness on career progression, training & development, and respect - recognising the input and ability of your people. The second part is remuneration – the benefits package that is offered in return.

A leap of faith

When a candidate applies for a role at a startup, they’re taking a leap of faith. They believe in the Company’s vision (if it has been articulated well externally), and they are essentially shunning established competitors or legacy companies that can offer more stability and likely better remuneration. They likely want to be a part of the movement, to build something with you.

While a startup may not be able to fully compete on a rewards package that matches that of a more traditional employer, start-ups combine fewer rigid structures of legacy companies, with more autonomy and better progression.

In addition, there’s something that a start-up can offer as a promise of future remuneration – stock options. Consider then that if they’re helping to build the vision, they should be rewarded when that vision reaches fruition.

 Win the race for talent

While some companies may not consider in detail what their culture should feel like for employees, there is great benefit in doing so. Therefore by,

  • effectively communicating why potential candidates should invest their time and effort in your company,
  • building an employer value proposition that is both authentic and rooted in purpose,
  • retaining employees for longer and encouraging higher levels of motivation and productivity.

These actions can contribute to building your vision at pace.

Culture should be based around designing a mutually beneficial agreement in principle for both the Company and the employee to build the desired outcome that benefits everyone.

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About Author:

Rob Williams is a Senior Strategist at Design by Structure.

 Structure creates relevant and compelling brands for next-generation tech companies.

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This article was first published in Brands Journal.