How Mindfulness Improves the Workplace

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

The truth is that many of us spend most of our time in the office. Think about how you can transform the lives of those around you by becoming more aware.

This shift toward more humanistic management practices doesn’t merely improve productivity, creativity, collaboration, loyalty, and profitability; it can also help the people around you become better spouses, better parents, and better citizens.

You can invite your employees to grow by finding ways to make the workplace more engaging (less static), more inspiring (less mundane), and more open (less fixed). As Abraham Maslow put it, “We must try to make a particular kind of people, of personality, of character, of soul one might say, rather than try to create directly particular kinds of behavior.”

When we practice mindfulness, we are training our brains to examine internal and external cues rather than react to them, so we can better manage emotions and develop into our full humanity.

It May Be Time To Do Less

Are you busy? Isn’t that a stupid question to ask? Of course you are. You have a lot to do and it all NEEDS to get done.

That’s the way it seems.

But, truthfully, a lot of what you’re doing is probably getting in the way of what really NEEDS to get done. And, you may be so busy that you haven’t stepped back to distinguish between what truly NEEDS to get done what you believe needs to get done.

We constantly get projects—large and small—and rarely give them the evaluation that our sanity and our business’s future deserve.

Look at everything you’re doing and ask: does it push you closer to your ultimate vision? Also ask: if you didn’t do it could you still get to your ultimate vision. If it fails one of these tests, why are are you doing it? The reason should be better than because you “have to”—although that’s often the reason most of us do the things we do at work.

Eliminating everything that isn’t essential to achieving your ultimate vision gives you the time to focus on everything that is essential to taking a step toward that goal.

And, it’s likely to cut down on the uber-bane of every business person: meetings. Instead of having meetings for updates or just because that’s the “culture” of the business—I’m sure you know that’s a bad culture to have—only schedule meetings that are required to make a step toward the ultimate vision. If a meeting doesn’t have an essential goal that’s clear and achievable at the meeting, then that meeting only hurts the company by taking people’s attention away from what really matters.

If it’s not essential, it’s not moving you forward. And, it’s probably driving you crazy.

Build Audiences, Not Megaphones

Your new product or service is great. You want to tell people. Why not shout it as loudly as you can to as many many people as you can?

Because, until you have an audience, you have to work exponentially harder to make your message matter. This means more time, more money, and more resources.

An audience gives you their attention, instead of you having to capture it.

Attention is given, not purchased. Yet, that’s just what many businesses do: throw ad dollars at a problem to try and increase awareness and intent to purchase.

Instead of trying to grab attention, make your customers realize that you’re worthy of their attention. This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but it is something you can build towards, rather than just hoping it will eventually happen.

Building an audience starts with consistently helping people solve meaningful problems—small or large—in their lives. And, it is strengthened by building brand communities—a co-authored experience between you and your customers.

Are you solving meaningful problems? Are you helping build brand communities?

Consulting To Discover Ultimate Profitability

Dominant organizations occupy positions of ultimate profitability.  They do this by providing their customers what they want, even before their customers know they want it.  Whenever Apple unveils their latest iGadget, they already have legions of excited customers eager to buy.

How do they do that?  Those points of ultimate profitability are clearly out there. Apple, Harley-Davidson, and Ikea have all found them. They pointed their telescopes into the night sky of customer behavior and discovered their habitable planets, those consumer communities where their brands can live and thrive.

The tools and techniques that connect astronomers and astronauts with the final frontier can be used to connect your organization with tomorrow’s Brand Lovers.

The result? Organizations that use modeling to identify who their most profitable customers are, what they want to buy, and how they want to buy it enjoy increased—even dominant—market share, greater customer loyalty, and enhanced profitability. Knowing which way to point your telescope is the single most critical step in ensuring business success.

What insights will keep your brand relevant in the future?

Serve a Social Purpose

The letter BlackRock’s Larry Fink sent CEOs highlights ideas that are familiar to our readers. Here’s the insight:

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

But here is the twist, if you want to improve the organization, you have to develop yourself.

Chief executives invest an average of 30 minutes in personal development each day. The goal is to lift the organization; this is the drive of relatedness, or what authors like Dan Pink and Tony Hsieh have called purpose.

This universal need to connect and care for others doesn’t just motivate individuals—it translates to bottom-line profits too.

Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant ran an experiment with call center employees who were tasked with calling people to ask for donations. He randomly separated them into three groups. Each group had the same conditions except for a five-minute story each group read before their shift.

The first group read stories from other call center agents about how their job helped teach them transferable sales skills (a personal benefit).

The second group read stories from university alumni who benefitted from the donations raised by the call center and how the scholarships helped them (a purpose that connected the agents with something greater than themselves).

The third group read stories that had nothing to do with personal gain or purpose (the control group).

Grant couldn’t believe the results of this study.

He replicated it five more times to be sure: while the personal benefit group showed no change in their performance, the purpose group more than doubled their dollars raised.

The call center employees in the purpose group couldn’t identify what exactly was driving their behavior.

They merely doubled their productivity!

Could helping others and making a difference in people’s lives be a factor in motivating people to higher performance?

It certainly appears so.

Trust is built in unscripted moments

Building a culture of trust is mostly one-to-one in nature.

Over time, simple interactions accumulate and help create rapport and friendship, which are critical ingredients for a high-performing workplace.

Try to be present in the small moments; this will lay the foundation for a more significant purpose—to create a culture built on trusting your colleagues.

Are you paying attention to those small moments where you can affirm your interest in those you work with?

Dare To Dream

You have to live life to the limit, not according to each day but according to its depth. One does not have to do what comes next if one feels a greater affinity with that which happens later, at a remove, even in a remote distance. One may dream while others are saviors if these dreams are more real to oneself than reality and more necessary than bread. In a word: one ought to turn the most extreme possibility inside oneself into the measure for one’s life, for our life is vast and can accommodate as much future as we are able to carry.
Ranier Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

January 1: It’s time to set those goals and resolutions again.

The goals we set for ourselves and our businesses at the beginning of the year usually don’t look any further than the end of the year. These types of goals are good, but they’re not great: they don’t provide us any long-term guidance. They don’t necessarily help us achieve our life’s goals.

This year, when thinking about your goals and resolutions, dare to dream. Dream what you want your life and your business to look like in the future. Ultimately, think about what will make you, your customers, and your employees happy.

Once you know what you want the future to look like, build your yearly goals and resolutions around it.

What do you want the future to look like? What concrete goals can you achieve this year that will push towards your ultimate goals and vision?

Here’s the best of 2017

As the end of the year quickly approaches, we want to say thank you for being our reader. You represent the best in your industry and we look forward to bringing you insights on building brands that both employees and customers love in the coming year.

Below we curated the most popular, shared, and discussed articles from the Cult Branding blog in 2017. Please enjoy these three fantastic blog posts as a way to reflect as we enter 2018.

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year.

Happy Holidays!

The Cult Branding Team

Bringing Your Brand Image To Life

Why do images have so much power?

Our logos and marks are symbols. Symbols are triggers of archetypal images—energy patterns that rest in the unconscious. These primordial images are not personal to each but are aspects of the “collective” of all of us. Read more about bringing your brand image to life.

Cultivate Workplace Passion

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, you need passionate people because such people can drive extreme and sustained performance improvement.

What does a passionate person look like? Find out more about creating a passion-driven workplace.

The Downfall of Sears: Why You Need To Compete In The Future, Not The Present

Anyone that’s done any retail research in the last decade will have noticed the growing importance consumers place on convenience. The rising importance of convenience isn’t a new trend—marketing scholar Eugene J. Kelley wrote about it in 1958. But, what is new—and what will continue to be new—is the ways retailers can satisfy it. Learn more about the importance of convenience and how to compete in the future.

Beware The Deadly Customer

Many businesses suffer from catering to deadly customers.

Deadly customers aren’t customers that hate you. They like you and probably account for a large portion of both your current base and target market. Chances are that, collectively, they purchase a lot from you. Playing to deadly customers may seem lucrative: there’s a lot of them out there and they likely contribute a significant portion of your bottom line. And, they’re easy to make happy.

The problem is: they don’t push your business forward.

The deadly customer is happy with the status quo—they don’t ask for anything new; in fact, they may not want anything new. They may make you think you’re doing better than you actually are. Serving the deadly customer encourages stagnation instead of innovation. By focusing on the deadly customer, you hand an unfair advantage to your competition in the future.

Are you catering to deadly customers?

How to Create Strong Brand Positioning in Your Market

Strong-Brand-Positioning-Nike

What is Brand Positioning?

Put simply, brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. Brand positioning is also referred to as a positioning strategy, brand strategy, or a brand positioning statement.

Popularized in Reis and Trout’s bestselling Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, the idea is to identify and attempt to “own” a marketing niche for a brand, product, or service using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The goal is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.

Reis and Trout define positioning as “an organized system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.”

Brand positioning occurs whether or not a company is proactive in developing a position, however, if management takes an intelligent, forward-looking approach, it can positively influence its brand positioning in the eyes of its target customers.

Positioning Statements versus Taglines

Brand positioning statements are often confused with company taglines or slogans. Positioning statements are for internal use. These statements guide the marketing and operating decisions of your business. A positioning statement helps you make key decisions that affect your customer’s perception of your brand.

A tag line is an external statement used in your marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline, but it is important to distinguish between the two. (See examples of brand positioning statements and taglines below.)

7-Step Brand Positioning Strategy Process

In order to create a position strategy, you must first identify your brand’s uniqueness and determine what differentiates you from your competition.

There are 7 key steps to effectively clarify your positioning in the marketplace:

  1. Determine how your brand is currently positioning itself
  2. Identify your direct competitors
  3. Understand how each competitor is positioning their brand
  4. Compare your positioning to your competitors to identify your uniqueness
  5. Develop a distinct and value-based positioning idea
  6. Craft a brand positioning statement (see below)
  7. Test the efficacy of your brand positioning statement (see 15 criteria below)

What is a Brand Positioning Statement?

A positioning statement is a one or two sentence declaration that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers in relation to your main competitors.

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore offers one way of formulating a positioning statement: For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (statement of key benefit; also called a compelling reason to believe). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation). However, we provide a more simplified structure for formulating a Brand Positioning Statement in the following section.

How to Create a Brand Positioning Statement

There are four essential elements of a best-in-class positioning statement:

  1. Target Customer: What is a concise summary of the attitudinal and demographic description of the target group of customers your brand is attempting to appeal to and attract?
  2. Market Definition: What category is your brand competing in and in what context does your brand have relevance to your customers?
  3. Brand Promise: What is the most compelling (emotional/rational) benefit to your target customers that your brand can own relative to your competition?
  4. Reason to Believe: What is the most compelling evidence that your brand delivers on its brand promise?

After thoughtfully answering these four questions, you can craft your positioning statement:

For [target customers], [company name] is the [market definition] that delivers [brand promise] because only [company name] is [reason to believe].

Two Examples of Positioning Statements

Amazon.com used the following positioning statement in 2001 (when it almost exclusively sold books):

For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, Amazon.com is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.

Zipcar.com used the following positioning statement when it established its business was founded in 2000:

To urban-dwelling, educated techno-savvy consumers, when you use Zipcar car-sharing service instead of owning a car, you save money while reducing your carbon footprint.

BMW-Tagline-Brand-Positioning

15 Examples of Taglines

Once you have a strong brand positioning statement you can create a tagline or slogan that helps establish the position you’re looking to own. Here are 15 examples:

Mercedes-Benz: Engineered like no other car in the world

BMW: The ultimate driving machine

Southwest Airlines: The short-haul, no-frills, and low-priced airline

Avis: We are only Number 2, but we try harder

Wharton Business School: The only business school that trains managers who are global, cross-functional, good leaders, and leveraged by technology

Famous Footwear: The value shoe store for families

Miller Lite: The only beer with superior taste and low caloric content

State Farm: Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

L’Oreal: Because you’re worth it.

Walmart: Always low prices. Always.

Nike: Just do it

Coca-Cola: The real thing

Target: Expect more. Pay less.

Volvo: For life.

Home Depot: You can do it. We can help.

15 Criteria for Evaluating Your Brand Positioning Strategy

An intelligent and well-crafted positioning statement is a powerful tool for bring focus and clarity to your marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, and promotional tactics. If used properly, this statement can help you make effective decisions to help differentiate your brand, attract your target customers, and win market share from your competition.

Here are 15 criteria for checking your brand positioning:

  1. Does it differentiate your brand?
  2. Does it match customer perceptions of your brand?
  3. Does it enable growth?
  4. Does it identify your brand’s unique value to your customers?
  5. Does it produce a clear picture in your mind that’s different from your competitors?
  6. Is it focused on your core customers?
  7. Is it memorable and motivating?
  8. Is it consistent in all areas of your business?
  9. Is it easy to understand?
  10. Is it difficult to copy?
  11. Is it positioned for long-term success?
  12. Is your brand promise believable and credible?
  13. Can your brand own it?
  14. Will it withstand counterattacks from your competitors?
  15. Will it help you make more effective marketing and branding decisions?

Repositioning Positioning

The unfortunate reality is that no marketer has the power to position anything in the customer’s mind, which is the core promise of positioning. The notion that positions are created by marketers has to die. Each customer has their own idea of what you are.

Positioning is not something you do, but rather, is the result of your customer’s perception of what you do. Positioning is not something we can create in a vacuum—the act of positioning is a co-authored experience with the customers.

Behind your positioning statement or tagline is your intention—how you desire your business to be represented to customers. Once the real role of positioning is understood, having a tagline or a positioning statement can be useful by clarifying your brand’s essence within your organization.

By examining the essence of what you are and comparing it with what your customers want, the doors open to building a business with a strong positioning in the mind of the customer. Why? Great brands merge their passion with their positioning into one statement that captures the essence of both.

Integrating Your Brand Positioning in Your Customer’s Mind

To position your brand in your customer’s mind, you must start from within your business. Every member of your organization that touches the customer has to be the perfect expression of your position. And, since everyone touches the customer in some way, everyone should be the best expression of your position.

Now comes the hard part: Put up everything that represents your brand on a wall. List all your brand’s touch points—every point of interaction with your customer.  With a critical, yet intuitive eye, ask:

  • How can I more fluidly communicate my brand’s desired position?
  • Does every touch point look, say, and feel like the brand I want my customers to perceive?

Many marketers don’t have the clarity and conviction of following through on their words. Without certainty, you default to the status quo. Turn everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you can create something special. This takes courage; to actively position your brand means you have to stand for something. Only then are you truly on your way to owning your very own position in the mind of your customer.

Onward!