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Brand Loyalty, Rejection and Context Switching
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DEFINING BRAND LOYALTY
One of the more important contributions I’ve made lately was in the area of brand loyalty. One of our biggest clients had been struggling with building a loyal customer base, and the issue stemmed from the paradigm of brand loyalty. I was tasked with running 2 x three hour workshops with the C level executives to strategically align everyone on what brand loyalty means, what their customers expect, and what they as a business want to achieve from it.
When you hear brand loyalty, what immediately springs to mind? If you’re like most people (our clients included), you think of points systems and tiered rewards, and lots of things that involve giving away free shit to make your customers like you. But this is where the issue stems from - giving away free shit for the sake of it does not facilitate brand loyalty. You can’t buy someone’s genuine loyalty. If you have to pay for it, it’s not true love.
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Now think about brands that really resonate with you. Companies who you continue to go back to, time and time again. What is it about these brands that encourages that kind of long term relationship? Is it because they give you points? No - at least, not in isolation. Rewards are just one part of a larger ecosystem. What earns repeat business is not one good experience; it’s a consistently great experience every time you interact with that business, across any touchpoint. It’s a commitment from that business to innovating every step of the customer journey and finding a way to create value, and it’s a commitment to backing everything up with the level of service that you expect.
Let’s take The Iconic as an example. They’re an online clothing retailer, which is one of the most saturated markets around, and yet they succeed because they are consistently great at everything they choose to do. They have a huge range of quality products, and their website is smooth and streamlined on any device. They offer all the payment options you could want. Shipping is always fast, and returns are so easy that it’s barely a friction point if you buy something that doesn’t fit. Just reseal the package that your clothes came in, pop it in a red mailbox and off it goes.
Even in the case of refunds, they’re able to turn a potential negative experience into a positive. When you ask a company for your money back, it often feels like you’re doing something wrong, and they take 5-10 business days to process it properly (despite the fact they were able to take your money off you in exactly 0 business days). With The Iconic, it’s instant, and you have the option of a full cash refund, an exchange, or something pretty unique - a 110% refund in the form of store credit. This is such an impressive innovation, because it benefits both the customer and the business. As a buyer, why wouldn’t I want more money back than what I spent? And as a business, why wouldn’t I want to enable another purchase from my store, rather than returning the money?
So as you can see, brand loyalty is not something you can solve with one project or feature. It’s a long term commitment to putting the customer at the centre of everything you do, earning their loyalty, and then rewarding it in the right ways at the right time. Through the two workshops, my team and I were able to facilitate some insightful conversation and nudge the exec team into agreement on the fundamental principles, and the investment that achieving brand loyalty will take. Hopefully this opinion piece is useful in changing your perception too.
WEEPING BECAUSE OF RICKY GERVAIS
I never thought I’d see the day where Ricky Gervais made me cry. Cry from laughter? Sure. But actual tears of sadness? Not a chance.
I’ve long been a fan of his comedy, so when I saw the trailer on Netflix for After Life I expected it’d be another hilarious ride, despite the slightly depressing premise. What I was in for, though, was an entirely different sort of show; a thought-provoking tearjerker that made me feel grateful for everything I have, while still managing to be funny in the right moments.
Tony, played by Gervais, is a man who had the perfect life with his soulmate, Lisa, until cancer took her life. Without her, life isn’t worth living, so Tony decides he might as well be an asshole and do whatever he wants. In practice, though, he finds it’s not as fun as it sounds.
The show is a beautiful depiction of grief and how it permeates all aspects of a person’s life, saturating every experience with pointlessness and misery. It is a show about finding the courage to carry on, and about being kind and selfless in the face of emotional anguish. On top of all of that you have a layer of classic Gervais comedy that humanises the characters and turns it from a potential melodrama into a balanced, enjoyable series.
It’s a powerful watch about an important subject matter, and I’d highly recommend.
I’ve been consistently writing fiction now for about 18 months, but up until recently I hadn’t submitted anything to be published. It was something I’d been thinking about for a long time, but it’s a nerve wracking thing - you have to overcome your perfectionism and accept that your work is as good as you can make it, then throw it out into the world to see if anyone else likes it or whether it is indeed drivel, like you suspect. As with any art form, that’s a vulnerable thing.
I finally pulled the trigger with my latest story, iDisease, which is the first piece I’ve written where I’m fairly happy with the quality. I’ve actually had the idea in my head for nearly 10 years in one shape or form, but finally got it down on paper this year.
After writing the story and editing a few times, I sent it around to some friends and got 2 or 3 responses, all of which were pretty positive with some minor constructive feedback. Here’s a template for the feedback form I used, in case you want to do something similar. I made some revisions to the story, then after a couple of months of sitting on it, decided it wasn’t going to get any better so I might as well submit it and see what happens.
So where exactly do you publish a short story? The most common markets are literary journals and magazines, most of which are digital only these days. These are publications dedicated to literary pursuits, often a blend of short stories, poetry and opinion pieces, and usually with some sort of specialist focus. After some research, I identified two that I thought might fit the genre of my piece: Aurealis and Going Down Swinging. In the end, I decided on Aurealis because it’s Australia’s largest speculative fiction magazine and I thought iDisease would fit in well with the other work they publish. If you’re curious, I’ve got an eclectic and not comprehensive list of magazines/journals here.
I had a read of Aurealis’ submission guidelines and had to reformat my manuscript a bit, export it as a .rtf file, and prepare a cover letter and bio, which you can read here. I also decided to become a subscriber to the magazine as it fast-tracks your application, and I’ve been meaning to read more short stories anyway.
I submitted on April 27th and heard back on May 8th, so just over 2 weeks later – pretty damn fast. The story was rejected, but rejected with feedback, not just the generic rejection letter, so I’m actually really happy about that result! From what I’ve heard, this is a sign that you’re on the right track. On the whole, the feedback was really positive, they just had one concern about a real brand that I used and one about the clarity of the plot.
If you’d like to read the full story and see the feedback I received from the editor, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to share.
Ordinarily, the next step would be to submit the story to other magazines, however based on the feedback, I’ve decided not to. Still, it’s given me the confidence to try again with my next story, so overall I’m counting it as a win. All writers collect rejection letters; it’s a nice feeling to finally have my first.
I’ve always been a big reader, but for some reason I’ve never kept track of what I read. I guess that’s pretty normal, actually, but when I saw a blog post by designer Jeff Zych, I was inspired to create a similar system to the one he uses.
From the start of 2022, I’ve tracked every book and audiobook that I’ve read, along with such details as:
how long it took.
what genre it was.
my rating and overall thoughts.
whether the author was a non-male or person of colour.
This has already made me more conscious of what I’m picking up to read, for the better.
So far, my favourite book this year has to be A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I’ll do a write up in a future newsletter.
You can view my reading tracker here.
USING AUDIO TO SWITCH CONTEXTS
In case it’s not already clear from the strange assortment of topics in my newsletters, I am a man of many interests. I care about doing my best work in everything I do, and I’m a firm believer that building consistent habits is the only way to achieve meaningful progress. As a result, I’m always working on multiple different things on the same day. This is compounded by the fact that I work at an agency, which by definition is chock full of different projects across multiple clients and industries.
At the moment, I’m involved in:
10-15 client projects at work.
5-10 internal projects at work (process improvement, team management etc).
writing my novel.
organising a writers group.
planning my honeymoon.
doing life admin and housework.
When you need to switch between one thing and another all day, it can be hard to really immerse yourself and leave behind the stress and details of your previous task. What I've found helps the most with this is transitional periods.
A transitional period is a short amount of time in between tasks dedicated purely to switching mindsets. For me they work best when they involve physical movement as well as mental distraction. The physical side of things is as easy as going for a walk, even if it’s just to the kitchen and back, but the mental side can be difficult. This is where audio comes in.
If you listen to an audiobook or podcast while walking, it helps to get your mind away from the task you’ve just been doing and ready for the next one. It’s also a great way to fill otherwise wasted time with valuable learning.
How this looks on my typical day is as follows, with the transitional periods highlighted in bold:
Wake up and exercise.
Drive to my local train station while listening to a podcast about writing (usually Writing Excuses).
Write on the train.
Walk from St James station to work while listening to an audiobook about design, psychology or something else work-related.
Walk to St James while listening to a podcast about writing.
Write on the train.
Listen to a comedy podcast or music on the drive home.
You can see how the transitional periods help to shift between different mindsets, from exercise → writing, then from writing → work, work → writing, and finally writing → relaxation. It’s not always as clear cut as this, but I’ve found this pattern is the optimal way to be as productive as possible while also managing stress and ensuring I switch off at the end of the day.
If you give this technique a try, let me know! I’m keen to hear whether it works for you.
COOPER PUPDATE: EVERY DAY IS A DOG HOLIDAY
For the last two weeks, Cooper has been in dog heaven. It’s school holidays, which means Kristina is home every day and instead of early darkness walks he gets warm sun walks and a nice long play. His face says it all - this is the way to live life.
Now, while Kristina has to go back to work, Cooper gets to continue his life of luxury. We urged him to get a job and start pulling his weight, but after considering this option he has decided against it. Instead, he will continue getting a nice walk, rotating between sleeping in the sun and sleeping in the shade all day, eating some biscuits, then getting some pats before a full 8 hours sleep (need to catch up after an exhausting day).
In other news, we’ve pimped out his kennel with a comfier bed and a fluffy fleece blanket, so we’re not exactly encouraging him to change his ways.
NEVER MISS OUT ON THE INSIDE COOP
Why risk missing out on another story about the small black dog? Better to play it safe and enter your email here.
GOT A MINUTE?
Let me know what you thought and I’ll love you sixever.
Thanks for reading!