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People Powered Brands: Empowering a TRIBE of Internal Advocates


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People Powered Brands: Empowering a Tribe of Internal Advocates
"Why does your brand exist? What is your purpose for being in business? Does every employee know what your company is working towards?

Here’s a hint: your brand isn’t a product or a line item on a spreadsheet. It’s the stories people tell about it.

And, believe it or not, your best storytellers are your employees. Not just your C-Suite staff, but also the people on the ground representing your brand day-in and day-out.

Published in: Business

People Powered Brands: Empowering a TRIBE of Internal Advocates

  1. 1. People Powered Brands: Empowering a TRIBEof Internal Advocates Photo Credit | Flickr: iammikeb
  2. 2. Agenda• The Brains on Fire Journey – finding our Tribe• WHY matters• Creating a People Powered Brand• Brands that let their Freak Flag Fly• Q&A
  3. 3. Takeaways• Unlearn the WHY behind your brand• Finding a common passion among your employees that will empower them to work towards a common goal• How to lay the groundwork for a People Powered Brand
  4. 4. t: @GenoChurch who are you? Are you a brand manager,hello …a CMO, a social media consultant,a community manager, maybe your a tribe leader?
  5. 5. WHY do you do what YOU do?
  6. 6. In 2003 Brains on Fire was a very successful advertising agency…we mashed a mix of strategic services; branding, traditional advertising,and research, for an eclectic group of clients.
  7. 7. My role at Brains was art director. Thankfully a client came, DHEC SC with a project that challenged our thinking.With our home state being a leader in TEEN smoking rates, our task was to lower teen smoking rates, without attacking the tobacco industry…SC is a tobacco friendly state… but thats a story for another time.We made a decision to invest and empower teenagers to be the message not OUR work.It was hard, and it worked RAGE against the HAZE still exists today, because we empowered teenagers to lead, and lead they did.
  8. 8. RAGE left a mark on the SOUL of BOF.The work challenge us to define what it is that we did, and maybe more to the point… WHY.
  9. 9. RAGE, showed us, up close, the power of PEOPLE, and their voice,the power of leadership, that those leaders can be infectious,that infection can change lives, when change happens,people start to believe, and a beautiful things happen… a movement can happen.
  10. 10. we started to look inward… divided into two teams to define what it is that BOF does…are we an advertising agency, an identity company, what the hell are we… My team was the underdog team,the other team consisted at the time of two of BOFs five managing partners.They took a smart strategic approach, we took a very different path. We took a visual approach.We wanted change, we visioned an agency that fought for the voice of the customer, the advocate…we wanted to turn BOF into a pirate ship.
  11. 11. Both teams were set to present several weeks later to the entire team,ok you might think Im going to tell you our team won, blah, blah, blah…Well we never made to the presentation, we got bought out.The other team using their manager position bought us out, and claimed our idea.Game over… In all honesty we were pissed… but looking back it changed the direction of Brains on Fire for the company and for me.
  12. 12. I became a BOF tribe leader, the way we worked changed,we became more connected with each other.Work became more communal…
  13. 13. we shared rituals; tequila shots
  14. 14. flying the skull flag,
  15. 15. and we even wrote a book.
  16. 16. Photo Credit | Flickr marcp_dmozI share this not to put us on some tribal pedestal, but to share a bit of our history,and share how hard it is to keep that ethos 10 years later.Inside a brand, an NGO, an agency… people come and go…eventually leaders leave and with them goes some soul,some culture, experience, and some of your why.
  17. 17. “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”   - Seth GodinOur culture changed to allow for a TRIBE to form, lets look at Seth Godins definition from Tribes: “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only twothings to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” - Seth Godin
  18. 18. As I chat with you today… Ill be honest. In the last two years weve had 50% turn over in staff…as I said early PEOPLE come and go for many reasons. Our culture, our tribe was so strong for so long that… we took it for granted.I guess you could say we became lazy about the internal stuff.Far to often we see change as swift, but most change happens slowly over an extended period of time,our nature is to not address it till its broken or a crisis happens. Where have our rituals gone;whens the last time we rang the bell, flew the flag, had a tequila shot for breakfast, a company wide pool tournament…the things that connected us to each other and the idea of what BOF stood for.
  19. 19. Photo Credit | Flickr ashley roseOur tribal belief is that we stood for something more than the stuff we created;campaigns, logos, t-shirts, brochures…we believe that we helped change happen for brands and organizations.We believe in people, in storytelling, in tribal identities, and tribal rituals.
  20. 20. We want to save the day for our clients. Were going through a Re-Tribalize at BOF…bringing everyone into our processes ranging from, old rituals, new rituals,early immersion into projects, were sharing at lunch our ethos,and how we mix the old with new thinking.I believe that its far easier to find another customer tribal leader(that is if your having conversations that include your customers)than it is to find your next internal leader for your tribe.
  21. 21. The BOF journey was a long a winding road - I wish we would had this earlier in our adventure…Simon Sineks "The Golden Circle," from his book Start with Why.
  22. 22. The Golden Circle Model Simon Sinek WHAT Every company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. This is true no matter how big or small, no matter what industry. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within the system. WHATs are easy to identify.   WHY HOW Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. HOW HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. WHAT   WHY Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. WHY explains your purpose, cause or belief. It explains WHY your company exists. WHY you get out of bed every morning. WHY people should care.when most companies or people think, act, and communicate they do so from the outside in,from what to why. From the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.But not the inspired companies and leaders, they think, act, and communicate from the inside out.
  23. 23. people powered brandCreating a people powered brand…
  24. 24. Find your hand raisersrequires finding your hand-raisers (tribal leaders so to speak), this also creates communities.
  25. 25. Being a part of something bigger than themselvesBecause it creates a sense of belonging. Being a part of something bigger than themselves.
  26. 26. Communities connect the unconnectedPeople Powered Brands create Special communities… the ones that people are wanting -but didnt know it until they found it. Communities connect the unconnected.
  27. 27. Being a part of a great story compels us to share.Being a part of that great story, is a journey, compels us to share = a people powered brand
  28. 28. Let your TRIBE fly its freak flag Photo Credit | Flickr: Derek BridgesA big note… you can’t just choose your Tribe…you have to accept them for who they are… warts and all.We’re talking humans after all.You’ve got to let your TRIBE fly it’s freak flag…Embrace the weirdos.They may just be your loudest, proudest, most passionate fans. 
  29. 29. Who’s a member of a fitness club… virtual show of hands?Who’s a member of a fitness club, yoga studio, the YMCA… virtual show of hands?So, any guess what percentage of Americans are members of a club or gym?
  30. 30. 15%… Sadly the fitness industry has fought for the same 15% over and over and over.
  31. 31. 65% of the 85% of Americans that aren’t working out in a gym are interested in fitness, but remain non-users of a club/gym.What about the 85%… 65% of that 85% that aren’t working out in a gym are interested in fitness, but remain non-users of a club.
  32. 32. Meet Chuck and Dave owners of Anytime Fitness…you might remember them from Secret Millionaire.Chuck and Dave run the largest fitness franchise in the world…they’re successful but they felt there was a lot of work left to do.
  33. 33. We want to change the self-esteem of the worldthe why…
  34. 34. They challenged us to do something about that 65%. Can we change the conversation?
  35. 35. the existing convo = we all know it… diet pills, bikinis, biceps, 100 lb weight loss stories
  36. 36. The current conversation…treats exercise/fitness/weight loss like a "goal" to be achieved,which sets it up as a failure…We decided to flip the convo on its head by celebrating the little things, little wins, the start.
  37. 37. So, how do you start that conversation to those folks?You become human, yes a brand can become human…it starts by not being so concerned about being in control, trying to get your point across, selling more gym memberships…what good is it if they never come back after one day, ten days, thirty days…You will draw people to you by creating a safe place,a nurturing place, a place that has two-way conversations, a place where people can feel like they can be themselves.Sounds easy huh… not exactly.To do this we need to retrain franchisees and their staffs to not look for the grande and instead look for the small, the starts…
  38. 38. Whos heard of Jared, show of hands? Jarred just didnt happen… He created his own diet, a franchisee started to notice pound by pound this guy losing weight eating fast food. The franchisee sent in the story, the ad agency noticed, sadly Subway thought it was to unbelievable, so the ad agency did acommercial on its own dime. It connected with people, Jared became an overnight hero for many, many people.
  39. 39. For Anytime Fitness to have any hope… of changing this conversation we have to trainthe franchisees and staff to spot these beginnings,hell they have to appreciate these beginnings.A big challenge for an industry built on testosterone and bikinis.We asked for help, 25 Anytime fitness clubs to join us,by being open to a new conversation to engage those left out of the current fitness conversation.
  40. 40. We had hundreds apply, we choose our 25 hand raisers…brought them to Minnesota and trained them and empowered them to become our tribe leaders.… the beautiful thing is they all ready knew this needed to be brought into focus.
  41. 41. Meet Josh Cox… one of our tribe leaders. When we met Josh this is the business card he put into our hands. Josh’s story
  42. 42. Josh today…
  43. 43. Josh took this challenge to heart… he wanted to build fro people what he wished he’d had…a group accepting of all. Which is what we need, a place for everyone to be able to step into.Look at the visual nature of what Josh has created…
  44. 44. This is a shot of the current Fitness Rebellion challenge…Rebel vs Rebel… not in competition but inspiring each other to never give up.
  45. 45. I mentioned… rituals. Each rebel participate in Josh’s boot camp style Fitness Rebellion gets a hand crafted shirt…they war it to every class… I saw it first hand.The shovel.
  46. 46. Were just getting started… but conversations are happening not just on fitness but on Facebook.People are sharing theyre vulnerabilities, their hopes, their fears, their challenges, their dreams.
  47. 47. To make a difference, youve got to get your hands dirty. Your people have to get their hands dirty.
  48. 48. Thats the only way you can earn peoples trust… its by being real, walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
  49. 49. you must unlearn what you have learned -yodaAs a marketer or a brand, our challenge is to motivate PEOPLE to share on our behalf.Sadly… most of the time the place to start is for… a brand, or organization, to unlearn,all the marketing and shiny social media tacticsand be human again.
  50. 50. unlearning isn’t rocket scienceUnlearning isnt rocket science.
  51. 51. marketing is about peopleMarketing is about people. If you dont believe in relationships, you probably need to get out of the business.
  52. 52. People Powered Brands are not perfect and don’t need to be.people powered brands, are built on the honest principle that we are not perfect and dont need to be.
  53. 53. Let your freak flag fly. Embrace your weirdos.let your TRIBE freak flag fly. Embrace the weirdos. They may just be your loudest, proudest, most passionate tribe leaders. 
  54. 54. If your going to walk with them, you have to talk with them.Really get to know your advocates…If youre going to walk with them, you have to talk with them.Know their dreams their hopes.
  55. 55. •Walk, listen, and talk with your TRIBE •Show them you Care about them •Value what they have to say •Put what you’ve learned into Action •Empower your hand-raisers to become Tribal leadersWalk, listen, and talk with your Employees and CustomersShow them you Care about themValue what they have to sayPut what you’ve learned into ActionEmpower your Hand-raisers
  56. 56. Q&A t: @genochurch e: