Essentials of a Great website

How to Go From a Good to a Great Website: Engage and Convert More Successfully

What makes a great website?

What makes a website great for your customers?

What makes a website great for your potential  customers?

The answers to these questions will help you to publish a successful website. One that encourages current and potential customers to both see and engage with your content. And hopefully buy your products and services too!

I already published a post on this topic a few years ago. It is “The 7 essentials of Customer Centric Websites.” But things change – fast. Today, with mobile more likely to be the screen of reference, we have gone from a “no scroll” to a “must-scroll” format. Words have given way to more images and now also to videos. We have gone from information to entertainment, from push to pull and from “ours” to “theirs.”

The “Top nine attributes of effective websites” is a post published by Craig Reardon on It explains what makes a good website for small businesses. I found it to be a great starting point for my topic for any sized business, so I would encourage you to check it out.

Still, I do have a couple of criticisms about the post – sorry Craig. It starts with technology and also includes company rather than customer priorities. But you, fellow customer centricity champions, know that everything should start with the customer! So I’d like to build on both his post and my earlier one, to lay out what it takes to win online these days.

Checking a website is often the first step a customer makes when they are interested in a brand or manufacturer. Therefore we should ensure ours responds to their needs, whatever the reason for their visit. I have chosen the nine essential elements of a customer centric website below.

Let me know what you think.


1. It’s for the customer, not you. Although your website is about you and your company and/or brands, it is your customers, both current and potential, that need to like it.

Therefore start by thinking about for whom you are developing the site and what their desires and needs are. Use our 4W™ template to ensure you go as deep as possible in your understanding of them.


2. An intuitive structure. We don’t have time to read, let alone learn how to navigate a website. Customers will leave if they can’t immediately find what they are looking for. This explains why many – dare I say most? – businesses have a 50% plus bounce rate. (See the RocketFuel analysis for more on this)

You may still need a sitemap for those visitors who need help in navigating or are less logical. However, it no longer needs the prominence it once did. Put it at the bottom of the page and don’t waste valuable real estate by placing it at the top. If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, they will never need to revert to a sitemap.


3. Customers can contact you with ease. Contact links or your full details must appear on the home page, including telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses and social media accounts. With the global nature of the internet, a customer has the right to know where you are based.

They also have the right to connect as they wish, by whichever media they prefer. (>>Tweet this<<)

Do away with impersonal forms and drop-down menus, which force customers to use your classification. Instead, make them feel special, valued and appreciated. Make them feel like you are waiting to hear from them and that you want to know what they have to share or ask. Above all, customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of a mass. (>>Tweet this<<)


4. A list of your products, brands or services. Today’s customers demand information. They want details about ingredients, sourcing, limitations of usage, distribution and availability.

They want reassurance about your practices. Are they sustainable? Is your vision acceptable and your practices ethical? The more information you provide, the less need people will have to contact you for such requests.


5. Details about you. No longer can you hide who you are. An “About” section must provide clear information about all aspects of the company. Topics to include are your management structure, operational areas, mission statement, values, strategy and culture. You should also add the latest company news, both for investors and customers.

With the continued rise in the interest of visual content, incorporate a media section too. In it, you can provide images and videos of your products and advertising. This has the advantage of making it easy for customers to both comment on and share their favourite ones.


6. Valuable content. Regularly updated content is good for your SEO rankings as well as for appealing to customers. Think about the topics of most interest to them. Perhaps you could answer common questions they have through a FAQ section or blog. Or provide useful recipes, styling tips or other relevant information that your customers will find appealing.

As mentioned above, visual content is vital today as people read less. If you struggle to create content, then customers are often happy to provide it. Purina has successfully turned user-generated content into advertising. And many other brands have been inspired by what their customers share with them.


7. A responsive design. We are all multi-screen users today, moving seamlessly from smartphone to tablet, and from a computer to TV. We expect the same quality of experience no matter what screen we are using. So a great website needs to be optimised for this.

A further reason for having a responsive design is that Google penalises those which aren’t. Your potential customers may never learn about you because you won’t appear on the first pages of search results.


8. Include entertainment. Even if your customers come to your website looking for information, they are often also expecting some form of entertainment. Whether through useful tips and guides, or quizzes, games and competitions, customers demand to be surprised and delighted by their experiences online.

We all love to learn more about ourselves and the rapid rise of fitness bands and Facebook quizzes are a clear indication of this. Who can resist an invitation to discover “What your favourite colour means” or “What your favourite foods say about you”? or “How male / female is your brain?”  Incidentally, the second one was developed by Unilever’s Knorr brand.

I bet you just clicked or plan to click on one of those links, didn’t you?! See how powerful quizzes can be?


9.   Be secure. Companies ask more and more information of their customers. In return customers expect their details to be kept safe. While it remains your responsibility to ensure a secure environment, you can also help by only asking for details that you will use for business purposes.

Do you really need telephone numbers if you will never call or text? Do you need postal addresses, occupation or other details that may be possible to collect? By only asking for the information that you will use, you will not only reduce the chance of being hacked, due to a lower value, but you also risk losing less information about each of your customers.

Of course, no matter how much information you collect from your customers, you need to protect your database from cyber attacks, whether the risk is high or low.


When I wrote the original post on customer centric websites, I mentioned Reckitt Benckiser as a best-in-class example. Today, when I look at the leading CPG / FMCG websites, I find many that deserve a mention. I, therefore, decided to ask you, the reader, what your favourite customer centric website is and why you consider it to be a great website?. Please share your ideas below in the comments.

And if your own website doesn’t pass the above nine essentials test, perhaps it’s time to make some changes? We can help.

For more ideas on how to better engage customers online:

Marketing 5Ps to be replaced by the 7Qs

Are You Still Using The Marketing 5Ps? Move To The Improved 7Qs.

Now you can LISTEN to the post HERE as well as on iTunes – Subscribe & Follow today!

Marketing is a great profession. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for almost my whole career. From the outside, others see marketers as those who come to work late and seem to party all night. They’re always watching TV or jetting off to exotic places to talk about advertising.

For people working in operations or finance, marketers just don’t seem to be doing a very serious job; they’re always having too much fun. I’m sure you’ve already heard such comments.

Well, as you yourself know, marketing IS fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work, often close to 24/7 on many occasions. So does all that hard work pay off? Not always in my opinion. And why? Because marketers don’t always ask the right questions!

If you work in marketing, you already know the 5Ps – people, place, product, price and promotion. However, the problem with them is that when you find an issue with one of them that needs attention, you know the “what” but not the “how”.

So I suggest you work with my 7Qs instead. Each question explains not only what to check, but why. And if you can’t immediately answer any of them, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!


Q1. Who are your customers?

01E-Your customersThe first “P” stands for people and often that is taken to be “Do you know to whom you are selling?” The answer is always yes and that’s accepted as sufficient.

Instead, ask yourself who your customers are. I don’t mean just their demographics. I mean who they really are; what, where and how they use or consume your brand. And especially the why of their attitudes and behaviours. If you can’t give all these details about your customers, then you’re in serious trouble. See “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more details on defining your customer persona.


Q2. How are your customers changing?

Hopefully, you answered Q1. without any hesitation – you did, didn’t you? And it’s great that you know a lot about your customers, but people change.

Are you following how your customers are changing? Are you keeping up with them and their new opinion, needs and desires? Do you know the impact of the latest trends and technologies on your customers’ behaviours? Do you know how these changes may alter your market in five, ten or even twenty years from now?

There are countless examples of brands that have disappeared because they didn’t keep up with the changing needs of their customers:

  • Kodak who didn’t understand the impact of digital photography.
  • Borders bookstores who didn’t get into eBooks.
  • Motorola, once the leader in smartphones, who didn’t embrace new communications technology.
  • Sony who resisted MP3 and lost the portable music player market that they had led for years.
  • Blockbuster who survived the transition from VHS to DVD, but failed to adapt to consumers’ demand for home delivery.

The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing future scenarios. (>>Tweet this<<) How many possible future customer changes have you already prepared for?


Q3. What does your brand stand for?

32D-Stretch brands across categoriesI don’t mean it’s marketing identity or slogan; I mean how your customers or your competitors’ customers would describe it, its image? Is it strong and consistent? Does it align precisely with its identity or the positioning you want today? Do you follow the developments in its image regularly? Do you adapt your advertising and promotions to strengthen its desired image and eliminate negative changes before they impact your brand’s image? Is it authenticated by your customers’ experiences with your brand? It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise. (>>Tweet this<<)

You should be able to describe your brand in one or at most a couple of sentences, using the words and ideas you want it to stand for, like these:

  • McDonalds offers “quick, convenient, family-oriented and fun, casual dining.”
  • Bic disposable pens, lighters and razors offer “high-quality products at affordable prices, convenient to purchase and convenient to use.”


Q4. How are sales and distribution?

I don’t mean just the totals. I mean the local specificities. The regional differences and anomalies. Do you know why they occur? Do these differences result from cultural differences, alternative traditions or usage, historical reasons or just distributor practices? Even if you work in marketing and not sales, understanding weekly, monthly and annual trends all mean increased understanding of your customers and their differences.

If you don’t know why your brand is doing better in some regions than others, then you’re probably missing opportunities for growth. (>>Tweet this<<) Always play to your strengths and correct your weaknesses as soon as they are identified.


Q5. Do you know what your brand is worth?

I don’t mean how much it costs to manufacture or to distribute. I mean how it is valued by the end user. How does your brand’s value compare to its current price? Incorrect pricing could mean that you are leaving money on the table!

If you are priced lower than your customers’ perceived value of it, you could be asking for more. If you are priced above the perceived value of your potential customers’, you are stopping many new customers from buying into your offer, as they don’t think you’re worth it.

Either way, you could be earning more and possibly selling more too. (>>Tweet this<<)


Q6. Are you using the right channels for your communications?

36C-Communicate with customersMany marketing plans are still just a rehash of last year’s, especially when it comes to advertising and promotions. With today’s huge array of media opportunities, both on and offline, it is important to choose the most appropriate ones for your customers.

If you answered Q1. completely then you will know which ones they are currently using most often, and if you are also able to answer Q2. you’ll know how these are changing or likely to change in the future.

Wasting money with outdated media plans and channels no longer used by your customers is still one of the biggest challenges of marketing. Make sure it’s not yours.

For a fun piece on the topic, check out “10 Signs Your CEO Has an Outdated View of Marketing‘ on Hubspot.


Q7. Is your messaging consistent and complementary?

Answering Q3. means that you know what you want to stand for and the image you want to portray. Image metrics will tell you which of them need to be boosted, depending upon the desired changes.

Do you want to attract new customers, support current customers, or develop your image in a certain direction? Appropriate analysis of your image data will give you all the information you need to adapt your messaging and strengthen the positioning you have chosen for it.

For more details on image analysis check out the section in Denyse’s latest book “Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time.” It’s been called “A must read for today’s and tomorrow’s marketeers by none other than Paul Pohlman, Unilever’s CEO!

So there you have them, the seven questions that I believe will bring you greater results than just using the marketing 5Ps. What do you think? Next time you review your brand’s performance, why not give the 7Qs a try? They will provide you with a clearer picture of your brand’s current and future development opportunities, and more importantly, will identify the actions you need to take to progress its growth.

If I’ve missed any important points that you check regularly for your own brand, please share your thoughts below by adding a comment. I’d love to hear your own ideas and success stories.


What customers want is excellent customer service

Give Customers What They Really Want Today

As a customer centricity champion, just like you, I spend a lot of my time researching the topic. I’m always trying to understand exactly what customers want. My regular searches include customer service, customer satisfaction, customer care and similar areas. Google is my best friend!

However, I recently came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post. I believe they show a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers today. Read the article and then let me know whether or not you agree with my analysis.


Customer centricity

Wikipedia, another online friend of mine, doesn’t have a definition of customer centricity! If you look the term up, you get directed to customer satisfaction! Try it for yourself and see.

My other go-to source for definitions is which defines customer centric as:

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.” 

It then goes on to say

 “A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

Now I like this definition because it mentions three important elements of customer centricity:

  • a positive customer experience
  • adds value to a company
  • enables differentiation

This clearly identifies three huge benefits of becoming (more) customer centric:

  1. A positive customer experience has been shown to increase both loyalty and advocacy. (>>Tweet this<<) As we all know, it costs ten times if not even more, to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current one. Therefore loyalty is a valuable benefit for a brand.
  2. Adding value to a company also increases the ROI of its marketing investments. This is something that marketing is challenged to prove today, or risk seeing their budgets cut. Luckily, what’s good for the customer is good for business. You can see many more facts and statistics in Forrester’s report “The Business Impact of Customer Experience” HERE.
  3. The third benefit is just as important to the growth of a business. Enabling differentiation in this complex world is invaluable in standing out from the competition. (>>Tweet this<<) In so many industries today product performance and services are almost identical, so how can you stand out? By your customer care, that’s how. It has been shown that customers are willing to pay more for excellent customer service. You can read a summary of the American Express research that found that HERE.


The importance of customer satisfaction and understanding

There is no denying that customer centricity is important. However some companies are (too?) slow to adopt best practices in this area, which concerns me for a number of reasons:

  1. Changes are happening too slowly in most organisations. If it is important for the business, then what is stopping companies from adopting a more customer centric approach?
  2. Customers are complaining – a lot – about the way they are being treated. Why are companies not accepting these criticisms as the gifts they are?
  3. Customer service is confused with customer satisfaction. Companies are happy when their customers say they are satisfied, but they should be looking to delight them!

As mentioned before, the research that prompted this post was on terms related to customers. Having seen the strong positive trend for the word customer, I then wanted to understand what it was about customers that was of interest. I found that both customer service and customer care showed almost identical positive trends.

However, when I looked at customer satisfaction and customer understanding the trends were flat and worse, minimal. (You can see the trend graph below with service in blue, care in red, satisfaction in yellow and understanding in green)


Customer centricity comparison

Click image to enlarge


These trends suggest to me that people search how to improve their customer service and care, but not about how to understand their customers or increase their satisfaction!

How can this be? Surely an interest in customer service should come from an increased understanding of how to deliver customer satisfaction. Apparently not.

And this is when I realised that perhaps businesses are more interested in the process than the real benefit of customer connection. That is a serious flaw in their thinking in my opinion.

To confirm my hypothesis, I looked into customer satisfaction levels and their trends. After all, many more companies are interested in customer service these days. So you would think it should have a positive impact on customer satisfaction.


Customer satisfaction in Europe

Click to see original infographic


According to the latest report from The Institute of Customer Service on customer satisfaction across Europe, retail, insurance and banking are the three best performing industries. This was a surprise to me because they used to be heavily criticised. However this suggests that they have taken action, albeit because they had little choice, but most other industries continue to ignore their customers. You can see the full Infographic overview above; click on it to see the original.

I then went back Google to find the ways which were suggested for increasing customer satisfaction. I found more than  two million articles on how to do it, but very few on the results. Again, extremely worrying.

US Customer Satisfaction

Click to enlarge and read original report

According to the US ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) June 2016 report, customer satisfaction has finally increased for the first time in over two years.

However, as Claes Fornell, Chairman and founder of the ACSI says:

“By and large, the overall customer experience for goods and services purchased and consumed in the United States is getting worse.” 

In the UK, which leads Europe in terms of customer satisfaction, levels also rose for the first time in four years, reflecting a more positive economy. However, that was before the Brexit vote! I am looking forward to seeing whether the Brits’ optimism continues this year.


The Key Takeaways

So what does a business need to do to increase their customers’ satisfaction? There are seven facts that become apparent from this analysis:

  1. Businesses should always provide a positive customer experience and do whatever it takes to satisfy, but ideally delight.
  2. Companies need to go beyond the mere process of customer centricity, to truly put their customers at the heart of the organisation.
  3. Customer centricity adds demonstrated value to a company; it should be a no-brainer.
  4. Customer centric improvements are happening too slowly in most industries, especially when customers are becoming increasingly demanding.
  5. Providing customer service doesn’t guarantee customer satisfaction.
  6. A positive customer experience increases loyalty and advocacy.
  7. Excellent customer service enables differentiation and even higher prices.

In summary, people want businesses to listen and understand them. When a customer takes the time to contact a company because they are unhappy, they expect a satisfactory outcome as a minimum. Those organisations who go beyond, to deliver delight will see their reputation improve, as well as an increase in their customers’ loyalty and advocacy. 

Customers also want companies to be open and transparent. They want answers to their questions and criticisms. They have a right to know the source of ingredients, the ingredients themselves, their country of origin, the charities the company supports, or the organisation’s policies on waste, water and sustainability. They expect their questions to be answered almost immediately, especially on social media. They expect things that go wrong to be put right, with an apology.

So how are you doing? Are you living up to your customers’ expectations? How have you made progress in this area in the past year or so? Please share your success stories below. 

You know you can no longer wait; you’re getting left behind by those organisations – and competitors – who are taking action today! If you need help in catalysing your organisation in customer centricity, C³Centricity provides 1-Day training on many relevant topics. See more HERE.

Observation can make you a better marketer

Five Rules of Observation and Why it’s Hard to Do Effectively

One of the best ways to a deeper understanding of your customers is to watch and listen to them whenever you can. Observation and listening are powerful but often underutilised tools of the marketer.

It is, therefore, disappointing that so many companies run to conduct market research, usually a qualitative study, as a first step to improved customer understanding. They then (hopefully) invite relevant employees from marketing, sales, packaging, communications or R&D to participate. However, this intense but short observation is likely to do more harm than good. Let me explain.

Have you ever gone to watch a focus group only to discover that the research confirms your hypotheses? You are then irritated that you “wasted” money on the project aren’t you? Well, this may be due to selective listening and interpretation on your part. You watched and listened only to the topics that interested you. You were looking for confirmation of your hypothesis. There was so much more you could have understood if only you knew how to listen.

True understanding comes from regular interaction with your customers, not just from an annual observation or two. Here are some ideas on how to do this effectively.


Make customer observation everyone’s job

Everyone should observe and listen to customersThere are a wealth of opportunities for every employee in a company to come into contact with the customer. In a customer-centric organisation, everyone has annual objectives which include connecting with customers on a regular basis. This could be by listening to calls at the care centre, reading blogs and message boards, or participating in / watching promotions, demonstrations, sampling or market research.

Some organisations also make a habit of getting their employees to watch and listen to their customers in direct observation or connection sessions. However, this needs to be managed carefully in order to avoid people jumping too quickly to incorrect conclusions, as detailed below.


Observation is not as easy as it looks

There is a very well-known example of the challenge of observation, in a video showing two teams of young people passing a couple of balls around. If you haven’t seen it you can check out the Awareness Test and try it for yourself.

Share experiences of observation and listeningIn the exercise, people are asked to count the number of passes made by the team in white, so that is what the observer will concentrate on. In the background a man dressed as a bear, moon-walks his way across the screen, but most people are oblivious to the fact. They are so busy looking for the answer to the question, that they miss this significant event in the short video.

The same can happen when people watch customers. They are so concentrated on finding the answer to their question, or worse the substantiation of their own beliefs, that they miss a lot of what is actually going on. (>>Tweet this<<) If they listen objectively, they may hear something new. And this might lead them to a significant breakthrough in understanding.

For this reason, it is essential to run a careful briefing session before every observation exercise. This way people go into it with their eyes and brains fully open. Your Insight team can manage this in most cases, but to summarise what needs to be covered, I have listed below the five rules of observation.


The five rules of observation

  1. ORDINARY: Look for the ordinary not the extraordinary, but do note the things that surprise. These can challenge our preconceptions and help us to keep an open mind. Identify also the details of the ordinary event, things that were never noticed or thought about before.

You may see people finding ways to get around a problem or pain point they have. These may offer opportunities to increase satisfaction, either by resolving them or by developing a new product or service. (>>Tweet this<<)

2. ATTENTIVE: Be careful to record only what you see and hear. Don’t start analysing what you think is going on or you will certainly miss something.

If you are running observation sessions yourself, it is important to define roles for every company participant. (>>Tweet this<<) One person should lead the session, one could take notes and one can actively observe and perhaps take pictures. With these different roles covered, the discussion after the event will be much richer.

3. ACCURATE & OBJECTIVE: This is the reason why you need to remain attentive, so you get an accurate record of what is happening. Keep notes of what your see, when and where, and how people behave.

If you have direct contact with customers, leave your own preconceptions outside and never judge what is going on. (>>Tweet this<<)

It is also important not to react openly to what you see or hear. Pay particular attention to your body language. Keep asking (yourself, at least at first) why? Even if something appears obvious, the reason may not be what you think it is. So keep asking this vital question.

This form of iterative investigating is often referred to as the Five Whys“. The technique involves asking the question a minimum of five times to ensure you cover every angle.

4. TIMING: Observe and understand what is going on before and after the event, as well as during the event you are observing itself. The event needs to be put into the context of time and place within a person’s lifestyle and habits. This is the only way to understand its relevance.

Also, be patient as people often change behaviour when being watched, at least to start with. Give them a chance to relax and feel comfortable with being observed. Insight colleagues will certainly have mentioned at some point that in qualitative projects, the best comments come out at the end. (>>Tweet this<<) Participants think the recording is finished and so relax and completely open up!

5. DEBRIEF & ANALYSIS: Observation is most valuable if it is completed by an immediate debriefing session. Observers can together share, ask questions and start to analyse what they have seen and heard.

This is important if several groups have been following similar events such as shopping, leisure-time activities or food preparation, but with different respondents.

These five points should ensure that everyone enjoys participating in these observations. Both you and your customers will benefit from the experience and a maximum number of ideas and learnings will be gathered.

One last point for International organisations; be aware of cultural differences. Explore and understand the culture (>>Tweet this<<) where the observations are being made, especially if you are not a local. What is appropriate in one culture may be offensive or irrelevant in another.

Checking things out with the locals before going into the field can save a lot of embarrassment – or worse! It is also useful to have local members help in the analysis of what was seen and heard so that the correct interpretation is made.

If you have run observation or connection sessions and have learned something you would like to share, please comment below. I answer all notes and questions personally, usually within an hour or two. 

For more ideas on getting closer to your customer, please check out our website: If you would like help in setting up connection sessions with your customers I would love to help you get the most out of them. Just contact me here.

This post used images from Denyse’s book “Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Business – One Day at a Time.

This post is based upon and is an expansion of one that was first published of C³Centricity in 2011.

Use brand image metrics to warn of a declining brand

What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Brand Image, Equity, Personality & Archetypes

Your brand is not what you think it is! It is what your customers think it is; its brand image, personality and its value to them.

I was lecturing at Miami University a couple of weeks ago on brand image and personality. These are two vital elements of branding. They need to be clear and consistently represented in all your communications.

If you’re having issues with your own brand in either of these areas, then you’ll find the following article both interesting and valuable.


Why we Buy Brands

According to Wikipedia, a brand is:

“a set of marketing and communications methods that help to distinguish a company from competition and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.” 

Although this definition is a little sterile in my opinion for something as exciting as branding, I do like that it mentions customers. However, for me, a brand is created in both the minds and hearts of its customers.

There has been so much said about the importance of emotions and resonating with the customer, that we should no longer forget them. And this is where image and personality play vital roles. They are both more or less created in the heart, rather than in the mind of the customer.

We often buy brands without even knowing ourselves why we buy them. We can, of course, provide a clear reasoned answer when asked, but explanations come from the mind. The heart is what makes us buy. (>>Tweet this<<) 


Branding Elements

Brand ElementsA brand is made up of a number of components, with which people learn to identify and recognise it. These include its logo, colour, pack, shape, taste, aroma, sounds and feel. There may also be other things which are directly associated with the brand, such as a celebrity, an event or a cause it supports.

A brand needs to have a clear image, personality and equity in the minds of its customers. These come as the result of these branding elements as well as the customer’s own personal experience with it.

All these elements must be respected in order to build a strong brand with which customers can identify themselves. If they’re not, then the brand is at risk of not developing correctly, or even worse, of becoming just a commodity.

Therefore, it is vital for marketers to know and understand what their brand means to customers. Not just what it means for their organisation. And then, of course, to follow it over time through regular measurement.


Brand Image

A brand is associated with many statements or attributes. These are what current and potential customers think or feel about it. They may have resulted from exposure to communications as well as from their own personal experiences.

These elements are usually grouped into three types: the rational / functional benefits, the subjective / emotional elements and the cultural / relational factors.

The third group was added by David Armano of Edelman Digital almost ten years ago. I like his idea because the relationships a brand builds with its customers have become vitally important in today’s world of social media. I did notice that he recently started referring to these as societal rather than relational, in line with today’s more usual vocabulary.Brand Image Elements

  • Rational / Functional benefits include things on which everyone can agree and recognise. For example being crunchy, colourful, available everywhere or delivered in a glass bottle.
  • Emotional / Subjective elements are those which vary between customers and their personal appreciation of the brand. These might include good value for money, better quality, or gives the best service.
  • Cultural / Relational (Societal) factors are those associated with a brand’s trust and responsibility. Customers today are increasingly interested in how a brand or corporation addresses its use of resources and whether or not they are sustainable and ecological. Brands also depend on recommendations from others, so word of mouth, especially online, has become a vital additional source of reputation. The attributes measured could include trustworthy, a brand I’d recommend or cares about its customers.


The Power of a Three-legged Brand

Impact of 3 brand image elements

SOURCE: David Armano

Armano showed that incorporating all three elements into a brand’s image results in a stronger brand. It is much more likely to have a better performance than those brands which don’t include the societal elements.

He reported that it is in recommendations and sharing brand content that the most positive impact can be found.

Customers are also more likely to share their personal information with the brand (>>Tweet this<<) and to buy it more often. Both of these actions demonstrate an increase in trust, a precursor of both loyalty and advocacy.

The final power metric is that this trust results in customers defending the brand. This is a wonderful support to have in a world where everything is known at the click of a button. A brand which has the trust of its customers will be more often forgiven for the occasional mishap.

You can read more about Edelman’s Brandshare Study in the slideshow “How brands and people create a value exchange.”


Measuring Brand Image

I am often surprised by the lack of understanding about how to measure brand image when I work on branding issues with clients. Even large companies don’t do a good job of it in general. (>>Tweet this<<) They measure too frequently, in the hope that their latest advertising campaign has had the desired impact. This is rarely the case as images take time to change. Or they measure too infrequently, if ever, and don’t know what their current brand image is.

Another problem I find is that the choice of attributes is often sub-optimal, to be polite. They should be selected to cover all the main elements of your desired image as well as that of the competition. (>>Tweet this<<) I have often seen clients happy that they are scoring better than their competitors. However, when I examine their metrics I find that they are missing those which would better represent their competitors’ brands. No wonder they are doing well!

A further mistake I encounter is trying to measure advertising slogans. While it is important to understand whether your message is heard and understood, this should not be done in a brand image survey. Advertising slogans should be evaluated through a communications test.


Brand Personality & Values

Theory of Basic Human Values

SOURCE: Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.

Brands have personalities, just like people. It was Schwartz who first identified the ten human values which make up our personalities. They are important to understand, especially for regional and global brands, because they cut across cultures.

Our values also determine our behaviour. Plato identified the typical patterns of human behaviour, which he called archetypes. The Swiss psychologist Jung then used this concept in his theory of the human psyche. But it wasn’t until Margaret Mark that they were first correlated with brands in her excellent book The Hero and the Outlaw.


12 Archetypes



The twelve archetypes are illustrated on the left, together with some sample adjectives to describe them. It is important to understand how customers see your brand. Do you know? (>>Tweet this<<)

The personality of your brand should resonate with your customers, either because they are similar, or because they provide the dream lifestyle your customers desire. Either way, it is essential to understand what role your brand is playing. (>>Tweet this<<)



Brand Archetypes

The personality of your brand should resonate with your customers, either because they are similar, or because they provide the image your customers desire. Either way, it is essential to understand what role your brand is playing.

12 Archetypes with BrandsBrands can represent any of the twelve archetypes, which are usually divided into four subgroups, as follows:

  1. Stability, control: Caregiver, Ruler, Creator
  2. Risk, achievement: Hero, Rebel, Magician
  3. Belonging: Lover, Jester, Everyman
  4. Learning, freedom: Innocent, Sage, Explorer

As the diagram on the right shows, there is no ideal archetype and brands can successfully grow by representing any of them. What is vital is that the archetype is portrayed consistently across all communications and visualisations.


Examples of Strong Brand Images & Personalities

During my lecture at the University of Miami, I shared many examples of brand images and personalities. These included showing how some brands have successfully managed to change theirs.

Two of the brands we discussed were Axe and Old Spice because they have gone through some interesting evolutions over the years. Most recently it even appears that they are overtly challenging each other through their advertising. 

Take a look at the ads below and see if you can identify the archetypes before continuing to read the post. 

AXE: This Unilever brand has been portrayed as the Lover, the Hero and most recently as the Everyman. Here are a couple of their ads to show the transition from Hero (Fireman) to Everyman (Find your magic).

In particular, note the shower sequence at the end of the second Axe commercial (a slight – or is it a sly – dig at  Old Spice?) and the heroic fire demonstration in the Old Spice ad!




OLD SPICE: This P&G brand has been portrayed as the Explorer, Everyman (The Man Your Man Could Smell Like) and most recently as the Rebel (Rocket Car) – or is it, Hero? Let me know which you think in the comments below.

As I did for Axe, I’ve selected an older and a more modern example of their campaigns, so you can compare the change of approach.




I am looking forward to seeing how these two ad campaigns continue to develop. It is clear that Unilever and P&G are closely following and perhaps even being inspired by each other. Those are two of the actions of great marketers.

Finally, I couldn’t leave the topic of personalities without mentioning Apple. Often seen as the Creator archetype, Apple went as far as to visualise their persona and personality in their “Get a Mac” campaign.



The ads featured two men, called Mac and PC, comparing their functionalities. The campaign ran from 2006 to 2009 and was a hilarious success, positively impacting the Mac’s image. In the ads, they describe themselves as:

Mac: Cool, trendy, young, friendly, casual, reliable, fast and looking for fun.

PC: Boring, formal, cold, old, unreliable, slow, not inspiring.

Which two archetypes do they suggest? Answers in the comments below, please.


Brand Equity

A brand’s equity is the value of the brand in the eyes of its customers (>>Tweet this<<). It is the power it has derived from the goodwill and recognition that it has earned over time.

A strong brand equity comes from the development of a robust image and personality. Both of these need to be reinforced by every advertisement, message and promotion that the brand produces. Consistency is vital to growing a strong equity. (>>Tweet this<<) The results of doing this will be both higher sales and profits, due to being valued more than its competitors.

Consistency is vital to growing a strong equity. The results of doing this will be both higher sales and profits, due to being valued more than its competitors.

The importance of a brand’s equity is clearly indicated by the many different sources of regional and global brand equity rankings published each year.

The two most well known, Interbrand and Millward Brown’s BrandZ, have slightly different algorithms and therefore results, but both include financial as well as consumer metrics.


Interbrand Top 10 Brands 2015

SOURCE: Interbrand. Click for full results.


Interbrand’s model has three key components:

  • analysis of its financial performance
  • analysis of the role the brand plays in purchase decisions
  • analysis of the brand’s competitive strength.

Together with extensive desk research and an expert panel assessment, Interbrand  also includes data from Reuters, Datamonitor and media platform Twitter.



Millward Brown's BrandZ 2016

SOURCE: Millward Brown BrandZ 2016. Click for full results

Millward Brown’s BrandZ

BrandZ, on the other hand, uses a mixture of financial information and customer surveys. Their proprietary research covers 3mio consumers and 100,000 brands in more than 50 markets. They too measure three things:

  • How “meaningful” the brand is, its appeal & ability to generate “love” and meet the consumer’s expectations and needs.
  • How “different” it is, what unique features it may have and its ability to “set the trends” for consumers.
  • How “salient” the brand is, whether it springs to mind as the consumer’s brand of choice.

It is interesting to note that BrandZ’s 2016 show Google overtaking Apple as the most valuable brand in the world. The other major difference in rankings of the top ten brands is the higher number of more “technical” brands in the Millward Brown results.

So there you have it. All the major points a marketer should know about brand image, equity, personalities and archetypes.

A marketer’s role is primarily to defend and grow its brand’s image and equity (>>Tweet this<<) through a strong personality and consistent communications. If you are not succeeding in all areas then you are almost certainly challenged by weakening sales.

Brand image usually declines before sales do, so it is an invaluable measure of your brand’s health. If you would like to learn more about measuring and analysing brand image, there are several chapters dedicated to the topic in my book “Winning Customer Centricity”. 

Don’t forget to add your answers to the couple of questions I asked in the article in the comments below. Let me know what you think about defending brand image and growing equity. And I’d love to hear about your own brand’s archetype and whether you had trouble in defining it.

This post uses images from Denyse’s book “Winning Customer Centricity”. You can download the first five chapters for free HERE.

insight development process

Marketing Solutions to More Actionable Insights

Marketing depends upon actionable insights to satisfy and delight their customers. How comfortable are you with your own process and the actionability of the results?

Insights are the holy grail that all businesses seek but rarely find. Are you one of them? If so then I have some tips on how you can get better at developing more actionable insights.

#1. Insights take more than a single piece of market research

Does your management think that insight is “just another word for market research”? I remember one CEO with whom I had the privilege of working, saying exactly that to me. This was just before he stepped onto the stage to address the global marketing and market research teams at our annual conference! I’m sure you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!

Insights are challenging to develop and rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project is designed to gather information about a particular topic. Whilst it may enable a business to answer the questions it has, insight development is quite a different process. (>>Tweet this<<)

Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the information you have about a category, segment or brand user. You then need to summarise all of this into knowledge and understanding, from which you develop the insight.

Single pieces of market research deliver information, not insights. It is therefore rarely successful to try to develop insight from one survey alone.


#2. All brands should have a Big Idea based on (at least) one insight

A Big Idea is a term often used today to describe a brand, product, or concept. The term is prevalent in advertising and is commonly used today to describe something unique that the brand wants to stand for. A big idea is big because it resonates with its target customers. It is a short description on which its communications and customer engagement are based. (>>Tweet this<<)

This is why insights are so important, as they are at the very foundation of the big ideas of all successful brands. For example:

  • Staples: “Low prices are secondary to a quick and efficient shopping experience for business customers.” This was turned into a new tagline “That was easy”. Staples then created the red plastic Easy Button and have sold millions of them at $4.99 each, the proceeds of which go to charity.


  • Mastercard: “Life isn’t about what you buy, but about the relationships you have with the people you care about and the special moments that you can share with them”. Most credit cards advertise their exclusivity, status and the accumulation of tangible assets that are bought with their card. This insight positions Mastercard as more of an enabler of the more important and intangible things in life.



  • Pampers: “Babies with healthy, dry skin are happier….and so better able to play, learn and develop”. The idea that babies are happier when they have healthy skin rather than nappy rash is not new. What P&G managed to do was to turn this into an emotional benefit which has inspired both innovation and advertising ever since.



Developing a powerful insight makes all brand decision-making much easier. If your plans reflect the insight, then move forward. If however, they communicate something different then you need to consider whether to revisit the original insight or the actions you are planning. Consistency is one essential element of brand success.


#3. Insights are developed from a desired behavioural change

Sales, marketing and management look to grow a category, segment or brand by changing customers’ behaviours. For example:

  • From buying a competitive brand to purchasing yours
  • From using your services once a month, to once a week
  • Moving customers’ belief about your brand from a traditional to a more modern image
  • Changing customers’ perceptions about your value from expensive to good value for money

Because insight development is based on a desired behavioural change, the most successful contain an emotional element. The emotion shown in an advertisement is more likely to resonate with customers, who are then motivated to take the identified action. The above Pampers video is a good example of this.


#4. Insight development needs more than insight specialists

Although this may sound counter-productive, insight development really does benefit from gathering input from different experts with differing perspectives. Getting to that “ah-ha” moment that is often referred to, takes time and energy, and is best delivered by a team than an individual.

A deep understanding of customers and their reasons for behaving in a certain way comes from looking at all aspects of their lifestyle. If you only review the actual moment when they choose or use a product or service, it is highly unlikely that you will develop that deep understanding. What happens before and afterwards also lead to their purchase decision and eventual loyalty.

This is why it is important to work as a team when developing insights. (>>Tweet this<<) Depending upon the issue or opportunity identified, the team can consist of people from marketing, sales, trade marketing, production, packaging, advertising, innovation, distribution or R&D. These people don’t even need to work on the category in question;

The people who make up the team don’t even have to work on the category in question. Sometimes it is by taking ideas from different categories that true insights can be developed. (>>Tweet this<<) See the next section for examples of this.


#5. Insights are usually based on a human truth

The insights that resonate best with people are those based upon a human truth. A human truth is a statement that refers to human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed. It is a powerful and compelling fact of attitudes and behaviour that is rooted in fundamental human values. It is a fact that is obvious when quoted but is often ignored or forgotten in daily business. Human truths are linked to human needs and although questioned in some circles today,

Human truths are linked to human needs and although questioned in some circles today, Maslow’s hierarchy is still one of the most relevant sources. Examples of human truths include:

  • Parents want to protect their children.
  • Men and women want to find love.
  • Children (people?) want to be better than their peers.

The other reason that human truths work well as the foundation of an insight is because they provoke emotions and strong feelings in people. If you are struggling to find an insight, it can help to review the level of need of your target audience and see how your brand can use emotions to help answer it.


#6. Insights aren’t always category specific

Following on from the above points, it is particularly interesting that once found, an insight can be adapted and used for a different category. (>>Tweet this<<) There are many examples of this happening, particularly amongst major FMCG / CPG companies. For example:

Insight: “Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy”.

  • Unilever’s Omo: shows that a good mother lets her child experiment and learn – even if this means getting dirty. If you don’t know their advertising, then check out one of their latest from this long-running campaign: Unilever Omo “Dirt is Good” ad on YouTube
  • Nestlé’s Nido: illustrates this need as a mother providing the nourishment for healthy growth which allows her children to explore the outside world safely. If you would like to see a typical advertisement, check it out on YouTube HERE. Interestingly, Nestlé has used this same insight to develop advertising for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas too.

Insight: “Young women want to be appreciated for who they are, ie not models”.

  • Unilever’s Dove was the first brand to recognise and benefit from this insight. Their famous Real Beauty campaign resonated so well with young women that many other brands copied it, especially their Evolution film. HERE is one of their more recent ads that I’m sure will give you goosebumps.
  • The Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store brand “I am” which uses the same insight across all the health and beauty products. Somewhat unusually, the brand name itself is based on the same insight, and its advertising repeats it several times: “I am – what I am“.


So there you have six tips that will certainly help you to develop better, more actionable insights. I hope these tips inspire you to revisit your own process for creating insights. Do share any other ideas that you have found useful in developing insight in your own organisation; I would love to hear from you.


If however you believe that you could benefit from a review of your own process which may need updating or tweaking, then please contact me. C³Centricity offers 1-Day Catalyst sessions on both “Information to Insights” and “Insights to Impact”. Find out more and download the one-page descriptions HERE.


This post shows one image from Winning Customer Centricity and is an updated version of an article which first appeared here in 2013.

Marketing, brand building & customer centricity

Say Goodbye to Marketing & Brand Building, Say Hello to Consumer Centricity

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. If you’d like to see more about its complete history, then I highly recommend this Hubspot infographic.

With the advent of digital marketing in the early 80’s, many companies began to take a serious look at their marketing. They realised that their primarily outbound strategy had to change. Consumers didn’t appreciate being interrupted in their daily lives. However, with the creation of inbound marketing, they still irritated consumers with spammy emails, popups and subtle cookies for following their every move.

Brand Building

Many large CPG companies such as P&G and Nestle changed the name of their Marketing departments to Brand Builders, in the hope of adapting to this new world. But they failed because they continued to run their marketing in the same old way. With few exceptions, it’s still all about them and their brands and not much about the consumer.

Luckily some other consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to consumer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their business. Customer centricity is not a destination because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. (>>Tweet this<<) The aim for satisfaction and delight will never end.

I think we have taught our consumers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for their price offs. They realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume might be different, but there are strong similarities in their performance.

That’s why consumers now have a portfolio of brands from which they choose. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be. They have come to expect constant innovation so they quickly adapt to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago.

Marketing skills

SOURCE: Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report 2015

Customer Centricity

In response to these ever more savvy consumers, marketing has to change. In the 2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it is confirmed that new skills are now needed. The most sought-after skills today are analytical thinking and customer centricity. Marketing is now as much an art as it is a science. In order to take full advantage of the enormous availability of information about our customers, we can no longer rely on our creativity alone.

C3C EvaluatorHow to Know if you’re Customer Centric

Companies which place the consumer at the heart of their business are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and games, and their contact page provides all possible forms of communication. Their advertising is consumer centric and emotional, with the consumer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their consumers in many aspects of their business. (see “The exceptionally easy and profitable uses of co-creation” for more on this topic.)

If you’re not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website, or why not complete the C3C Evaluator?

Move Beyond Brand Building

Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are a few of the essential first steps that you need to urgently make to adopt a more modern approach:

  1. Place pictures of consumers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be at the beginning and end of presentations, in your office reception, in the lifts or anywhere many employees spend time.
  2. Whenever a decision is taken, ask “What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken?” (>>Tweet this<<) This will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the consumer. Or asking credit card details for the use of a “free” trial, in the hope that the consumer will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want.
  3. Review the language of your website. If there are more “we’s” than “you’s” then you know what to do(>>Tweet this<<) While you’re online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above.
  4. Take a look at your target consumer description or persona. When was it last updated? If you don’t even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C³Centricity’s 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free here)
  5. Examine your advertising. Who is the hero? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.
  6. Spend time with your front-line staff and consumers. Make use of call centers, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will almost certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know.
  7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with the whole company. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2.

These are your starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building to a more customer centric approach. If you’d like more suggestions about moving to a new-age marketing approach, download a free sample of my book “Winning Customer Centricity”. The fun drawings in this post come from the book!



Co-creation leads to greater customer satisfaction

The Exceptionally Easy & Profitable Uses of Customer Co-creation

One of my clients, who is following the 50 weekly actions for customer centric excellence described in Winning Customer Centricity, asked me for some further ideas on co-creation.

Since working more closely with customers is the best way to understand, satisfy and delight them, I am impressed that she is taking co-creation even further. In fact, I realised that this is an area that many of you may be interested in learning more about, so I decided to share what I told her, but first …

What is Co-creation?

The term co-creation has been around for decades. However, it is only in the last ten years or so that we are seeing a growth in co-creation in so many different areas of marketing.

According to Wikipedia co-creation is “a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.”

My M&MIndividualisation, which offers higher-priced items with a customer perceived higher-value, has been popular for years. It allows customers to design their own unique products to show off their personality. For instance, customers can personalise their M&M chocolates and design their own Nike running shoes. But these are not strictly co-creation since they are designed by one person for for one person. Co-creation is designed by many for the many. (>>Tweet this<<) 

After the success of such personalised offers, organisations understood that there is value in getting input from customers. They now include them not only in product enhancements, but also in developing their advertising and even in first-stage innovation.

The practice has been further intensified by the internet, which has enabled companies to reach out to customers across the globe, virtually for free. Social media, in particular, is a great source of customer understanding, as well as for highlighting issues with current offers. This is why co-creation should include social media in some form, as I’ll share further on.

Who to work with?

Winning Customer Centricity BookAs I mention in my book, not all business managers feel comfortable exposing their new ideas and concepts to their customers. If this is the case in your organisation, then you are left with the only option of interviewing employees. This isn’t such a bad thing; after all, they too are customers, but you need to keep in mind their biasses. They probably know more about the brand than the average customer and are also likely to be more positive towards it. However, their passion for the company and its brands is a valuable asset not to be neglected.

If your management allows you to work with customers, then you will want them to be vetted for different things by the recruitment agency:

  • They shouldn’t work for one of your competitors; nor should their close friends and family members.
  • They shouldn’t work for advertising, media or PR agencies, which could tip off your competitors.
  • They should be creative and curious, but not be one of the infamous “1%ers” (the ultra-creatives) that were popular when co-creation was first used.
  • They should be articulate and be able to describe their thoughts, ideas and problems succinctly.
  • They should be well-informed and knowledgeable, even opinionated if you want to introduce some challenging into the discussions.
  • Depending upon the task you want to share with them, they should be category and / or brand users – or not.

Some suppliers may propose psychographic analysis to hone their selection process. However, this is not essential if you obey the above rules and clearly identify the type of person with whom you would like to work.

Social media again provides a great way to identify and recruit those who are both knowledgeable and passionate about the category. Another source of customers, is from co-creating platforms that copy successful job sites, such as UpWork and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.


Should you compensate customers?

Most co-creation programs compensate customers, at least some of them, for their time and even their ideas on occasions. I have found that customers are usually so happy to share their thoughts and be heard, that they don’t expect compensation other than the opportunity itself. I have often received requests from participants at the end of a project, asking to continue in the panel or online group, because they enjoyed it so much. Customers love to talk to companies about their products and services, so why not make it possible for them to do so in a safe and private environment?

Compensation is therefore not mandatory, but adding prizes and a competitive element to the discussion can encourage a greater level of participation. I give some examples of brands that have done this further on.


When to involve customers?

There are many reasons you might want to get input from your customers beyond the more common anonymous market research. Here are some of the most often used occasions when you might want to include your customers:

  • Involve your customers in co-creationchoosing their favourite names, flavours or perfumes for a product
  • getting reactions to your marketing plans
  • sharing experiences and problems encountered with your category
  • reviewing product and communications’ concepts
  • watching pre-air advertising and choosing the ending, slogans or other details
  • asking for ideas on how to improve a product or service
  • running a competition to solve an issue the company would like to address
  • voting for their favourite new product or service idea
  • creating new flavour and aroma mixes from original ingredients
  • brainstorming with R&D on new product ideas
  • sharing opinions on promotional concepts or competitions.


Examples of co-creation

In Winning Customer Centricity, I mention a few companies who successfully use co-creation, such as Nespresso’s “Le Club” and P&G’s “Connect+Develop”. Since I wrote the book, co-creation has become much more widespread and there are many more great examples. Here are just a few to inspire you to invite your own customers to join your initiatives:

Heineken ideas brewery

Source: Heineken

  1. Heineken: Their crowdsourcing platform, called Heineken Ideas Brewery, launched in 2012, asks the public for suggestions, since they believe that innovative ideas can come from everywhere. The first challenge they set was for sustainable packaging and the best idea, the Heineken-o-Mat, was rewarded with a $10,000 prize.



Lego Ideas

Source: Lego

2. Lego launched Lego Ideas as a platform to enable their customers to create and share their ideas for new sets. Other users then voted and commented on these suggested new sets.

The highest-rated ones were often developed and launched by the Lego Group. The original creator of the idea was compensated with a small percentage of the net sales revenue.


3. British Airways: Airlines make a lot of use of customer panels; after all they know all their passengers’ details, so recruitment is relatively easy. BA uses their FutureLab to elicit comments and reactions to their questions and concepts. 

Their panel is made up of a global community who discuss everything from prices, to seating, competitions to services. BA shares their plans and ideas and gets immediate feedback on what their passengers believe might work and what won’t. And all this within a few hours and mostly for free, apart from a few small monetary prizes for the most active or creative participants each month.


Coca-Cola Freestyle machine

Source: Coca-Cola

4. Coca-Cola is one example of companies using co-creation for input to their innovation process. Their Freestyle machines is a fountain dispenser which offers over a hundred products, giving the customer the opportunity to mix their own flavour combination.

An additional mobile app allows them to then save it so they can get the same mix at any other Freestyle machine. Coca-Cola saves all the mixes in their consumer database, which can then be used to learn more about new flavour ideas and consumer preferences.


Purina Dear Kitten

Source: Purina

5. The final example comes from social media, where co-creation of content has become the norm. There are literally thousands of companies using their customers and fans to share their thoughts, ideas, photos and videos on their websites.

Amongst the best is Nestle Purina who started by allowing pet owners to publish pictures of their animals. This then was followed and enhanced by Purina developing and sharing fun videos including Dear Kitten from their Friskies brand and Puppyhoodfrom Puppy Chow. We all know how popular pet videos are on the web, so it is not surprising that many of them went viral.

Making use of co-created content

Speaking of “virability“, there are recent examples of brands that invite customer input, combined with a marketing promotion or a specific hashtag campaign. These are important for viralbility on such platforms as Youtube and Instagram which are primary sources for fashion and beauty brands, because of the importance of image.

Chobani is heaven!

Source: Chobani

One brand that was an early adopter of this and and successfully used customer generated content to both improve image and increase sales is the Greek yoghurt company Chobani. It invited its loyal customers to submit photos and videos praising their yoghurt, which were then used on their website as well as in advertising. They generated a lot of excitement with the billboards in particular, as people love to see themselves in print. 

These are just a few of the best uses of customer co-creation that I remember, but I know there are many more. If you have other examples I would love it if you would share them below.

In conclusion, I hope I have inspired you to try co-creation and to include your customers in more of your internal plans and processes. It is not only fun, it also provides you with fresh thinking and a deeper understanding of how your customers’ needs and desires are changing. Makes you wonder why you haven’t done more co-creation before, no?


Winning Customer Centricity BookIf you would like to learn more about “Winning Customer Centricity” then I am offering my loyal readers – you! – a free download of the first five chapters. Just go HERE.

Marketing taking strategic action

Today’s Most Stunningly Useful Marketing Infographics

It’s been a couple of years since I shared a post on infographics, so I think we’re due for a fun and useful update, no?

I have searched the web and come out with the best infographics I can find on marketing. In usual C³Centricity style, I also give you some ideas on how to implement actions based on the findings shared in the infographics.

What is interesting this year, is that the vast majority of infographics are about the science in marketing. Not surprising I suppose, but more and more of the infographics also tend to be advertisements for companies, rather than general infographics for learning purposes.

In previous years, I found far more infographics which showed the results from the integration of the findings from numerous different sources. This has made my choice all the more difficult this time since I consider these to be of more value to you the reader. So, apologies if your favourite infographic is not amongst them. If this is the case, then just share a link to it in the comments below and say why you like it.


#1. The Modern Marketer

Marketing art and science

Click to enlarge

With the constant increase of new information sources available to the modern marketer, our jobs have become as much technical as creative today. This infographic succinctly summarises all the new skills to succeed in marketing and it’s no small task! Where are your strengths on each of them and which need some work to boost your skills?

This infographic succinctly summarises all the new skills we need to acquire, to succeed in marketing today and it’s no small task! Where are your strengths on each of them and which need some work to boost your skills?

Where are your strengths and which will require some work to boost some of these skills?

ACTION: Honestly review your level on each of shown skills (nobody else will know!) and identify which you may need to work on. Then make plans to read up on the topic to become a more valuable asset to your organisation.

If you’d like to read more on how to improve, then check out C³Centricity’s recent post entitled “The New Marketing Role – Testing and Tested“. It covers some of the most challenging areas and shares ideas on coping with them.


#2. The Psychology of Colours

The psychology of color

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We all know the importance of colour in our lives, but do we think often enough about it in our businesses?

This colourful infographic reminds us of the meaning behind the major colours, as well as the choices between using one, two complementary ones or more. Whether we are reviewing our packaging or communications, it’s a useful reminder to consider what messages and images we are conveying in addition to the words, through our use of colour.

ACTION: Review your brand’s packaging, website and other communications. Are they aligned and coordinated in terms of colour choice, fonts and layout? If not, was it by choice? If not a conscious decision to shock or break the mould, reconsider your choices.

Brands that have done this – for a limited time – include  Nike, Pepsi-Cola and Apple. You can read about these and other brands’ changes in a great post by Hongkiat, called the “Logo Evolution of 25 Famous Brands“.

#3. The Science Behind Creating Buyer Personas

The science behind creating buyer personas small

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Every brand attracts a different group of buyers and understanding them is vital to the success of your business. How much do you know about your own consumers? Can you answer the twelve questions asked in a recent C³Centricity post called “How well do you know your customers?

This infographic takes you through their own “formula” for creating a buyer persona; a fun way to look at this important topic.

ACTION: It is vitally important to understand our customers as well as possible. Building an image of them, or a persona as it is often now called, helps make them come alive. We suggest working with C³Centricity’s 4W™ Template which you can download here.


#4. Digital Trends 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.21.54

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It is impossible to keep up with everything that is happening online, isn’t it? Therefore, I think this infographic can help us prepare for likely changes in the near future and the changes we need to prioritise.

Whether these are more personalisation of marketing offers, the geo-targeting of our customers using mobile, or optimising the customer journey across touchpoints, we have a lot of new opportunities – and challenges.

ACTION: There’s a lot in this infographic to review. I suggest starting at the top and working your way down the list of different areas. There are several priority lists to help you choose the most relevant areas for you to target this year.


#5. Artificial Intelligence

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 16.04.04Ericsson produced a colourful infographic detailing the 10 hottest consumer trends of 2016. Although it is interesting to review them all, I believe that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is going to be one of the biggest game-changers for the way we connect with our customers.

They will be able to interact with products before they purchase and will expect many services and brands to integrate seamlessly into their current lifestyle.

ACTION: AI will be challenging for any company which is not up-to-speed with the latest technologies and future developments. It will become essential for all organisations to have a science arm to their IT and marketing departments, so their products and services are not out-dated by the time they are launched. Things are moving so fast that this can no longer be done after launch. Think Amazon Dash buttons without the need to push!


#6. Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation

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Innovation has always been key to growth but with advances in technology disrupting normal processes, companies need to adapt to new ways of innovating.

This infographic lays out the clear disruptors of today and the areas and industries the most likely to be impacted.

ACTION: Review each of the disruptors detailed in this infographic and identify the ones which could have the most influence on your organisation. Then start to plan for actions to embrace the probable changes or ways to offset possible negative repercussions.

Also (re)read the C³Centricity post on innovation entitled NEVER succeed at innovation; 10 mistakes even great companies make and assure yourself that you’re not making any of them.


#7. Corporate Reputation

Corporate reputation

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We all know things move incredibly fast these days. It is therefore surprising that so many companies get caught out by social media crises.

B2B seems to be less prepared than B2C, but more than 10% would take no action to address a damaging social media post!

ACTION: Have you considered what you would do if a customer posted a negative comment on social media? If not, you must develop a clear plan for what to do as well as if and when to respond. There are some great cases of companies who have been able to respond to an attack with appropriate comments. Check this post from BufferSocial for 14 amazing examples.


#8. Retail has changed forever

How retail has changed

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Mobile didn’t only change how we connected, it has also changed how we shop, choose and pay.

If you are in a customer-facing industry then you are affected whether you like it or not. And ignoring these trends will lose you business.

ACTION: Review the details of the infographic and identify those trends which will impact your brand or category. Then plan to embrace the transformations necessary to satisfy your customers’ changing preferences.


Marketing will never be the same again! For a business to benefit from the constantly shifting customer interests and priorities, there are numerous marketing changes which will need to be introduced. These could include embracing technology more directly, changing how your product or service is found, presented or sold, or the data you use to better understand them.

We can no longer ignore the fact that the world has changed and marketing with it. As Darwin is attributed as saying:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

The same no doubt applies to CMOs!

This post used an image from Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of your Business – One Day at a Time“.


Customer service

The 7 Essential Differences Between Simply Responding to Customers and Providing True Customer Service

A longer post than usual this week, but one that will make you smile, if not laugh out loud!

It describes one recent personal example of disinterested client support, from which I have drawn seven learnings for everyone wanting to deliver true customer service.

I can’t understand why any organisation would still have trouble offering superior customer service when there are so many great examples they merely have to copy. (JetBlue, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Zappos) In fact, Mark Earls wrote a great book on exactly this topic, called “Copy, Copy, Copy” which is highly recommended.

My story this week is just one example of how some companies still struggle to accept that the customer is right, even when they’re wrong! Not that in this case I was wrong (at least I don’t think so, but I’ll let you be the judge of that).

However, they certainly gave me the impression that they believed I might have been trying to cheat them in the information I provided in my emails. They were never satisfied with what I sent, even when it was what THEY had specifically requested!

Perhaps they were just dragging out the process in the hope of not having to “pay up”. You can see for yourself below, or just jump to the seven learnings at the end of the post, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes yourself.


Many years ago I bought a TomTom guidance system to help me navigate the streets of American cities. Although I love to drive and feel just as much at home on a ten-lane LA highway as the two-lane Swiss autoroute system, I decided it was time to stop making so many impromptu visits to unplanned US destinations!

A few years on, I thought that it could also help me in Europe, even Switzerland, when trying to locate a new client or contact. (My car is almost fifteen years old and isn’t equipped with a GPS) I, therefore, added Europe to my online account, since my unit couldn’t keep both in memory at the same time!

Last May I replaced the European maps by my Amercian ones as I was visiting Florida that month. When I tried to reinstall the European maps in September, they had somehow disappeared from my account. I contacted TomTom customer service to ask how I could get my maps back and this is how our conversation went over the pursuing three months – with their worst English mistakes removed or corrected for better comprehension, but their own font bolding left in:


Me: Hi there, I contacted you in May about changing from European to US maps. I now want to change back and the maps are no longer on my account! Help please!!!”

TomTom“Dear Denyse, … As per your account details (…), I am sorry to inform you that, I could not see any map of Europe being active on the account in the past. Hence, I am unable to see any European map details. Hence, if the map had come pre-installed with the device, I request you to please provide me the picture of the box (front face of the box) so that I can activate it on your account. If you had purchased the map of Europe, then please provide me the scanned copy of the purchase receipt of the map so that I can activate it…” (We already exchanged a few months previously and anyway didn’t they READ my email?!)

Me: Here attached please find the invoice concerning my purchase.”

TomTom:Denyse, many apologies, but it seems the purchase invoice is not attached in the correct format since I am unable to open it. Hence, I request you to please send me the scanned copy of purchase receipt in PDF format so that I will be able to view it and help you accordingly.” (They can’t open an email with an image?! OK well it’s true it wasn’t in pdf format!!!)

Me:Apologies for my delay in responding but I have been busy with trips – without my TomTom! As requested, I attach a PDF of the invoice.”

TomTom: Denyse, I would require the purchase receipt of the map of Europe that must have been provided to you after you purchased it. If you are unable to find the receipt of the map, please provide me the picture of the box (front face of the box) to check the device details.”

Me: Please find enclosed the invoice for the Europe maps that have disappeared from my account after replacing them with the US ones for a trip…”

TomTom: Denyse, we are unable to find the invoice of the map on the attached documents. I would request you to take a screen shot of the entire invoice or the part which has the order number and the date of purchase and the details of purchase.” (They can’t read the email THEY sent to me and now want a screen shot!)

MeThis is already what I attached to my previous email. Here it is again.”

TomTom: Denyse, the attachment that you are sending us is the screen shot of the email that you have received from TomTom. I would request you to send us the invoice which is sent as an attachment in PDF format with the email. Kindly download the invoice on your computer and while replying to this email, please attach the PDF file on your reply.” (Isn’t a screen shot what they asked for?!!)

Me: Is TomTom just trying to irritate a long-standing customer? I have replied to each email with the requested information and each time you come back asking for a different format. You have the order number, the date, the item and the relevant item code of the maps I purchased directly from you online; what difference does the format of the document have? This is how the attachment appears on a Mac, which obviously you are not aware of, so I resend you the attachment as a pdf.”

This last exchange seemed to wake them up! Finally, they accepted that they had all the information they needed to confirm that I had indeed purchased the European maps, so they could once again reactivate them!

It took three months to get what I had requested, which could easily have been shortened to about three minutes if their customer services had had access to our previous email exchange – I am here assuming that they didn’t, because otherwise I would be extremely “disappointed”.


This is a great case study, as it shows numerous errors that so many organisations are still making in terms of customer care. These are the takeaways that you might want to consider in order to avoid similar long drawn-out – and resource-wasting – exchanges with your own customers.

  1. The customer is right and has a valid request. (>>Tweet this<<) This should always be assumed until such time as it is proven otherwise. After all, this is the premise of the legal systems in many countries and for good reason. However, an interesting article in the Huffington Post last year questioned this well-known customer service quote, first coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London. In today’s fast-paced world, I believe that a customer’s satisfaction should always come first; comment below if you disagree.
  2. Respond as quickly as possible; time is of the essence in helping the customer to perceive the incident as positively as possible, especially after a negative experience with a product or service. According to Forrester Customers want companies to value their time. (>>Tweet this<<) 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
  3. Take action just as soon as you have the minimum information that will enable you to do this. According to the Mobius Poll 2002, 84% of customers are frustrated when a representative does not have immediate access to their account information. If you need further details to complete your files, they can be gathered from your happy and satisfied customer once a solution has been found. They will also be in a better frame of mind to answer any other questions you might want to ask.
  4. It is important to ensure that your care center personnel speak and write the language of the customer as fluently as possible. In the above case, it is clear that the responses are from an offshore country using standard scripts. This does not make the customer feel important let alone cared for and in my case, frustrated that I was not being listened to or understood.
  5. Give your customer services personnel authority to respond appropriately to most requests, without the need for escalation or verification with managers. (>>Tweet this<<) Working to “standard” procedures for every case, often delays the customer getting full satisfaction as quickly as possible.
  6. Even when the issue is resolved, the customer can still be left with a negative feeling about the whole experience, especially if it has taken considerable time and effort on their side. And remember that it is likely that they will share their negative experiences with far more people than they would have done, had the incident been dealt with in a speedier fashion. (See James Digbys original post and the updated statistics on customer satisfaction on
  7. Aim to surprise and delight not just satisfy your customers. (>>Tweet this<<) Although your customers may be looking for the resolution of a problem when they first reach out to you, there is an opportunity for you to surprise and delight them with much more. If they complain about a damaged product, don’t just replace it, provide a complementary sample of another product or a discount coupon for them to purchase it. If they are unhappy with your service, offer an immediate discount and not just a rebate on future services. The latter can be perceived by the customer as their being pressurised into a further purchase, something they are unlikely to be ready to do at the time of the exchange. According to McKinsey’s “The moment of truth in customer service” 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Make them feel great!

So these are the seven learnings that I took away from this incident. Basic? Yes sure, but instead of just saying to yourself “I know this” ask yourself “Do we do this – always?”. It is surprising how many of the basic elements we forget to check as we advance in experience, and years!

If you have other examples of frustratingly poor but easily resolved customer service mistakes then please share them below. We all need a laugh from time to time, and learnings from others are so useful in helping us avoid making the same mistakes ourselves.

If you would be interested in joining a webinar on any of the topics listed then please add a comment below. We will be sending out invitations shortly.

Winning Customer Centricity BookThis post includes concepts and images from Denyse’s book Winning Customer Centricity. 

It is now available in Hardback, Paperback, EBook and AudioBook formats. You can buy a copy from our website here, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, iTunes and in all good bookstores. Discount codes are regularly published on our private FaceBook Members group – why not ask to join?