We’re entering the fourth industrial revolution and it’s driven by technology. When we think of technology, we often think of devices, data and information. We’ve become focused on gathering intelligence, and we rely on it to map out our competitive advantage. But even this is now becoming outdated. Analytics are becoming less important as we enter the ‘Connection Economy’.
The new wave of people entering the professional world have never known life without the internet; without social media; without being digitally connected. These people are driving forward demands for new ways to connect and it’s changing how we’re interacting with not only brands, but also each other. Business leaders must understand how to navigate this changing world if they want to stay ahead.
Here are our top 5 tips for how to increase your brand value and remain competitive:
- Be open to change
The rules continue to change around us. Information has never been more accessible. Finding something out is easy, what’s difficult is working out which information is the most reliable. We’ve all adapted to Googling our way through life, and we’re happy to ditch the high street for online convenience. Yet when it comes to the rules of business, we fear true change. Too many businesses are still doing things in the way they’ve always done.
The success stories of the future will not be the ones with the solid education or those who graft-hard, it will be the ones who understand the evolving world around them and who adapt to it.
The skillset of the job will become secondary to the skillset of character. So, open your mind to the nature of change and you’ll have an easier ride.
- Connect with your audience
We’ve all heard the term “never mix business with pleasure”, but actually “social business” is very real. The lines have blurred. We, as customers, make purchasing decisions because we are emotionally engaged with an organisation. We share their values, align ourselves with their ethos and understand how their offering will improve our lives. We forge “authentic relationships”.
We’re all time-stretched and don’t expect to wait for anything. The world works in real-time, regardless of location. So, we’re filtering and making decisions faster, using gut feeling and intuition as our guide.
Therefore, customers need short-hand references and signals on how your offering will impact and improve their lives. It helps them know that they’re making the right decision.
- Live it
It’s getting harder for organisations to distinguish themselves. Positioning still matters, but a list of features and benefits are never enough. Customers will always be more comfortable aligning themselves with organisations and products that know who they are, what they do and why it matters; that have purpose and cultural beliefs which ring true. In a world of growing anonymity, we need to build trust.
Organisations must work harder to demonstrate that they can be trusted and relied upon. And not just for the customer’s sake, but also for employees to feel they are connected to something genuine.
Organisations the world over continue to hang on to vague, empty values; hygiene-factor words that are meaningless to most. Values should be the cultural framework in which everyone operates. They must align to day-to-day behaviours and be demonstratable. It starts and ends with cultural collaboration – lived, not just stated.
- Share openly
The very nature of connecting is to share. We can’t connect without sharing in some way. It’s something that’s rooted in civilisation – sharing food, shelter or communication. It’s how we’ve developed as a human race. The internet has overseen an explosion in shared information, enriching the world in the process. This idea of available, shared information is central to the emerging Connection Economy. A greater value is placed upon shared information, ideas and spaces. The more we connect in this way, the easier we bond. The currency of trust will be invaluable.
- Be clear and flexible
Bob Johansen said, “The future will reward clarity – but punish certainty.” (The New Leadership Literacies, 2017.) This takes us back to change, where we require clear strategies with flexible plans.
Know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Be clear about how you’re going to track the success or failure too. But also understand that we are all living in a rapidly changing environment, so be ready to adapt and learn new ways in which to achieve it.
Making the difference
Change can be hard, but failure is harder. Increasing the perceived value of your brand can be the easier option. As we move into the Connection Economy, we will see markets transform unrecognisably, with new forms of business model emerging. There will still be many organisations that will continue to operate as they do now, trading on what works now. However, maintaining success only happens by adapting to the world around you and optimising what you understand. A few simple changes could make all the difference.