I Want Basic Information I Can Trust From a Brand.

5 min. reading

The old and new methods are inflected from many sides, regardless of the area of human life. This change of paradigm is reflected in the communication of brands. Jan Šamal, who has led the strategic development of sales channels in Western and Eastern markets, shares his own opinion about the causes and effects and offers a path to follow.

Xm Inspiration experience agentura agency jan samal 1 innovate.cz

How should brands behave toward their customers?

Each brand should behave differently. As a customer, I actually expect that. 

Why is it so different nowadays?

The communication of so many brands is interchangeable... The values on which a brand should be based are being lost in the corporate world. The demand for results is more rational than some brand philosophies. Twenty years ago, a company sent a new person to America for two weeks to get to know a brand, its philosophy, and its basic goals. Nowadays, companies don't do that anymore. That's proof that their values, despite the fact that you see them on every poster, are no longer the focal point for the company. 

Aside from that, there’s the influence of the local markets. A company tries with various brands to define a somewhat different position in the corporate world, and to communicate a bit differently. This often completely divides the brand. Its communication becomes completely different because it is directed at a different market.

 „The way to keep globally consistent communication is to trust in the basic value of the brand.“

Can the common causes be identified?

If I’m working for a multinational corporation as a brand manager, I’m responsible for properly reflecting their values and features in the communication. And yet leading concerns more and more forget what the actual meaning of the communication and the primary message for the given market should be. Nowadays, a large corporation is able to create so much pressure that their people disconnect from the global values of the brand to chase goals that are set locally. And most of them are the simplest goals, such as generating revenue. This causes a loss of the power and original meaning on which large companies are based.

„Once the values of a brand are replaced by its goals, the brand begins to lose power and die.“

Another cause is the fact that the communications strategy – or the values that the upper management of the company come up with – are not carried through to the level of the person in charge of communicating those values for the given market. The permeability of the structure works only on paper. From the outside it can be seen as a brand crisis; for the traditional corporate system, this non-functioning represents an existential threat. And that is a great opportunity for startups. It is for this very reason that large corporations are established. Particularly in the telecommunications or IT industries, there are wise people who realize that great thoughts are very difficult to “strain” through a complicated hierarchy. It is more natural and simpler to let their people grow with the product. At the moment it is standardized, they include it in their portfolio.

„A brand crisis poses an existential threat to the corporate system.“

Today we are standing at the edge of a crisis of civilization and the same is true for brands. They’re exhausted, worn out. It’s a natural development. Sometimes, there has to be a very sudden change in order for things to evolve. The question is if it will be up to us or our children.

If corporations were built on their values, why are they capable of communicating them only at certain levels?

Another reason people disconnect is that budgets and plans are set 3 months or half a year in advance. In such an environment, it can be hard to imagine the long-term building of a brand. For this reason, the end is almost always a price war.

In comparison to Western markets, there is the example of Southeastern markets. In many cases, possibly because of the challenges of the market, which itself has created certain barriers, local brands can be retained. For this reason, people have no reason to change anything. Because they are not pressured with corporate rules, they are strong enough to establish short-term goals as well.

Inspiration experience agentura agency jan samal 3 innovate.cz

Why is the situation in the Balkans different?

Partly because of the mentality. These countries are different. They have different laws and different histories than we do. Their market can’t be appealed to in a single way. The culture is less unified.

Is it possible to apply functional marketing principles to different markets without significant changes?

What actually works across all countries is human experience, the personal experience of each person. That is the strongest attribute that always persists. It works independently of the market, the segment, or anything else. 

„What actually works is the personal experience of each person.“

Nowadays, it isn't so important to physically go to a shop. If a product or service is identified with someone or something that appeals to me, and I encounter it in this way multiple times, I suddenly have a very strong theme. It doesn't have to be a specific person or thing, it can also be a specific style. You can see a great example of this in the wave of hipsters today. That’s an excellent marketing study on the topic of identifying with a community. People identify something – bistros, clothing – with a specific product or environment. It works great. For example, the success of Zoot and the “výdejna radosti”. They discovered space in the market and created an interesting brand with interesting communications. It isn’t necessary to find new things but to do your own thing properly.

It’s about a different perception of customer behavior.

Yes. People change their behavior when they start to use a different product. Government, quota, style, trend, all play a certain role. It is a generational shift. Today, information is more important than things. I can share information, not things. This significantly changes the way people treat products, the way services are used, and their attitude towards the world.

„People change their behavior when they start to use a different product.“

In the past, a telephone stayed charged for seven days. Then iPhone came along, and the battery could only handle a single day. It lacks logic. Why should we accept less than we’re used to? The behavior of the customer flipped. They’ve adapted and are happy to charge their phone every day because it offers them a range of other options.

Just like electric vehicles. There I see the same lack of understanding. Why should I charge a car? Does it have other advantages? Electromobility is magical because, unlike personal benefits, it allows you to do something good for the planet. To reduce emissions. It’s a pleasant thought – and therefore a space for creating a new market that will be significantly characterized by a change in the behavior of the user/consumer.

And the communication should adapt to the change in attitude...

The time when a person reads a brochure or clicks on a banner because they saw something interesting is over. The banner serves to create an idea, to assemble. The billboard is once again gaining trust. Simple communication that invites you to experience something. Basic information combined with the actual value of the brand, sufficient to prompt a decision. If I see a banner on the web, it will definitely have a lesser effect. The spoken word also plays a large role.

Inspiration experience agentura agency jan samal 4 innovate.cz

Are we, therefore, talking about the ambassadors of brands?

I’m debating how necessary it is to have a specific face behind every brand. If a brand builds a long-term relationship and I have a long-term experience with it, I will even buy a car on the internet. It is mostly a question of experience. My own. Or provided by people I trust. If I tell myself or someone else “this is really good, you should try it”, that is the maximum a brand can achieve. And I will perceive their sales staff and sales environment as the last thing, the decisive factor when making my purchase.

„If I tell myself or someone else “this is really good, you should try it”, that is the maximum a brand can achieve.“

Does this apply to B2B communication as well?

Unquestionably. The stronger a company’s basic values, the more stable it is, and thereby the less personal contact I need. I require consistent communication – regardless of whether I’m a customer or a business partner. 

Inspiration experience agentura agency jan samal 1 innovate.czJan Šamal. 

Has worked more than 20 years in managerial positions in telecommunications and IT concerns, in strategic areas of building brand sales channels and sales. As the founder of nimble energy, he is currently creating new concepts and solutions for energy networks of the future. In this way he beginning to write a new chapter in the story of a future without pollution and efficient use of the resources of our planet.

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