Change is the only constant. How to embrace and leverage it to strengthen your brand.

Around here we think a lot about change. Working with clients to create new iterations of products and brands, we are up to our elbows daily in looking at the process, and whys, the challenges, ways to make it more palatable, ways to inspire embracing the difference between where a brand or a person is now and their ideal vision of themselves in the future.

Yet every day in our own lives, we find ourselves bracing against change, looking for small ways to avoid it because let’s be real, the idea of constant change is disturbing.

Small amounts of change can feel refreshing, like entering a newly painted room or taking a weekend trip to a place with a higher altitude, or more sunshine than you’re used to. So how do we balance the need for stability and the need to remain open to small shifts? Small shifts that enable us to stay plugged into the world around us, but not overwhelmed? Shifts that allow us to emerge and grow into our best selves without feeling like we’ve changed so much we’re unrecognizable?

I remember a few times in my twenties being asked to house, baby, or puppy sit. I’d say yes because the idea of stepping out of my own life for a few days or a week intrigued me. Sometimes I not only lived in someone else’s house, but I drove their cars – think baby seats and dog hair. Living in someone else’s house and driving their car was delightful. I was fully immersed, dwelling in another person’s home, reading their books, cooking with their pots, and trying their spices. One time it involved borrowing a shirt, (think babies who spit up) but mostly I stayed away from wearing their clothes. That seemed like a boundary line inappropriate to cross, unlike using their soap in the shower and their shampoo. Pretty much I was still me, but everything around me was theirs.

I loved it. Until I was ready to go home again.

Going home after one of those visits allowed me to see my world with new eyes. It helped me discern what I wanted to keep and create more of and what I was ready to part with.

So how does this apply to work? To brands? Clearly, a brand cannot try on the trappings of another brand for a weekend. Or can it?

When we work with clients on content planning, we look at the competition. We look at who the competition follows and who they are followed by. We look at their hashtags. We sift and sort and learn from what they are doing. We go back to what we are doing, shift where appropriate, test and measure results. We continue to make small changes, aligned with our brand core, and watch what transpires.

Regardless of whether we wish to evolve our brands, or ourselves, the world is evolving around both constantly. Eventually, if we want to keep playing, we must confront change and find a way to participate.

And when we do this, we first remind ourselves why we do this. We do this because it would be our avocation if it weren’t our vocation.

So before you feel overwhelmed by the idea of change, first allow yourself to feel the joy that comes from feeling plugged in, listened to, alive, and understood. Then marry this feeling of joy and connection to the process of evolving. And then take the first step to assess where you wish to go from here and what needs to happen first to get there.

And if you’d like a partner to walk through the process with you, to guide you, and encourage and inspire then we are right here.

Maintaining an on-brand message during a crisis.

Due to unavoidable built-in wiring that comes installed free in all humans, we will each at some point during a time of crisis, be overcome by the part of our nervous system that in an effort to protect us, shuts down everything we don’t need in an emergency. Despite how much we might wish to use them, while in “fight or flight” mode, triggered by stress, panic, or surprise, our brains will be momentarily closed for decision making.

With a few slow, deep breaths, your brain will kick back into gear. And with it your ability to think wisely about how to proceed with creating the necessary messaging to communicate with your teams, partners, vendors, and most importantly, customers.

Four things to keep in mind while you navigate communication during a pandemic, that will serve you always:

 

Empathy: We are all experiencing a loss of some sort. Keep this in mind while you frame your intended message.

Information: There are so many rumors and so many rules, it is hard to keep the facts from the assumptions right now. Stick to what you know, keep it as brief as possible, share the most crucial information each type of audience needs from you, in the simplest form.

Optimism: We are bombarded by bad news on a normal day, let alone during a pandemic. Unfortunately, this causes more stress on the nervous system and consequently more stress on the immune system. Incorporating positivity and forward-looking optimism into your message is one way to support the health and wellness of your tribes, at no cost to you.

Consistency: When you know someone well and have a sense of comfort and fondness in your established relationship it is shocking when one day that person shows up with a totally different hairstyle or accent, or tone of voice. The same is true for your brand. In any message you are sharing, stay true to your aesthetic – the visual side of your brand, your color palette (or lack of one), and the language you use to communicate. The more you look and sound like yourself while sharing information, the more normalcy, comfort, and possibility for connection you bring.

For more information about how to create compelling and on-brand messages during a crisis or anytime, send us an email at hello@seedagency.com We’d love to help.

Word of the moment: CONNECTION. What can you do about it?

As in fashion, home decor, art, and architecture, trends exist in the words brands use to talk about what they deliver. A notable promise ubiquitous today is the idea of a brand delivering “connection”. We are guilty of this as much as anyone, so let’s talk about what this really means and where it works.

Customers are bombarded by the messaging, ads, and calls to action, in the physical and digital realm at a rate of about 4,000 ads per day. Studies have shown that the number of messages can increase to 20,000 for those who are perpetually online.

Everyone wants connection, and brands know this, so they have turned connection into part of their value proposition. Promising that if you engage with their offering, you will experience a greater sense of connection, to yourself, or to others. But do these promises of connection really bring about better connection?

Can promises of connection be backed up by actions and results? Are brands researching and discovering better ways for customers to live a more meaningful and connected life by engaging with their product? Or are they just leveraging the latest brand buzzword in an attempt to win more eyeballs and dollars?

We are challenging our clients to let go of trying to achieve connection by talking about it and instead represent it, facilitate it, be part of making it happen.

Here are some places to start:

  1. Connect to your community by donating time or a percentage of your profits to local homeless shelters, food banks or schools.
  2. Invite young creative talent in local schools to decorate an open public space, plant a garden or perform on a weekend afternoon.
  3. Invite actors or performers to put on workshops for your tenants and the surrounding community – who doesn’t want to learn to chat more comfortably at a cocktail party or how to use humor as a tool for better networking and relationship building.
  4. Host a mini TEDx style lecture series. 
  5. Get out and talk to people to discover something your community needs. Put a task-force together to tackle it. 

Taking positive action to benefit your community has to power to elicit positive feelings, make real change and indelibly imprint a brand in the minds of users more than any combination of words and images.

Ready, go.

Happy International Women’s Day to all.

In thinking about which women have been part of my evolution and success, in  the many places I have lived, learned and worked, I have to share that in addition to the women who have been there, there are also many men. Men who alongside women, recognized my strengths, showed patience and respect and continued to believe in my efforts and champion me forward.

In working toward a future where more women are at the table, I think we have to invite everyone to take a seat.

To those who have pulled a chair out for me, thank you:

Bruce Adlhoch, Tarni Bell, John Bishop, Paul Burmeister, Jeremy Burns, Ace Burns, Debbie Cantu, Hilary Crahan, Clare DeBriere, John Dolab, Mia Ellis, Nord Eriksson, Barry Fiske, Shaun Fenn, Grant Herlitz, Mark Hoglund, Kim Holloway, Debbie Karnowsky, Chris Keller, Chip Kettering, Charlie Long, Liz Mason, Colum McCartan, Tracie Mills, Mrs. Palmblade, Jeff Pion, Vinny Picardi, Wayne Ratkovich, Arnold Schuchter, Catherine Suitor, Chuck Sullivan, Roger Torriero, David Weinreb, Josh Weltman, John Zanetos.

Small opportunities to make big connections with customers.

How do you ensure that your brand and all that it stands for radiates out memorably to all who come in contact with you, your space, your services and your people? There are infinite touch-points to consider but let’s start with one that is easily overlooked: Passwords.

When guests arrive, settle in and ask, “Do you have wireless?’ or “What is your password?” This is an opportunity to not only provide a helpful amenity but also to convey something positive about the personality of your brand. What does your password do to help your messaging?

In 2016 I visited Copenhagen, a city that amazed me by the kindness of its people, innovative and efficient systems of travel and transportation and an almost indescribable sense of impish whimsy and joy beneath the surface. At one hotel, when plugging in for an afternoon lobby work session, the password was simply “Welcome!”, which, despite its simplicity and perhaps obviousness, made me smile and feel just that, welcome.

Later in the week, starving and a little damp after getting lost on my trusty hotel bike, I ducked into a restaurant a few minutes before closing and was excited to get a seat. The server was quick to share the specials as he placed utensils and the many dining accessories one never knew one needed before me. Along with a few delicious oysters and a glass of crisp wine, he met my question about wireless with a simple, “Yes you can.” which was both the answer and the password. I loved the place instantly.

How do you want your customers to feel when they walk into your space? How are they greeted by you, by your staff? What small but simple things can you do to make them feel welcome and as at home and at ease as possible? What warm and clever way can you add to their experience and leave a lasting and positive impression?

A look at your wireless password is an easy place to start.