about impact, branding, rockn’roll, and creativity
This is an interview I have made back about my work. I hope it will enlighten you a bit about what it is I do – I have broadened it a bit but most of it applies 300 % still.
‘You have helped companies for the last 17 years with their relationship towards people on the internet, their identity and building a brand and a movement around them. Can you see any development in the way that companies are using their brands today to do more ‘social good?”
I can see that the companies see the internet as hardcore business now – instead of something hippie and geek-ish – as when I started out here. They are taking it seriously now, they know it’s the marketplace and they know it’s where the money is going to come from. There’s a whole lot of more money going around than when we were sitting 8 people at the first BarCamp Copenhagen back in 2005.
However ‘my’ old rules still apply: the internet needs to be used for social connections, for creativity, for blank pieces for starting things for yourself. It’s such a driver for creativity, and it will continue to be a driver for creativity if you are proactive about it. The internet needs to be relationship-building, not relationship-breaking for your business. Most of the stuff out there is not working because it’s bullshit. It’s a bullshit concept, it’s a bullshit sell and people see right through it.
There’s nothing in it for the people who genuinely want to connect around a given concept and that.. well… breaks my rockn’roller heart.
What big challenges are the companies facing these days when you talk about impact, identity, branding, community building, and impact?
The companies need to stay positive and authentic towards the people in their surroundings ie. the people they want to have involved. They need to practice as they preach – they need to walk the talk and show the substance in their brands.
The internet can be used for broadcast or a distribution channel, but it is so much more effective if you use it to build relationships and movements. It’s the same with proactive creativity: you can use the internet to scroll newsfeeds and never show yourself or your craft, or you can build 10 small businesses around what you’re passionate about.
Luckily a lot of startups, entrepreneurs and companies have started to work more creatively and strategically with their network, clients, and prospects to build something based on partnerships and not on cold canvas.
Is there a certain type of company that is in particular geared for impact?
There are just some companies that are geared for it and others are not. Companies that are organically built for example, or companies who consider themselves daring or cool. Most of the time the companies that do the best on social media are the companies that have an opinion about their field and know exactly why they exist and want to show that too the world too. The challenge is how many resources you put in and how creative the organization allows itself to be.
Does a lot of change happen inside the company when it starts to look at impact and sustainability?
If you let it happen then yes. But the willingness to change is an important factor in the success of impact and sustainability. There needs to happen a gradual process opening up around impact initiatives and transparency is really important here if you don’t want to be seen as a greenwasher and just jumping on the hype. When you work with sustainability and impact, you need to be open and honest about your ideas, products, and methods as well as be prepared to involve all stakeholders in what you are doing.
I think it’s something that is changing gradually, that when the companies get to test the waters out for themselves, down the road more and more projects and processes inside the company will be involved in some way in Sustainability and Impact. The results will speak for themselves. The companies will be able to see that they can achieve a lot of advantages through branding that they can’t achieve in any other way – it’s simply a win-win situation, for companies and for the planet too.
What’s best to use for sustainability – online or offline marketing?
There is no such thing as online or offline marketing. Period. but If you want to be old-school and ask the question like that, I would say a combination of both. In digital marketing, the finesse is in the details, the launch plans, and the community building. It’s about community and proactively reaching out to people in a systematic way. When you work with offline marketing what you need to focus on today is to create experiences that are boosted through the use of online marketing.
Around both disciplines, you need to be very aware of what you’re asking for: if you shout out for people’s attention without having the precise attractive messages that interest the target group, people will get reluctant to support the company and its mission.
What visions do you have for how companies in an SDG/ global goals context?
Social media has brought companies, their clients and their surroundings closer together. You build bridges and relations in a completely different way than you’ve done before. The global goals and sustainability is the new context
When more people get used to using social media in a business context, it both becomesÂ easier and cheaper for the companies to communicate with their clients. You build on top of the existing communication and you don’t need to write a 3000-word blog post each time you want to involve people in whatever it is that you’re doing.
I believe that people prefer to shop at companies that are sustainable transparent and filled with substance – where you can see they practice as they preach. There is research out there that shows that companies are losing trust from their surroundings if they don’t have points of contact in the places where people are – like Social Media and where they don’t have a ‘brand’ but is just a company, that doesn’t have any values or stands for anything. All the interaction and adverting is taking place on social platforms where people already are, instead of on the webpages of the companies. If the company understands how to incorporate this into the business strategy, then I believe that you can become a brand in due time. You can stand for something relatable. When people trust you, they buy more. When people see what you stand for, they buy more. and being a brand creates preferences and loyalty and ultimately hardcore brand advocates.
Which advantages have the companies you helped, received?
First and foremost the companies have gotten a great knowledge of what it will take to become a brand. They make more considered choices and they realistic about the effort they put into branding and how many resources as well. It’s important that you don’t just throw yourself into creating content without a cause, you need cornerstones, flagship content as well as social objects that people can gather around.
Companies need to focus on their main message – showing the world who they are – and create great content from that message and sub-messages. What you offer on social media to your surroundings needs to be concrete and those who have the responsibility for daily routine on social media, need to be able to see the thin red line through it.
The content manager who executes the campaign become more conscious about how every little piece of content also reflects the company, and that these pieces of content always needs to build up trust.
The companies start to work more creatively and in coherence with their passion and where they are as a company. This is one of my most important points, there are not only advantages by branding, but it makes you show up for good and bad and ugly.