Tag Archives: trust

Is your brand surviving in the modern world?


It is probably fear that drives you to read articles / blogs about brands or branding such as this one. If you’re like us, that fear may well be rooted in your own brand surviving in this constantly changing world.

As an SME owner, you might recall the old days when you could have an idea, start a business, design a logo and mass communicate your message better than your competitors. In the current, technologically connected world and changing consumer attitudes towards business, mass messaging etc. won’t work on its own – if at all.

If any message is to break through the noise, it helps if your brand means something to people i.e. how relevant is it? Why? – because relevancy can lead to brand loyalty. Loyalty has always been important for successful brand building. However, these days we believe we need to go one step further and distinguish between emotional loyalty and functional loyalty.

The former is about feelings and experiences which don’t drive the bottom-line, in the short term. The latter does drive the bottom line in the short-term but, it could be argued, is more about ease and habit. Businesses that attempt to achieve both types of customer loyalty will do the best.

Our point is that if brand owners are aware of both types of loyalty and addresses them in their business planning, it should be possible to help the brand surviving into the future and drive the bottom-line. For example, activities such as corporate social responsibility (CSR), social media as a customer service channel and a customised after sales service are tactics that can help develop a relationship and subsequently, an element of trust. There will be no loyalty without trust.

Put simply, we always say that a brand is the perception that people have of your business based on what you do and say. In other words, your brand is your voice in the marketplace and it is how you tell your story. Effective storytelling addresses emotions and therefore is the key to your success and your brand surviving in the long term.

We meet prospects from time to time who outline their ‘problem’ as people not knowing “who we are & appreciating that we are the best!” Well now, it is quite clear to us that if these prospects can’t, or aren’t telling their story then nobody else will. We advise them that as a business owner it is their job to tell the story including their mission and raison d’etre.

Consistent communication is one element of brand strength.

It is not our intention here to outline a single route for brand survival but there are probably five suggestions we could make, to help along the way.

  1. Find your unique story and tell it repeatedly through different communication mediums
  2. Discover what the perception of your brand is by existing and ideal customers and build on it
  3. Find out where your customers touch your brand, both online and offline, and converse with them there
  4. Analyse your main competitors in every aspect particularly their brand positioning and promise
  5. Ensure all your communications reinforce your brand message and reflect your authenticity

Most of you well attest to the notion that to be conscious of building your brand by retaining customer loyalty is a sound theory. The real challenge, however, is to appreciate that it takes time and effort to do so while at the same time keep the bottom-line ticking over.

Short-term sales won’t ensure your brand success but attention to the managing of what you do and say will contribute to your brand surviving in the long term.

Building a brand that will survive.

As we’ve alluded to already, everything a business does and says, contributes to developing a brand. So, if the power of a brand is one that influences a person’s propensity to purchase and earn loyalty then what we say & do becomes that power.

What we do needs to be different or nobody will care. What and how we say things amplify our actions. The aim is to maintain a simple image of what your brand is – in the minds of the consumer. For example, is there one word that can describe your story?

What is more, if your story is your brand promise, delivering on it is paramount if people are to believe what you say about yourself. People must be convinced that you are more than a profit-making machine. Therefore, how people experience your brand goes a long way to building loyalty.

It’s not just for bricks-and-mortar brands, being available (mobile friendly), handling complaints, advertising messages, and customer service all form part of the experience. Being credible and reliable is all a consumer wants in reality. So, build your brand by building on your credentials.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”61fR_” via=”no” ]Being credible and reliable is all a consumer wants in reality. So, build your brand by building on your credentials. [/ctt]

Tips that will assist with a brand surviving

We’ve all come across brands that have failed. Failed for many reasons such as entering a saturated marketplace, not fully understanding the target market, business inexperience etc.

We cannot offer a panacea for brand survival here, but here are nine practical tips that we have picked up from our experiences to date:

  1. Know your ideal customer and talk to them in their language
  2. Generate value for others before asking for anything in return
  3. Be the best in your niche and align all your messaging for consistency
  4. Use emotive appeal in your communications – most buying decisions are emotional in nature,
  5. Deliver on your brand promise in a consistent way across all touch points – it builds trust
  6. Use word-of-mouth testimonials through influencers in your specific niche
  7. Don’t try to be something you are not. Offline should reflect online activity
  8. Listen to how you explain what you do, to people. This is probably what you really do.
  9. If you love what you do, but others don’t need it – it’s a hobby.


Where do you start when building a brand that will survive in today’s business world of distractions, options, outputs and shiny new toys? For long term brand survival, this blog post provided many tips above. The one sentiment that underlies them all is that a brand owner should focus on communicating a real value that can be added to a customer’s life.

Consistent communication is, therefore, an integral part of brand survival. Don’t feel trapped by the brand’s style guide’ – effective communication is what is required for eliciting emotions and understanding. Authenticity is the key so don’t mistake familiarity for a successful brand.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

Fortunately,There is No Cheating in a Content Marketing Strategy


Those of us in the business world have definitely heard of it, and everybody, at some stage has been exposed to it. A content marketing strategy can include the use of video, social media, blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, white papers, SEO and landing pages, to mention a few.

The idea is that you provide informative posts for your audience so that they talk about you or share your content. As a result of this inbound attraction, (rather than outbound messaging), you become much more customer-centric than traditional methods and are favoured over competitors.

Easy right? Well no, because of the balancing act between a) being able to provide something useful for free, b) building trust and c) not overselling. And no one is saying that this is easy.

There are many prospective clients that we meet who want to ‘have’ a content marketing strategy in its narrowest form e.g. social media. Unfortunately, rarely will one form of content suit a marketing strategy and sometimes it might only be a mindset that needs to change. Look at it this way, if the real goal of marketing is to advance your business, surely all your marketing activity should be contributing to that goal.

Is Your Content Just Writing?

If content marketing is not facilitating the achievement of a business goal – then it is just writing. The only caveat is that it doesn’t become a constant irritant by way of a sales pitch. Fortunately with regard to selling, there is no cheating in a content marketing strategy because the very people you want to attract, will ignore a sales pitch. It might be argued that native advertising is content marketing, but that’s a discussion for another post.

Whatever way you look at it, a basic human trait is that we are constantly trading amongst ourselves. This may not be a financial transaction but basically, doesn’t everyone want to sell something to everyone else, even themselves? (e.g. personal branding).

So, if you decide that your business is going to develop a content marketing strategy, and you know it shouldn’t be used as a sales tool – that’s fine but bear in mind, it should, at least, market something.

Well, if it’s not just writing – what is content marketing? We believe, it is creating and/or sharing relevant and useful content for a specific audience. The long term goal is that you instill a sense of value and grow trust amongst a community of people, with a view to building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Should a business write their own content?

We have written in previous blog posts about how business success is built on a foundation of strong relationships. We’ve also previously suggested that relationships can only be successful if there is a two-way exchange of relevant value (in whatever form), manifested in suitable communication.

Your content, therefore, needs to be professional and solve a problem that your audience cares about – or, at least, is somewhat entertaining. Each piece of content you supply should really make them feel good in that it rewards your audience for consuming it.

Of course, it is easy for a CEO to say ‘let’s have a content marketing strategy’ and the minions start a blog and set up a few social media accounts. However, without a well thought-out strategy this will only result in tears.

WARNING: Sometimes business owners should not be allowed to write their own content. Despite the arguments that they would know their clients the best – here are seven reasons why they should be convinced to leave it to the experts:

  1. They can write content but doing so for online purposes is a different challenge
  2. They can’t write – sometimes even people who are great conversationalists just can’t write
  3. They find it difficult to write about themselves and is usually faster when done by a third party
  4. They won’t always have the time – e.g. the cobbler’s kids, not having shoes
  5. They might not have the skills for social media distribution or SEO.
  6. They don’t understand the significance of original content
  7. They are afraid to trust a third party and waste money by micro-managing.

In many respects, implementing a content marketing strategy can be likened to attending a networking event.

Bear with us here.

Think about it, both involve telling stories about how value can be exchanged, in an interesting way. Both require being in the right place at the right time and having good listening skills. And usually, a ‘once off’ meeting is rarely enough.

Tips and Timesavers.

Admittedly, content marketing has become a buzzword in marketing but, as alluded to above, it is not an easy task. Ideally, for it to work it should be part of a long-term business strategy. Here is a great chart from Curata that outlines approaches which may help you with your content strategy:


  • Appoint or employ someone to create content from within the business
  • Encourage staff members, outside of the marketing department, to contribute content
  • Outsource externally to an expert agency
  • Obtain stories from ‘happy’ customers and build content communities
  • Some media companies license content that you can brand as your own
  • Curate content from experts and share with your own community (linked to the original source)


The objective of using well-written and relevant content in your marketing activity is to build trust, credibility, and engagement. The trouble is, that these may also be objectives of  your competitors.

So here are some thoughts to remember – develop concrete content objectives (thought leadership/information/driving traffic etc.), do research on your competitors (audiences/keywords etc.), ensure that your content plan fits in with your overall marketing objectives and always track your progress (engagement rather than ‘likes’).

Sometimes the challenge is simply to adjust your mindset.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K


Mingling and Jingling with your networks

christmas clove

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Building rapport and trust through your social networks.

Someone once said, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” I’m sure you’ll agree that you must know what you’re talking about but having just started up oconnorandkelly.ie earlier this year, the second half of this saying rings true. By strengthening existing relationships and through them, building some new ones, we have been able to find customers for our fledgling business.

Of course it’s not all straightforward and getting that first face to face meeting can be difficult, but it is essential to build trust and rapport. New connective technology does make it easier to maintain or develop new relationships, but even better, it allows you some extra time to network offline further.

I thought about offline networking recently, as I waited to meet a business partner in a pub (soup and sandwiches). I was people spotting and reckoned that in the lead up to Christmas more people were out for lunch meetings. The place was packed with suits and it was quite the eye opener to watch the various situations unfold. You would imagine that we all know how to behave at a business lunch but here are just six things I noticed around me. They might even form a checklist of sorts:

  • One guy kept ringing an office to see where his host was (avoid re-scheduling).
  • A guest kept checking his watch for his hosts arrival (be there before your guest).
  • It was obvious that the proprietors knew the host (use a venue you know best).
  • A host ordered a three course meal, his guest ordered a salad only (don’t order first).
  • A guest kept checking his phone messages (put the phone on silent – in your pocket).
  • Never argue over the bill – you invite, you pay.


 I was distracted suddenly by about ten Santa’s who arrived in to the pub for lunch. They were a bunch of people out on the town raising money for charity, but very obviously enjoying each other’s company. In fact, I believe that they also raised the spirits of everybody else in the establishment, with their bells and flashing fairy lights. That is when the title for this blog came to mind. Everybody seemed to be mingling and jingling.

They were a network of friends or colleagues mingling for a cause. Just like my own networks, I thought. Yes, I said networks, plural, because I guess everybody has many networks such as friends, family, work, sports and business etc. As I thought about this I reckoned, now that OC&K is in a start-up phase, Aidan and myself were using all our own networks to get referrals. And actually, through our networks we had access to many experts in many fields.

Tips and Timesavers.

Obviously you should not be afraid to segment your networks definitively and from a business networking point of view, I have five rules that I adhere to in an effort to build rapport and trust.

  • I offer help in any way I can without asking for something back.
  • I always try to find out the person’s area of expertise before I meet them.
  • I don’t have hidden motives – if I’m looking for business, they know it up front.
  • I don’t get too personal and allow them lead the conversation.
  • If they are a specialist in a particular area, I don’t look for free advice.

Networking is a powerful way to grow your business and to promote yourself as a thought leader. Of course you must earn the reputation in the first place, but when you do, your networks will be an integral part of spreading that message both offline and online. It is a huge asset to have relevant networks available that are willing to help your business succeed. Happy Networking.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Review your branding – or your market will pass you by?


Branding is the DNA code of your business

Why would anybody go into a unit that looked like a shop but had no name, no window display, no signage and of which they had no prior knowledge – nothing to give them a clue as to what or who was inside? I believe that, if a person is out shopping they’re usually looking for something in particular (with exceptions, of course). Perhaps they are re-visiting a place that they like, so I ask again, why would they enter the outlet mentioned above?

The reason that developing your brand is so important is because it can assist the customer with their decision making.

In the beginning, when people purchased locally, it was a needs based decision and aligned with the seller’s character. The sellers were usually known personally and they were trusted to ‘do right’ by the customer. Branding wasn’t that important, from the customer’s point of view. Times have changed and now global and regional brands use comprehensive communication methods (and tools) to convince customers that they don’t have to shop locally. So the marketing challenge for them is not just to sell by painting a mental picture, and creating expectations, but to differentiate themselves, in the midst of all the other marketing noise, by being legitimately trustful and by building an almost personal relationship with them.

Multiple brand touch points.

Local business need to do the exact same thing because if they ignore this changing marketplace (offline and online), and aren’t providing relevant value in the minds of individual consumers, they are going to fail. The market will pass them by because in the current age of connectivity and other digital influences, customers are enabled to make more informed choices on their own i.e. without brands. Modern consumers are not putting up with being ‘sold’ to anymore. They are quite happy to have relationships with brands but are either buying online from those they trust or going to an outlet that they have already researched. Your brand has many, more touch points in these modern times, and it is imperative that it is in the forefront of your prospects minds.

As author and marketing consultant Lynn Serafin (www.the7gracesofmarketing.com) neatly describes it “. Think of branding as the DNA code of your business. Just as DNA defines whether you have blue or brown eyes, are short or tall, and everything else about your genetic inheritance, good branding is the code that defines and underpins all the vital characteristics of your company.”

If you’re new here thanks for popping in and please feel free to leave a reply below. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K