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SXSW 2014: The New Breed of Brands That Will Lead the Future

August 27, 2013 Comments

It’s that time of year again: the SXSW Panel Picker is live and the session I look forward to presenting is called “The New Breed of Brands That Will Lead the Future.” With companies of all types facing a perfect storm of social crises, social technologies and customer activism, this session will come at the perfect time- so please take a few seconds to cast your vote!

Consider these following facts, as laid out in our recent infographic “Marketing 3.0: The Rise of Purpose-Driven Social Brands”:

55% have boycotted a company in the last 12 months because of irresponsible business practices. (2013 Cone Communications / Echo Global CSR Study)

54% of consumers don’t trust brands. (Havas Media Meaningful Brands Global Report)

53% would NOT invest in a company that does not actively support a good cause. (2012 Edelman GoodPurpose Study)

How quickly your company responds to these new societal and market challenges will determine whether you survive or lead the future. These challenges represent an enormous opportunity for brands willing to embrace new customer expectations, greater social responsibility, and scalable citizen and customer engagement platforms.

This proposed SXSW presentation will reveal the essential attributes of brands that will shape and lead the future and how they architect self-sustaining customer communities that will build their business with them. It will also show you what it takes to be a leading brand in a mutually dependent and intimately connected global community.

As always, the goal is to not simply entertain, but give you tangible takeaways that can propel your business. So if you’re wondering about any of the following, this session is perfect for you:

How do I define my brand and frame its story in a way that inspires employees and customers to build the business with me? Too often brands rush past the Story to the Telling, only to find that they cannot generate employee or customer engagement wasting their marketing efforts.

How do we explain how our sustainability, community giving and Foundation efforts work together in a way that makes sense to our customers? Without this, many companies simply broadcast their schizophrenia. If your marketing and sustainability efforts remain siloed on the basis of outdated organizational, budget, and marketing practices, you continue to run the risk of failing to meet marketplace, business, and customer demands that are the key to your survival.

How do I protect my brand against the rising tide of consumer activism? Today’s customers are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated in their attack on brands. How to authentically integrate your brand story within your company to withstand the new demands of radical transparency. Without this, those very same brands ambassadors can become vocal critics of your company accusing you of cause-washing.

How do you architect a self-sustaining customer community that uses its own social and mobile channels to ampifly your brand story? Without this you will never have the reputation or social impact your deserve.

If you’re interested in learning more, please cast your vote in the SXSW Panel Picker.
For hands-on training from some of the best marketers in the world including leaders from Starbucks, Coca-Cola, the UN Foundation, and charity: water, join us at the 2013 We First Social Branding Seminar, Sept 24-25 in Los Angeles.


Simon Mainwaring is the CEO & Founder of We First, and New York Times bestselling author, influential blogger and international keynote speaker.

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3 Steps for Building Self-Sustaining Customer Communities

August 20, 2013 Comments

Most brands fail to build a self-sustaining customer community because they only reach out to their customers when they want something. Too many brands only connect when they need to push a specific product or offer- and then they stop talking to their customers. Not surprisingly, their community fades away and they find themselves in a constant state of rebuilding their audience every time there’s a new campaign.

Marketing is no longer a one way street. Inspiring customers to co-create and share your brand takes consistent and engaging outreach guided by you and your customer’s shared purpose and mission. The most successful brands build large and loyal communities in three steps:

1. Engage the customer

2. Reward the customer for that engagement

3. Upgrade that engagement to always maintain contact with the customer

Disjointed messages can confuse or even alienate your audience and there’s nothing worse than watching your community slowly wither after the end of one successful campaign. Instead, plan each tactic as a chapter in a longer brand story, and as soon as you have an engaged audience you must reward and engage them in a new initiative. By consistently using different mediums and channels in creative ways, and working with your brand ambassadors to help share your story, you can create self-sustaining customer communities that want to build your brand with you.

For in-depth training on how the most iconic brands build large loyal customer communities, join the best marketers and community architects from Starbucks, Coke, the UN Foundation and charity: water at the 2013 We First Social Branding SeminarSept 24-25 in Los Angeles.

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Empowering Employees With Social Storytelling is Key to Company Growth

August 12, 2013 Comments

Here’s one of the most common reasons companies fail to keep growing after they achieve some success: They fail to take their employees with them.

As your company reaches scale and an expanding base of employees becomes your front line, you must clearly communicate what the company stands for and provide the right social media training. Otherwise, there will be a disconnect between what you say the company stands for and what the customer actually experiences- and those customers will go elsewhere.

Internally, employees are hungry to better understand their role in the company’s mission, yet 68% do not think businesses do enough to instill a sense of meaningful purpose in their work culture and 54% say their company’s purpose is not clearly conveyed to all employees. [Tweet this stat]

Here are three steps to catalyze the power of your employees and turn them into your biggest brand ambassadors:

1. Make sure you have leadership buy off on using social media

2. Make sure you give your employees the training they need to represent the company well

3. Encourage employees to invite customers to co-create your products, services, and marketing

You need a consistent brand story to maintain growth, and how you tell that story internally is critical as a guide for how your customers will tell that story.

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What Steve Jobs Knew About the Importance of Values to Your Company

August 6, 2013 14 Comments

The future of profit is purpose. We say this often at We First, but this is something Steve Jobs understood so well, almost 20 years ago. Always a visionary, Jobs was already living in Marketing 3.0 where marketing is about …

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The No.1 Marketing Mistake: An Undefined Brand is Unshareable

July 30, 2013 1 Comments

“Nothing seems more obvious to me that a product or service only becomes a brand when it is imbued with profound values that translate into fact.” – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group From F500s to startups, we see brands …

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Come Celebrate: We First is 2 Years Old!

July 25, 2013 2 Comments

It’s hard to believe but We First is officially 2 years old this week! We want to give everyone a chance to celebrate with us, so read on for a special gift and invitation below… The We First book came …

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At Starwood Hotels, Glamour and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand

July 23, 2013 1 Comments

At We First, we only partner with extraordinary companies that share our same drive and vision for positive social change, and on that note, we’re so excited to host the 2013 We First Social Branding Seminar at the beautiful boutique …

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Marketing 3.0: The Rise of Purpose-Driven Social Brands [Infographic]

July 15, 2013 12 Comments

Welcome to the customer-driven economy, where the good a company does is increasingly becoming its defining competitive advantage. While CSR, cause-marketing, and sustainability might have seemed like nice-to-dos just a few years ago, articulating how your brand brings its core …

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About Simon

About Simon Mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.