The investment case for sustainability

By Luke Heilbuth We all know sustainability is good for the environment and our community. But did you know that sustainable companies also enjoy increased profitability, higher investment returns, and find it easier to attract talent? In the following infographic, BWD explains the investment case for sustainability.

View the infographic

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PROFIT

Sustainability increases profit Sustainability expert Freya Williams reveals that at least ten companies generate a billion dollars or more in annual revenue from products or services that have sustainability or social good at their core. These green giants, which include Ikea, Tesla, Toyota and Nike, view sustainability as a core component of their business strategy. The proof is in the numbers: the share prices of green giants are outperforming conventional equivalents by 11.7 percent a year.

Boosts investment returns Sustainable investing is growing like a weed, with assets under management reaching $8.72 trillion in 2017. A Harvard study in 2016 reveals that firms which perform strongly on sustainability issues most relevant to their business hugely outperform competitors with poor ratings on the same issues. The trend is only set to grow: millennials are twice as likely to commit to an investment that targets environmental or social outcomes.

Protects against recession A Harvard Business Review study found that in the Great Recession of 2008, US companies committed to sustainability achieved “above average performance” in financial markets, translating to an average of $650 million in incremental market capitalisation. Firms with strong corporate social responsibility reputations also experience “no meaningful declines in share price compared to their industry peers during crises.” Alternatively, companies with poor CSR reputations decline by “2.4-3 percent; a market capitalization loss of $378 million per firm”.

PROCESS

Drives innovation Ecovative is a New York-based manufacturer that combines agricultural waste with mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms) to create an ingenious replacement to plastic packaging and other synthetic materials. Its mushroom-based offering is cost competitive, completely renewable, naturally fire resistant and easy to design and mould. Fortune 500 companies, international mills and furniture makers use it as an alternative to conventional, petroleum-based materials.

Encourages long-term thinking Sustainable businesses understand that social and environmental risks like climate change and land degradation reveal themselves over a long timeframe. That’s why companies like Mars, Unilever and Kraft invest in Rainforest Alliance certification to help preserve the agricultural produce they need to remain profitable in the decades ahead.

Increases operating efficiency One third of all food produced for human consumption isn’t eaten, and restaurants are some of the worst offenders. Winnow, a London-based start-up, has developed smart meter software that records how much and what kind of food is being thrown in the bin. The very act of recording spoilage encourages chefs to improve their production process. Winnow claims 200 kitchens have reduced food waste by half since using the smart meter, saving tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

PEOPLE

Builds partnerships Unlike many of its competitors, New Britain Palm Oil avoids chopping down Papua New Guinean rainforests to plant crops. Instead, it leases fields from local farmers, reducing poverty and building long-term community trust. The company also boasts a fully traceable supply chain, which allows it to charge a premium for its sustainably sourced products. By contrast, almost $25 billion in mining projects in Peru were stalled by conflict between local communities and big miners in 2015.

Attracts talent Unilever’s sustainable living brands portfolio, which includes Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, is growing 30 percent faster than the rest of the business. Unilever also uses its sustainability credentials to attract and retain talent. A company spokesperson claimed that “we are in LinkedIn’s top three most sought-after employers globally and 50 per cent of graduates cite our sustainability credentials as the main reason for wishing to join us”.

Enhances consumer trust Trust isn’t intangible. It’s a key indicator that can deliver a sustained commercial advantage. Advocacy group Trust Across America has developed a model for identifying America’s most trustworthy companies. From 2013 to 2016, trustworthy companies produced a 16.7 percent annualised return versus 9.5 percent for the S&P500 over the same period.

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How do I make my business more sustainable?

You can bring sustainability into your business operations in one of two ways.

Boot strappers are practical, preferring to work incrementally. You begin by making a series of small changes to reduce waste and increase efficiency. These changes lead to cost savings over time, which are used to finance more expensive technology and R&D. Eventually, your business model is transformed: you’ve become a sustainability powerhouse without ever taking a big risk. Example: Toyota.

Pioneers are dreamers. You’re willing to adopt a transformative business model with sustainability at its centre, even if up-front costs are high and you face no social pressure to be more sustainable. When you succeed, your advantages as first-mover compound, potentially setting up an enduring, competitive advantage. Example: Tesla.

Would you like to create a more sustainable brand?

BWD is a B Corp-certified advisory firm with expertise in sustainability strategy and communications. Email us at: luke@bwdcreative.com.au

How to answer a curveball branding question

By Chris Chatfield

So… you’re in an interview for the job of your dreams. You and the interview panel are getting on like a house on fire, so much so that the only thing that could improve it would be a cellar full of fireworks for extra whizz-bang-ery. Surely it’s in the bag. Then, suddenly, one of the panel asks, in an off-the-cuff manner: “One small thing, what do you think about our brand?”

<Gulp> (!) There’s a loaded question if ever you heard one and it feels like there might be a problem with the brand that they’re hoping you’ve noticed. Now, as much as the sound of silence worked for Simon & Garfunkel, it’s not going to work here. Clearly you’re going to have to ask ‘Could you expand on that?’ but how are you going to answer whatever they throw at you next? Well, allow me to give you some extra ammunition to reignite the pyrotechnics, in the form of some common problems, and possible solutions.

Problem: Our brand’s lost momentum.

Your answer: Let’s discuss what made it excellent to start with and whether that’s still relevant. Then you may just need to reincorporate that message, or strengthen it, in the brand strategy so everyone from senior management to the concierge understand. You may then discover an update to your visual identity would help reinforce this. You should also ensure your staff’s individual values are aligned with the company’s. Plus, how about finding ways to help remind staff they can feel proud of the brand they work for?

Problem: Everything we produce looks and sounds different.

Your answer: That’s clearly a problem because your customers won’t understand why you exist, how you work, what you do, or where you want to go. And if they don’t understand you, they’re not going to trust or buy from you. One solution might be to ask users of your brand guidelines if they: a) know they exist; b) understand why they exist; c) understand how to use them, and then fix the issues that arise from that.

Problem: Our name doesn’t match what we do.

Your answer: Is there any equity in the name? Do your audience know and trust it? Do they call you something else? If yes, maybe you just need a tweak to stop it holding you back. However, if there’s no equity, you could consider a name change. This is a big step though because, to name just a few issues: lots of names are taken; trademarking a new one can be hard; SEO can be lost in the transition; and existing clients might be lost.

Problem: People keep confusing us for another company.

Your answer: Maybe the brand’s not obvious enough. You could look at how you articulate your messages so everybody understands what you do better, and your staff feel more proud of working here. Or you could look at emboldening the logo or other aspects of the identity to make it visually more obvious who you are. Or you could rethink where you advertise yourselves to ensure you’re in the right places and on the right social channels for your audience.

Problem: Somebody here did something stupid.

Your answer: This requires a tricky solution. Revamping a brand from the ground up can be as hard as starting one from scratch. If you need to do it, you’ll have to go back to basics and focus on what you’re really good at so you can create a new brand strategy (ensuring it fits with the business strategy of course). You’ll also need to consider whether you need a new name and visual identity.

Problem: All our brands are competing with each other.

Your answer: You could consider consolidating and getting rid of the ones with no equity. Then, you could ensure there’s a recognised structure in place to help people understand why they exist and how to use them. Or you could take it one step further and consolidate all of them to create a monolithic, one-brand structure. Whichever route, you need to be conscious that some staff might be quite attached to their sub-brands, so you should approach it sensitively, explaining why the change and offering help in any transition.

Problem: A shiny new company has popped up and stolen our customers.

Your answer: Firstly, don’t panic and throw all your proverbial toys (read, brand) out of the bath. You’ve been around a while and those (proverbial) rubber ducks have floated well until now. Despite this disruptor’s appeal, there’s probably a way to counter this. Ask yourselves why have they been able to do this? How is this new company satisfying your customers’ needs better? And what do you need to do to counter this? After you’ve done your research, you may decide you’re big and rich enough to buy them, that would be an easy route, right? For a lot of companies though, money can’t be the solution so maybe it’s a case of innovating or adapting your brand by making a change to the product you sell, or the perception of the product you sell. And while you’re at it, take a look at what other disruptors or issues may be on the horizon, and deal with them at the same time, before they become a problem too.

Problem: Our logo looks ridiculous.

Your answer: Firstly, is this a singular, subjective opinion (yes, bevels and drop shadows, I’m looking at your effect on people) or a universal one? The organisation’s performance is going to suffer if everyone’s quietly cringing at the logo they represent or buy from but not necessarily if it’s just one person’s stance. Secondly, has this opinion been considered in terms of whether the look reinforces or undermines the brand strategy? If the logo is undermining the strategy or if everyone dislikes it, then you certainly need to consider a visual revamp. Plus, are there other considerations here, such as whether the current logo works on new media channels that may not have existed when it was created.

Problem: Something is holding back company growth.

Your answer: If you suspect something about the brand is putting customers off us, then consider what about them, or the culture surrounding them, has changed that would cause them to distance themselves from you? It might be something obvious, such as a new study linking one of your products to an unhealthy lifestyle (sugar anyone?), or it may be something more subtle, such as one of your suppliers being linked to an undesirable political party (no names mentioned…). Also, it’s worth looking forward to avoid this happening in the future. For example, try implementing brand tracking metrics to measure how customers perceptions change over time, to identify and address what’s putting them off before it becomes an issue.

Problem: People just don’t like our brand any more.

Your answer: It sounds like you haven’t kept up with your customers’ needs and desires. Try researching what’s motivating them now. Then, look at the brand strategy to see if it’s already addressing those motivations. If it is, the message isn’t getting through so you need to change the language, design, and way your people interact with customers, to better inform them and regain their trust. And if the strategy isn’t addressing those motivations, you might need to realign the strategy and product(s) to better satisfy your customers so you can get customers back, and not lose any more.

So there you go. Obviously there are a multitude of other problems you might be hit with, and there’s always a multitude of solutions. But at least these will give you something to start with so, hopefully, the rest of your interview can go off like the Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve.

 

The paradox of purpose

By Clare Maxwell Purpose-driven business is so hot right now. Let me explain. Up until now, purpose has been subconsciously influencing business. There have always been different kinds of workplaces – the kind that get name-dropped as a dream employer, and the kind that’s considered just a stepping-stone on the way. There have always been brands that sell the dream and those who sell the product. And there have always been companies driven by profit and those driven by purpose. But these days, it’s not subconscious. Purpose is a buzzword that many businesses love to use. And like any major trend, its definition has become a little fuzzy amongst the talk. So when BWD offered to send me to Purpose 2016 – a conference all about the subject – I was excited to get immersed in the community, gain some inspiration and get some clarity on what purpose is all about. My journey to purpose  The two-days buzzed with the hopeful spirit of a brighter future. There were sessions where young entrepreneurs told enviable success stories of how their business ideas were changing the world. There were talks that drew on indigenous sustainability practices and applied them to modern business. Everywhere you went, you met friendly people who were ready to dive into an existential conversation about the meaning of life and business. The speakers and attendees at Purpose 2016 came from a wide range of backgrounds and formed a strange conglomerate of passions, projects and motivations – some of which contradicted one another. There were experts on generational thinking, human-centred design, futurism, cathedral thinking and the millennial mindset, just to name a few. Stepping out at the end of the conference felt a little like coming out of a cocoon as a half-baked butterfly. While I was heartily inspired by the positive purpose safe-zone, there were many voices offering different advice on how to do purpose well. But as suspected, even the people gathered under the purpose-umbrella are not fully agreed on what a purpose-driven business really is. With some time to digest the experience and discuss it with people who know more than me, I’ve sifted through the voices to draw some conclusions about purpose-driven business. I hope my perspective might give you an entry point into the purpose space, and perhaps show you how your business can join the collective in a meaningful way. 1. Purpose has gone commercial We’ve all asked ourselves “why?” at some point in life, whether it’s on an existential level – “why am I on this earth?” – or on a task level – “why do I bother doing this?” We seek meaning through self-expression, art, music, sport, relationships, family, travel and religion. For many of us, we define ourselves by these things. In today’s first-world where buying, selling and working to pay the bills takes up the majority of the week, the question of “why” has slowly crossed from the personal realm to the commercial realm. If a business can offer meaning in the same way other things in life do, they can connect with customers, employees and communities in a deeper and more rewarding way. And so today, it has become widely recognised that purpose is increasingly necessary for success. Purpose sells. With its rise in popularity, a wide spectrum of companies have begun to gather under the title of ‘purpose-driven business’. It’s no longer just the non-for-profits and charities who exist for a higher reason. You’ve got your innovators and disrupters, who offer customers better choices in monopolised markets; there are social enterprises, who have been doing good and making money for a while now; there’s conscious capitalists – believers in business as a powerful force for change – and B Corps who are the officially certified sustainable companies. With so many businesses claiming the title, it is becoming hard to define and measure the purpose-driven business model. Which leads me to my next point. 2. Purpose is a paradox When you put business and purpose together, you get a conflict of interests. John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods and co-author of Conscious Capitalism explained it in this way: The best way to maximise profits is not to make profits a primary goal.  This is the purpose paradox, and I believe it is a major source of confusion around purpose-driven business because it leads to a common mistake – thinking of purpose as black and white. Companies shouldn’t identify as being purpose-driven or profit-driven. Rather, they should consider where they fit on a spectrum between purpose being the ultimate goal or profits.The purpose to profit spectrumFor example, Thankyou water give all their profits away to charities. Their reason for existence is to make money to end poverty. So they would sit at the far left of the spectrum. Apple, on the other hand, are driven by the purpose of progressing humanity through well designed technology. But the built-in obsolescence of their products and approach to sustainability tells us that profit is still of high importance to them, so they’d be a little further to the middle. Companies that exist only to serve shareholders and deliver profit would sit on the far right. I think it’s safe to say an example of this would be a cigarette company. 3. The purpose trap There is mercy in recognising that purpose is a spectrum, rather than a definition. It means that purpose is scalable, accessible and changeable. Any company can start to introduce more sustainable practices to their business by considering purpose – and they don’t need to have all the answers straight away. Purpose is a work in progress, and we can all start to slide further left on the spectrum in small ways. However, there is a trap that comes with the purpose spectrum – and that is the risk of authenticity. Wherever a company is on the spectrum, it’s important that they are genuine about that position and own it. As soon as a company claims to be more purpose-driven than they are, they can lose the very trust and meaning with customers they sought to gain in the first place. Take H&M as an example. In 2016 they ran an ad campaign promoting gender equality by celebrating difference and challenging stereotypes. They positioned themselves as standing for something meaningful and playing a role in making the world a better place. They positioned themselves as a purpose-driven business. However, when it was revealed in a report that H&M were exploiting Cambodian staff and firing pregnant garment workers, there was a major backlash. Turns out they were just using feminism as a way to get more western women to buy their product. The discrepancy between how purpose-driven H&M claimed to be, and their true position on the spectrum lost them many customer’s trust and marred their public image. It had the opposite effect to that they intended. 4. Purpose and sustainability go hand-in-hand Cathedral Thinking is a concept that harks back to the days of long-term planning for the construction of massive medieval churches. The idea goes that if you were to ask someone working on a cathedral “what are you doing?” they might answer one of three ways:
  1. I’m earning money
  2. I’m improving my craft
  3. I’m building a cathedral
The first worker sees their actions as a means to an end. Cutting stones is a meaningless task with no purpose other than to put food on the table. The second worker sees the daily grind as working towards a personal achievement. They may become the greatest stone-cutter in the world, but eventually it will be forgotten. The third stone-cutter has a long term vision. They see their work as contributing to a bigger achievement, a future building that others can enjoy. And as a result, the daily task of cutting stone has meaning and purpose. In the same way, future-oriented businesses enjoy the richness of purpose in a way that other businesses do not. For example, Rubi and Toms are both shoe manufacturers. But only one of these shoe companies is a purpose-driven business – because only one working towards a more sustainable future (That’s Toms – for every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair to a person in the third world). In this way, Purpose is closely tied to sustainability, and it filters through the entire company – to customers, employees and society. Sustainable customers For some customers, the values behind a product are just as important as its functionality. Purpose-driven businesses draw on this to make the customer’s choices easier by offering a moral alternative to the products people already buy from necessity. For example, The Body Shop offers cosmetics free of animal cruelty and Who Gives a Crap offers toilet paper that gives to back the Third World. In this way, companies and customers partner together for sustainability. Sustainable employees The American innovator William Edwards Deming said that if you give an employee a financial target, they’ll do everything in their power to deliver it, even if it destroys the company along the way. This reward-based approach is common at the profit-end of the spectrum. However on the purpose-end, employees have more than monetary figures to measure their success against. They have values. When employees test their actions against purpose instead of profit, the work becomes about teamwork rather than personal gain. The goal is collective good rather than financial reward. The result is a champion team, rather than a team of champions, and this is the recipe for a more sustainable business. Sustainable society Finally, purpose contributes to a more sustainable society. I’ve already talked about the trap of authenticity some businesses fall into – those businesses that talk purpose, but their actions do not reflect it. These are not the companies making a difference. It’s the truly purpose-driven companies who contribute to a better society because their values filter into every action the business makes – the messages they communicate, the products they produce and the people they employ. These are the companies who recognise that a purpose is never complete. It’s not a goal or a milestone. It’s not even a 10-year vision. Purpose is a set of beliefs that businesses operate by that never has a finish line so that the good work can be carried on for future generations. This is what sustainability is all about. A beautiful paradox  First-world business is in a privileged position. While more than half the world live on less than $2 a day, in Australia we can choose a meaningful career at a company who represents what we believe in! The beautiful twist in this sad set of circumstances is that through our privilege, we can give more choice to those less fortunate than us. With purpose at the wheel, businesses can begin to move from a world where the rich minority consume the most, to a world where by consuming, we give back to those who need it more. Right now we’re going through a period of questioning, where companies are being tested for their authenticity and businesses are being held accountable for their actions. So what will the calm after the storm look like? Purpose may be hot right now. But will it last? I think the answer is yes – because a sense of purpose is something inherent to the human experience. So long as people are searching for meaning, businesses will keep harnessing that. My hope is that purpose won’t be a passing phase, but will lead to a better, more sustainable world.

The campaign that rocked China

By Melody Li
A 12-minute-long video for US sneaker company New Balance’s 110 birthday became one of the most influential viral campaigns in China in 2016. What does this campaign tell us about how to communicate to a Chinese audience? And how can such a lengthy video succeed in such a time poor era? A commercial that looks nothing like a commercial The documentary style campaign features Chinese music “Godfather” Jonathan Lee and explores his attitude to his life and music. At age 58, he looks back at his life journey and shares insightful stories behind his famous songs. Each story unfolds through his journey in a city: Tokyo, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei. With each step in these places symbolising each step in life, the video ends with the slogan “Every Step Counts”. In contrast to the West’s hero’s journey storytelling structure, this campaign applies a classic Chinese storytelling structure that we could describe as a looped story chain. It starts from the present with a question, goes back in time to find the answer in the development of the story then returns to the present at the end of the piece. Cultural Strategies Understanding local target audiences New Balance’s target audience in China is young consumers. They are highly digitally connected and spend a large amount of time on Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and Tencent, as opposed to watching TV. They like trendy things and western brands. On a cultural scale, they would sit between traditional Chinese and contemporary Western. On the negative side, they can favour chasing a trend based on a product’s look of a product instead of examining its underlying true value. Taking a culturally different approach to storytelling  Having Jonathan recast his fame to tell the story of an ordinary person gives the video an unexpected beginning. It sets the film’s tone and immediately raises questions in the audience’s mind. The middle section focuses on past times and places, but is cut with visuals of Jonathan as he is today. For example, we see him sitting on the other side of an empty desk, the very desk where the first interview of his career began. From a storytelling perspective, it leaves an emotional gap between what the audience sees and what the story tells, leaving it up to the audience’s imagination to fill the gap. The video’s emotional high point is when Jonathan takes the decision to walk away from his success. The intense pace that leads to this decision acts as a contrast to the peaceful final scenes, which lead the audience back to present. The penultimate screen displays the words: Every step counts, a slogan which is given a deeper resonance with Jonathan standing on top of the mountain. The video ends with the New Balance logo on a page of Jonathan’s hand writing in his studio. Tapping into Chinese philosophy and aesthetic This short film has a strong sense of Chinese philosophy and aesthetic. Landscapes are a classic way of expressing a person’s spirit. They often have double meanings. For example the footage of trees, which looks very much like Chinese calligraphy painting, is a visual metaphor for Jonathan’s state of mind. The contrast of Taipei’s noisy market and Vancouver’s still lake and mountains illustrate Jonathan’s thoughts after his escape. And while it’s a story of Jonathan Lee, he doesn’t appear very often. Instead we see the world as he sees it. Linking Jonathan Lee with the brand Jonathan is not a superficial megastar. His fame is rooted in his life philosophy. His personality is a blend of the traditional and the contemporary. What he values in life is not fame, status and money, but rather the art and meaning of life. During its production, someone asked Jonathan what he would like to achieve with this short film. He said: ”Nothing. Just tell a good story.” Jonathan Lee’s experience and modest character is a perfect role model for younger audiences. So the entire video talks about Jonathan Lee’s spirit; his honesty about being ordinary, despite his huge success. With China being such a success-driven country, it shifts the audience’s idea of success, namely what you achieve is less important than the journey itself. As a brand campaign, if Jonathan’s values and spirit reach and touch the audience, then by extension, the brand encompasses these as well. A China –not an Asian – story The inspirational and emotional short film through which New Balance has chosen to speak to its young Chinese audience contrasts sharply with the highly technological campaign launched in Japan. And it obviously touched a chord. Within five days of its release, the campaign had over 5,000,000 on Tencent and Youku channels and was nominated one of the top five campaigns to rock China in 2016.
This video was produced by advertising agency W. Director Chou Ko-Tai and creative director Li Sanshui.

Transforming your connection with brands

By Chris Chatfield, Brand Director, BWD Increasingly, through our brand strategy and implementation work, we’re having conversations with clients about how to digitally improve customers’ experiences and interactions with their brand. The immersive value of virtual reality (VR) is often excitedly raised as clients are increasingly aware of the importance of emotional connections between their customers and their brand. And there’s strong evidence that consumers feel more connected to, and have more positive emotional feelings towards, brands that adopt VR. The problem is that clients believe VR is expensive and difficult to execute, can’t be viewed without a (weird-looking) headset, and isn’t being used by many organisations. Their concerns are fair as, only a few years ago, this would have been true, but we’re pleased to say that these perceptions are rapidly becoming outdated. For example, it’s quite possible to produce a simple, immersive VR experience from as little as $10k, in a similar timeframe as a traditional video, and with an output that can be viewed on a desktop or mobile using nothing more than Youtube. Following is our primer into VR, and if it rocks your (real or virtual) boat, then why not ask us for some more information?

The Great Wall trailers

by Gethin Fisher and Melody Li This February sees the global release* of a cultural and economic phenomenon that could reshape our media landscape for many years to come. The Great Wall is a blockbuster movie that was funded, directed and shot in China but features the world’s most bankable Hollywood star in the hope of reaching a truly global audience. And with the number of foreign films granted release in China still restricted to approximately 34 a year, this movie could be the start of a new formula that we should all get used to. So what can marketers learn from the trailers that have preceded the release? What do they tell us about cross-cultural storytelling? And how might we apply these lessons to tailor our global content for local audiences? The first ninety-second, English language trailer follows the conventions of a fantasy war movie, akin to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It features Matt Damon heavily, I counted eleven times, going into battle with some Chinese comrades against what appears to be an army of dragons.
The Chinese cut features many of the same set pieces, but has a markedly different tone and reading. For example, the Chinese trailer takes longer to build up suspense, as the menacing strings brood around an epic landscape. Damon, while still prominent, is now part of a gang of heroes, all A-list Chinese stars in their own right, as we see more of what appear to be five armies that have gathered together to fight the dragon threat.
These editorial decisions reflect some cultural differences in storytelling. Our Western brains are programmed from early childhood to recognise the hero’s journey, as our brave protagonist is convinced to set off on a noble quest. In traditional Chinese stories, more time is given to context and duty, as we consider the events that shaped the man: how did he reach this point? How was he affected or antagonised? And what should be our collective response? This leads to a different narrative, where the focus is not singular and linear, but collective and contextual, an idea that is also reflected in the promotional posters. the-great-wall-movie-posters But crucially, an overt ideological point is made in a quote that is notable and consistent across both trailers. As Matt Damon’s character tells us, “I was born into battle. I fought for greed, and Gods. This is the first war I’ve seen worth fighting for.” Many fictional superheroes have similar creeds but in this context, where an American hero is defending The Great Wall of China, this message signals a broader requirement: that to succeed creatively in China, you must first recognise and respect their cultural sensitivities. *The Great Wall was released in China and other Asian markets in December and comes out on February 16 in Australia.  

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Talking business, the Chinese way

By William Wei Yue*

The common understanding of translation is that it’s a linguistic process, a language “flipping-over”. China is a “vertically” organised society when compared with the more “flat” Australian way of doing things. The implication is that the ranking order in the business world is carefully maintained, if not always displayed.   Do: Stay formal. Address their chief with his/her title. If you’re not sure, keep using “Mr” or “Ms”. Focus on the chief, in particular in the presence of his or her team. Make sure you understand the relative seniority of your counterparts. And allow time – your negotiation counterpart may need it to follow their reporting procedure. Don’t: Offer jokes and off-the-cuff humour too soon, even with a good translator. Confront your counterparts outright. (Rather voice your disagreement their way by offering something like “we will discuss this later…”). Press for answers; your counterpart may be a delegate and the answer may simply not be available. (Instead, you may ask for a time frame in which you might expect the answer.) China is a “relationship-oriented” society. In other words “business” is often entwined with “guanxi” (networks). In this context the concept of “face” is important. The following may help you connect with your business counterparts more smoothly:   Do: Praise your host and return their hospitality. Don’t: Initiate controversial chat topics before your host does. When China’s political and social issues are being discussed, tread carefully until you understand their views.   Do: Impress your host with a thoughtful Australian-made gift. Thoughtfulness is more important than the price tag. Don’t: Exhibit excessive pride in our way of democracy.   Do: Prepare some questions about Chinese “culture”. Listen to their opinions. Like all of us, Chinese are proud of their culture, history and national identity. It pays to show some genuine interest. Don’t: Compare Western and Chinese traditions and norms, or volunteer opinions about Chinese institutions and establishments. Finally, I strongly recommend that you bring your own translator to meetings if this is feasible. Although all translators are supposed to be impartial, it’s still useful to see evidential proof of that. You need someone well-versed in commercial norms and practices who is willing to actively guard your interests and alert you about potential pitfalls. If you need a referral, please talk to BWD and we may be able to help. If you have to rely on the other party’s translator, be alert to occasions when he or she hesitates and is evidently trying to “choose” words, and seek clarification whenever needed. *William Wei Yue is BWD’s translator, and accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.

10个实用贴士

Gethin Fisher & Ming Ming Feng

近几年各行各业全球化的趋势,让很多中国企业开始制定海外营销战略,力争把 “中国制造” 品牌,推出国门,迈向国际。海外市场不同的历史文化背景,不一样的语言、人文地理和消费心理等,令制定能够适应本土化的品牌营销战略至关重要。

作为中国重要经贸合作伙伴的澳大利亚,具有独特的市场特点。了解澳大利亚企业品牌本土化、广告宣传和其他创意营销的特点,是中国企业成功拓展澳大利亚市场的重要一步。

澳大利亚品牌策划和创意沟通的旗舰企业BWD,给中国朋友精心准备了这本《为澳洲设计 10个实用贴士》手册。

BWD,是澳大利亚一间领衔创意沟通公司,致力于通过创意营销策略,协助客户建设可持续性企业。

作为澳大利亚品牌建设的旗舰企业,BWD拥有双语营销的悠久行业历史,以创意、创新和专业,帮助了众多跨国公司,成功制定品牌国际化和本土化策略,协助他们推销其产品与服务。

How does branding fit with other strategies?

By Chris Chatfield When a client engages us on a branding project, the question of how brand strategy fits with other strategies within an organisation often arises. Generally speaking, a creative agency wouldn’t be involved in corporate or business strategy, although there is occasionally some overlap between elements of this and brand strategy. Corporate and business strategies are concerned with the overall purpose of an organisation and the way its various business operations work together to achieve particular goals; plus how the organisation employs its competitive strengths to create value for its customers, and make money from this value. Brand strategy defines how people should feel about your organisation. It captures belief in what you offer. It is an abstract idea held in the hearts and minds of your customers. Brand strategy defines the brand promise and how it can come to life. Marketing strategy defines the market to be served and the best routes to that market. It informs product development, price, how and where it is to be promoted. It is outward-focused whereas brand is both inward- and outward-focused.

7 Reasons why we like G4

By Derryn Heilbuth At BWD we’re great believers in reports. Why? Because we’re great believers in the power and potential of business as an enabler of change. And done well, reporting – particularly sustainability reporting – is a useful way for business to gauge its true performance and impact. For those of us who help clients produce reports, our jobs have been made easier by the good folks at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) who’ve provided useful guidelines to promote non-financial reporting and improve its quality. Since their inception in 2000, these guidelines have been through various iterations. In May last year, BWD attended the GRI conference in Amsterdam where the latest set – G4 – was released. Since then we’ve worked with clients to produce four G4 reports. We’re about to start on another three and this week we heard that one of the reports we designed for Fuji Xerox Australia has been nominated as a finalist in the 2015 CR Report Awards. Go team! The more reports we do, the more we like G4. Here’s why: You report on what’s important Materiality sits at the heart of G4. What does this mean? Well, companies decide which issues are most important to it, its stakeholders, its sector and the wider operating environment; they develop processes to identify, prioritise and review these issues; and finally they discuss how they’re being managed. Reporting in this way means that reports should no longer be long (and boring) tick-box exercises covering a host of irrelevant indicators, but rather a clear articulation of a company’s value, strategy, risks, opportunities and future plans. You share the concerns of your stakeholders When a company reveals who its stakeholders are, explains how it engages with them, details their concerns and how they’re responding to these concerns, we as readers have a far greater understanding of the context and environment in which the company operates. We get a sense of the issues emerging on the horizon and can assess how these may impact on the company’s business model and strategy. You explain how your material issues are being managed Simply put, being asked to describe how management is dealing with what’s most important to the business allows report users to assess whether they’re up to the task. You talk transparently about your culture Finding meaning in one’s existence is one of the most basic needs of the human condition. So it follows that finding meaning in work, where people spend so much of their time, is an important ingredient in individual wellbeing. The increased level of disclosure G4 requires on labour practices gives readers a good insight into a company’s culture. If a company is able to tell a compelling story about the way it treats its people, the report can become a great tool for recruiting – and for turning employees into brand advocates. You show who’s responsible For too long, the sustainability agenda has been driven by passionate champions who don’t necessarily have that much influence on the organisation’s leaders. By asking for specific details about governance, G4 should move accountability up to the top of the organisation where it belongs. You talk about your impacts Okay. Not everyone does this well – yet. But business now has an opportunity to look internally and externally and have a conversation about the broader implications of its activities. And once the conversation has started, it should become easier for a company to evaluate the impacts within its control and outside of it, and make the necessary changes, or partner with others if need be. You show the link between business strategy and sustainability Here’s hoping . . .  

The simple truth about strategic planning

By Rory Deavin Most so-called strategic plans are little more than three-or five-year budgets but the core of any good strategy is the creation of a distinctive, compelling offer. At a recent meeting with the head of a large public company, I was shown a few of the templates needed to complete the annual strategic planning process. They covered planned sales and operational improvements, market share projections and financial data. And this is the reality of most strategic plans ­– they have little to do with strategy. It would be more accurate to call them three- or five-year budgets. The inclusion of a few initiatives to drive sales and improve operational efficiency doesn’t turn them into coherent strategies. It’s no wonder that a survey conducted by McKinsey & Co. found an enormous amount of dissatisfaction among executives about their strategic planning process – they feel they’re wasting a lot of time and effort for little reward. And ultimately the process doesn’t deliver what they want: a clear roadmap for building a thriving business. Why do so many companies fall short on this critical issue? I think the reasons are twofold: the complexity involved in developing a good strategy, and failing to engage people in what should be a creative process. It shouldn’t be this way. Yes, some time does need to be spent on the dry, sometimes difficult, analysis of the industry, competitors and suppliers, but the core of any good strategy is the creation of a distinctive and compelling offer for the customers you’re trying to serve. What’s not creative about finding a way to consistently and profitably deliver a distinctive and compelling combination of outcomes and experiences to a target group of customers in a way that’s not easy for your competitors to copy? Coming up with a winning strategy that you can execute effectively is hard. That’s where the creativity comes in. Without it, you’re more than likely to fall into the same trap as most businesses – trying to be everything to everyone, and offering nothing different.

‘Nudge’ people to act using behavioural economics

When a government agency communicates with you, do you respond rationally? Not necessarily. That’s why more and more government agencies are interested in researching and applying the principles of ‘nudging’ or behavioural economics when writing policy and communicating with the public. Nudge theory, first proposed by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, challenged the way people make decisions. Using insights from psychology and behavioural science, behavioural economics showcases behaviours that are different from those usually assumed in economics, where people behave in a rational and calculated way, weighing up costs and benefits when making choices. It recognises that people have finite attention spans, that decisions may be emotional and driven by factors like fear and stress, and that beliefs can play a part in determining choices. Further research has confirmed you can alter behaviour by changing the way you present information. Governments are embracing these findings. In Britain, David Cameron’s Cabinet office has set up the Behavioural Insights Team or ‘nudge unit’ to apply the insights to the design of public policy. Likewise, government agencies in the US, Canada, Singapore and Australia have developed ‘behaviourally informed’ policies and programs. BWD has completed a project for a government agency examining how behavioural economics principles can be applied to its communications. We were asked to examine, and report on, research findings from a seminal paper by the British Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team and a field trial, testing ways in which letters were written and presented to the public by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. We were then asked to apply the findings to a suite of communications we were commissioned to write and design. These lessons emerged: Make it easy. Make it as straightforward as possible for people to do what you’re asking them to do. Highlight key messages. Draw people’s attention to important information or actions required of them (open with two, clear, direct bullet points). Use personal language. Personalise language so people understand why a message or process is relevant to them (use pronouns: you, we, our, yours). Tell people what others are doing. Highlight the positive behaviour of others; for instance that ‘9 out of 10 people respond promptly’. Highlight the risk and impact of dishonesty. Emphasise the risk and consequences of not conforming/responding. Prompt honesty at key moments. Ensure that people are prompted to be honest at key moments when filling in a form or answering questions. Reward desired behaviour. Incentivise or reward behaviour that saves time or money. Simplify the message by reducing text. Suggest that taking action is easy. Send reminder correspondence three weeks later. Reminder letters sent three to six weeks after the first helped lift response rates, with a three-week gap working best. The use of a CEO signature reduced responses, and messages on envelopes have virtually no effect. Hand-writing recipients’ names on letters results in a spike in responses, as does having, as the signatory, a local representative or someone perceived to be ‘close to home’. In the US, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has also identified ways to get better results from written communications. It has seen increased compliance and less confusion among taxpayers, for example, after making improvements in response to the US Plain Writing ACT (2010). This law requires all federal government agencies to communicate with the public in a ‘clear, concise and well-organized manner’. Many of the IRS’ recommendations are similar to those of the British researchers, and include: Focus on addressing the taxpayer’s needs, not the IRS’. Use short paragraphs and sections. Prompt the reader to act with headings and lists. Interestingly, the studies revealed potential differences in responses according to gender, age, business size and so on. And information on local cultural practices and beliefs can have some effect when applying the principles of behavioural economics. Whether ‘nudges’ have only a short-term effect with recipients becoming desensitised to the information remains to be seen. Because field research in the field is fairly new, researchers stress the need to conduct more trials and update and finesse what’s been done if behavioural economics principles are to be applied most effectively. – Derryn Heilbuth  

Our approach to cross-cultural design

We’ve had the pleasure of working with eBay’s Asia Pacific office to write and design their Greater China Exporters’ Index, launched to the media across China. The index is based on internal eBay and PayPal data, and an online survey conducted with eBay sellers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who are direct-to-consumer cross-border exporters with annual sales of over US$100,000.

Thanks to the skills of our senior designer, Chin Yee Lam, who taught graphic design in China for two years, we were able to produce a publication specifically for eBay’s Greater China audience. Chin Yee had the tricky task of working on the English and Chinese versions simultaneously and managing the challenges associated with designing in two languages. Here he talks about the project.

What must you be aware of when designing for a Chinese audience? Colours are a very important element in Chinese design. Warm colours like red and yellow represent prosperity, good energy, friendliness and festivity. Red is particularly lucky, which is why you see so much of it at Chinese New Year. Are there any colours to avoid? In the West, white reflects purity, but in China it represents mourning. So for a more traditional audience, you’d never use black and white. These are associated with death. But it does depend on your target market. And as Chinese design becomes more influenced by Western design, things are changing. What other elements do you take into account? Shapes, particularly in Hong Kong and in the southern parts of China where Feng Shui is practised. Round shapes or forms represent a reunion, coming together, unity and harmony. A triangle or lines with sharp angles would indicate a negative force, even possibly danger. In Chinese, many words and characters have double meanings so you can play around with those in graphic design in a way you can’t in English. For instance, an orange sounds like gold. Many Chinese characters are derived from pictograms, so that also provides scope for interesting concepts. This is what the word rain looks like: Other examples: King, jade (which the king used as a seal) and country. What challenges did you face when you were designing the English and Chinese versions of the Greater China Exporters’ Index? Colours weren’t a challenge because the eBay logo has red in it, so I was able to pick that up and use it throughout the publication. But I had to consider spacing, size and leading (the space between lines) because Chinese takes up much less room on the page. I’d say it takes up between 20% and 30% less space. Typography always presents a challenge when you’re designing in two languages. The font I chose for the English version was DIN, which is a very legible, sans-serif typeface, so I wanted to look for something similar for the Chinese font. I chose Heiti, which, by the way, has 28,000 characters! I had to make many subtle changes in the two versions, such as the use of the icon on the cover title. In the Chinese version I had to change it because it didn’t work well on the equivalent Chinese character. Other subtle changes included the treatment of numbers because in many situations there aren’t direct translations. Take a look at the English – and Chinese versions. – Derryn Heilbuth