According to a recent report by CBRE, Dubai is positioned third, globally, in attracting new retail brands into the market in 2016, following London and Hong Kong. “32% of the new entrants were specialist retailers, many of which were athletic-leisure brands such as Under Armour, Jordan, New Balance and GapFit. These fashion-infused sportswear retailers are targeting the young working population of the Emirate.1”
Traditionally, with franchising, the responsibility for building brands that emotionally bond with customers fell with the franchiser or brand owner. In additional to these new international brands, more local brands coming into a market that is already under pressure.
How a brand creates and leverages that emotional connection with its customers, is increasingly becoming a major concern of locally based business leaders who are recognising the importance of the brand’s emotional bond as a factor influencing their sales and competitiveness in the market.
Emotional brand bonding is no longer the responsibility of a remote franchise principle team but also of leading the business in the territory. Where and how do you start, as a leader, to build that connection to your customers? Let’s start by investigating some key concepts of how you are driving the success of your brands.
Beginning with the end in mind
Where are you going and how demanding is it to reach your destination? Goal-setting is everywhere, there’s plenty written about SMART goals in business articles and my intention is not to re-iterate these. Where I do want to take you, is through an exploration of some of the psychological qualities that make up your personal and business goals and the energy those goals give back to you and your people. When the destination and routes are mapped out well, those goals will ultimately be energising for your customers, too.
Have you ever considered how exhilarated you are by what you do? Would you say you are on track with your professional goals? How intensely does your role engage you?
Author and Psychologist, Daniel Goleman talks about three neurological states of mind2. The first comes from low stress and low engagement, which creates a state of boredom. This is the lowest energy and motivation state, where you are easily distracted and are doing just the bare minimum to deliver what’s expected of you and keep your job. It’s like driving below the speed limit, not minding how long the journey will take. If you are leading your business from your place of familiarity and comfort, doing what you have always done at your own pace, then your first task is take a good hard look at your personal career goals. These are the nuts and bolts of it all. If you are not excited about your job and your role in heading the business, you cannot expect your employees to perform and your customers to get excited about your brand.
The second state, very widespread and as detrimental as boredom, is frazzle. According to Goleman, frazzle prevents people from being productive due to constant high pressure, which can be due to never-easing work load, time squeeze, politics or personal challenges. Frazzle is caused by unmanageable stress and has a negative biochemical reaction in the body which compounds and builds up. This eventually leads to imbalances in hormones and thinking patterns which, when not addressed, ultimately results in emotional burn-out. Frazzle causes the human engine to fail ending up with poor mental performance and poor health. Is frazzle a part of your work ethic or your company culture? How is stress managed in your business? Is it unreasonable or is it healthy?
We all need a reasonable amount of healthy stress to be at our best performance, in fact the third of Goleman’s states relates healthy, moderate stress to the most productive state of flow, like driving a V8 engine on an open highway while listening to Jimi Hendrix. Have you ever been so absorbed into a project that you have lost track of time and forgotten about your personal need for food and comfort? That is the ultimate state of flow, an intrinsically rewarding state of mind when you are so completely focused on the activity, you are in hyper-focus. It is when you are at your most creative and productive and feel exhilarated and satisfied with your work.
To be in flow, you need to have clear, challenging goals that match your ambitions and an environment where you can fully concentrate with immediate feedback on whether you are heading in the right direction. This is where your personal map, as a leader, needs to be a match with that of the business that you are leading.
Ending with the start in mind
When properly orchestrated, you can say that the business map and destination is what will provide the clear goals and a sound structure that will facilitate both your flow as well as the group flow of all the teams below you.
Keith Sawyer, author and researcher, explains that a balance of structure and freedom is required for a group to perform at its best3. Goals need to be focused but open to interpretation. Members should feel in control and autonomous but flexible and responsible to contribution from other members of the team.
So, a good place to begin to get your business into corporate level flow is by establishing a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG? In his book, Built to Last, Jim Collins4 talks about the importance of a BHAG. In his words, “Like the moon mission, a true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort – often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines. A BHAG engages people – it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused. People “get it” right away; it takes little or no explanation.”
- Draw out your personal career map and trace how you can create your company’s BHAG/destination that provides an exhilarating adventure for everyone in the business.
- Everyone should have complete certainty on where they are going and be excited by their contribution to the journey.
- Make it a stretch goal and provide autonomy within a solid framework.
- Make sure all team members regular hear the roar of the engines as you turn focus away from failure and towards achievement. Celebrate passing each milestone.
- How Global Is the Business of Retail?, CBRE, UK 2017
- Daniel Goleman, The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, More Than Sound LLC, 2011
- R. Keith Sawyer, What Mel Brooks Can Teach Us about “Group Flow”, Article: Greater Good Magazine, 2012 retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu
- James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built To Last, New York: Harper Collins, 1997