BJ Cunningham Simplicity the Key to Building a Successful Brand

great branding is all about trust which means that when it comes to building a brand that people really believe in broken promises just aren't an option according to Amazon's Jeff Bezos your brand is whatever people say about you when you're not in the room so how do you ensure they're saying the right things I caught up with entrepreneur BJ Cunningham to find out how to win the battle for hearts and minds and while keeping your promises is key to building a successful brand in the internet age the brand is a promise well if you don't trust the promise then it's of no value so trustworthy promises make credible brands make powerful brands make strong market positions and people who own strong market positions win people are willing to pay a premium for a promise they believe and think of think of Nike the promise of Nike is winning if there was a pair of trainers and exactly the same pair of trainers right next to them faint colors saying exactly the same product but one had a swoosh on it and one didn't and one said Nike on it with the swoosh and one didn't you would pay 80 quid for the pair with the swoosh and the Nike you wouldn't pay a tenner for the pair without that is the value of the promise of winning now that's not just a logo that's not a name Nike have spent billions investing in that swoosh and that name meaning winning so I remember the first ad campaign they did was you don't win silver you lose gold they then have spent as I say billions investing in those sports gods that we worship whoever it might be Wayne Rooney whoever you know the the the gods by owning all of that we come to believe that Nike means winning we get a bit of winning from that brand and that's the power of marketing that's the power of branding that's the importance of transparency converse of that would be body shot so body shop owned a really important market position which is caring and ethical business practice so the reason you go into a body shop shop and you pay two pounds sixty-five for a bar of soap is because you believe in not experimenting on animals and not screwing the third world in terms of trading practice if it transpires that a journalist discovers that in fact you are allegedly experimenting on animals and screwing the third world in terms of trade it's a disaster the the business loses thirty percent of its share price overnight anita Broderick gets kicked off the board they bring in ethical auditors and auditors are bad enough I mean ethical auditors must be you know something else and and and the reason they're doing all of that is because the only thing of value a real value is the brand the brand body shop if that fails to mean caring and ethical business practice I will no longer have the propensity to pay a pound sixty five for a bar a sober body shop I'll go down to boots and buy barroso for 65 P that's branding that's promises it raises an interesting question a trust and truth the same thing when it comes to building a successful brand transparency and truth are not necessarily the same things the truth is what we believe to be true doesn't mean it's true so as I said the truth resides in faith what we believe to be true is true until we lose that faith until we lose that belief and that is exactly the same for marketing so so why is transparency important because if you're not transparent then people might not believe you anymore so I haven't got a problem with lying okay I it's just in business lying is really expensive and then you've got to keep covering the lying covering the line covering the lion putting it back in the closet and back in the closet and back in the closet and eventually that lie will come out because there are journalists there are that we live in a in a an open society where with the internet and the freedom of information and these lies will be discovered in fact now it's our duty to discover them so transparency is important in order to build the credibility of the promise behind the business which is the key value driver and the only reason why shareholders get rich and people are willing to buy that product that's why transparency is important in business because it ties into promises and for Cunningham being transparent is all about being true to your core values transparency doesn't mean open your books to people it just means it means don't lie don't don't don't say you believe in and not experimenting on animals if you are experimenting on animals that's just mad you know choose the position that's appropriate for you I work with an insurance company for a long time and and they wanted to be seen as lovey huggy people who wear socks and sandals and and hug trees and always say yes and love their customers in fact they were the most cynical people on earth you know they they truly believe that every claim that was coming in was from a robber and and and the two positions don't marry but in fact for an insurance company I want them to be cynical because if they pay out on every claim my premiums going to go up so it's appropriate for an insurance company to be cynical it would be inappropriate for a doctor to be cynical okay that you know or that that's the it's always appropriate to be who you really are that's what transparency is about it's not about it's like in life you know you you don't have to tell everyone all your problems all the time it's it's good to be aware of your problems and to talk about them and problems are beautiful things it doesn't mean we have to talk about them all the time that's not being transparent being transparent is is being who we really are saying look I have got a problem with this for these reasons and I'd prefer it if you didn't you know talk to me like that or address me in that way or do these things you know it's a bit so it's about it's about empathy it's about compassion it's about um it's about real human values it's about being who you really are consistently in everything you do that's transparency as you might expect from someone who believes in the value of transparency Cunningham is also a big advocate of simplification I asked him whether he feels to many companies over complicate their approach to business I think I think I think complexity is a real problem I mean put it this way if if a set of terms and conditions is more than a page-long there's a problem simplicity means telling it like it is in as simpler way as possible so that you don't need a PhD to have to understand it I would encourage everybody to look at their terms and conditions I would encourage everybody to look at their marketing speak and if there's acronyms and weird jargon in there and people just don't understand take it out you know either something means something or it doesn't either you're building towards something you're either living busy living or busy dying I don't know that's a an obvious thing to say but that's true in marketing look at your work if it's complicated take it away get go if your lawyers come back with a contract and you can't understand the contract send it back until you can understand it the simplicity transparency honesty truth all of these things point in one direction which is a direction of clarity and clarity can be summed up by the words I can if ever you hear in your organization if everyone here in my organization I can't I know there's fear I can that's permission that's empowerment that clarity of course if it was easy everyone would be doing it so what are the first steps to achieving that simplicity in business I think it's about combing through a business and finding discovering areas what if you don't get it chances are no one else gets it you know if you read something you don't understand it chances are no one else understand look at apples packaging it's white there's an apple on it it doesn't have a list of 50,000 things that it does or doesn't do doesn't need to you know consumers can drill down for information I suggest offer a drill down you know offer offer the information but just not in your face I'm not interested in the product I'm interested in the promise in fact I'm not even interested in the price point the price points change I can get it 50% off 75 percent off 25 weird 100 could talk to me about the promise that's where I attribute value where there's complexity there's an opportunity to bring simplicity for more fantastic interviews directly related to your business be sure to explore meet the boss TV