Zync is now Believeco

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Brought together by Arlene Dickinson – one of Canada’s most recognized and respected business leaders— Zync joins the other original agencies Venture Play, Revolve and Brightworks as Believeco.

Along with Argyle, one of North America’s most respected engagement, communications and reputation advisory agencies and Castlemain, a leading Indigenous advisory firm, we are collectively Believeco:Partners. Believeco:Partners owns, operates and builds the foremost marketing, communications and engagement agencies in North America. Together, we offer clients the talents of more than 300 marketing and communications professionals across North America.

Together, we’ll help clients navigate the incredible pace of change—providing solutions and a culture that is good for our clients, their customers and stakeholders, our people, and our local, national and global community.

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Brad Breininger & Marko Zonta

Zync - Journal | Brand spotlight on 2021.

Discussing what’s coming up for brands in 2021.

Brand spotlight on 2021.

E-commerce, diversification, inclusion, efficiency, and customer focus were just some of the great lessons of 2020.

What should brands focus on in 2021? And what could they do to transition back into a little bit of normalcy? Should brands be bolder? What about co-branding and partnerships? Is this a good time to review or align their digital footprint?

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Recorded on December 16th, 2020


Brad Breininger: 0:00

Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week’s everything is brand. So last week, we wrapped up 2020. And we talked about some of the things that we learned over the past year. So this time, we’re going to talk about what we see coming up for 2021. So last week, we talked a lot about some of the things that we learned this year. Things like, focus on Commerce, diversify, simplify, building speed, and efficiency, building customer focus, make sure that you cover inclusion and really build a unique brand that you can bring to the marketplace. These are all really great lessons. So based on what we’ve learned, what do we want to focus on in 2021? What do we think is going to be most important? We have a vaccine now and they’re rolling it out. And hopefully we’ll see some change coming up early in 2021, to mid 2021. But what can brands do to start to transition back into a little bit of normalcy? What do you guys think?

Marko Zonta: 1:05

I think that, you know, obviously, this year was a little bit challenging, and definitely changed a lot of plans in terms of marketing plans, and the business plans in general. So I would say that for next year for 2021 I would suggest that brands perhaps take a look at being bolder, when I say bolder, I mean, look at different angles, maybe be just in general, a little bit more, maybe not aggressive, maybe aggressive is the wrong word. But just try something new, try new ideas, something that perhaps you’re a little bit too cautious or too concerned about in the past, this is a time to try something new, because people I think, in general and are expecting something new because of all the changes. So if there was ever a good time to do that, I think 21 is definitely the year to do that.

Brad Breininger: 1:58

Yeah, definitely. And and as part of that boldness, I think, really understanding where your customer is that going back to what we learned in 2020. And maybe you even reach out and talk to customers, ask them what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling what’s on their minds, and using that to drive where you want to take some of that boldness.

Marko Zonta: 2:19

Yeah, and I think that it’s just looking for new opportunities, like even something like co-marketing, do you have potentially other businesses that you work with? And are there opportunities to work together on all kinds of, either services that you can offer together, any other partnership opportunities, basically look at businesses that are complimentary to your business, and see if there is any kind of alignment where you can work together to to capture the market or provide a better solution, a better service. So that may be another angle for the new year.

Brad Breininger: 2:53

Yeah, save time, save money, save efforts, you know, what you’re diversifying all of that across your co marketer that is advantageous to both of you?

Marko Zonta: 3:02

Yeah. And then another thing that I would say, is that digital footprint, I think that that’s a huge one, obviously, you know, 2020 was all about going online and shopping online being accessible online. We noticed that some businesses suffered from not being aligned on that level, like their website may not be perfectly aligned with their infrastructure in terms of how they actually execute services, or how they actually get things done. And then of course, how to connect with other channels as well through social media channels and things like that. So that’s another thing that brands think should really focus on in 21; align your digital footprint,

Gabi Gomes: 3:45

I for one, that things will be going back to a normal, I think this is the new normal. And to think that we’re going to be going back to some version of 2019 or 2018 are some previous years. That’s not going to happen. I think we’ve seen a shift this year, both from marketing departments, being more nimble marketing departments, caring more about humans, their customers, etc. I don’t think that… I hope, at least that that won’t change, I think that will definitely still be in the mix going forward. And I think it’s to all of our benefits, that brands continue to be more human, more customer centric, and definitely more nimble.

Jeremy Linskill: 4:29

Yeah, I mean, I agree with you gotta be like, I think the human aspect is a big one. Like, if I think back on 2020, I think that we all became a little bit more human this year, not exposed to each other’s worlds, and our home front and things like that. And I think that I would like to see brands continue with that as well and continue being down to earth, being human. I also think a big part of that is a you know, I don’t know how to put it but like keep moving forward. What I think is important is not to take a step back, not to go back to the old ways to kind of take the learnings from this year, and kind of keep progressing and keep going forward, you know, whether that is in that digital space and things like that, I think I think that that’s a big part of what needs to happen in 2021. For my aspect.

Brad Breininger: 5:13

Yeah, I mean, a lot of the a lot of the advantage, if there is an advantage to this past year that we’ve gone through, is that it was a learning opportunity. And, and hopefully, the same way that, you know, we all have to learn about how to run our lives a little differently, or run our families or our homes a little bit differently, I think brands have to take these learnings and run their brands, and they’re marketing a little bit differently and, and really take advantage of, of kind of all the crap that we’ve gone through to, to weed through all of that, and find those those learnings that we can bring forward into 2021 and beyond, because I think you’re right, Gabi, it’s not going to change a lot, probably in 2021. But as we move into other years, we do run the risk. You know, there’s always that there’s that saying, you know, don’t let history repeat itself, there’s always that risk that we could go back to thinking that everything’s good. And everything’s copacetic and lose all of the strides that we’ve made over the last little while. And that’s probably not in our best interest.

Marko Zonta: 6:15

I was speaking with one of our clients earlier today. And he happens to travel all over the world to promote the business and their business and their product. And of course, this is a challenging time, we’re not being able to travel. So it was the matter of rethinking that. How do you sell in Japan? How do you sell in Europe? How do you sell all over the place, when you’re not allowed to travel and change that approach to the point that was made earlier? It’s changing that now, but also seeing how that can actually be used in the future as well. Even when you can’t travel again, can you be more efficient? Can you actually provide an even better service or connection with the customer by actually having that online accessibility as well. So that I think is an opportunity. And quite frankly, it, I think that it actually saves a lot of resources overall, by kind of doing that as well.

Vincent Champenois: 7:16

I think 2020 has been quite a good test for a lot of 20 comes to loyalty. And I think the 21 will be all about this. And brands should definitely look back on 2020 and see why they lost customers or why they test customers and adjust accordingly, in the future, in 2021, I think it will all come down to personalization and make sure that your services or your products are so customizable, that they can actually fit almost every profile of every customer of yours or make sure that the way you communicate is personalized in some way. And I think this is definitely going to be very interesting for brands to see how they apply it to design and communication.

Brad Breininger: 8:02

Yeah, I think you know, one of the tough parts through all of this is that we’ve seen that people, especially with small business, they have a want to try and help they have a want to kind of help small businesses in their community business stay in business. And there’s some real important loyalty lessons that we’ve learned in that. And there’s almost been a little bit of a pushback against some of the bigger brands as well. And I think the smaller brands need to understand what those loyalty points are and build upon those, like you said, Vincent. And I think what the bigger brands need to do is they need to understand what that pushback was, they need to understand that they need to be there to help as well, I saw a really great example. It was on Burger Kings Instagram account, and I think it was yesterday or the day before. And what Burger King did is they took out all of their posts. And they started to offer local restaurants and local providers of food or coffee or whatever, to use their Instagram account and their huge amount of followers to share their messaging and share some of what they were doing in the local communities. And I thought, okay, that’s really good, because I think these large brands need to understand that they live in an ecosystem. And what’s been very clear through all of this is that when you take away some of the important points of the ecosystem, the whole system falls. And yes, maybe the Amazons of the world might survive, because they’re just so big. But you know, there’s going to be a lot of mid areas or a lot of mid brand retailers, particularly retailers that are not going to survive as well, if they don’t have that ecosystem to help support it.

Marko Zonta: 9:44

I think that’s a great example of what I meant when I said take a bold approach. That is something that in the past a brand may not even think about doing something like that, like it just doesn’t make any sense. But in this case, it makes a lot of sense because you are part of a larger community, this actually buys you a lot of goodwill. And brands are about goodwill. Like it’s not just making the most amount of money, and being the most recognized and all of that. It’s about being there for people in the community. So so this is a great example of that.

Gabi Gomes: 10:20

So TD did this, you know, years ago, I think they started making a push to make more inroads locally, right? You don’t get to be the big conglomerate, without starting locally, somewhere, right. And the need to stay local is still something that’s very prevalent. And I think 2020 has shown us that I think the other part that Marko was talking about, Brad, you talked about too, is the giving back portion, that charitable side of the business is going to be staying people want to do business with brands that give back somehow, whether it be in the products that they offer and source to whatever they’re doing a portion of the donations, etc, part of the purchase that goes back, we want to buy better, we want to consume better, we want to do work, whether it be b2b or b2c, we want to do work with businesses who have morals, who will, you know, give back something who will share their wealth with everybody. So that’s here to stay for sure. I think the other one that we’ll be seeing more of is sustainability, the environment going forward, I think is going to be playing a much bigger part in products in businesses and brands, etc, I think we’re going to see a bit of a shift there as well with that.

Brad Breininger: 11:40

The most important element I think, in both of those two things, the giving back and the sustainability is that they tied back to a point that is probably really important to all brands and that is knowing what your purpose is, and and making sure that you build a well rounded purpose, there’s been this attention on let’s make as much money as we possibly can, Gabi you have you said that earlier. It’s been all about, okay, our purpose is to make money. Well, the reality is, is that making money is the result of either having a great product, having a great service, delivering great

customer service, all of that: 12:14

making money is the result. And it’s been turned into a purpose. And the problem with that is that it’s it’s not sustainable, it is completely unsustainable to grow at 20%, year over year over year, quarter over quarter over quarter. The problem is, that you can’t build a sustainable business that way. So those two things, giving back and sustainability have to be so integrated into the purpose, in order to round out all of the other things that go on in the business, whether it’s customer service, or product service, or research and development. You know, it’s one of the things that I find really interesting about research and development is that that’s what creates the pipeline. And I think that you don’t just create a pipeline with research and development, you create a pipeline with sustainability, you create a pipeline with giving back, you create a pipeline with supporting the ecosystem, and all of those pipelines are driving into your business. They’re like the arteries of your business. And, you know, if you just focus on the heart, which is the purpose, and drive all the arteries back to that purpose, which is the heart of your business, then you have that opportunity to build those things.

Marko Zonta: 13:28

It’s interesting, I think sustainability is one of those real challenges going forward. I think that what we’re going through right now will pass. But I think sustainability is here to stay. And it will be a challenge, I think for a lot of businesses, because the reality is that in order to be sustainable, you have to provide not only a good product, but you actually have to give back in a lot of different ways. And that increases the cost. That’s it’s as simple as that. And if people are focused on buying the cheapest product quite frankly, a lot of us are that is not sustainable, that’s going to be a major problem for brands, and they’ll have to make a decision. Are they going and delivering the cheapest kind of product in whatever that means to them? Or are they actually truly going after sustainable practices, and that the business structure, their pricing, and everything else supports that? The reality is that you can’t achieve both at the same time. And I think that that’s going to be your true challenge going forward. And it might not happen right away either. It may take new ways of teaching in Business School, it may take a new group of leaders to come forward, it may take a generation or half a generation for that transition to be made. But hopefully, some of the lessons that we’ve learned over the last little while can start to feed into that change. And I think you’re right in Marco it’s not going to happen in 2021 or 2022. It’s going to be have to be a more long term solution.

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 15:06

Another aspect that I want us to talk about, and maybe further to Gabi’s point about humanizing brands, is the fact that we tend to split businesses in two categories, right business to business (b2b) and business to consumer or client (b2c). But I think and I’ve been reading a lot about this transition to this new concept that’s called business with people (b2p), I think this whole year has even pushed this forward. Further, because we are not dealing with companies, we’re dealing with people. And we’ve seen people’s homes during these Zoom calls or Hangouts. So I think this is a concept that we’ll be seeing a lot more in 2021. Right? Talking about selling to people and not to businesses, or to clients or consumers.

Gabi Gomes: 15:57

I think the other obvious one is health. Maybe touch more on internally? I mean, how can how can we escape 2020 and just like 911, change the world for aviation, I think 2020 change the world for for health and safety, perhaps more on the employee side, internally, Long gone are the days of us coming into the office with a sniffle, I don’t think anybody’s going to be doing that, again, or the mental health aspect that has come with it, because ultimately, employees run the company, make the company, make the products, make whatever, right and without employees that are healthy would, whether it be mentally, physically etc, you can’t grow the business, you can’t grow the brand, you can’t grow the products, you can’t do anything without the people behind it, you know, obviously, it has changed our world going forward, I think the health of our employees is going to be it was starting to become a little bit more in terms of being healthy. But I think that’ll play an integral part going forward even more so now.

Brad Breininger: 16:57

I think the, you know, the ability of people to kind of take control of their lives is is such an integral part of that too. And, you know, we talked about work and family for years. And the whole idea behind work and family was that you found time for work, and you found time for family. And that, you know, sometimes when you work with family, you didn’t work. And sometimes when you were at work, you did stuff with family, I think that that has been turned on its head through all of this. And what’s clear, is that we are, you know, to your point, Christian, we are human beings, we are people that have these very complex integrated lives. And we have to find a way to ensure that that integration is present through everything. So finding the time to do the work that we need to do to make the work successful, finding the time to be with the family so that everyone thrives. But then also finding the time to just stay healthy to be healthy, whether to your point, Gabi, whether that’s mentally healthy, or physically healthy, you know, getting the right amount of sleep getting the right amount of exercise or timeout outside in the sun. You know, it’s really this idea of, and we’re seeing it more and more, you know, like people doing zoom calls from a bench out in the sun on a day when it’s sunny, and it’s about to become winter, you know, or people going out to a park at lunchtime and eating their lunch outside, you know, little tiny things that are starting to infiltrate across the board. There used to be all these walls between everything before and I think some of those walls are definitely breaking down. One of the things that we talked a lot about with a client recently was this idea of clarity, they really are thinking about their messaging and their positioning of their brand in the marketplace. And one of the things that they want to focus on a lot more is this idea of clarity and simplicity. But I think the other big lesson that we’ve learned that we can apply going forward is let’s keep it simple, right? The old KISS principle, you know, keep it simple, and redefine who you are from a positioning perspective and really make your offering a lot more simple because people just don’t have the time or the desire to start to weed through your entire brand and all your propaganda. So it’s really about understanding what it is that people need from you and focusing your positioning and messaging in that direction. So we learned a lot of great lessons in 2020, a lot of great elements that that we were able to go through last week. And I think that some of the points that you’ve all brought up on this podcast, are really strong elements for going into 2021 and beyond. So if we think about really coming up with bolder new ideas that we can take the brand in new directions that we can take the brand in, for example, you know co-marketing or looking at different ways to expand the digital footprint being really nimble and able to change and we’ve talked a lot about that in 2020. But it’s something that we definitely want to take forward. Focusing on empathy in our humanity and focusing on the people because ultimately everyone who works for our brands and everyone that we sell to are all people. Exploring that loyalty, whether you’re a small brand or a large brand, how can loyalty push the brand forward? And what can you learn from that? Understanding how to give back and understanding your sustainability as a brand and understanding how those can be brought into who you are and everything that you’re trying to do. Defining the clarity, making it simple for everyone. And finally, deciding what your purpose is going to be and understanding what your purpose is going to be and that it’s not just about money. It’s about service. It’s about giving back. It’s about sustainability. It’s about being nimble, it’s about being bold, putting all of those things together to be the best brand that you can be. This is it for 2020 have a great holiday season. And we’ll be back in 2021 hoping to apply all of the things that we talked about today and remember, Everything is Brand.

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