Seth GrimesSeth GrimesJuly 21, 2020
abstract-beads-blur-bright-276218-1280x853.jpg

19min1149

Meaning is what a brand signifies or implies to the consumer. It is central to brand promise, and it contributes to expectations against which customer experience is measured.

Dr. Martina Olbertova, CEO of Meaning.Global

Dr. Martina Olbertova puts it succinctly: “Meaning bridges the gap between brands and people.”

Martina is an expert on meaning and cultural relevance in business, the founder of UK/European consultancy Meaning.Global. She phrases the business goal as “to help brands and businesses stay relevant, meaningful, and profitable amidst global culture change.” Her work explores the changing nature of “concepts such as well-being, purpose, spirituality, diversity, gender, identity, trust, loyalty, luxury, consumption or post-truth, to understand how today’s global cultural context reshapes the meaning of brands.”

While these concepts are readily understood and their importance is obvious, it takes a combination of art and science to systematically address them in practice. Emotion comes into play. According to Martina, “emotion is an absolutely crucial part because if the meaning a brand creates doesn’t resonate with you on some visceral level and doesn’t elicit the right emotion – linked to your beliefs, dreams, ideas, wishes, fears or things you love and identify with – it cannot be successful.”

That last quotation is a small bit of an interview I conducted with Martina, as we approach the July 22 online CX Emotion conference. Martina will present the closing keynote, Lead with Meaning, a perfect fit given the event’s focus on customer, digital, and user experience strategy and enabling technologies. In the following interview, Martina responds to questions about meaning, culture, and business impact and the role emotion plays, questions that explore…

Meaning, Relevance, and the Consumer-Brand Connection

Seth Grimes: Martina, you’re an expert on brand meaning and cultural relevance. Why are brand meaning and cultural relevance important, and for whom?

Martina Olbertova: Meaning is the core of value exchange, so it’s the core value for businesses and brands to create. Meaning is how we relate to value – through what things we interact with mean to us and whether or not we can identify with them on a personal, emotional and cultural level, based on our shared values, beliefs and ideas of who we are, our sense of self.

Brands are in the business of meaning exchange. When meaning isn’t present, you can immediately sense it – the brand doesn’t resonate with people, it cannot deliver on its promise, fails to generate real value for the customers, its sense of brand value implodes and the market sales tank.

Meaning is what people value – be it in brands, products, experiences or in human relationships. That’s how we relate to one another. If you don’t create meaning – the inner symbolic value of a brand or a product – that your customer can identify with and that in some sense enhances and elevates their feeling of self, their own identity, you have failed your job as a marketer.

Marketers are commercial meaning makers. Their jobs aren’t about counting, their jobs are about managing meaning and understanding the role of emotions and human psychology in value creation and value consumption. Brand management is meaning management.

That’s why I have identified these gaps in meaning to help brands and organisations navigate the maze of symbols in our culture and in the marketplace and help them see beyond the constraints of their everyday work done mostly in excel spreadsheets.

We have all the data we could possibly want or need right now, but we lack sense. We lack the broader cultural and social interpretations of the value that brands and businesses provide to people to understand what things mean in their real-life context. If we don’t know what we’re counting or if we fail to create value, the data doesn’t mean anything.

My job is to help brand and business leaders understand this symbolic nature of their work and the business that they’re in to restore this lost or forgotten meaning and create new value so that the brands and business they manage can resonate with people on a more profound level, and thus maximize their market share and market value.

And for whom is meaning important? For everybody, albeit for different reasons:

1. For the brands to capture and retain their core essence in the market and a core strategic vehicle how they create value in the market and in the minds of their customers.

2. For the businesses and organisations to have healthy, emotionally and symbolically rich and well-performing brands that can deliver on their promise in real life and create meaningful value in people’s lives to have a positive impact on individuals and society.

3. For the stakeholders to have a sustainable, steadily and meaningfully growing portfolio with predictable future returns on investment. As they say, there is no better way to make short-term profits than by creating a long-term value.

4. For the customers to have brands that make sense to them, value what they value, brands they can identify with on a personal level, brands that reflect who they are and allow them to communicate their stance in their communities and society at large in relation to other people and to their cultural differences.

5. And lastly, for the culture and society – so that we are not buried in meaninglessness and noise, and instead can create a more meaningful environment overall where we only create the things that we want to consume because the ubiquitous noise and nonsense negatively impact our mental health and well-being. The quality of messages we send out into the world positively or negatively impacts the environment we live in. That is truly our “meaning footprint”. We care about the carbon footprint, we should care about the messaging trail we leave behind as well. It is a basic corporate responsibility – to say what I can deliver and not promise things that are not in my place to promise or that I don’t fully stand for as a company.

Cultural irrelevance and value fragmentation are the biggest reasons why brands struggle to grow and retain value today. With meaning and cultural relevance at the core, brands can become meaningful to people, resonant in culture and profitable in business again.

Seth: Your talk at CX Emotion is Lead With Meaning, identifying 4 gaps of meaning. What’s behind the meaning concept?

Martina: This concept is a direct response to the lack of meaning in the industry, the point that I touched upon above. When brands don’t walk their talk, they get into trouble. They lose their integrity, their values weaken, their sense of trust goes bust. Such brands have a hard time making rapport with their customers because they are not to be trusted.

‘Lead With Meaning’ is an overall philosophy of my approach to brand management at Meaning.Global, which is a strategic intelligence consultancy I founded back in 2017 to help offset the meaning crisis in the industry, largely caused by the unprecedented level of change, global cultural complexity, value fragmentation and technological disruption over the last decade. We need to come back to essence – to the core value that brands are supposed to create to be of value to people. You cannot have a valuable brand if you fail to create value for people to consume and to identify with. And that core value happens to be meaning.

We are buried in meaninglessness in the marketing and advertising world precisely because we don’t properly understand the consequences of our actions as an industry. What you say comes back. There is nothing like “just saying something” if you are a brand – everything creates meaning. So, you need to be extra careful about whether your messaging and campaigns align with the values you stand for and want to portray as a brand and a company, and if you’re not actually doing it in a way that might potentially alienate your core audience and target market. Which is what P&G did last year with the seemingly progressive masculinity portrayed in their Gillette ad. I’ll get to explain why it was so unfortunate from the meaning standpoint in my presentation.

What’s behind this initiative is my sincere attempt to strengthen the industry and streamline meaning in brand management to help brand leaders manage brands with sense and not against it. There are four core meaning gaps I was able to identify in my work pertaining to four different areas of brand value: The Culture Gap, The Context Gap, The Trust Gap and The Social Impact Gap. If you want to learn more about these and how they impact brand management and value creation, you are welcome to watch my talk on Wednesday.

Seth: How does emotion come into play?

Martina: Oh, emotion is an absolutely crucial part when it comes to meaning-making because if the meaning a brand creates doesn’t resonate with you on some visceral level and doesn’t elicit the right emotion – linked to your beliefs, dreams, ideas, wishes, fears or things you love and identify with – it cannot be successful.

There is no successful brand management without creating a powerful emotional bond with people. And that emotion is elicited precisely based on what people deem meaningful to them, what holds personal relevance to their own identity and in their lives, what they identify with and how they see themselves. It’s about them, not you – as a brand. It’s all about emotions.

Seth: What technologies do you use in your work?

Martina: I use a lot of quite different tools in my work as it is equally about the creation of new things and ideas and a constant market and cultural analysis. For analytics, I use sentiment and emotion analytics tools, I also use Google Trends and N-grams. From the perspective of my own brand management as an entrepreneur and a creator, my whole life is on social media – I use it for sharing ideas, thoughts and insights, for having interesting discussions with people and creating global networks to cultivate new business opportunities. I use social media analytics. I also publish a lot on various different platforms. I create all my graphic materials and websites for an online presence of my businesses. And recently, I created and started hosting my own online show using Zoom.

Seth: You’ve just recently started a new online show. What does it cover?

Martina: Yes, that’s true. This new show is the continuation of my journey towards educating the industry on the importance of creating real value and essence for their brands and businesses. And where else is this dominance of the symbolic value of a brand (meaning, emotion and aesthetics) over the functional value of its products (convenience, utility) more visible than in Luxury! I already did something on Luxury last year when I published The Luxury Report on Redefining the future meaning of luxury, but I wanted to take it an extra mile this year and the show seemed like a very fitting format. It is the right time to explore these ideas more in-depth and having a show gives us the opportunity to have a voice, gather new insights and spread the message around the world in a more personal way.

Angela Tunner, who is my friend and a publisher of the international luxury lifestyle magazine EAT LOVE SAVOR, and I decided to create a new monthly online show together on the true meaning of luxury. We call it The Luxury Renaissance Show. It is about the Rebirth of Luxury For a New World in the Post-COVID Times as we are not going back to the way that things were. Instead, we need to fully embrace these strange times as a new beginning of a new world and define what that new normal should look like to generate more value for people.

I spoke to Forbes back in March when COVID hit in the US and what I said was that this might very well be a blessing in disguise for luxury as it forces the luxury industry to transition more rapidly and fully into the space it was already venturing into, which is all about wellness, well-being, healing and essence providing real value to people that is more experiential, transcendental and connected to what truly matters and what they deem meaningful in life – our long-term values, connection to ourselves, our inner essence and to other people.

We have big hopes for this show! Our goal is to elevate the industry conversation on the future of luxury and bring the missing piece of the puzzle – the knowledge and insight from the fringes back to the epicentre of the debate – to stimulate new ideas and new business opportunities. We want to use this show as a unique platform to create a global community and create a new context for understanding the meaning of luxury for a new world.

We are currently working on the first video – our first-ever episode only aired last week. We are aiming to cover a great variety of subjects that will be important not just for the Luxury industry moving forward but to all brands, as they are deeply connected to humanity and the changes happening in global culture when it pertains to creation and consumption of value. Some of the topics we are looking to cover are the evolution of human values, wellness and well-being, spirituality, reconnecting with our human essence and soul, elevating human life through the power of beauty and aesthetics, the art of home, the social, anthropological and historical ramifications of luxury, philosophy of luxury and many others…

And all of that, to create a rich context and help brands create new meaning. Certainly applicable not just to the luxury brands, but across the whole market spectrum, so stay tuned!

Seth: Thanks Martina. I’m looking forward to your CX Emotion keynote and your new show.




Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


CONTACT US

CALL US ANYTIME


UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Editor
Paul Ainsworth
paul@cxm.co.uk

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
aleksandar@awardsinternational.com
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
danilo@cxm.co.uk
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN

JOBS IN CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


Newsletter


weight loss: infused water recipes for weight loss brat diet weight loss vyvanse weight loss before and after what is thrive weight loss gallon water challenge weight loss iud weight loss weight loss challenge near me magnesium and weight loss what causes weight loss plateau stacker weight loss pills review vitamin d deficiency and weight loss weight loss side effects weight loss pill for men apple vinegar weight loss drink banned weight loss drugs hot rox diet pills smooth move tea reviews weight loss natural fat burning supplements weight loss point system diet pills that suppress appetite weight loss clinics cincinnati eunji weight loss best tea cleanse for weight loss victoza weight loss dose nitric oxide weight loss hurley weight loss motivational weight loss videos warrior diet weight loss results weight loss and detox tlc weight loss products papaya weight loss pills wine for weight loss new diet pills at gnc forza weight loss pills otc diet pills similar to adipex kale weight loss xt diet pills spironolactone for weight loss what are the top 5 diet pills yellow prescription diet pills quick weight loss centers of texas weight loss meal replacement shake medications to loose weight hot yoga for weight loss meal replacement pills pros and cons of weight loss pills

vape: national vape expo vape ciggy bad effects of vape shop mods can you vape mct oil life is but a vapor ecclesiastes replacement coils for vape pen vape pen pen no nic vape juice fluid ecig tanks xbox vape uwell crown iii tank vape one milpitas omo tech ecig suorin air v2 tfv12 q4 coil vapor rino menthol vapor liquid kids vapor rub 18650 imr 3000mah ecig poster high school e cigarette vapor starter kit how do yo dispoe of ecig battery girl smoke hookah vape juice harsh pulse squonk kit cocoa puffs vape juice vape shops nyc best alternatives to juul grasshopper vape pen drip mod kit new box mod smok infinix pod life ecig stores online how much nicotine is in a cigar regulated box mods wismec rx 2000 vaping liquid thc uwell crown 1 uwell valkyrie rba deck uwell shenzhen vape expo voopoo drag starter kit istick to 100w with uwell crown arctic vape tank voopoo mojo battery issues ecig lawsuit

cbd oil: cbd and depression is cbd legal in australia best cbd oil for crohns cbd jelly beans candy cbd hei properties cbd for lyme disease advantage multi reviews cbd oil videos cannabis oil rheumatoid arthritis cbd plr cbd from hemp vs marijuana powder cbd how soon should i eat after using cbd oil under my tongue disposable cbd vape pen for anxiety what are the effects of cbd oil how do i use cbd to lose weight cbd oil cause constipation cbd and the brain difference between hemp and cbd cbd sun prairie wi liquid cbd wallgreens cbd beyond the bottlez cannabist oil cbd oil and high blood pressure medication pain management treatment facts about hemp high questions cbd skin care benefits consumers oil company marijuana for joint pain cbd cancer dosage cbd w thc heal all plant much definition cbd oil in usa cbd business bank account can cbd oil cure acid reflux cbd schizophrenia dosage can i add cbd oil to my cigarette cbd oil work pure life cbd oil 1000mg dosage can cbd oil help a cold cbd oil pride best cbd oil for pain relief

male enhancement: erectile dysfunction cure exercise red rhino male enhancement ways to enhance sexlife rush limbaugh viagra home remedy viagra something extra login canada world pharmacy articles about sex online cialis reviews large asian penis large penices male groth natural ways to make dick bigger embova rx scam how to make your peni bigger fast penises sizes best penile extenders heart medication names will my dick get bigger penis enhancement supplements penis surgury raise testosterone level penile enlargement device do kegels work for guys thick or long best male erection supplement energy pills that work spotify forgot password penis forums dr oz ed pills erectile dysfunction memes how does levitra work penis size by nation varicoceles and erectile dysfunction gnc weight loss reviews how thick is a penis herb and vitamin penis enhancement underwear test testosterone levels gorilla supplement diamond 2000 pill super suma penis enhancement procedure make your dick thicker medical penis enlargement girl grows dick