Are You Setting a New Year’s Resolution For Your Brand?

Heidi Singleton, CCO

January 2019

It’s that time again – when we take stock of the good, the bad and the ugly and vow to make serious changes in new year. Yes, it’s New Year’s Resolution time. I’ve made plenty of resolutions myself over the years, usually centered around weight loss or work/life balance. I used to beat myself up when I couldn’t hold on past January 31. (Who am I kidding? More like January 2.) But then I learned that, according to the U.S. News and World Report, a staggering 80% of New Year Resolutions fail by Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t feel quite so badly about my own shortcomings.

Why is it that we give up so quickly? Are our goals too big? Do we lack willpower? Does life get in the way? Perhaps. But the bigger reason is this: we give up because we aren’t actually resolving anything at all, we’re simply setting goals. Goals and resolutions are two different things. A goal is to lose 50 pounds. A resolution is to no longer use food as a coping mechanism. The first is a lagging indicator of success, something that happens as a result of a shift in your intention. The second is the intention itself, a leading indicator that drives behavior change and ultimately leads to success.

Think about your brand for a moment. Do you only set sales goals for the year, or do you also set intentions?

Intention is a powerful thing. It guides the decisions we make throughout the year and keeps us focused on what’s most important. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% of people are more likely to be successful in reaching their goals when they focus on intention rather than outcome.

When I apply this New Year Resolution dynamic to brands, I’ve found the same to be true: brands tend to focus on the goal rather than the intention. “Increase sales by 10%.” is the human equivalent of “Lose 30 pounds.” It’s not a mind shift or a behavior change, it’s a goal. A lagging indicator of success, one that is chased after with that next big campaign or promotional activation. They partake in a series of sprints to get to the goal, but when they look back on the year, they find they haven’t created lasting change, or a loyal following of consumers. So they set a new goal and start the process over again.

The most successful brands don’t focus on the goal, they focus on the intention, or the impact they want to make on the category or in culture. All of their decisions, behaviors and messages are driven by that intention, and as a result they find that they not only reach their goal, but do it in a way that creates a long-term following of brand advocates. Having that level of loyalty makes reaching their next goal that much easier.

When Microsoft’s Skype platform wasn’t being adopted by educators in the classroom, we set an intention for the brand: to reduce cultural bias by connecting children around the world through Skype. It didn’t just meet the brand’s usage goals, it created a deeper connection between the brand and its audience and turned educators into advocates. View the case film.

When Logitech G was having trouble convincing casual gamers to trade up to higher end peripherals, we set an intention for the brand: to make casual gamers feel more included in the gaming community by redefining gaming as “play.” That intention not only drove the brand’s content, but informed a new line of products designed to be more accessible to their opportunity audience.

And when Dreyer’s/Edy’s Ice Cream was struggling with perceived product parody and price battles, we helped them set an intention for the year: to help mom slow down and appreciate the wonder of the “in-between” moments. Not only did the content keep her engaged, the intention drove product usage outside the big milestone celebrations, and a double digital sales lift at retail. Watch the case film.

This new year, New Honor Society’s intention is to help brands behave less like brands and more like people. What will your brand’s 2019 New Year’s Intention be?