From Zero to Hero: How to Become a Must-Have Brand

Apple did it. Starbucks did it, too. And so did Barbie dolls by Mattel. If you’re wondering how these items scaled from new idea to nice-to-have to must-have hero brands, let Steve Jobs explain: “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.”[1]

 

 

 

 

Is it really as easy as the Apple genius makes it sound for a brand to carve out its space as a necessity in the consumer’s mind? As we can see, there is no prescribed area for items such as smartphones, lattes, and plastic fashion dolls in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as described in “A Theory of Human Motivation.”[2]

 

Image via Wikipedia

 

Are there any guideposts along the way for a brand to follow on its journey to must-have hero brand status? What steps can a brand take to go in the right direction?

 

Strategic Brand Foundations for Hero Brands

Of course, every business has some sort of a brand, good or bad, whether it’s generically commoditized and barely surviving or a profit powerhouse hero brand. Branding is not just for global giants. It’s equally important for local enterprises, too. Although resources may be thinner on the ground, the business of creating a successful brand cannot be over emphasised and it’s doable even on more modest budgets. But it does take time, consistent application, expertise, and experience.

 

 

 

 

Before taking that very first step, several strong, well-thought out, basic brand foundations must be in place:

  • Your Brand Values
  • Your Brand Purpose
  • Your Brand Positioning
  • Your Brand Promise
  • Your Brand Personality
  • Your Brand Delivery Experience

 

When these branding essentials are lacking, it’s rather like going on a road trip without a map…and a leaky petrol tank as well. Got it? Let’s get the car started.

 

 

 

 

6 Steps To Go from Zero to Hero Brand

 

  1. Create a Brand with Differentiation

 

Step One: Start your engines! Building a brand that has the X factor — something unique — is like putting the key in the ignition. In order to start the engine, you need to set your brand apart in some way that provides a benefit to the potential customer. Otherwise, there’s simply no spark.

 

One or more points of brand differentiation can revolve around the product, design, price point, distribution, social conscience, even its compelling brand story. In a small-to-medium sized business, brand differentiation is even more important, as without it there’s no chance to be noticed on a larger playing field.

 

Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)

 

Once you’ve set your brand apart, its personality can shine through. If your brand is lacking in personality, a brand audit is a business tool that will enable you to bring it sharply into focus because it is a process that identifies areas of strength, weakness and opportunities for innovation and growth. You can give your brand a health check using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ system. Find our more about it here.

 

Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits

 

For examples, think of the automobile makes and models you love best. Whether sporty, racy, or utilitarian, a car choice oozes in personality that in turn, reflects on its owner. All brands have the capacity to achieve this as succinctly as seen here:

 

Images via Pinterest, Topito.com, abcnews

 

 

  1. Define Your Core Brand Values


Step Two: You’re in the driver’s seat. To decide which way you’re going to steer, determine what core values your hero brand stands for. Your brand’s core values are unwavering, fundamental beliefs reflected in your mission, management, employees, practices, and customer relations.

 

Embrace your brand’s True North with a well-defined set of values that can actually increase the value of your brand. Compare no name jeans to a designer label (a label which cannot always be seen) and determine what accounts for the difference. Whether pricey or a bargain basement deal, a good brand projects the same thing: that it creates more value than it costs.

 

 

Example: Glamour Closet is a small retail business with one shop in each of four major US cities. They stock nearly new showroom, runway, overstock, and sample designer name bridal gowns at 35 to 75 percent lower than retail, because every bride wants the best, but not every bride has the budget. Unlike most showrooms from which these high-end gowns are sourced, no appointment is necessary and photos are permitted, adding to Glamour Closet’s differentiation.

 

Image via Glamour Closet

 

The family-run business has a tagline: “Quality. Trust. Community.” They have a strong CSR strategy where a portion of profits are donated to foundations dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s, arising from the owner’s personal family story touched by this disease.[3]

 

Related: Brand CSR, The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

  1. Build a Brand Promise


Step Three: Commit to a path. Create your brand promise and live it every day. In return, your employees will deliver on it.


Example: The City of Rancho Cordova, California has 69 employees, which it runs like a small business. Every other week, staff get to present suggestions for new programs and improved processes to a five-member advisory team in the “office of new ideas.” Brainstorming sessions select the best ideas for implementation involving the employees.

 

Related: Brand Promises, How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

 

Twice a week, lunchtime in the gym is extended by 30 minutes for well-being exercise sessions with colleagues. A tablet is offered to any employee demonstrating three ways that using one can increase his/her productivity, including flexihours. The Employee Activities Team helps coordinate numerous 40-plus charitable events throughout the year.

 

Rancho Cordova promises to the community of 65,000 and its employees that public service doesn’t have to mean sacrificing best practices and innovative culture of private enterprise. The local government attracts an average of 140 applicants per job.[4]

 

Images via Rancho Cordova

 

  1. Deliver Your Brand Experience

 

Step Four: Get to know your passengers. Small business owners realise that connection is critical because the customer experience is paramount to maintaining, nurturing, and growing the brand. Gary Erickson, CEO of Clif Bar & Co. exemplifies zero-to-hero in turning his homemade energy bar into a $100 million phenomenon with an emphasis on outdoor adventures.

 

 

Family and employee-owned, this has become one of America’s fastest-growing private companies with an estimated 35 million customers. These customers feel good about buying into the Clif Bar sustainability mission, “Think Like a Tree.”[5]

 

Related: Family Business Branding and The Secret Drivers to Brand Success

 

In his book, “Raising the Bar,” Erickson gives the reader compelling personal stories about trekking in the Himalayas, climbing in the Sierra Nevadas, and biking through Europe as inspiration for his philosophy of business: honesty, humour, and integrity. He aims to convince readers that supporting employees in their work, goals, and endeavours has a positive knock-on effect for the community and the environment.

 

 

 

 

Image via Clifbar

 

 

Happy employees are happy to keep your brand promise to your customers by wanting to deliver it, says Erickson.

 

  1. Identify Your Brand Touchpoints

 

Step Five: Use your front, side and rear view mirrors. Successful brands don’t overlook any “moment of truth” as seen through the eyes of the customer. The goal? “To create a highly adaptive customer experience that consistently delivers an extraordinary experience for the customer,” says one chief strategy officer.[6]

 

Related: Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

 

Example: In Nottingham, UK, the Restaurant Sat Bains With Rooms is independent, chef-owned, and completely different. In an unglamorous location near a motorway flyover, Chef Sat has managed to create a brand that is considered one of the world’s most innovative, earning him two Michelin stars. Only 7- and 10-course dinners are served, with specially designed tabletop cutlery holders so guests are not interrupted with constant silverware replacement by servers. And, because diners travel for the experience, eight deluxe guest bedrooms are situated on the premises.

 

 

 

 

This infographic map demonstrates chef’s understanding that the guest journey begins with touch points beyond food and drink, such as the reservation and the car park.

 

Image via www.restaurantsatbains.com

 

Image via www.restaurantsatbains.com

 

 

  1. Strategize Your Brand Communications


Step Six: Keep your eyes on the road. When your external and internal brand communications are consistent across all media, properly planned and executed, there’s no need to text and drive.

 

 

 

 

Your brand tone-of-voice is authentic and humanised, it speaks to your target audience, it represents the brand personality and connects customers to your brand, successfully creating the reaction you’re looking for.

 

Related: How to Develop Your Brand Tone of Voice to Increase Sales


Example: In Seattle, home of the famous Pike Market with its iconic sign and fishmongers known for tossing fish to one another across their stalls, Virgin America got their message across on social media using humour. Here’s how they let customers know that they can expect power outlets at each seat on the airline.

 

Related: Brand Strategy, 6 Tips for Building Your Proft Growth Plan

 

 

 

How do small companies get big? As an SME / SMB, business owners can stay nimble, exercising a greater ability to manoeuvre twists and turns on the road to successful brand growth. With timely MOTs or NCTs (that’s an annual vehicle checkup for our American friends) from branding professionals in the form of a brand audit health check, the brand you’re driving can make it successfully across the finish line first, and consistently stay ahead of the competition.

 

Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

 

Image via Twitter

 

 

And the good news, if you want to get your brand roadmap on track …we’re here to help!

 

If you want direction and support transforming your brand so it fully embraces changing trends and increases sales then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you.

This is a two-day brand building intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers where you work on your brand with our leadership. In fact, over the two days, you re-evaluate your brand, codify it and create your brand strategy from the ground up whether you’re revitalising an existing brand or creating a new one.

At the end of the two-day Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind you leave with your fully documented brand strategy ready for implementation in your business or organisation.

 

If your team is larger and you’d like to include everyone’s’ participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too. Just drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) to discuss your preferences and we’ll develop your brand building intensive bespoke to your particular brand requirements.

 

 

 

Alternatively, if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

 

Want to do-it-yourself and build your own brand road map, then we also have a solution for you to with our online ‘How to Build a Brand’ eCourse called the Personality Profile Performer™ online programme which is also now part of ‘The Economist Group” platform. You can find out more here and you can watch a free course preview here.

 

 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand Growth and Success

 

1. Have I laid strong foundations in place for my brand?

 

2. Have I shared my brand values with all stakeholders, including employees?

 

3. Have I performed regular brand audits to ensure that I’ve not veered off course in my brand’s direction and objectives?

 

4. Alternatively, does that brand direction require a refresh, due to changed circumstances?

 

5. Have I reviewed my customer touch points and ensured these align with brand values at every intersection?

 

6. Have I developed an engaging personality for my brand and a consistent message with an appropriate tone of voice?

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs,” Simon & Schuster, 2011

[2] http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

[3] http://glamourcloset.com/closet/html/Glamour%20Closet%20In%20Support%20of%20A%20Cure%20for%20Parkinsons.pdf

[4] http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/city-of-rancho-cordova

[5] http://www.clifbar.com/article/think-like-a-tree

[6] http://www.mycustomer.com/community/blogs/jeff-hassemer/time-to-burn-the-customer-journey-map

Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

Sorting through all the noise we’re bombarded with in the digital era is certainly a challenge. It’s essential for a brand to avoid getting lost in the daily deluge as customers navigate information overload and a visual avalanche to focus on what’s most relevant. That’s where emotional connections come in, solving a digital age dilemma by using humour in branding as the delivery vehicle[1].

 

 

 

Strong content will stop consumers skipping adverts, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown as reported in Marketing Week[2], which reveals the top five reasons someone will watch. These are:

1) An advert is funny

2) It is for a category the recipient is interested in

3) There is a reward, such as coupon or points

4) The advert is for a brand the consumer is interested in

5) Something noteworthy happens in the first few seconds

Consumer research from Adobe and Edelman Berland indicates that humour is best for product recall according to 7 out of 10 respondents. [3]

 

Top Five Benefits of Emotionally Driven Humour in Branding

 

Research tells us that when customers feel a genuine emotional connection with a particular brand, they generate disproportionate value for that brand. Those who are ‘fully connected’ emotionally are 52% more valuable to brands than customers who are ‘highly satisfied’, reports Harvard Business Review. [4]

 

Five benefits of emotional branding, especially humour, are:

  1. Differentiation
  2. Storytelling
  3. Personalization
  4. Relationship
  5. Loyalty

 

Image via Harvard Business Review

1. Differentiation Through Humour in Branding

Of course, some brands have it easier by their very nature. But it isn’t necessary to be Disney or Ben & Jerry’s to find a deeply personal, possibly humourous, way to present for that all-important emotional bond. Indeed, it’s the all-important way that Disney can differentiate themselves from Universal Studios Hollywood or Legoland and Ben & Jerry’s can inform their strategic direction based on differences from the likes of Häagen Dazs. Humour also amplifies your brand’s personality, giving it more character and life which enables it to standout more strongly and consequently attract your ideal audience.

 

Read more about how to make your brand standout here: Personality Matters, Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits

 

2. Storytelling Through Humour in Branding

In the automobile world, for example, it could be a desire to appear flashy, a have a sense of freedom, or the express wish to transport the children safely. Alternatively, Volvo suggests it could be the wish to “Live Fully Now.” While this advertisement’s humour is not the belly laugh type, it’s impossible not to smile as Volvo holds up a mirror to tell the story of each of us (personalization is at work here, as well).

 

Watch as Volvo evolves from their earlier hard sell and deadly serious car crash commercials emphasizing their steel cage design, to now endeavouring to make a successful emotional connection in the 2017 video,” The Get Away Car,” imploring us to “Live Fully Now.”

 

 

Learn how to use storytelling to increase your sales here: Brand Stories, 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves

 

3. Personalization Through Humour in Branding


Nobody is better at personalization than Amazon, who are acutely aware of any product you search on the web, and quick to pass you pop-up banner ads and emails to let you know that they know. But small brands without the sophisticated big data collection of Amazon can accomplish personalization — with humour — as well.

 

Read more about delivering customer expectations here: Brand Promises, How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

 

Victor Pest makes mousetraps and is a supplier of rodent control supplies — not very sexy as products go. A Victor rodent trap will never make an appropriate birthday or Valentine’s Day purchase, nor anybody’s Christmas wish list.

 

Image via Victor® Pest

 

They’ve used Twitter and Pinterest as channels for a humorous tone of voice directed at likely customer audiences: home builders, decorators, realtors, property management, home inspectors, exterminators, DIY shop owners, etc. The result goes way beyond what one might expect from a pest repellent company to create top-of-mind-awareness branding for an unsavoury problem.

 

 

Join our ‘How to Build Your Brand’ programme here

 

 

4. Relationship Building with Humour in Branding

“Hello, I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC” was aired by Apple from 2006 to 2009. What’s the key to this classic ad? Making your own brand the butt of the joke. When you give your brand a frivolous name (Ex: Macintosh, Dunkin’ Donuts, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter), it’s a head start.

 

Image via Apple

 

Building your customer relationships using other types of humorous treatment for your brand include:

 

  • Video commercial. Has there ever been a better example of that first 30-second Old Spice commercial featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”? The “wildly smug, cool-cat smooth dude persona” introduced in 2010 maintained eye contact with the camera throughout, creating a connection between audience and Old Spice Man, reaping awards and more than 53 million views by January, 2017.

 

Old Spice – we have used often, but here it is again because it’s one of the best!

 

 

 

  • Print ad. Proving that a picture is worth 1,000 words, Rowenta 2100 Watt Vacuum Cleaner does just that with one image. It connects perfectly with an outdoorsy audience who we imagine must be looking after heritage country estates that require lots of dust busting.

 

 

  • Jingle and lyrics. “The Meow Mix Theme” was created in 1970 and performed by a dubbed singing cat using subtitles and a bouncing ball on the lyrics. Simple and memorable, “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name” is considered an advertising classic that cat owners adore.

 

 

 

Learn more about standing out here: How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market

 

5. Loyalty Created Through Humour in Branding

No matter what size, service, or product, any business can find an emotional connection that creates brand loyalty. Add in a dash of humour for a winning formula with stickiness for loyalty.

 

 

Talk about loyalty…Some of the best-known advertising icons, Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Doughboy (1965) and the Morton Salt Girl (1914) are still hard at work through generations of loyal customers.

 

 

More than a century later, Morton’s girl is now seen on bus stop shelters to encouraging selfies.

 

 

Even a contemporary supply chain software called Kinaxis has found a path for humour, using actors as characters who display their benefits as a service (Simplicity, Flexibility, Easy Upgrades, etc.) in a dating series of videos; have a look.

 

 

High tech startup brands don’t expect decades of loyalty in a single ad campaign, but they are looking for swift and sticky traction — translated as loyalty in 21st century lingo.

 

“Customers define themselves through brands they use. The branded clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the drinks they consume, university they attended, favourite spots to hang out, and so on.”

– Nyimpini Mabunda, Smirnoff Vodka Marketing Manager: “Emotional Branding In a Changing Marketplace”.

 

Redefine Your Ideal Target Audiences

Remember, there’s a risk with being brilliantly clever and funny. That is, there’s nothing worse than humour that strikes out. To make sure you’re addressing the right humour to an audience to appreciate it, a brand audit is the best way to ensure that your branding reaches the right audience(s). It’s also important to ensure you have your ideal audience fully identified and mapped out in detail. Purchaser Personas or customer pen portraits are an essential tool to ensure you get this right.

 

“One of the major keys to a successful humorous campaign is variety, once a commercial starts to wear out there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept…while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products”.

– Mark Levit, Managing Partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and professor of marketing at New York University.

 

If you need direction and support giving your brand a health check feel free to get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). Alternatively you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step walk through, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.

 

Give your brand a health check here so you become more profitable

 

 

Why Humour in Branding Works Best for Sharing and Word-of-Mouth

Your fans and followers on social media provide one of the best ways to get a targeted expanded audience, that is, their friends with look-alike habits, likes, tastes, budgets. When you deliver humorous content, you significantly increase the chances that your fans will share your message.[5]

 

 

Don’t Take Your Own Brand Too Seriously

In summary,

  1. Even mundane products like bathroom tissue, computer hardware, and home owners’ insurance can come to life through the use of humour.
  2. Bring a smile to their faces — it’s a small gift — it doesn’t have to be a huge guffaw.
  3. Aim for hearts over wallets, the heads will follow — remember you must move the heart first if you want to win the mind

 

“When a brand shows that it doesn’t always take itself too seriously, it’s a powerful way to demonstrate authenticity and confidence, as well as connect with your community.”

– Tim Washer, standup comedian, Webby-nominated video producer and corporate humorist; creator of Cisco’s “The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day” video for the $80,000 ASR 9000 router.

 

 

Here’s one of our all-time favorites from Blendtec to inspire you to think outside the box when creating humorous content.

 

 

Questions for Brand Owners, Managers and Entrepreneurs About Using Humour in Branding

 

1. Does your brand lend itself to humour across customers, staff, and stakeholders?

 

2. How well do you know your customer base? When did you last conduct a brand audit of your customers?

 

3. Have you clearly identified your prime target audiences beyond your immediate base? Have you mapped out your different customer types with your Purchaser Personas™ so you can attract your ideal audience more effectively?

 

4. When was the last time you conducted a comprehensive health check of your brand?

 

5. Will a tasteful, humorous approach fit with your brand promise and your audience(s)?

 

Want to make your brand more successful or launch a new one? Find out how you can here.

 

Build your winning brand with The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here

 

[1] http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/americans-more-likely-to-share-funny-than-important-content-on-social-media-36502

[2] https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/02/21/good-old-fashioned-advertising-creates-loyal-customers/?nocache=true&adfesuccess=1

[3] http://www.marketingcharts.com/traditional/7-in-10-consumers-believe-funny-ads-spur-better-product-recall-25911

[4] https://hbr.org/2015/11/the-new-science-of-customer-emotions

[5] http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/americans-more-likely-to-share-funny-than-important-content-on-social-media-36502

 

How to Transform Your Brand and Increase Your Sales

Rebrand or Refresh? That is the Question

A Rebranding Strategy Guide for Brand Owners and Managers

The business world is in a constant state of flux. Markets change, new trends emerge, disruptive competitors alter longstanding rules, and customer preferences evolve — all of which impacts your brand. Consequently brands are constantly evolving to ensure future growth and relevance. Even the longest standing and greatest brands in the world need rejuvenation, if not a total rebrand, in order to maintain their market leadership.

  

Like the foundation upon which a house is built, a strong brand is essential, indeed it is the lifeblood for any successful organisation. When cracks appear in that foundation, a wise owner or manager must take action to repair, introduce procedures to prevent deterioration and take steps to strengthen the brand for future growth. Experts say that organisations and brands change their corporate identities on an average of once every 7-10 years. [1]

 

On a regular basis, diligent brand owners and managers need to take a step away from an organization’s day-to-day operations to examine and re-evaluate their position and strength in the market. If your brand isn’t achieving its objectives or driving business growth, there’s little time to be lost wondering what to do about it. Its time to give your brand a health check. Frequently asked questions about the two brand revitalisation routes include:

  1. What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?
  2. How do I determine which one is the most suitable choice?

 

Rebranding or revitalization can take many guises from the complete wholesale change of a company, service or product, inside and out, including; name, culture, values, vision, mission, proposition, positioning, purpose, behaviours, tone, visual collateral and all that entails with no connections to the legacy entity. Alternatively, it can be something less dramatic and of a more subtle, evolutionary nature in the form of a brand refresh.

 

In each instance though, the change to whatever degree, be it a total rebrand overhaul or brand refresh, affects a change in the minds of the target audience in terms of their perceptions of the brand. That change is a process of giving an organisation, product or service a new meaning and image, both in terms of brand experience and culture to its visual brand collateral, in order to make it more successful.

 

In determining whether it’s time for a refresh or a rebrand, one of the most effective tools for re-assessing your brand’s state is a brand audit health check to examine external and internal drivers that impact your brand. Like any checkup, a brand audit is best done as a proactive and preventative measure. Aside from determining the health or state of your brand, a brand audit also helps determine the level of potential change required — to rebrand or refresh.

“A brand audit is effectively a health check of your brand to identify and address problem areas with a net result of helping you turn things around and grow your bottom line.

Brands are like living entities with life cycles. They start with much excitement and promise, grow and then eventually plateau. A brand audit helps you innovate, re-invent, re-invigorate, and ensure market leadership and continued relevance so you can maximise your commercial return and fend off your competition.

The scale and depth of a brand audit is largely determined by your primary objectives coupled with timelines and resources.”

 

 

 

 

What’s the Difference between Refresh and Rebrand?

 

The reasons for rebranding and or refreshing an organisation, product or service are numerous and decisions should not be taken lightly without sound strategic reasons before launching into the process.

Once you know why you’re considering either a rebrand or refresh and what your primary objectives are in making this strategic decision, consider the following differences:

Rebrand or Refresh? A Quick Reference Checklist

RefreshRebrand
What: Expand reach and market impact, get new customers, attract new talent, increase profitability

 

Why: Declining market share, diminishing growth, changing client’s or customers needs, tired and dated with lack of brand relevance, insufficient new leads, significant new product/service launch, lack of brand distinction, entering a new market, aggressive new competitors, new technology changes, struggling to describe what makes your firm, organisation, product or service different, difficulty attracting new talent, competitors poaching key employees, need to take your organisation to the next level, change in brand architecture or hierarchy

What: A re-positioning to change market perceptions, re-evaluate who are we, why do we exist? What’s our mission, vision, values, promise? How do we define and articulate our brand proposition and purpose? How is our brand really different to our competitors?

 

Why: New ownership, merger or acquisition, legal issues, reputation damage, rationalisation, outgrowth, globalisation, new primary target audience(s), competition, new sectorial challengers and disruptors

What: Evolutionary logo update

 

Why: Better reflection of brand platform and values

What: New brand identity

 

Why: To streamline and simplify or a complete change in core business

What: Evolve, update tagline

 

Why: Tweak the message, spotlight the business, stay current, introduce a new brand promise reflecting enhancements provided by the business

What: New tagline

 

Why: New line of business, new audience or an innovative advancement, new positioning

What: Health check your brand personality and primary characteristics using brand profiling — elements reference check

 

Why: Increased competition, slower sales, insufficient brand relevance and resonance, create enhanced distinction and market recognition, develop stronger brand resonance with customers

What: Redefine your new brand personality and brand characteristics

 

Why: Make it more relevant, engaging, compelling, distinctive, different, memorable and referable

What: Evaluate your brand promise and enhance consistent delivery

 

Why: Customer feedback, lack of strong distinction, difference and referability

What: Change your brand promise

 

Why: As a result of new products, services

What: Re-evaluate customer base versus profitability, evaluate brand equity

 

Why: Customer research, re-evaluate existing buyer personas (customer profiles)

What: New primary audience, need to change existing or previous customer perceptions

 

Why: Customer research, develop new customer buyer personas

What: Build new leadership and employee training modules

 

Why: People represent the brand and need the knowledge to be effective brand champions

What: Revamp leadership and employee training programmes

 

Why: To interpret and support company culture, develop new brand ambassadors

What: Expand market share

 

Why: Changes in competitive set and customer wants/needs

What: Find and capture new customers

 

Why: Change of price point and positioning

What: Introduce new products, services congruent with primary offering

 

Why: Business expansion within existing customer base and to attract new customers

What: Discontinue or retire some existing products, services

 

Why: Lack of market demand, no longer relevant, changing customer needs, competitors

What: Launch within a shorter timeline

 

Why: Competitive edge, attract change hungry customers, capture / maintain lead market share

What: Stage a rollout over a year or longer

 

Why: Extensive impact throughout the business, firm or organisation requiring change management internally and externally

 

So, refresh or rebrand? Here we take a look at both options and evaluate the most significant or typical reasons for deciding to choose one over the other. We’ll also review several case studies and key learnings to be extracted.

Rebranding or Brand Refresh Process

Establishing the reasons behind any brand change is fundamental. Whether your brand audit points to a refresh or a rebrand, both routes require a process of due diligence to determine the changes required and to what degree. Both routes require an inclusive approach, from the C-suite to the newest team member, ensuring that everyone in the organisation sees themselves as an essential part of the brand.

 

Engagement with the external market, customers, stakeholders and influencers alike is also hugely important. There many examples of brands which failed to address this adequately and consequently suffered significantly at the hands of voluble detractors.

 

While it may be tempting to jump into the visual brand design aspects, the process of investigation, discovery, analysis and brand strategy development cannot be overlooked or rushed — at your brand peril.

 

Broadly speaking a typical rebrand or refresh process includes:

 

Are you struggling with how to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive memorable and likeable? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process to make your brand No.1 in your target market — especially if you’re a getting lost in the market amongst all your competitors.

Rebranding Strategy

Approaching a rebranding or brand refresh process without strategic planning, market insights and customer engagement can have disastrous consequences. The strategy leading to a brand refresh or to rebranding requires much more than changes to a logo; it requires an understanding of strategic objectives for the brand.

 

Research involves consultation with staff, with existing, lost and prospective customers, former clients, and competitor insights to get a full picture of current brand associations as well as customer perceptions, wants and needs.

 

Therefore, an investment in time for research and assessment is required to flesh out areas of strength and weakness and their impact on the brand to see whether a total rebrand or just a refresh is required. The brand audit will also typically reveal new opportunities and point the way towards what you need to do to leverage them for greatest impact.

Rebranding Deliverables

Define deliverables to the organisation. These typically include a brand positioning statement that summarises the pertinent research and brand profiling outputs regarding the unique selling points and key brand characteristics that set the brand apart and make it highly visible, different, distinctive, memorable and liked while also providing the roadmap or GPS direction for the brand moving forward.

 

Brand messaging is delivered to include some or all of the following: values, vision, promise and mission statement, brand story, value proposition (for aligning brand product and services to customer communications), identification of target audiences, development of purchaser personas and a key messages crafted for each. Deliverables might also include problem statements and problem solutions.

 

Lastly, the design aspect of visual and / or audio deliverables should be identified e.g. logo and a tagline, packaging, stationery, website, social media platforms, apps update or overhaul, brochures, uniforms, PowerPoint or Keynote templates, sales supports, vehicle livery, uniforms, signage, site interiors and exteriors, exhibition stands, possibly music, videos, and more. It’s critical that your new or revitalised brand collateral properly reflects your brand, is consistent throughout every touch point and most importantly reflects and amplifies your key brand differentiators and brand personality in a way that’s really meaningful to your primary audience.

Rebranding or Brand Refresh Rollout

To avoid miscommunications, a new or refreshed branding launch is staged first internally. An organisation must provide insights, education and training to everyone, top down from senior management to general employees to ensure they are onboard to advocate the new brand. Front line employees’ communications are essential to the successful external customer roll out which follows.

Top 15 Tips for Ensuring a Successful Rebrand or Refresh

  1. Consult management
  2. Conduct a brand audit
  3. Determine refresh or rebrand requirement
  4. Set objectives
  5. Establish a timeline
  6. Set budget appropriately
  7. Create a balanced project team internally and externally
  8. Evaluate all customer touchpoints
  9. Re-develop / overhaul brand proposition, positioning and differentiators
  10. Re-visit brand strategy; sales and marketing messages and channels
  11. Develop brand strategy, brand profiling documents to provide the essential brand directions or roadmap
  12. Develop brand design brief
  13. Commission brand design agency (with relevant expertise)
  14. Determine methodology and markers for measuring ROI
  15. Plan and execute brand rollout to market

Hit or Miss: Brand Refresh and Rebrand Examples

Taking the time and consulting the experts to get it right is critical; a miss can be a costly affair.

 

Accenture: Rebranding Involved the Entire Global Organization

Amid much fanfare, Andersen Consulting hung a huge banner at the New York Stock Exchange to announce its 2001 reorganization from partnership to public company and a rebranding as Accenture. Following arbitration involving accountancy Arthur Andersen, the new name (meaning accent on the future) resulted from an internal competition won by a Danish employee in the company’s Oslo office, chosen from 2,677 submissions from 42 countries.[2]

 

Accenture-Brand-600px

Image via Accenture

 

Time magazine pegged Accenture “as a generic corporate nonsense word only a management consultant could have come up with…“[3] Only this was not the case. Currently the world’s largest management consultancy, Accenture might have made more of the positive PR storytelling opportunity about the brainstorming naming contest and the winner’s inspiration.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: A Leading Law Firm says Brand Audit and Teamwork Are Key to Rebrand Success

America’s largest law firm undertook a rebrand over a 15 month period. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP had experienced two mergers, and the rebrand was intended to “define and raise awareness of our practice and industry expertise, commitment to client service, and seamless global reach.”

AAA-eProduct-Promo-Start-Now-800x700px

The brand audit health check process involved many thousands of pieces of content, including 2,000 lawyer biographies to be re-written, according to the firm’s chief business development and marketing officer. The takeaway? To “cultivate a really strong collaboration among all of the constituents responsible for launching a new brand…No single person could have accomplished this alone; this was truly a team effort.”[4]

 

Massey Bros.: One of Dublin’s Largest Funeral Directors Rebranded to Amplify its Brand Leadership Positioning and New Innovative Services

Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a very successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of their premium service together with ongoing innovative solutions offered.

 

Massey-Bros-500px

 

They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this they themselves also operated under two names before their brand refresh! Their brand revitalisation strategy helped them fully leverage their leadership positioning and amplify their multiple new innovative service solutions offered.

 

 

Dublin Tourism Board: Refreshes the Destination’s Strategic Positioning

Tourists have a finite number of vacation days and discretionary budget for holidays, so every destination competes to capture that spend. Visit Dublin undertook a study[5] to determine reasons for declining tourism numbers since 2007, resulting in a new positioning crafted to a visitor-focused strategy further analyzed by length of stay, reason for visit, country of origin and more demographics. As a 5-year plan, the realigned strategy, “A Breath of Fresh Air” gets buy-ins from the stakeholders and community to highlight both urban and outdoor visitor experiences.

 

Old Spice: Rebranded to Reposition – It Used to be on Your Grandfather’s Bathroom Shelf!

 

Marketing pros everywhere love the transformation of Old Spice[6] fragrance for men from an ageing brand to a sexy one. Aimed at a younger, newly targeted consumer audience, the “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign (52 million views and counting) smells nothing like 1938, the classic brand’s year of birth.

 

 

 

Learn from these well-known rebranding and brand refresh failures, now text book case studies on approaches to avoid. The primary lesson in each of these examples is do your due diligence before rebranding or refreshing your brand!

 

Royal Mail:

Consignia was a £2 million investment launched in January 2001 for the U.K. postal service. Calling the new name, “Nine letters that spelled fiasco,”[7] the BBC joined others to prompt a U-turn to return to Royal Mail 16 months later.

Royal-Mail-Rebrand-600px

Image via Royalmail

 

Tropicana:

When parent company PepsiCo removed the leafy green logo and juicy orange pierced with a straw in favor of a one-dimensional glass of juice, Tropicana sales plummeted by 20 percent. On top of whatever the rebrand and reversal cost, sales suffered to the tune of $137 million between January 1st and February 22nd 2009.

Tropicana-Rebrand-Packaging-600px

Image via Adage.com

 

Gap:

Perhaps the fastest rebrand turnaround ever, the new Gap logo lasted only six days at Christmas 2010. Consumer reaction was negative and outspoken. In going back to square one, the whole exercise has been estimated to have cost Gap $100 million.[8]

Gap-Logo-600px

Image via Gap

RadioShack:

RadioShack, founded in 1921, once operated 8,000-plus retail locations around the world. In 2015, after 11 consecutive quarterly losses, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy. Instead of spending millions on a refresh as “The Shack”, the company needed to completely rebrand. Service in RadioShack was reportedly abysmal, selection regarded as limited, prices perceived to be high and the USP as an electronic supplier of parts was no longer considered relevant.

RadioShack-The-Shack

Image via RadioShack

Can we help you with your brand refresh or rebranding?

Ask yourself:

  • Does your brand strategy plan reflect the time commitment involved in making a change?
  • Have you identified strategic reasons for a brand refresh or rebranding? 
  • Is your brand still truly relevant to your target market now and into the future?
  • Is your brand really distinctive, different and memorable from a customer/client perspective? Do you need to re-evaluate your brand profile?

  

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

  • Are you considering a rebrand to solve a brand challenge and / or a commercial challenge?
  • Have you really evaluated the impact of new disruptors and challengers entering your market and how your brand will compete against them?

 

You may also like:

 

[1] VIM-Group.com

[2] https://newsroom.accenture.com/subjects/accenture-corporate/andersen-consulting-announces-new-name-accenture-effective-010101.htm

[3] http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1914815_1914808_1914804,00.html

[4] http://www.infinitespada.com/news/what-it-takes-to-rebrand-americas-largest-law-firm

[5] http://www.failteireland.ie/FailteIreland/media/WebsiteStructure/Documents/4_Corporate_Documents/Strategy_Operations_Plans/Destination_Dublin_GDT_2020_Full_File.pdf?ext=.pdf

[6] http://www.personadesign.ie/blog/brand_resurgence_4_lessons_learned_from_amazing_brand_comebacks

[7] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2002480.stm

[8] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/million-dollar-branding-mistakes-from-pepsi-radio-shack-quinn?trkSplashRedir=true&forceNoSplash=true

How Brexit Presents Big Opportunities for Small Brands

How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?

In Silicon Valley, startups reaching a valuation of $1 billion are known as unicorns because they’re considered so rare. As of April 2016, there are 165 such privately-owned companies from Airbnb to ZocDoc,[1] a number which might suggest to the casual observer that the unicorn isn’t quite so rare after all.

However, “Failure is the norm,” according to Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and expert on entrepreneurship. Among the many millions[2] of global startups annually and within the broader, competitive marketplace, survival — and success — are exceptional.

 

Great Companies Also Fail

Twenty years ago, another Harvard Business School professor published “The Innovator’s Dilemma” to explore what makes well-managed, top tier companies fail.

Clayton M. Christensen, named the world’s most influential business thinker by Thinkers50 in 2011[3], determined that, “Great companies can fail ― not because they do anything wrong, but because they do everything right. Meeting customers’ current needs leads firms to reject breakthrough innovations ― ’disruptive technologies’ that create the products and opportunities of the future.”

 

Challenging the Status Quo

A challenger brand attacks the market leader(s) by offering a superior product or service…and by satisfying the customer.

From Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley to Silicon Wadi, everyone with a good idea has dreams of becoming the next Gates, Jobs, or Zuckerberg.

Chances are slim indeed for quantity to morph into quality. GEM, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, puts the estimate of new companies born each year at 100 million. Of these, half won’t last five years and few will crack through $1 million in yearly billings.[4]

Nevertheless, challenger brands enter vastly different verticals at widely varying moments in the life cycle of that segment’s status quo. Even with a brand new idea, such as online social networking, The Facebook, as it was originally called, was a challenger brand in 2003.

Remember Friendster? Philanthropist Sean Parker, first president of Facebook says of Friendster, “That’s a classic case of where a company just blew it. And MySpace is another case. Facebook had no chance to win; it should not have won the market…the only reason we won was the gross incompetence of MySpace…”

 

 

By definition, new contenders are less risk averse, more nimble, and entering their field with lower costs. As Parker points out, established brands must keep a sharply focused view over the shoulder at all times.

However, if a rear view mirror were enough to make it big, we’d see hundreds of thousands of unicorns grazing in virtual startup meadows. Instead, books by hundreds of prize-winning thinkers address and re-address the magic formula for a challenger brand to become a market leader.

Consider how these fundamentals of branding play out on the Challenger Brand Stage.

 

Five Golden Rules for Challenger Brands

  • Influence: Be convinced — and convincing
  • Connect: Clearly state your value proposition — authentically
  • Communicate: Learn from mistakes — both yours and others
  • Innovate: Listen to customers — and keep looking over your shoulder

 

Are you struggling with how to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive memorable and loveable? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process to make your brand No.1 in your target market — especially if you’re a challenger.

 

Personality-Profile-Performer-Offer-16-6-2016

 

Challenger Brand Case Studies

Natural Foods and Groceries – Whole Foods Versus Everybody

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1980, one small store and four owners decided the natural food industry was ready for a supermarket format. Today, the market leader in organic and natural foods has 440 locations in North America and the UK, with fiscal year 2015 total sales of $15.4 billion, up 8 percent year-on-year. Over 5 percent of total net profits goes to charities.

 

Whole-Foods-Original-Store

Image via www.wholefoodsmarket.com

 

Whole Foods is no stranger to connecting with customers and other branding fundamentals. Their fourth quarter earnings report states, “There has never been a time where customers have had more interest in what they eat, where it comes from and who’s growing it. Our company mission, commitment to transparency, and culture of innovation are more relevant than ever, and we see tremendous growth potential as food consciousness continues to evolve.”

 

 

 

 

How focused is Whole Foods on looking over their shoulder? “We recognize the need to move faster and go deeper to rebuild traffic and sales and create a solid foundation for long-term profitable growth and are taking the necessary steps to better communicate our differentiation, improve our value perception, and fundamentally evolve our business.”

 

Whole-Foods-Mission-and-Values-800px

Image via www.wholefoodsmarket.com

 

 

Team Communications – Slack Versus Email

Have you ever heard anyone say how much they absolutely love email? It just doesn’t happen. Yet, customers are passionate about Slack.

 

Slack-Logo-CMYK-800px

Image via www.slack.com

 

 

“I love Slack. I really, really do. So much so I would call it an addiction at this point,” wrote Dave Teare, founder of Canadian-based 1Password, the secure password app that started as a two person company 10 years ago and grew to over 60 people. Using Slack as the internal communications channel, Teare says, “As a company we’ve never felt more connected. The notifications are to die for. They are simply amazing and fun to receive.”

 

 

 

 

The cloud-based software developed in summer 2013 is meant to reduce or eliminate workplace email. About 8,000 customers signed up within 24 hours of launch and in 2015, Slack passed one million daily active users. The Financial Times wrote that Slack was the first business technology to cross from business to personal use since Microsoft Office and the BlackBerry.

Several months ago, the free messaging app lit up the tech press when it raised funds at a $1.2 billion valuation. Well, try $2.8 billion now, and still growing.

“Better than truffles,” and “in love with a service” are the kind of comments you’ll find when you visit the Wall of Love to find out what happy customers are saying. Take the tour. Slack clearly states the value proposition, “A new kind of messaging…what’s different about Slack…and no more email.”

 

On-demand Transportation – Lyft Versus Uber

Ride-sharing conducted on smartphones has shaken up the taxi and limousine business in urban centers all over the world. Passengers request a ride on a mobile app and get connected to a nearby driver, displaying profile, name, headshot, vehicle make and model of their car, and estimated arrival time. No payment transaction is needed, as payments are automated.

In some cities, competing brands exist in the massive transportation industry. Uber and Lyft are chief among these. Uber has spread to 58 countries, Lyft is available in 200+ US cities.

Despite being the challenger brand, Lyft expected to reach $1 billion in gross annual revenue in 2015, up from $130 million, the company’s co-founder told Reuters. Uber’s gross bookings were projected to hit $10.84 billion in 2015, rising to $26.12 billion in 2016.[5]

 

Lyft_company_culture

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

Each service offers a different ride experience, including casual, shared, disabled, limousine. All offer a deeply personal solution to a problem: getting from A to B affordably, safely, reliably and on-demand.

 

Uber-style-popularity

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

Uber started as a luxury car service with the motto, “everyone’s private driver,” and they take a higher percentage from the drivers, too. In a Lyft car, passengers fisty-bump (it’s an insider gesture) with the driver and sit in the front seat. The touchy-feely brand has the motto, “your friend with a car.”

 

Lyft-vs-Uber-Brand-Comparison

Image via www.rideshare.com

 

The ramifications of the taxi and limousine disrupt are potentially far-reaching. Observers are watching to see whether the post-IPO Uber Technologies Inc. [UBER.UL] and privately-owned Lyft carve out different strategic areas within each brand. For Lyft, possibly impacting commuter habits across America[6] and for Uber, competing with Google to upset the entire automobile industry with driverless cars.

 

Men’s Shaving – Dollar Shave Club Versus Gillette

Since the dawn of the 20th century, shaving for gentlemen has been dominated by the safety razor from Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, a brand valued at $20.5 billion, accounting for 70 percent of the global market.

Yet, the in-store shopping experience is not entirely customer friendly with packaging which can be somewhat challenging for the less nimble fingered and complicated blade choices, all of which are typically locked behind glass cases due to their higher prices.

 

Dollar-Shave-Club-800px

Image via www.dollarshaveclub.com

 

Dollar Shave Club focused on that reportedly unappealing customer experience, encouraging consumers to join a home delivery scheme to “Shave Time. Shave Money.” The Guardian reports that “Dollar Shave Club’s sales have steadily increased since its launch, from $4m in 2012 to a projection of between $140m and $150m this year, with 2.4 million users.”

 

Dollar-Shave-Delivery-Box-700px

Image via www.dollarshaveclub.com

 

Watch Michael Durbin, the Venice, Californian-based former improv comic present his vision in a YouTube video that prompted 12,000 orders in a two-day span after it was released in 2012 and has now enjoyed 22 million views.

 

 

 

 

  • Which of these challenger brand case studies do you find most compelling and why?
  • Can you think of an industry that’s a prime target for a challenger brand?
  • Do you agree that building a sound brand strategy begins with research: knowing what customers need — not what you think they need?
  • As a challenger brand, can you carve out a very unique niche to own and defend? 
  • In what ways do you think a challenger brand should market itself differently from market leaders with larger resources?

 

You may also like:

• The Power of Disruptor and Challenger Brands

• The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

• Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

• Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

• Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good
Personality-Profile-Performer-Offer-16-6-2016

 

[1] http://techcrunch.com/unicorn-leaderboard
[2] Gem-2015-2016-global-report-110416-1460370041.pdf
[3] http://thinkers50.com/t50-awards/awards-2011
[4] https://www.allbusiness.com/million-dollar-startup-secrets-16694845-1.html
[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lyft-runrate-exclusive-idUSKCN0T621K20151117#7j71Oao6sDUYoY7r.99
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/technology/personaltech/lyft-tries-to-coax-commuters-to-leave-their-cars.html

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos) – CEO Amazon.

 

89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016 according to a recent Gartner survey, compared to only 36 percent four years ago. If your customers don’t like the customer experience they have with you, there’s a high probability they won’t buy again and they’re highly likely to share their poor brand experience with everyone they know — online!

 

Steve Jobs Quote Customer Experience 600px

 

 

Here we’ll take a look at who has been delivering a great customer brand experience and how they’re doing it really well, contrasted with others on the opposite end of the scale — with actionable learnings for you to take away from both.

 

The latest reports on customer brand performance are eye-openers and worth reflecting on when you review your own brand or give it a customer performance brand health check.

 

 

Common Brand Experience Traits for Top Brands

One factor that definitely stands out is steadfast perseverance. What has attracted customers before, and will attract them in the future, is perceived value. The brands that have continued to deliver highly regarded perceived brand value, from a customer perspective, and continued to unwaveringly improve upon it, are ruling the day.

 

This perceived brand value has nothing to do with affordability but everything to do with user experience, a unique experience that creates strong brand loyalty and engenders long lasting customer brand champions.

 

Amazon 600px

Image via http://i.huffpost.com

 

  

Who’s Got Exemplary Customer Service Really Covered?

  • 1.         Amazon
  • 2.         Apple
  • 3.         Nordstrom
  • 4.         Lush
  • 5.         First Direct
  • 6.         LL Bean
  • 7.         Air Asia
  • 8.         Uber
  • 9.         Net-A-Porter
  • 10.      Worldwide Stereo

 

Let’s take a closer look to see how these brands have a made real difference to their customers’ lives, and consequently massively grown their profits too.

 

 

Case Study #1 AmazonLet the Customer Rule

How Amazon created a brand around its customers?

When it comes to perceived value and web-based customer service, Amazon wins hands down. It has repeatedly demonstrated to the world that, when done correctly, with meticulous attention to detail and tireless focus, they are the byword for customer service. In reality, despite many detractors and ever-growing competition, the retail, or rather the e-tail giant, has proved that customer service is a fine art. It’s no wonder than many fail, despite best intentions.

  

The core vision

One of the reasons Amazon excels at customer service is because their core vision blends in with their founder’s original mission seamlessly — make customers the primary focus and deliver unflagging perceived value. They’ve built their entire customer service brand strategy, and in extension, their brand around this mission.

 

 

 

 

 

USPs:

What stands out first is their incredible returns policy, which is the first thing to reassure the buyer that they will be taken care of, even if they dislike their purchase. In other words, their money is safe, if in doubt.

 

Another outstanding feature is the Amazon fast response times. Unlike many other instances where a customer might hold for an eternity on their phone, waiting for customer service with other brands, with Amazon you connect swiftly.

 

With the recent additions to their call service centers, thorough follow-ups, and thoughtful tips for buyers, Amazon has consistently continued to prove that it is the guru of customer service. [1]

 

Lesson Learned:

Consistent reliability, every time

 

 

Case Study #2 AppleIs this an iPhone 6s?

How the brand inspires pride and ownership?

Technology companies in general have delivered an overall great customer service experience, which when you think of their reach, is not an easy task.

 

In the collaborative survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St. and research survey group Zogby Analytics, Apple had 40% of its customers vouching for its customer service. [2] For a company that has reinvented the word innovation, this figure is important.

 

How the brand functions?

First comes the customer, followed by the technology. Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

 

Powerful words that still define the way the company works. It is a brand that stands for exclusivity and innovation. Today it is also a brand that stands for its customers. [3]

 

USPs:

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved by nearly 5 percent from 2014, helping it move its way closer to the top spot in the customer service Hall of Fame. Apple’s increased sales figures, a 30 percent increase in 2015 from the year before, also suggest a satisfied customer base.

 

Apple Store San Francisco

Image via www.msn.com, © AP Photo/Eric Risberg

 

 

What’s more, it has also ranked exceptionally high, a 4 out of 5, for employee satisfaction. Employees not only take pride in working here but they also identify with the brand and are active champions of the brand, a fact that reflects in their customer service and in the way customers identify with the brand.

 

In order to excel you have to innovate. You also have to identify a need and fulfill it and then ensure that the service you provide is truly exemplary. From the product design to the unique Genius bar, Apple has ensured that customer experience is not just good, but unique every time.

 

Lesson Learned:

How Apple does it? They innovate. Every time.

 

 

Hugh Mac Leod Gapingvoid Creativity Is The Fuel

Image via www.gapingvoid.com, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

Case Study #3 NordstromLuxury is Approachable

How the brand has been reinvented?

The luxury brand has become the absolute role model for customer service with their seamless returns policy. The atmosphere is still that much loved and wonderful blend of convivial warmth together with subdued luxury tones, that makes shopping there a really enjoyable experience.

 

Their customer service agents are helpful, well trained and knowledgeable. While their recent policies have included more frequent promotions, their teams have been simultaneously trained to deal with the increased foot-fall and expanded customer mix.

 

Nordstorm 600px

Image via http://i.cbc.ca

 

 

USPs:

According to experts, what stands out however is their incredible price-matching policy across the country, similar to John Lewis in the UK. If an item has a price-drop anywhere else, no matter which store it is, they’ll match that price right away for their customer. [4]

 

Online shoppers can even get benefits like free shipping on every order and paid return shipping. The brand message has slowly evolved from classic to timeless and secure with customers made to feel important and cared for.

 

Lesson Learned:

Feel good luxury

 

 

Case Study #4 LushBeauty is Naturally Indulgent

What should be the brand focus?

Putting a definite smile on their customer faces is the focus for natural cosmetics firm Lush, with the help of their welcoming and very knowledgeable staff. The ‘happy atmosphere’ of the store enfolds customers like a welcome balm, who typically leave with or without buying, feeling in a better mood and good about themselves.

 

They garnered a whopping 89 percent of the votes and came out as the winner among UK’s top brands. According to the leading industry surveys from KPMG Nunwood and Which?, retail brands like Lush have made significant impact with their customers and consequently increased sales, simply by creating the right environment for their customers consistently. [5]

 

USPs:

Most people would think that a brand like Lush has been built on the premise that they are offering an exemplary range of products. Actually, when you look closely you will see that their entire brand strategy is focused on making their customers feel good and confident through their exemplary natural products, coupled with their proactive CSR strategy and giving back for greater social good. A fine difference but difference nevertheless.

 

Lesson Learned:

Create a brand personality associated with a warm and happy feeling, together with giving back for the greater good. People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must win the heart first if you want to move the mind.

 

Lush 600px

Image via www.thisismoney.co.uk, ©Alamy

  

  

Case Study #5 First Direct – Your Money is Safe

First Direct was a close second with 86 percent of the votes, no doubt ruing its fall from the winning position that they held the year before. But it has nevertheless carried on its tradition of great customer service, which has been reflected in the surveys.

 

Much praise was heaped on it for its high-profile switching deals, as well as making the change process really easy for customers too.

 

Lesson Learned:

Making money management easy

 

 

Case Study #6 – LL Bean – You are the Heritage

Across the Atlantic it is LL Bean which came out on top. The heritage retailer has received five stars for its outstanding customer service and courtesy that left customers feeling positively happy, a word that is often not often associated with customer service today. Worth noting when you consider that according to another study, nearly one third of all consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to most companys’ customer service agents! All LL Bean customers are responded to and quickly, one can even speak to an LL Bean representative in close to 30 seconds and get email responses within an hour.

 

Lesson Learned:

So what makes LL Bean so popular? They have made their brand easily identifiable for each and every customer by being so approachable. One just doesn’t take pride in the product but spreads the word for others.

 

Ll Bean Boots 600px

Image via http://www.businessinsider.com, Flickr/jimshooz7

  

  

Case Study #7 AirAsiaConnecting Anywhere, Anytime

How to overcome existing barriers?

We live in the age of constant connection and social media and this list would be incomplete with at least one brand that rules that space. The winner surprisingly is an airline, a category that has been historically notorious about customer service.

 

 

 Air Asia Airline 600px

Image via www.tommyooi.com

 

 

In an age where news, especially bad news, spreads faster than we can blink, keeping up with great customer service is a definite challenge. AirAsia, with JetBlue a close second, has changed our perceptions about customer service and interaction in the airline industry.

 

How have they succeeded?

 

Mastering the emerging technologies

With an outstanding Facebook presence, easy to navigate and helpful web pages, fast customer response time across all social and online platforms, AirAsia is rocking the virtual space.

They have over 3 million likes on their Facebook page which is not just a content sharing space but one where they have actively engaged their customers and readers.

They respond.

 

They make it a point to respond to all queries and comments and fast. Their representatives are always friendly and personable and available 24×7.

Fun promotions like “Free Seats Challenge,” one that offers 12 winning customers a year’s worth of free seats on flights doesn’t hurt either.

 

Lessons Learned:

You can reinvent around perceived barriers.

 

They have reinvented their brand by reinventing the way we look at airlines today. Instead of expecting hassles and hold-ups, one can experience instant connection and responses.

 

It immediately changes brand perceptions as it simultaneously engenders customer confidence and goodwill, before they potentially become irate — which is particularly important in a sector where unscheduled delays or unpredictable problems can make travelling more arduous.

 

 

Case Study #8 Uber – Customer Service Redefined

How a new brand becomes a giant?

Expert reports have revealed one brand that has been touching the thousand to million mark, in terms of customer service, and across the world it’s Uber. [6]

 

What started as simply easing of commute worries has now transformed into a whole new concept of transportation. With its ingenious and virtually seamless innovations it has now integrated itself into our daily lives together with a very robust customer following. Very soon, we will see it as a one-stop travel planner too.

 

Lessons Learned:

Identify a need, even in a crowded marketplace.

Innovate a service by adopting the latest technologies.

 

Uber 600px

Image via www.sfexaminer.com

 

 

Small and New Can Win Too

 

Case Study #9 Net-A-Porter – Be a Relaxed Shopper

The online retailer came next for its best phone-based customer service, an aspect of business very few brands can testify to.

 

Their outstanding one-to-one communication, in this era of mass communiqués have touched hearts and moved minds.

 

It is still a growing brand but it has effortlessly managed to hold its own against the goliaths by virtue of its incredible customer service.

 

Lessons Learned:

This focus on customer has indeed paid off with spreading word-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth, after all, is still the strongest brand strategy when leveraged for the right reasons.

 

 

Case Study #10 Worldwide Stereo – Customer is King

 

It’s not always the giants that rule either. In the world of behemoths, one small company that has made its mark in sales and customer service is the World Wide Stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

This electronics and audio store not only offers an amazing (and ever-increasing) array of innovative products, but has also garnered a reputation for its stellar customer service.

 

It’s fast becoming the place-to-go when you want an out of the box product that no one else has — and which often has sizable discounts too.

How they do it?

 

They hold their own against the big retail brands with their expedited two day delivery, and even a free next day delivery in some cases.

 

 

 Worldwide Stereo

Image via http://membrane.com

 

 

They stand by their products and are known to quietly upgrade orders and deliver a faster and better service. They even boast a custom home installation team, something many of us have never even heard of in this twenty-first century. [7]

 

Lesson Learned:

They have created a brand that stands for the customer, all the way.

 

 

Building a Brand with Customers at its Heart

According to the StellaService report, the brands that measured well are accessible to their customers via multiple channels: phone, email, online live chats, and have outstanding shipping and return policies too. [8]

 

 

Delivering Value

When we look at all the brands that have made it to the top positions for customer service, we see one thing in common – perceived brand value.

 

When you analyze performance more closely these brands have taken that concept to a completely new level. This is not the value for money concept in terms of the cheapest solution but rather the complete brand experience and the perceived increased brand value that engenders with its customers.

 

A great case in point is a premium brand like Apple with a premium pricing strategy – it is considered a top brand that offers value because of its outstanding product quality and great service. Every customer interaction is focused at making customers feel important while ensuring the product is accessible so it enhances peoples’ lives.

 

Customers need to be able to count on their favoured brands and the brands in turn have to focus on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, and work their deliverables around those expectations.

 

Amazon delivered innovative support through their May Day button on the new kindle, where customers get support at the click of a button from a live person. No calls, no hold times, no chats and no waiting for email responses. This close attention to detail is what creates a sustainable brand. This is the value all brands should strive for.

 

Brands working on reinventing themselves or on their way to create a distinctive brand presence should focus not just on their products and sales, but also on their after sales service because word-of-mouth is still the strongest sales voice in the field.

 

A quick look at preferred customer service attributes:

  • Time Saver
  • Fast Turnaround
  • Price Match
  • Great Positive Emotive Feelings
  • Great service

 

 

Monopoly is so Last Year

There is also much to learn from the brands that did not do so well in the surveys and consequently what not to do! Interestingly, cable, satellite and wireless service providers reportedly fared quite badly on both sides of the Atlantic. Their long-running problems with low customer satisfaction are unfortunately very much a part of negative customer experiences according to the latest industry surveys.

 

 

What not to do

According to customer ranking research and survey results, despite the continued poor performance they still appear to suffer from a lack of urgency to improve the quality of their customer interactions. This could explain the continued customer complaints and dissatisfaction. [9]

 

One reason for this apathy could be the limited competition these companies face which somehow undermines the need for appeasing the customer faster, but hardly anything can explain this sectors indifferent attitudes reportedly experienced a little too frequently. The moment there is a new kid on the block, a challenger, disruptor and innovator, no matter how small, customers will switch.

 

 

Key Learnings to Consider:

•  A brand is built through its service – both sales and customer service

• If customer experience isn’t one of your top priorities long term, you’ll lose

•  Be reachable, always, anytime on multiple platforms

•  Expect what the customer expects, exceed their needs and design your service to meet those demands

• Innovation is the key to keeping customers engaged

•  Never be too complacent for the next big thing is always round the corner

•  Engage the customer on social media

•  Customer service is must and core to your successful brand strategy

•  Value is not low price, it is a great consistent brand experience

•  Offer true value, every time

 

 

Questions to Consider:

• Do you know what your customers really want? When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?

 

• Have you made your customers central to your long-term goals, or is it still revenue? It’s never about just the money.

 

• Do you have a robust team in place to deliver world-class customer service, 24×7? Are they also well-trained and fully inducted brand champions?

 

• Is your brand strategy totally sales based or is it customer service focused as well?

 

• Are you creating a sustainable brand through your customer support network?

 

• Are your customers talking about your brand beyond their brand interactions? Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your brand strategy?

 

• Do you offer true brand value in terms of a complete brand experience?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

  

 

[1] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[2] 24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015

[3] Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/24/24-7-wall-st-customer-service-hall-fame/30599943/, August 2015

[4] Matt Granite, Money Expert, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/22/save-of-the-week-best-customer-service/26180985/, ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[5] Which? Survey, http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/shopping-grooming-and-wellbeing/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-brands-for-customer-service/100-big-brands-rated-for-customer-service/, ‘Best and worst brands for customer service: 100 big brands rated for customer service’, May 2015

[6] Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7578-social-media-customer-service.html#sthash.pFzb6Eu5.dpuf, 10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media’, December 2014

[7] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[8] STELLA BENCHMARKS, https://stellaservice.com/benchmarks/, 2015

[9]   24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015 

 

 

The Power of Disruptor Brands and Challenger Brands

These days, it’s all about disruption. In tiny Davos, Switzerland, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum, designed to engage thought leaders to prepare us for the “next big thing.”

The proposition is that we are on the cusp of a new era fundamentally changing the way we work and live. Vast technological changes brought on by digitalization are disrupting conventional business practices and social norms, states the economic forum founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, in his essay published by the Council on Foreign Affairs.[1]

      Quotes From World Economic Forum 2016

Image via www.weforum.org

Enter Innovator Brands

A 2015 survey by Brand Keys on behalf of Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network indicates that household brand names are being replaced by innovative game changers, and they’re gaining respect with mainstream consumers. “Nimble startups compete with legacy enterprises,” say 98 percent of those asked and “the disruption is severe,” indicate 37 percent. Furthermore, there is a “distinct correlation” between perceived innovation and a company’s bottom line results, according to the study.[2]

Start Up Innovation Infographic 600px

Image via www.bpinetwork.org

Challenger Versus Disruptor Brands

The terms challenger brand and disruptor brand are not interchangeable. Challenger brands bring innovation, enhancements, new pricing, or other tweaks (diet soda, dishwasher tablets, boy and girl nappies) to an existing marketplace.

Disruptors enter a marketplace and completely set heads spinning. When eBay appeared, for example, it was difficult for many people to accept paying online in advance for an item from a stranger and simply trusting it would arrive in the post. When email gained traction, traditional mail service was rattled and companies were required to re-define legalities in their terms and conditions. And when Airbnb was introduced, the hotel industry was more than mildly shocked; cities are still attempting to define tax issues.

  Deliveroo Airbnb 600px

Image via www.preweek.com

A Shift to the Customer Interface

The battle for today’s customer is occurring in the digital interface between product and consumer. As Tom Goodwin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas Media, explains, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”[3]

 Tech Company Hierarchy

Image via www.reddit.com

These companies fill a connector space between product and people. These brands are the jam in the sandwich between the customer and the business. Furthermore, Goodwin points out that this new breed of interface companies (Uber, YouTube, Airbnb, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google) are the fastest-growing in history. All of them began as challenger brands.

 

What is a Challenger Brand?

From the original biblical tale, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell borrows a title, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” reminding us that compelling storytelling has long been at the heart of a challenge. In brand marketing today, some famous challenges fall into the hero/underdog sort (Coke vs. Pepsi, Avis vs. Hertz; McDonalds vs. Burger King); others make into it a three-way contest, or even a Big Four fight (Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury, Morrison’s).

Still other challenger brands enter a crowded category or endeavour to maintain challenger momentum once it starts to fade. Enter the game changers, disrupting the status quo by creating altogether new categories (Match.com, Uber, Airbnb), thus far a hallmark of 21st century disruptor brands.

In discussing the rise of the challenger brand, CMO of Adobe points out, “Essentially, the heart of a challenger brand is the passion, process, and tools they use to create and magnify customer advocacy.” Reflect on those overnight queues snaking around the Apple Store in anticipation of new product releases. “The heart of challenger brands’ success is their ability to turn emotion and affinity into a customer acquisition machine.”[4]

Purpose = Purchase = Profitability

    Apple Store Lines 600px

Image via Rob DiCaterino, Flickr CC2.0

Challenger brand experts Adam Morgan and Mark Holden wrote a book on the subject, “Overthrow: Ten Ways to Tell a Challenger Story,” (with all profits going to UNICEF). In it, they list 10 types that represent the challenger brand state-of-mind. These brief descriptions may help you evaluate and identify your own brand’s personality, purpose and positioning.

  • The Irreverent Maverick

Shock and awe counts more than playing by the rules. This challenger type is big on attitude and best have a big budget for flashy PR, interactive sales tactics and legal advisors. Think Red Bull.

  • The Missionary

The core message is critical for this brand which identifies a need to do something better. The authors suggest. “Think of Al-Jazeera looking to ‘redress the balance’ in media coverage of the Middle East.

  • The Next Generation

Daring to call out the market leader as being old fashioned, this challenger seeks to position itself as very much here and now, totally relevant to today’s cultural trends. Emirates Airline, Euro Star and GoPro are examples.

  • The Democratiser

Sharing great design, catwalk looks and labels is the function of this challenger brand. Often seen in retailing, the purpose is to challenge elitist brands. The right influencers are often part of the equation to deliver street cred. Think H&M.

  • The Real and Human Challenger

Using people as a company resource, this brand breathes life into a dead category, fires up consumers’ imaginations. In the UK, Innocent (little tasty drinks), are those guys who drive around in those cow camouflage vehicles or Hungry Grassy Vans.

  • The Enlightened Zagger

Less fashionable is fine for brands that swim against the tide and challenge conventional wisdom. A brand challenge from Camper shoes mixed it up by suggesting that we walk, rather than run.

  • The Visionary

Big, bold and beautiful is the vision — but never boring. A visionary challenge brings a higher purpose and an emotional connection to the brand, Lady Gaga comes to mind.

  • The Game Changer

An entry into a category that’s unlike anything consumers have seen before is a game changer. The designers think outside the box. Steve Jobs brought game changers to categories from personal computing to phones, cameras and music.

  • The People’s Champion

This brand’s founder/CEO may act as the people’s champion, suggesting the public suffers an inferior service or product from everyone else in a category. The people’s champion puts a friendly face to the shakeup, using humour like Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

  • The Feisty Underdog

Here’s the David versus Goliath story in all its storytelling glory. It’s us versus them in the style of Avis Car Rental which adopted the slogan “We try harder. We’re #2,” a unique tagline that garnered empathy during its 50-year run.

 

  

  

Examples of Successful Challenger Brands

What do eggless mayonnaise, furniture in a box, bagless vacuum cleaners and fashionable spectacles have in common with driverless electric cars and return rockets for colonizing Mars? From aspirational to mainstream and from ideation to manufacture, challenger brands can change the world. Once a brand does achieve commercial success, a new set of opportunities comes into play in order to stay fresh edgy, and relevant, maintaining a challenger brand mentality as a bigger brand player.

1. Hampton Creek

Josh Tetrick, founder of this plant-based food maker, believes that industrialized egg and meat production is unsustainable. Hamptons Creek’s leading product, Just Mayo, is an egg-free spread that’s about making foods with less water, land, and carbon emissions. This is a brand that proves the business case for CSR and social responsibility.

   Hampton Creek Just Mayo 600px

Image via www.hamptoncreek.com

Since 2011, Tetrick has attracted funding from 12 billionaire investors, including Bill Gates, and shot to the top of several lists of innovative companies shaping the future of food.[5] The Guardian reports that Silicon Valley investors are pouring “serious cash into ersatz animal products. Their goal is to transform the food system the same way Apple changed how we use phones, or Google changed the way we find information.”[6]

2. IKEA

With 373 stores in 47 countries, no one would call Ikea a small company. Yet, it was born as a challenger concept in the back woods of Sweden in the 1940s: inexpensive flat-packed furniture for self-assembly, sold via a catalogue and warehouse showroom.[7] By remaining functional, simple, and design-led, Ikea has managed a harmonious marriage built on durable pillars of inexpensive, yet decent quality. Partnering with UNICEF among three dozen other NGOs and IGOs, IKEA Foundation[8] is considered the world’s largest charitable foundation, with an estimated net worth of $36 billion.

 Ikea Unicef Soft Toy Thank You

Image via www.ikeafoundation.org

3. Warby Parker

Four business school grads asked: Why is eyewear so costly? With US $2,500 in seed money from their university, they founded Warby Parker[9] in 2010, shaking up the supply chain dominated by one company. The challenger brand designs and manufactures fashionable spectacles in-house and provides eyewear via its innovative e-commerce site. The Home Try-On program comes with a free no-questions-asked return policy at a fraction of the price. For every pair of eyeglasses that’s sold, Warby Parker donates the funds to donate one pair to charity, currently over one million pairs of glasses.[10] CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility sits at the heart of this very compelling brand. The company is currently valued at US $1.2 billion.

4. Dyson

A few years ago, nobody (except James Dyson) imagined a vacuum cleaner without a vacuum cleaner bag that could operate by centrifugal force. Dyson worked for five years experimenting on 5,179 prototypes before taking a product to the marketplace. With research and design at its core, Dyson machines now include hand dryers, lighting and air treatments that are available in 65 countries. More than 1,000 engineers continually work on inventions.[11] The James Dyson Foundation sponsors design engineering students with scholarships and awards in the UK, USA and Japan.[12]

 James Dyson Dyson School Of Design Engineering

Image via www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk

5. Tesla Motors

Inventor, engineer and investor, self-made billionaire Elon Musk has a stable of disruptive products across multiple industries. From artificial intelligence to solar power to reusable rockets for space exploration, Tesla Motors electric cars are Musk’s best-known challenger brand. His entire stable of companies exist to contribute to Musk’s overarching vision: protecting Earth and humankind via sustainable energy sources and reducing the risk of human extinction by becoming a multi-planetary species. “Really pay attention to negative feedback,” is one of this entrepreneur’s top tips. Next up? “I really want to go to Mars,” says Musk, “It’s a fixer-upper of a planet.”[13]

A View from the Challenger Brand Grave

No stranger to failure, Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”[14]

And for challenger brands which do reach their goal, they must innovate, innovate, innovate. Success has a great way of dulling the keen edge of ambition; challenger brands can reach a comfort zone of complacency and constant change is the only answer.

Questions to consider

• Are you clear on the differences between a challenger brand and the need for a rebranding?

  

• Is your brand focused on a well-defined purpose?

  

• Have you figured out what you’re challenging and crafted a story that explains why?

  

• Do you have a fresh, imaginative, and stimulating idea, product or service, that you’re now ready to develop using brand profiling which provides your roadmap for bringing it life — making it distinctive, different and memorable so your primary audience can’t resist it?

  

• Do you have the ambitious challenger brand mentality? Are you a risk-taker at heart?

  

• Does your challenger brand represent a positive value for consumers?

  

• Do you have the conviction that your brand is something that will leave the world better off? Are you ready to leave an amazing legacy that changes peoples’ lives, and makes them better forever?

 

 

You may also like:

   

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

 

[1] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-12-12/fourth-industrial-revolution

[2] http://www.bpinetwork.org/thought-leadership/views-commentary/395/new_digital_disruptors_that_gratify_and_excite_consumers_eclipse_tech_brand_incumbents_in_innovation_rankings

[3] http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/in-the-age-of-disintermediation-the-battle-is-all-for-the-customer-interface/#.wp0rsdo:0sCd

[4] http://www.cmo.com/articles/2013/12/3/rise_of_the_challeng.html

[5] https://www.facebook.com/hamptoncreek/info/?tab=page_info

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/14/silicon-valley-hack-food-industry

[7] http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_GB/about_ikea/our_business_idea/index.html

[8] http://www.ikeafoundation.org

[9] https://www.warbyparker.com/history

[10] https://www.warbyparker.com/buy-a-pair-give-a-pair

[11] http://www.dyson.com/community/aboutdyson.aspx

[12] http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.com

[13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV6hP9wpMW8

[14] http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

   

   

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

According to a Nielsen poll of consumers in 60 countries, 55 percent of purchasers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that do their part to encourage positive social and environmental impacts.[1]

 

Clearly, corporate social responsibility influences buying preferences, but how else is it important? We’ll examine the answer to that question below.

 

  Corporate Social Responsibility 600px

Image via www.huffpost.com

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

 

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, occurs when companies take into account the sociological, financial and environmental impacts its actions have in the world and decides to ensure its actions make a positive impact. [2].

  

Some business experts have simplified the definition of CSR even further to suggest it encompasses everything a company actively does to have a positive impact on society.

 

There are numerous types of CSR, such as:

 

  • Philanthropy
  • Production Improvements
  • Better Conditions for Workers
  • Sustainability
  • Community Enrichment
  • Diversity in Hiring Practices
  • Supporting Companies with Similar Values

 

Typically, the manner in which a company engages in CSR is closely aligned with its brand strategy, brand values, positioning, primary audience and industry sector. For example, a clothing manufacturer might iron out a CSR plan that improves working conditions in factories located in developing countries, while an establishment that makes paper products might commit to CSR that ensures the world’s most at-risk forests are protected and regenerated.

 

 

Why is CSR Good for Business?

 

Although many corporate leaders are encouraged by the aforementioned statistic that shows a company’s involvement in CSR may mean a customer is willing to pay more for its services, they usually require stronger beneficial commercial evidence before taking further action.

 

However, they don’t need to look very far before uncovering some of the numerous other benefits linked to CSR, including: [3]

 

 

  • Happier Staff: Employees take pride in working for a company that supports the greater good through worthy actions and happier staff are more productive and better brand ambassadors

 

  • More Informed Customers: If your company announces a CSR strategy, the associated plans could potentially result in a more transparent organization which in turn typically results in more loyal customers.

 

Research shows customers want to know more about the things they buy, product or service, than ever before. For example, a study published by IBM noted 59 percent of American consumers and 57 percent of consumers from the United Kingdom have become more informed about the foods they buy and eat over the two years prior to the study’s publication.[4] 

 

In other words, customers’ predisposition to buy, product or service, is becoming increasingly influenced by an organization’s authenticity, openness and commitment to the greater good.

 

  • Reduced Costs: CSR can cut costs by helping companies become aware of and minimize risks, plus improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

 

  • Improved Competitiveness: In a challenging marketplace, a worthwhile CSR plan could carve out a more solid place with a unique positioning for a company to thrive.

 

  • Better Public Relations and Reputation Management: A CSR plan gives a company a platform through which to promote good things like community involvement, donations to charities and other big-hearted gestures.

 

 

 

Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand

 

In order to launch a CSR plan that’s good for business and engages genuinely with your stakeholders, it must be carefully crafted. The key is to strike a balance between benefiting society at large, and benefitting the business. [5] Doing that means:

 

  Business Idea Action Plan 600px

 

 

  • Evaluating how and where the business can have the greatest societal impact without taxing the company’s leadership and resources. This frequently involves scrutinizing the company’s existing competencies. Those strengths can provide clues to possible CSR strategies that are revealed after tapping into existing skillsets.

  

  • Cultivating a deep understanding of how certain actions could help the business while simultaneously supporting the chosen causes. This often also necessitates having an open heart and mind while listening to feedback from stakeholders.

  

  • Aligning with partners can propel your desired efforts and help bring goals to fruition. Ideally, adopting a long-term mindset when forming collaborative CSR relationships is best for all concerned.

  

  • Ensure business objectives and CSR goals match up. If there is a disconnect between these two components, your CSR activities risk being time-consuming and lacking the power needed to make lasting changes.

  

  

Examples of Brand CSR Strategies That Have Worked Well, and Why

 

Now you have a deeper understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and how to start formulating your own plan, let’s look at the characteristics of some successful CSR programs with companies that are excelling in their CSR endeavors [6]. You can then use these actionable tips to drive your own brand CSR inspiration.

 

CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:

  • clear objectives
  • measurable outcomes
  • well-developed theories for how to achieve the desired goals
  • sufficient information for stakeholders about why causes are worth pursuing
  • dedicated and highly focused efforts from the entire company
  • a willingness to partner with credible experts.

 

 

Let’s look at a few case studies that detail some stellar CSR successes.

 

APS Group

This UK-based SME spent years ironing out its CSR strategy. Lacking the resources to hire a dedicated CSR team, the company found employees who were willing to champion the company’s CSR causes, which include education and supplier sustainability.

 

  

  

  

  

Media clips from the company place a strong emphasis on making things possible for clients that they would not be able to achieve alone, as does the company’s published document about its CSR initiatives. Through CSR efforts, it can also be strongly argued the company is living out its “Make More Possible” slogan by enabling the people and organizations affected by the causes it supports. APS Group is a great example of how even if a company thinks creating a CSR plan is a daunting task, success is still within reach. [8]

 

 

Method

This brand of cleaning products uses natural ingredients such as coconut oil and soy. Furthermore, the products’ packaging is environmentally responsible and biodegradable. Since the company boasts over $100 million in revenue annually, that is proof “green” products can be commercially viable.

  

   Method Cleaning 600px

Image via www.methodhome.com

 

 

Furthermore, Method demonstrates CSR focuses do not have to be separate from the products you make. Some media clips from the company that details its CSR focuses specifically highlight input from industry experts to make a bigger impact.

 

  

 

  

  

LUSH Cosmetics

This company sells bathing and beauty products filled with natural ‘Fair Trade’ ingredients. The brand’s Charity Pot is sold to benefit a rotating assortment of non-profit organizations. All proceeds from the Charity Pot go directly to the chosen groups, resulting in millions of dollars raised. [10]

 

The packaging is just one indicator of how easy it is for people to support good causes by purchasing these black, lotion-filled containers. LUSH uses the labels on the top of pots to inform consumers who the recipients are by clearly stating the designated charity concerned.

  

   Lush Pot Lids 600px

Image via www.lush.co.uk

  

  

The brand also has a fund that supports communities which produce fairly traded goods. It was launched in 2010 and borne from a desire the company had to do something more than just use fair-trade ingredients in their products whenever possible. [11]

   

 

  

   

 

Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy

 

It can sometimes appear somewhat difficult to determine with certainty whether your CSR strategies have achieved the desired outcomes. One of the more effective ways you can answer that question is by engaging an independent research firm, with specialist expertise, to rank certain aspects of a company’s CSR performance, from human rights to the environment and community. [12]

 

Additionally, you can check effectiveness through various metrics [13] such as:

 

  • Environmental indices for pollution or air/water/soil quality
  • Quality and quantity of mentions in media outlets
  • Measurements for the quality of life within a society, such as literacy rates, life expectancy and incidences of disease, plus mental, physical and emotional heath. The latter could be gauged through feedback surveys given to workers
  • Indicators of the company’s economic health by way of profits, growth, and stability, before and after a CSR campaign launches

 

 

Statistics 600px

 

 

In conclusion, customers are becoming increasingly hyper-conscious of how and where they spend their money. Recent research also indicates this trend is strongest among Millennials, the largest consumer segment in terms of buying power. [14] Specifically, 91 percent of Millennials actively switch to brands that support a worthy cause, and abandon the brands that aren’t perceived to have an authentic contribution policy.

 

In addition to boosting your customer base and potential profits, a well-developed CSR plan could strengthen your relationship with suppliers, increase competitiveness in the marketplace and help you cut costs by becoming more aware of risks. Therefore, many business leaders have come to realize it’s short sighted to not be involved in corporate social responsibility.

    

Key Takeaways

 

  • Customers are typically willing to pay more for products from companies associated with strong CSR brand strategies
  • CSR goals vary depending on a company’s values and the composition of their stakeholders
  • A good CSR plan should both benefit the business and help society
  • The CSR plan must align with a company’s business objectives
  • Expert individuals or notable groups can help improve CSR strategy success
  • Metrics and independent research groups can evaluate whether a CSR plan is working well

 

Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your organization? If not, it might be a good idea to take a look at how CSR could benefit all concerned.

  

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your company have well-defined core competencies that could translate into areas of CSR focus?

  

  • How motivated are your stakeholders to pursue a CSR plan?

 

  • Are there obstacles that might delay CSR-related brand strategy plans?

  

  • Have you thought about how to tackle negative responses from stakeholders that CSR is not currently worthwhile?

 

  • Which measurement methods will you consider using to verify your CSR brand strategy effectiveness?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

    

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers 

 

• Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships 

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

     

[1] http://www.nielsen.com, “Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When it Comes to Goods and Services from Companies Committed to Social Responsibility”, June 2014

[2] http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[3] http://www.csrinpractice.com, “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?”

[4] George Pohle and Jeff Hittner, https://www-935.ibm.com, “Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Responsibility.”, 2008

[5] Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf, http://www.mckinsey.com, “Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility” June 2009

[6] Frederick E. Allen, http://www.forbes.com, “The Five Elements of the Best CSR Programs.” April 2011.

[7] http://www.theapsgroup.com/who-we-are/corporate-social-responsibility/

[8] Lisa Henshaw, http://www.theguardian.com, “How SMEs Can Engage in Social Responsibility Programmes,” December 2011.

[9] http://www.inc.com, “How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company”

[10] Helaina Hovitz, http://www.forbes.com, “Following the Millions in LUSH’s ‘Charity Pot’. December 2014

[11] https://www.lush.co.uk/.  “Introducing the SLush Fund”

[12] Tima Bansal, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com, “Beyond Good Intentions: Strategies for Managing Your CSR Performance” January/February 2008.

[13] Katherine N. Lemon, John H. Roberts, Priya Raghubir and Russell S. Winter, http://www.philoma.org. “A Stakeholder-Based Approach: Measuring the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility”, 2011.

[14] www.conecomm.com, “New Cone Communications Research Confirms Millennials as America’s Most Ardent CSR Supporters,” September 2015.

  

What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

When the Apple Corporation gave its annual report in 2015, it had a whopping $178 billion in cash, or enough to buy the Ford, Tesla, and General Motors car companies and have more than $41 billion left over. [1] Such is the power and worth of a so-called cult lifestyle brand. Here, we’ll look at what makes up a cult brand, and the characteristics that set the stage for your brand to obtain that coveted status.

 

 

What is a Cult Brand, and Why is it Smart to Build One?

  

A cult brand has worked so hard to build a following, it’s in a class of its own. Loyal customers feel there is no substitute for the benefits ‘their’ cult brand offers, and they’re often willing to go to great lengths to get access to those much sought after respective products or service.  Cult brands anticipate the tangible and spiritual needs of their customers and work to fill them on multiple levels. [2]

  

They’re usually associated with social benefits, too [3]. For example, Fender guitars are arguably not the most technically advanced instruments, but they nevertheless enjoy a cult following. Once people buy a guitar, they feel they’ve become part of a social club of other content like-minded customers, including some superstar players.

  

Once you’ve built a strong cult brand it will continue to inspire brand loyalty provided you both carefully nurture it and your loyal customers. That loyalty is likely to persist even if you charge a premium or intentionally produce products or services in limited quantities with restricted access.

  

Furthermore, in the event an untimely problem arises that momentarily blemishes the brand, its cult status will often be enough to carry it through those temporary low points.  Brands with cult-like status tend to engender staunch customers willing to buy the brand again despite mishaps.

  

 

Characteristics of a Cult Lifestyle Brand

 

Let’s take a deeper look and examine key characteristics that help some brands stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, seemingly immune to the many struggles causing competitors to flounder:

 

  • Cult Brands Have Recognizable Strong Personality Traits: Although brands don’t necessarily have all the attributes humans do, the best share many qualities with humans. They are like humanized entities. You may resonate with one of your most beloved brands because it appears to exhibit sympathy, honesty, integrity and motivation, among other emotionally engaging human-like traits, qualities and values that are potentially important to you.

 

  • Cult Brands Are Relatable: When a cult brand is relatable, it’s able to resonate with its target audience by encapsulating familiarities within everyday lives. A brand may be positioned so it’s optimally relatable via its packaging, customer service, employees, customer journey, brand collateral and even purchase receipts.

 

  • Cult Brands Encompass Broad Ideals: Some brands reach cult status because they successfully convey an ideal or lifestyle its purchasers aspire to and want to be part of. Maybe the brand’s associated with warm hospitality, opulent luxury, a rugged, adventuresome lifestyle or a hunger for high-tech items that regularly challenge what we think is possible. [4] By regularly purchasing items or services that represent what they aspire to having, buyers inch ever closer to their ultimate goals. Its what the beloved cult brand ‘stands for’ that its target audience identify, with and relate to as part of their own personal identity.

 

  • Cult Brands Have Their Own Catchy Brand Language and Buzzwords: At Walt Disney World, people who work there aren’t called employees, but “cast members.” Furthermore, the crew that designs rides is staffed by “imagineers.”

 

Also, don’t walk into an Apple Store and expect to get your MP3 player checked at the technical support desk. Instead, stroll back to the Genius Bar where a specialist bearing the title of “genius” will examine your iPhone. 

 

The distinctive language used by cult brands is not just an accidental cutesy extra. It’s quite deliberate and strategically developed as part of building the brand’s profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. When people learn the lingo or brand language, they’ve become members of an exclusive club, the in-crowd, and are thereby more closely connected to one another and those they perceive to matter most in their world. [5]

 

 

4 Top Tips for Creating a Cult Brand

 

Now that you’re more familiar with some aspects of brands that have reached cult status, let’s explore actionable tips that could help your own brand achieve that apparently insurmountable feat. [6]

 

1. Tell a Strong Brand Story

The human brain responds instinctively to stories. We’ve shared stories since we lived in caves and learnt them as children on our parents’ knees. It’s how we make sense of the world. Your brand should develop and tell an engaging, memorable tale. When we’re working with our clients to create and develop memorable brand stories we use our Story Selling System™. Consider that most cult brands are able to successfully communicate which problems their products solve. Ideally, your story should not only be authentic and emotionally compelling, but prove how your product fills a demonstrated need.

 

 

2. Excel at Doing or Giving Something People Greatly Value

Cult brands are often excellent at providing a service or benefit to a far superior degree when compared to their competitors, and brands in other unrelated sectors for that matter. This is one of the reasons why it’s so crucial to understand what other brands in your industry are doing, and evaluate how you can reach beyond that point in a meaningful and feasible way. A brand audit is a very effective tool for uncovering this often hidden information. Your brand needs to be creating a customer experience in at least one very unique way that’s vastly superior to your nearest contenders.

 

 

3. Truly Value Your Customers

Regardless of how great whatever you’re offering is, your brand is highly unlikely to reach cult status if you consistently give customers the cold shoulder. Earlier, we talked about how people who follow cult brands may be more forgiving and willing to offer second chances. However, that’ll only happen if you have stellar customer service practices that make your customers feel like they’re genuinely worth your time and much appreciated for their business.

 

Besides just offering great service, try to include customers in your creative or product or service development process, even if its just to get feedback from them. People love feeling like they’re part of something important and that their opinion matters. If you make it clear their thoughts matter, they’re more likely to be loyal for life.

 

 

4. Give the Impression of Scarcity

Although this tip can backfire in some markets, profits and consumer interest levels can grow when customers feel the product you’re offering is not easy to acquire. When buyers believe an item is in limited supply, they’re often more likely to try harder to get it.

 

   Pixabay People Waiting 600px

 

  

Now, let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have used various brand strategies to build their cult brands and make them thrive very profitably.

 

 

Case Study: SoulCycle

 

SoulCycle is a brand of indoor cycling classes that’s beloved by celebrities, and some might say, a little overpriced. Class prices begin at $32 for 45 minutes of sweaty cycling. Yet, SoulCycle’s devotees don’t mind.

 

   Soul Cycle Home Page2 600px

Image via www.soul-cycle.com

 

 

Many of them cycle while wearing diamonds and Rolex watches. Being around people who are outfitted in the same way likely engenders feelings of even greater exclusivity.

  

 

  

  

  

Furthermore, certain superstar trainers have very small exclusive class sizes, leading fitness fans to scramble in hopes of landing an open slot, or getting lucky when someone doesn’t show up. Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga are just a few VIPs singing SoulCycle’s praises, with Lady Gaga even bringing custom-made SoulCycle bikes on a tour. [7]

  

     Soul Cycle 600px

Image via www.popsugar.com

 

 

Case Study: J. Crew

 

Founded in 1983, J. Crew is an American clothing brand that has impressively been able to enjoy a long-term cult status, while other hopeful brands have faltered. Some analysts say the success is largely due to the brand’s fearless and forward-thinking president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. [8]

 

       Style Profile Jenna Lyons 600px

Image via www.letsrestycle.com and www.sohautestyle.com

 

 

She took the helm in 2008 and began running with the bold strategy that the brand should no longer be dictated by corporate strategies. Instead, J. Crew would not associate with a product unless its team members truly embraced it.

  

 

 

  

 

Furthermore, Lyons unified the company’s creative processes and gave employees more freedom to take risks. Ideas that don’t work well are quickly disposed of, leaving some to feel J. Crew is constantly in flux. However, rising profits and raving fans indicate the changes have resonated. Some of the brand’s YouTube videos have more than a million views.

 

 

Case Study: Vij’s and Rangoli

 

These two Canadian restaurants are run by a husband and wife team and have become some of the hottest eating establishments in Vancouver. A “No Reservation Rule” means people sometimes have to act fast to enjoy this beloved cuisine.  

    

   Vikram Vij 600px

Image via www.macleans.ca

  

  

Besides the tasty fare they offer, perhaps one of the reasons why the restaurants have such loyal followings is because their very creations represent an entrepreneurial dream many fantasize about.

 

 

  

 

  

The restaurants were funded by a small loan from a family member, plus personal savings. One member of the team is Vikram Vij, who’s originally from India. He was able to use talent, determination and dedication to help the restaurants prosper.[9] Vij and his wife Meeru have even written two acclaimed books.

   

      Vijs Indian Cookbooks 600px

Image via www.vijs.ca

   

   

Clearly, there’s not a single path that leads an emerging brand to cult brand status. However, a combination of key factors, such as cultivating desirable brand characteristics, a skilled team with a visionary leader, unwavering focus with a clear strategic brand vision and an exclusivity or scarcity strategy can result in impressive outcomes.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Cult brands must meet a need or solve a problem in at least one way that’s significantly superior to competitors

 

 

  • Cult brands are inspiring, yet relatable

 

  • People are often more forgiving of cult brands

 

 

  • Cult brands often encompass desirable lifestyles

 

 

 

Questions to Consider

 

  • Can you identify one or more desirable personality traits your brand possesses that may help it reach cult status?

 

  • What positive associations or lifestyles relate to your brand?

 

  • Can you think of a situation where it may be detrimental or inappropriate to use a scarcity strategy?

 

  • Which problems does your brand solve for consumers?

 

  • In what ways do you think your brand makes others feel inspired?

 

 

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

 

• Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

 

 

[1] Sam Colt, uk.businessnsider.com, “15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Apple’s Latest Quarter,” January 2015.

[2] http://www.cultbranding.com, “Cult Brand Defined.”

[3] Antonio Marazza, http://www.forbes.com, “A Survival Guide for Symbolic and Lifestyle Brands,” October 2013.

[4] Jessica Farris, http://www.printmag.com, “Branding Lifestyles: What Does Your Brand Represent?” September 2014.

[5] Frank Cowell, “http://www.elevatoragency.com, “Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language”

[6] Dave Llorens, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, “8 Cult Lessons That Will Help You Build Your Brand,” December 2013.

[7] Vanessa Grigoriadis, http://www.vanityfair.com, “Riding High,” August 2012.

[8] Danielle Sacks, http://www.fastcompany.com, “How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand,” April 2013.

[9] smallbusinessbc.ca, “Meet Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon, Vij’s Restaurant, My Shanti, Rangoli and Vij’s At Home”