The Impact of Company Brand Culture On Driving Performance and Increasing Sales

Most leaders and employees would view company brand culture as a crucial part of job performance and satisfaction coupled with great customer service, yet for so many brands it remains an elusive concept.

 

We all know intuitively that a bad company culture produces bad results and there are plenty of statistics to back this up. One Columbia University study shows that the probability of job turnover when a brand’s company culture is poor is 48.4%, compared to just 13.9% when the brand culture is perceived as a good one.[1]

 

In fact, good corporate brand culture fundamentally drives financial performance as evidenced by the research published in the book ‘Corporate Culture and Performance’ by HBS Professor James Heskett and Kotter International[2]

 

GROWTHAverage Increase for Twelve Firms with Performance-Enhancing CulturesAverage Increase for Twenty Firms without Performance-Enhancing Cultures
Revenue Growth682%166%
Employment Growth282%36%
Stock Price Growth901%74%
Net Income Growth756%1%

 

“Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is the most important characteristic, which is trust.”

Howard Schultz, Starbucks

 

Culture matters because it’s about transparency, company behaviour, what you stand for, who you are. Brand Culture is how you convey, share, and translate that into your brand. It’s what every employee believes, does, and lives to express that culture.

 

Brand culture is driven by the fundamentals of your brand profiling i.e. what your brand stands for, it’s personality, mission, vision, values, purpose and way of doing things.

 

It’s about building a relationship between your culture, which may be developed over time but should ideally be guided from the top, the founder, owner or CEO — the visionary behind the brand — and your brand itself in terms of its personality, how it does things, the customer experience it creates and what it stands for. How you develop them to create a strong positive and distinctive brand experience.

 

Related: CEO Brand Leadership, How Vision Drives Brand Growth

 

There are also bad cultures within businesses and organisations which are not positive brand experiences. These poor brand cultures undermine performance, productivity, the whole perception of the organisation, the brand and negatively impact sales.

 

 

 

 

Our experience working with many different companies and organisations across diverse sectors clearly illustrates that it’s not that they haven’t considered company brand culture, it’s that developing and implementing something perceived to be so abstract can be difficult.

 

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

 

Because of this apparent client challenge we’ve pulled together some tangible ways you can start working on and developing your brand culture together with case studies from worldwide brands to show you ‘brand culture’ in action in the ‘real world’.

 

They’re brands who, like us, understand that building culture is not about placing a ping-pong table in a rec room, it starts with strong brand values that respect your employees and customers alike.

 

12 Ways To Improve Your Company’s Brand Culture so You Increase Performance and Grow Sales

 

1. Don’t be Afraid to Mix Marketing with People

Based in Kansas and proud of its community roots, CornerBank, now part of RCB Bank, describes itself as the bank that is “on your corner and in your corner”.[3] Their approach to culture and marketing lies in people, something which RCB Bank is trying to emulate since their merger last year.

 

CornerBank Brand Culture

Image via CornerBank

 

CornerBank practised what they preached by combining the head of HR and the head of marketing into one role because their “people are their best marketing tool”.[4] While it’s undeniably an unorthodox way of structuring a company, in doing so, they put faith in their staff, and most importantly, their staff’s commitment to upholding those community roots. It’s a company that looks out for the little guy and ensures that its employees identify strongly with this.

 

 

2. Bridge the Gap Between Employee and Customer

With a client retention rate of a near-perfect 97.8%, bank and insurance provider, USAA is one of the most reputable and trusted brands in America.[5]

 

They have a unique proposition in that the vast majority of their customers are active or retired US military. No one knows their customer better than USAA and the company instils this in their employees by training them in the experiences of a soldier.[6]
This works in two ways. Firstly, for company culture, it gives employees insights that help them do their job better, which improves job satisfaction, and challenges them in the right way. And secondly, it shows customers that their experiences are genuinely important to the brand as a whole, but also that the people who they reach out to for service are much better equipped to deal with their situation. For soldiers trying to do their banking from war zones, that is often a pretty unique one.

 

 

 

3. Foster Fun and Creativity

When you think of best practice company culture, tech companies tend to come to mind. They seem to understand the important connection between having fun and innovating. Squarespace embodies many of the principles of best practice company culture – an attractive office space, very few levels of management, celebrations, downtime and flexibility.

 

What’s important here is that these practices stem from the company’s respect for its employees. This is the approach we take when we are working with clients. Downtime and flexibility show employees that they are respected enough to get on with their job and exercise a certain amount of autonomy.

 

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

 

The fun aspects of this company’s culture are layered on top of this to let employees know that their work is appreciated. This two-pronged approach ensures that your company brand culture is engrained as a real living experience for everyone and not just lip service.

 

 

4. Offer Flexibility

Flextime is not a particularly new concept, and you’ll find it especially prevalent in public service organisations and progressive companies in western countries. Because of this, extensive research has been conducted to measure the value of offering this to your employees.

 

A survey conducted by The Alternative Board (TAB), an international provider of executive peer advisory boards, of hundreds of business owners, found that business owners who thought that their company culture was ‘strong’, also offered their employees flexible conditions, particularly in terms of time and remotely working.[7] We tend to find that when workplaces concentrate on results, project completion, and quality of work, the perceived ‘drudgery’ of the 9-5 work culture is eliminated, and employees feel part of something bigger which engenders a greater sense of job satisfaction.

 

Medium-sized British activewear company, Sweaty Betty, embodies these principles by using open communication and showing that they understand their employees have life commitments in addition to their work ones. “We trust our team and operate on a flexi-hour policy,” says Jessica Howden, people and events coordinator. “If a team member would rather leave earlier in the afternoon because of a long commute, they can start earlier in the morning. Our working hours are not set in stone.”[8]

 

Sweaty Betty

Image via Sweaty Betty

 

 

5. Build Brand Relationships to Create Community

Ask any social scientist, the key to happiness among employees in a workplace is when they feel like they are part of something bigger that makes a difference. Apple and Nike exhibited this in their September 2016 keynote where they teamed up to introduce the second-generation Apple watch. This is a watch that allows people to be part of two tribes – the Apple tribe, and the Nike Running Club tribe.

 

 

 

 

Aligning with another brand that commands respect and complements your brand values and positioning promotes inclusivity in your workplace and makes your employees feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. It also strengthens your brand in the mind of your customer and leads to commercial growth – advocates of one brand will be more likely to become advocates of the other when they are aligned.

 

When we work with companies to identify co-branding opportunities, having a strong brand culture or value fit is essential. Some of the most effective brand collaborations and alignments are not even necessarily in the same industry. This can yield great results for SMEs where the primary focus is to stand out, increase brand awareness with sales and reach new audiences.

 

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

 

6. Hire ‘Your’ People

Traditional recruitment is generally based on skills and experience. Our approach to recruitment for your brand is to ascertain a baseline level of aptitude that you would consider mandatory, and place more emphasis on finding a suitable fit with your organisations brand culture.

 

 

 

 

Recruitment companies, such as New Zealand-based company, Weirdly, take an innovative approach to recruitment using a series of tactics to assess a potential employees culture fit before they even get to the interview phase. In doing this, you create a workplace where people feel a sense of belonging, as well as the crucial creation of an environment where ideas can be shared.

 

7. Employees as Brand Ambassadors

As we’ve mentioned, most companies will try to hire employees who reflect and embody their company’s values in some way. Increase engagement with your brand and create authentic communication by making it attractive for your employees to become brand ambassadors.

 

According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer “Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder. 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.”[9]

 

Brand Culture

Image via Edelman Insights

 

We believe that this likely stems from the perception that employees are much more likely to voice their honesty, particularly if they are disgruntled. An employee that is openly endorsing a company is viewed as a trustworthy and reliable opinion. Social media is a great platform to try this on. Creating environments where employees feel compelled to share the goings-on of their workplace on their personal channels speaks volumes, and is a great place to start.

 

American-based retailer, Zappos, has an infamous reputation for its focus on employee culture. “At Zappos, we really view culture as our No. 1 priority. We decided that if we get the culture right, most of the stuff, like building a brand around delivering the very best customer service, will just take care of itself.” Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos–January 9th, 2010, The New York Times[10]

 

Related: Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll

 

8. Give Your Audience a Sneak Peek into Your Culture

In a similar way, don’t be afraid to shed a little light on how great your company is behind the scenes. Doing so increases your brand value with your customers and gives employees a public reason to feel proud of where they work. Your customers could also be your potential employees.

 

Just ensure that what you are posting accurately reflects your brand values as a company and how you want people to perceive it. ASOS is a great example of this – they use their Instagram account to provide sneak peeks into their workplace culture. It injects personality into the brand and shows that they value their employees.

 

Brand Culture

Image via ASOS on Instagram

 

 

9. Remove Restrictive Hierarchies

Hierarchies are a particularly tricky area of company politics to navigate. We tend to look at hierarchies not from a ‘have them/don’t have them’ perspective, but rather explore why you have them, what purpose they serve and, most importantly, whether they are restrictive. Closed door policies can inhibit the flow of ideas and creates an ‘us and them’ culture, which is intimidating and often counter-productive.

 

While your brand needs a leadership team, and there will be things that the leadership team knows that employees aren’t privy to, there are ways to create an open and flexible environment.

 

Brand Culture

Image via Valve Software

 

SME, Valve Software[11], does this well – they have no managers, projects are started when an employee can group a team together, and performance management is conducted as peer review. As a result, Valve has experienced tremendous growth – something that would normally require rigidity to manage.

 

10. Make Your Employees Part of Your Brand Mission

Create an atmosphere where employees feel like they contribute to the outcome of your company or organisation. Environments where staff feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves have been constantly proven to be success-drivers. Results happen when everyone is invested.

 

So, how do you go about this? Our approach is to create a great brand and strategy communication from the top down. Internal communication should be tailored so that, no matter the structure of your company, each employee knows how they contribute to wider goals, and, most importantly, has a clear idea of what those wider goals are.

 

Including corporate social responsibility into part of your operations is a great way of tangibly showing both customers and employees that your company is committed to the greater good.

 

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

 

Ice cream giant, Ben & Jerry’s, demonstrates that ethics are not just for the realms of small, niche enterprises by only using fair trade ingredients.[12] In strengthening their customer’s positive perception of them as a company, they increase employee morale, drive purchases, and ensure that their brand personality doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming disconnected with consumer’s needs.

 

 

 

 

Related: Personality Matters: Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Profits

 

11. Give your employees what they need

This is the proof point that your company is not just about placing that ping-pong table in the rec room. Showing employees that you value them and their lives as people, not just workers, vastly increases job satisfaction.

 

71% of staff at Goldman Sachs feel that they often or almost always receive great rewards, while 82% of American Express employees report that the company often or almost always provides needed training, fair promotions and personally challenging work.[13] While it’s not the glamorous, fun side of company brand culture, creating a base that ensures that your employees know they are valued through things such as child care, mentoring and health, can make a dramatic difference.

Brand Culture

Image via Goldman Sachs

 

12. Create Autonomy

Career analyst, Dan Pink, has spent much of his own working career studying what it takes for employees to be motivated. It turns out, creating an environment where employees feel that they are the ‘masters of their own destiny’ is one of the most important aspects of employee happiness. This can be relatively easy to establish if the work is naturally project or campaign based, so thought should be given particularly to the roles where work is more constant and not as varied.

 

 

 

 

For instance, a Web Content Manager at an SME spends their day ensuring that the content is relevant, accurate and appropriate for the company. A company with a poor brand culture will treat this Content Manager as a worker, one who processes and publishes the team’s work, whereas a company with a great brand culture will instil autonomy in the Content Manager. They own the content space, feel comfortable providing advice and direction, and are looked to as the expert in that field. A small change, but one that makes a huge difference.

 

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

 

Brand culture integrates itself into every part of your company from the way customers perceive your company and trust you, which in turn has a massive impact on their likelihood to buy and become brand advocates, to your own employees’ sense of job satisfaction.

 

If you’re struggling to strongly develop your brand culture in order to improve your overall performance, growth and profitability, then a brand audit is a very useful tool to help you evaluate your areas of strength, weakness and potential innovation and growth.

 

 

 

 

Take a look at our brand audit programme called the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. This online course takes you through all the key steps you need to consider in giving your brand a health check. It enables you to identify areas of strength, weakness and pinpoint new opportunities for innovation and growth. You can watch a free course preview here.

 

Brand Audit Health Check

Audit your brand now so you can identify where and how to build your strong brand culture

 

 

Alternatively, if you’ve got a major challenge on your hands then perhaps a brand revitalization or refresh may be the most effective option to turn things around. Feel free to get in touch, we’d be delighted to help. Drop us a line to brand@personadesign.ie or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours 9:00-17:00).

 

Viewing your workplace as a mutually beneficial environment, one that adds value to both the employer, employee and customer is crucial to job satisfaction, role performance and customer satisfaction, which are what collectively drive growth and achieve strong commercial results.

 

There are so many ways that SMEs / SMBs can add value to their employees’ lives by providing them with the benefits and autonomy they need, to creating a fun and inviting environment that instils a sense of pride and appreciation. We can help you uncover and articulate your brand values, and most importantly, how to actually achieve them in your organisation in an authentic way that enhances your peoples’ lives while also increasing your profits.

 

Questions to consider

  1. Have you evaluated how you can improve your brand culture to attract and retain high performing talent so you can increase your brand awareness, market share and sales?
  2. When did you last give you brand a health check so you can identify areas of weakness, strength and where to innovate?
  3. Could you give some members of your team more autonomy to increase their motivation, performance and sense of fulfilment?
  4. Have you trained your staff and fully inducted them in what your brand stands for and what that means in a day-to-day actionable, living sense so you can improve their performance, brand alignment and the quality of the customer experience delivered?
  5. Is now the right time for a brand refresh so you can improve your brand culture, re-invigorate company morale and increase overall market impact and growth?

 

Want to refresh your brand but you’re not sure where to start to get a successful return on your investment?

 

Drop us a line or give us a call… 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 reevaluate 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 your full team’s participation in the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind then we also run in-house private client brand building intensive programmes too.

 

 

Ring us to discuss your brand building preferences

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 so that you have your brand solution built to greatly enhance your brand culture and secure your future success.

 

 

Persona Brand Building Blueprint Mastermind

 

[1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238640

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/02/10/does-corporate-culture-drive-financial-performance/#7fb4ea207e9e

[3] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br

[4] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br
[5] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-02-18/usaas-battle-plan

[6] https://hbr.org/2010/09/brand-is-culture-culture-is-br

[7] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5935-improve-company-culture.html

[8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/britains-healthiest-company/11848497/flexible-working-hours.html

[9] https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2013/10/08/three-steps-for-transforming-employees-into-brand-ambassadors/#5f8f0e9e1040

[10] http://www.inc.com/ananya-bhattacharya/tony-hsieh-on-company-culture.html

[11] https://www.inc.com/david-burkus/how-this-company-runs-without-managers.html

[12] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4679-corporate-social-responsibility.html

[13] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245667

 

 

 

Want to Build Your Brand? Lorraine Carter Speaking at Bucharest Tech Week

Are you launching a new brand to market or considering rebranding but you’re not sure where to start to ensure a profitable return on your investment?

 

Have you got a really fantastic product or service but you’re struggling with how to clearly articulate what your brand stands for and what makes it really different to your competitors?

 

Are you being dragged into a price war or discounting where only those with the deepest pockets can win?

 

 

Lorraine Carter International Speaker2 2016 600px

 

 

Perhaps you’re actually unconsciously sabotaging your own brand building efforts because you simple don’t know enough about how to build a successful brand?

 

Join me at Bucharest Technology Week, 26th May 2016 together with Ozana Giusca and Lilia Severina to discover how to build your brand so you can create obsessive desire for your products or services, become a highly recognised household name and increase your profits.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be sharing success generating action plans that you can take away and implement immediately:

 

• How successful brands and branding works

 

• How to make your brand standout and create fanatical desire amongst your primary audience so you become the No.1 preferred choice

 

How to leverage your product or service brand so you sell more with HIGHER profit margins

 

• The top 10 professional insider secrets to how and why successful branding works to generate greatest profit

 

 

 

 

 

• The 3 most costly mistakes the majority of small business owners and entrepreneurs make when trying to build their brand — and how to avoid them

 

• The 10 step process to building a highly recognised and profitable brand — whether you’re revitalising an existing brand or launching a new brand to market

 

• Why your current approach to your branding is not producing the results you expect

 

• The critical brand strategy factors required to be successful in today’s highly competitive economy — local, national or global

 

• How to connect with your core target audience in a way that gives them a compelling reason to choose and buy your brand instead of your competitors repeatedly

 

Want to know more?

 

Click here for details…

 

 

Brand Equity: How to Measure the Strength and Effectiveness of Your Brand

According to statistics, 88 percent of consumers say quality makes them loyal to a brand, and only 50 percent say price is their primary concern. [1] Also, when people have a negative experience with a brand, 50 percent said they were unlikely to consume content from that brand again. Clearly, this data shows how important it is to ensure your brand is sending the right messages to your customers, and making them want to align with it for the right reasons.

 

 

Branding How Important Is It 600px  

Image via www.business2community.com

 

 

What is a Brand, and Why is Brand Equity So Important?

 

Your brand encompasses your total offering to your customers,[2] from what it stands for, to its personality, the experience it gives your customers, what it promises to deliver consistently, the language, tone of voice and messaging it uses to express itself throughout its communications, the fundamental culture of the organization it represents, its brand collateral and the people who represent it.

 

In short it’s the sum of all its parts from the quality of its offering to its attributes and the emotional meanings associated to it together with all its brand collateral which includes visual identifiers like its logo, website, packaging, printed literature, trade stands, staff uniforms, interior and exteriors site design and signage, vehicle livery, video content and so forth.  All of these elements collectively are what make up your brand when they all consistently and congruently engage your primary audience in a way which is relevant to them, yet are distinctive, different and memorable.

 

Brand equity is then derived from the overall perception of your brand, the way customers perceive your total brand offering, products or services, rather than the just the isolated features and benefits of the offerings themselves. When customers have a favorable brand perception with a consistently good experience, it’s far more likely they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and recommend it to others. In order to achieve strong brand equity, your brand needs to be unforgettable to your customers — it must resonate both with their hearts and their minds.

   

However, strong brand equity has more advantages than just customer loyalty: [3]

 

  • It enables you to form stronger ongoing relationships and negotiating power with vendors
  • Positive brand equity supports long-term company growth e.g. expansion into new markets, product extensions etc.
  • Strong brand equity could partially shield you if you hit a bump in the road e.g. reputational ramifications related to something unusual such as defective product or atypical manufacturing delay — assuming you handle the situation appropriately
  • Fundamentally customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value

 

 

Although brand equity may seem intangible, it has real dollar, euro, or pound value. Brand equity can be tracked and measured using a combination of specialist research and specific algorithms applied on a comparative annual basis.

  

Measuring brand equity accurately is a niche expertise, with a number of companies specializing in this particular field. Interbrand is one of those companies and they annually track the brand equity value of companies and brands from year to year. By way of example, in 2014 the brand equity of credit card company American Express was $19.5 billion. That figure is impressive in itself, but it’s even more striking to note the brand’s equity value had grown 11 percent from the previous year. [4]

 

 

Evaluating Your Brand Equity: Auditing its Current State and Identifying Weaknesses

 

The first step in analyzing your brand equity is to get a reading of customer perceptions. It’s also important to research employee perceptions for comparative alignment. If there are underlying problems with a company’s brand culture there are also likely to be underperformance issues coupled with incongruent communications that customers will pick up on — all of which means they will be less likely to embrace your brand, and may even doubt its authenticity, which in turn causes a lack of trust.

 

A brand audit health check is a very useful and practical way to gauge how your primary audience and staff feel about your brand. It can also enable you to identify weaknesses that might not have been noticed previously. Once you identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to convert them into strengths, or at least minimize the aspects of those weaknesses that make your brand less effective when pitched against your competitors. A brand audit health check also enables you to uncover and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.

 

 

Make Your Brand Stronger using Keller’s Brand Equity Principles

 

When working with our clients to help them develop stronger brand equity, we also advocate principals from Keller’s Brand Equity Model, also known as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. It suggests before you’re able to strengthen brand equity, you must first shape how customers think and feel about the brand. [5]

 

The model is a pyramid shape, with brand identity at the bottom. That section represents the key characteristics and personality of the brand. It’s important customers recognize those attributes correctly, and believe they are different from what competitors offer.  

 

The next level of the pyramid relates to brand meaning. In other words, what does your brand stand for, and how well does it meet customers’ needs, both in terms of performance, and on social and psychological levels? Think about the ways you want customers to experience your brand, and use those factors to create your brand personality and key characteristics.

 

Brand response represents the third tier of the pyramid. Credibility, actual and perceived quality, and comparisons with competing products all help shape brand response. Your goal is to make your brand evoke direct feelings and innate emotions.

 

The top level of the pyramid is brand resonance. When customers actively engage with your brand even when not purchasing it, that demonstrates brand resonance, as does a desire to be associated with a “community” of fellow purchasers. Customers also show brand resonance through behavioral loyalty, such as repeat purchases.

 

 

Measuring Brand Equity with the Six-Stage Brand Development Model

 

The six-stage brand development model is a diagnostic tool that combines proven metrics and a framework to guide brand equity strategies. Below, you’ll find the different characteristics a brand should have [6], plus how to make improvements if necessary.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Recognizable: If your brand lacks recognition in the marketplace it’s crucial to develop your brand strategy and enaction it tactically with a fully intergrated branding plan in order to raise its profile. Brand recognition increases through repeated exposure.

 

  • The Brand Must Be Memorable: The brand should be among the first called to mind when customers decide what to purchase. If that’s not happening, educate your target market about what your brand offers and why it’s unique – while remembering to enage your aduience at both emotional and rational levels.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Viewed Favourably: As we often remind our clients, it’s not enough for people to be aware of a brand. The target audience must also believe the brand is able to meet their needs with trust and respect for what the brand represents.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Distinctive: When customers are ready to buy an item (product or service), they must feel compelled to do so because they think the product offers a unique brand promise unlike what any competitors can provide. Brand perception occurs at both functional and emotional levels, so the goal is to position your brand effectively by stressing attributes that motivate purchases.

  

  • The Brand Must Be Preferred: Ideally, customers will prefer your brand over all others, and be willing to purchase it repeatedly. If preference for your brand is low, you’ll need to evaluate why through a brand audit and then implement changes based on the analysis and findings made. Fundamentally you must build brand trust if you want to engender long term brand loyalty.

 

  • Your Market Must Be Satisfied with the Brand: Ideally, customers will be so happy with what your brand offers they aren’t just personally content, but eager to recommend your brand to friends — become brand champions. If that isn’t currently happening, you may need to evaluate where the discontent lies and work on improving your product or service in terms of both percieved and actual quality.

 

 

Kellers Brand Equity Model 418px 

Image via www.mindtools.com

 

 

Let’s briefly examine three case studies where improving brand equity was the central goal:

 

 

Starbucks Logo Evolution 600px 

Image via www.starbucks.com

 

 

Starbucks

Starbucks has become a global brand worth $10 billion. In 2011, the brand went through a brand identity expansion to boost brand equity. A recognizable green mermaid traditionally decorated bags of the brand’s trademark coffees.

 

 

 

 

 

However, Starbucks wanted to expand its future vision by also using its identity more broadly on other products besides coffee, and associate it with offerings like teas and lemonades. The transition to use the mermaid logo more broadly was lauded by industry experts [7], with some believing strongly the broader use of the logo would trigger new growth and bolster recognition, without compromising acquired brand equity.

  

 

Veritas Vineyard 

Image via www.veritaswines.com

 

 

Veritas Winery

Established in 2002 as a family-run business, Veritas Wineries was one of the first businesses of its kind in Virginia. The company realized its history and provenance helped establish its brand equity and wanted to implement some brand enhancements without compromising its valuable legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

The company commissioned a full brand audit, which resulted in small but meaningful changes [8] to the brand’s identity and made the overall brand more consistent to promote prolonged marketplace success. These alterations have enabled the brand to maintain its dominance, despite increasing competition.

  

 

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola used “Open Happiness,” as a global campaign, to appeal to its consumers’ desire to feel optimistic and be comforted despite a weak economy. At the time, it was the brand’s first new campaign in three years. Advertising spots ran in both print and television media.

 

Although previous campaigns won awards, some analysts felt they required localized tweaking to resonate with culturally different audiences in different parts of the world. [9] The intention was that “Open Happiness” would have mass worldwide appeal. In the end, that goal was achieved, and the campaign achieved widespread industry praise for its ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, brand equity is measured one brilliant customer experience at a time. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand tone, understand how to relate to your target audience in a way that matters most to them, while simultaneously meeting their needs. Building and maintaining brand equity is an ongoing process, remember successful brand building is as much about all the small things you do consistently well coupled with the bigger campaigns and new initiatives.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand equity can make the difference in how customers experience your brand, and whether they want to align themselves with it.

 

  • Brand equity is derived from customer perceptions. Strong brand equity increases the likelihood customers recommend your brand to others.

 

  • A brand audit can indicate how customers perceive your brand, and enable you to identify weaknesses.

 

  • Brand equity is tied to how customers both think and feel.

 

  • Brands should be preferred, distinctive, favorably viewed, recognizable and memorable if strong brand equity is to be achieved.

   

 

Questions to consider:

 

  • What actions or brand strategies could be implemented to increase customer engagement with your brand?

 

  • What would help improve the actual and perceived quality of your brand?

 

  • Have you taken steps to become informed and evaluate your brand’s weaknesses compared to competitors?

 

  • Do you feel your brand adequately conveys why and how it meets your customer needs?

 

  • Does your brand connect with people globally, and is that necessary for its brand equity?

 

 

You might also like:

 

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

   

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

  

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

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

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

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

 

 

[1] Eric Hammis, http://www.business2community.com, “How Important is Brand Identity?”, April 2015.

[2] Lois Geller, http://www.forbes.com, “Why a Brand Matters”, May 2012

[3] John Fatteross, http://www.thehartford.com, ” Advantages of Strong Brand Equity”

[4] Jennifer Connelly, htttp://www.entrepreneur.com, “‘Brand Equity’ is an Intangible That’s Worth Real Money”

[5] https://www.mindtools.com/, “Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand”

[6] http://rockresearch.com/a-brand-development-model-how-to-define-and-measure-brand-equity/, “A Brand Development Model: How to Define and Measure Brand Equality,” December 2013

[7] Carl Johnson, http://www.adage.com, “Why Starbucks Logo Change Doesn’t Equate to Brand Change,” January 2011

[8] http://www.designbywatermark, “What is a Brand Refresh?”

[9] Betsy McKay and Suzanne Vranica, http://www.wsj.com, “Coca-Cola to Uncap ‘Open Happiness’ Campaign” January 2009

 

 

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

According to a Gallup study of nearly 18 million people, most customers say brands don’t live up to what they promise. [1] Many are also disengaged with their respective brands, and consequently not loyal to them either. Here we take a look at how to create, develop, share and authentically live out and deliver on your brand promise to help you thrive in the marketplace and increase your profitability.

 

 

Gallup Research Staff Brand Ambassadors

Image via www.gallup.com

 

 

 

What is a Brand Promise?

 

Your brand promise is an extension of your brand’s positioning, and can be explicitly spelled out, or manifested in more subtle ways. A compelling brand promise contains tangible emotional benefits, which in turn stimulates desire amongst its target audience.

 

Furthermore, a strong brand promise establishes expectations by informing customers on what the brand stands for and what it represents. [2] Sometimes the brand name in itself conveys the promise. Consider that most people hear the word “Cadillac” and instantly think of an upscale car.

 

Brand promises can also be communicated through symbolism such as the signature aqua blue associated with Tiffany’s jewelry. Before even opening the box, recipients anticipate that the item inside will be luxurious. The colour has been given meaning by what the brand stands for and the promise it consistently delivers.

 

Tiffany Blue Box 600px

Image via www.tiffany.com

 

 

Familiarity is also a major aspect of the brand promise.[3] When people see the golden arches of a McDonald’s restaurant sign, they expect the brand to deliver on its promise of uncomplicated fun. This is underpinned by good service and convenient food — all of which is a consistent experience of simple, easy enjoyment regardless of McDonald’s location.

 

 

 

Making Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise should be easy for customers to understand, and very relatable. Most importantly it should be livable on a daily basis within your organization. As customers’ tastes and expectations change, your brand promise may need to evolve over time too. Your brand promise can transform as your brand adapts to the changing market but should remain true to your core brand DNA. [4] Ideally, customer expectations should be mirrored to whatever your brand promise consistently delivers.

 

Brand promises should be emotionally compelling, and exciting.[5] Consider the brand promise conveyed when families book trips to Disney World, often referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Travelers who are Disney World-bound expect a promise of stress-free, fun-filled happy adventures where memories are created and shared.

 

You must be able to succinctly describe the emotional benefit your brand fulfills when developing a brand promise. What can your brand deliver that’s perceived to be totally different to your competitors. Consider this in terms of your brand experience, personality, mission, values, brand story and so forth. This process, known as brand profiling, will help you evaluate which human needs or desires are most relevant to your purchaser personas or customer avatars so you can develop your product or service to really meet their needs. Some examples include:

 

  • Need to belong
  • Desire to do feel; good, healthier, beautiful, intelligent, worthy, smarter etc.
  • Desire to have; fun, adventure, excitement, relaxation, challenge
  • Need to get necessities without hassles
  • Need to get items at best price available
  • Desire to be admired by peers; status symbol, trend-setter etc.
  • Need to have a solution which solves a particular problem
  • Want to have something that intuitively works

 

The emotional rewards combined with rational benefits, all perceived to be delivered in a way which is incomparable to your competitors, are what contribute to a compelling brand promise. However, you also need to ponder factors such as your commitment to customers, your customer service and the customer journey and which elements contribute most to customer loyalty and ultimately the creation of brand advocates.

 

 

Articulating Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise may be communicated through a snappy tagline that emphasizes what people can expect.[6]  In the 1980s, Federal Express set expectations about delivery speed with the tagline, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” That’s an example of a very bold brand promise. However, you also may find it advantageous to utilize a more ambiguous approach. Apple did that with their “Think Different” tagline that was open to various interpretations.

 

A brand promise and a tagline are not the same thing. However, a tagline can be useful for communicating what your brand promise says in a distilled way that’s easy for customers to understand, remember and refer.

 

Although it is important for a brand promise to be communicated to customers, it must first be internalize amongst your team because staff members are your best brand advocates. Most importantly if your staff and stakeholders don’t fully understand and live your brand promise, your external market — your customers won’t either, which leaves you at risk of being just another generic commodity and failing to meet expectations. [7]

 

Conduct a brand audit health check to evaluate how well aligned (or not) your internal team are with the external market.  If you uncover weak points in your brand culture and misconceptions about your brand promise, you’ll be empowered to implement internal changes with brand induction and training.

 

In addition to educating employees about your brand promise, you also need to make them feel invested in it as an important part of the whole entity where their contributions are key to the greater good and brand success, so they care about the emotional needs your brand promise fulfills.

 

It’s essential to create an emotional brand attachment with your customers, as well as with your employees otherwise they won’t be effective brand ambassadors or properly represent your brand. They are in effect the living embodiment of your brand so their understanding, internalization and commitment to living what it stands for and delivering on your promise is critical to your brand success and long term business growth.

 

Remember, fundamentally people buy products or services with emotion first and justify with rationale afterwards, regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must touch the heart to move the mind.

 

When being communicated to customers, the brand promise should have a genre that can be expressed through audible and visual cues.[8] For example, the grocery store Trader Joe’s has the unusual genre of a trading post, and promises it has a team of people who search the globe for high-quality products backed by an impressive guarantee.

 

Your brand promise should also have a unique voice that defines and expresses the brand’s character or personality. When the brand promise is associated with a strong voice, it becomes more relatable and memorable.

 

Communicating your brand’s promise effectively means being consistent when attracting customers’ attention, educating them, stimulating desire and converting them into paying individuals. If your ideal audience are effectively engaged at each stage, it’s easier to communicate your brand promise in a worthwhile and profitable way.

 

Finally, your brand promise should be communicated consistently and congruently across all brand touch-points.[9]  You may choose to share it through social media, direct mail brand collateral or your website amongst others. Most importantly it should be a ‘tangible experience’ throughout your whole customer journey, particularly where physical connecting occurs such as over the phone or face-to-face. It should be an emphatic part of your brand experience, be that in the office, on the show room floor or in your physical outlet or store.

 

 

 

Living Your Brand Promise

 

When evolving or discussing your brand promise with your team, always aim to do so face-to-face and provide opportunities for engagement and feedback.[10]  Also, provide direction and suggestions on how staff can personify your brand promise at work amongst themselves and when interacting with customers, through your training and brand induction programmes. Explain and demonstrate that living your brand promise is not a one-off activity, but an integral part of how you do things. When the brand promise is lived out internally, it naturally gets far more effectively expressed to and experienced by external customers simultaneously. [11]

 

Be intentional about showcasing your brand promise to customers through your company brand culture. Rather than leaving things to chance, keep channels of communication open, and accept that your brand promise may evolve over time. If you discover your brand is not living up to its promise, considering engaging external professional assistance to help you re-evaluate your whole brand offering using tools and systems like a brand audit health check and brand profile development with a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ to improve matters.

 

Now that you’re aware of what a brand promise is, and how to create and authentically live it, let’s look at brands that have succeeded in developing compelling brand promises and delivering on them consistently and successfully.

 

 

CASE STUDY: Saba Restaurant, Dublin

 

Saba is widely regarded as being the best authentic Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant in Ireland with an impressive and very extensive array of national and international awards — which are constantly being added to.

 

Saba means, ‘happy meeting place’, so the brand’s primary aim and promise is to provide really happy experiences for its customers, the kind that mellow into happy memories. This is at the heart of the Saba brand promise and an integral part of the brand culture, which can be tangibly experienced at every stage of the customer journey from initial booking to front line staff interactions at their multiple locations. And the Saba staff are very congruent in the experience they provide to their customers.

 

The Saba Promise 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

With a very strong commitment to developing his team, Paul Cadden, founder and owner, ensures his team are really well trained throughout the business. The fact that Saba has some of the highest retention rates in the industry is a testament not only to Paul’s remarkable vision but to the genuine commitment of all his team.

 

The Saba Way 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

Every team member knows what the brand stands for, their brand promise and genuinely live it internally amongst themselves and proudly ensure its central to all their customers interactions and experiences with them — all of which is evidenced not only in the countless awards received but in the hundreds of customer reviews and testimonials given.

 

 

 

 

 

CASE STUDY: Big Blue Whale Toys and Curiosities

 

This Houston, Texas-based small business delivers the brand promise through the descriptor, “A Magical Place to Find Classic, Hard-To-Find, and Handmade Toys in Houston, TX”. Although its website is basic, it offers a photo gallery that clearly depicts the inviting shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Bursting with items for the young and young-at-heart, the photos demonstrate shoppers do indeed have a very good chance of locating toys they couldn’t find elsewhere. The ocean-themed windows also help entice people to come and indulge their curiosities by wandering around this “magical place” that lives up to expectations. The shop has even been recognized by Business Insider as one of Houston’s coolest businesses. [12]

 

 

Big Blue Whale 600px

Image via www.houstoniamag.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Ace Hardware

 

Ace Hardware’s brand promise is as follows: Deliver helpful, neighbourly service to every customer—every time. Although the brand has always prided itself on excellent service, it has more recently begun expanding on the “neighbourly” aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

The brand now offers same-day service to homes that are within 15 miles of local stores when orders are placed by 13:00p.m. That perk is very attractive and compelling for customers embroiled in home improvement projects, or can’t fit bulky items into their vehicles.

 

Ace Hardware 600px

Image via www.mesquitelocalnews.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Tourism Vancouver

 

The brand promise of this tourism board is “The Vancouver experience will exceed visitors’ expectations. We will deliver superior value in a spectacular destination that is safe, exciting and welcoming to everyone.”

 

 

 

 

 

This organization has created a “brand toolkit” to help other businesses live the brand promise, and thereby promote Vancouver as a great place to visit. The company also holds an award ceremony to recognize outside parties that are delivering on the brand promise with excellence. The brand promise is emphasized through an extensive collection of media clips, including some that show how Vancouver can be exciting even if people are visiting for business reasons and not only pleasure.

 

Tourism Vancouver 600px

Image via www.discovervancouver.ca

 

 

Now that you have a better understanding of what a brand promise is, how to create one, and why it’s essential to your brand success, hopefully you’re on track to not only make promises, but keep them and indeed deliver them in an unforgettably way. If you can do that, customers will thank you not only with their loyalty but also through referring and sharing your brand too.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Your brand promise can be explicit or subtle, and may change as customers’ needs evolve.

 

  • Brand promises most effectively relate to emotional needs customers want fulfilling.

 

  • Your brand promise, customer experiences and expectations should be fully integrated and congruent.

 

  • Consistency is essential throughout every touch-point and communication when fulfilling your brand promise.

 

  • Employee commitment, brand induction and training are critical for effectively communicating and upholding your brand promise successfully.

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

• What’s at least one emotional need your brand meets better than you’re your competitors? Have you developed your brand promise fully using the brand profiling process?

 

• How are you ensuring your employees’ perceptions of your brand promise are fully understood, congruent, authentically lived and effectively delivered throughout your organisation?

 

• Which channels are the most effective to communicate your brand promise to your customers and enhance their experience with your brand?

 

• Consider an occasion when a brand you love did not live up to its promise, how are you going to ensure your brand never falls foul with the same kind of disappointment?

 

• How are you connecting your brand promise to your existing company brand values, as Ace Hardware did? Have you considered or recently conducted a brand audit health check to evaluate how well your brand is performing, where it could do better and where new opportunities lie?

 

 

You may also like:

 

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 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

 

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

 

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

 

The Power of Disruptor and Challenger Brands

 

[1] Ed O’Boyle and Amy Adkins, http://www.gallup.com/ “Companies Only Deliver on Their Brand Promises Half the Time,” May 2015.

[2] Susan Gunelius, http://www.aytm.com, “Brand Promise – How to Make It and Keep It”

[3] Lee Frederiksen, “http://www.hingemarketing.com, “Elements of a Successful Brand 4: Brand Promise”

[4] Sree Hameed, http://www.forbes.com, “Your Brand Promise Can Create or Destroy Customer Loyalty,” June 2013.

[5] Sue Kirchner, http://www.theworkathomewoman.com, “How to Write a Killer Brand Promise That Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd”

[6] http://www.creativemporium.co.uk, “Branding Series (Part 2): Creating a Brand Promise,” July 2014.

[7] Susan Guneilus, http://www.womenonbusiness.com, “The Importance of Integrating Your Brand Promise Into Your Company Culture,” August 2013.

[8] Laurence Vincent, http://www.inc.com, “How to Bind Customers to Your Brand”

[9] John Oechsle, http://www.business2community.com, “How & When: Using Communication to Deliver on Brand Promise,” August 2015.

[10] Ashley Freeman, http://www.allthingsic.com “Nine Golden Rules to Help Live Your Brand Internally” April 2015.

[11] Chris Cancialosi, http://www.forbes.com, “The Secret to Faithfully Delivering On Your Brand Promise,” March 2015.

[12] Emmie Martin, http://www.businessinsider.com, “The 18 Coolest New Businesses in Houston., ” April 2015.

[13]  Natasha D. Smith, http://www.dmmnews.com, “Ace Hardware’s Brand Promise is Its Strongest Marketing Tool” March 2015.

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 

 

 

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”

  

  

Seasonal Branding: Tread Carefully with Christmas Themed Brand Strategies

Fourth quarter commercialism looms large. Sparkly red and green Christmas displays are simultaneously mounted as spooky orange and black Halloween decorations come down.

From Ireland to Illinois, consumers react in unpredictable ways to brand seasonal messages that creep in earlier and earlier every year. For retailers, that response can mean boom or bust for critical end-of year-sales figures.

  

 

Black Friday Launches the Season

 

Like a turkey sandwich in-between Halloween and Christmas, America has another huge national holiday. On the fourth Thursday of November, the weekend following Thanksgiving traditionally signaled the official start of Christmas during most of the 20th century. Dreamt up as a marketing concept in 2003, Black Friday is now the most frenzied shopping day of the year. It sees queues forming overnight for big sales, many beginning at dawn and some as early as midnight on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Black Friday is spreading. In recent years, Canada, Mexico and India have followed suit while giant American retailers like Disney and Apple introduce online sales in Australia, too. French shoppers are familiar with “Vendredi Noir.” In the U.K., Tesco and Argos 2014 Black Friday promotions prompted police action in Manchester, with Argos withdrawing from the event in 2015. 

 

Meantime, as early Christmas shop windows draw back the curtains on November installations, the 114-year-old U.S. retailer Nordstrom takes a different approach, making a statement about celebrating one holiday at a time, as seen in a window display. 

  

  

 Nordstrom Window Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

In America, Hollywood goes nuts at the holidays over box office receipts for new film releases, but the small screen is tame on TV adverts compared to the U.K., where Christmas adverts are a national pastime. 

  

We look at a mixed bag of examples representing both large brands and smaller ones on both sides of the pond to see how campaigns are making the most of the season — while others have misfired and are quickly pronounced a failure. See what you think about these adverts.

  

 

Balancing Sales Strategies Intended as Charitable Endeavours

 

John Lewis is one of those nationwide UK brands that attracts considerable media attention with their annual Christmas message, usually a tear-jerker. This year’s advert tells the story of a little 6-year-old girl called Lily and an old man she spies with her telescope, who lives — all alone and lonely — on the moon. The advert is designed to raise awareness for the charity, Age UK, with its tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

According to The Guardian, “Last year, the retailer also spent £7m on a campaign featuring a realistic animated penguin and a young boy playing together to the tune of John Lennon’s Real Love, sung by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell. It had drummed up 22m views on YouTube by the first week of January…” This year’s numbers are soaring ahead of last year’s. 

 

  

 

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in The Telegraph saying there is a consistent style for the store’s seasonal adverts. “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

  

The £1 million production for a six-week-long £7 million campaign, which includes more cost for shop floors kitted out to resemble a moonscape, has seen members of the public ask[1]: Why couldn’t John Lewis make a multi-million contribution to Age UK? In fact, the profits from three small ticket items sold at the department store – a mug, a gift tag and a card – will go to the charity supplemented by donations from the public, inspired by the advert’s message.   

 

 

John Lewis Consumer Reaction Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

Brands Play to Emotions to Drive Brand Loyalty 

 

Tugging at the heartstrings via hugs, cute penguins, a melting Mr. Snowman, and even World War I soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in the trenches are among the emotional connections brands are working and spending hard to make happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Why? In a word, loyalty. As pointed out by a retail analyst[2], for modern consumers to change brands no longer involves driving to another village or shopping centre; swapping brands is as easy as the click of a mouse. All of which means your brand strategy needs to be a lot more sophisticated if you want to first attract and then hold onto your customers. Remember people buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background. Your brand must be rich with authentic personality, have a really big why — reasons beyond the money to buy, create emotionally compelling reasons to engage, and ensure it includes an advocacy strategy within your action plan if you want to increase your profitability and ensure long-term success.  

 

A MindMover opinion poll[3] indicates the following brands are most closely associated with Christmas adverts in the U.K.: Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Cadbury, Asda, Toys R Us and Amazon. Not queried is the million pound question — that is, whether top-of-mind-awareness produces the all-important return on investment.

  

  

A Big Brand Blunder at Bloomingdale’s

 

Bloomingdale’s, U.S. luxury fashion chain stores owned by Macy’s, made such a spectacularly poor judgement in their 2015 Christmas advert that a week after the department store had apologized via Twitter, major editorials continued to call for a deeper response.

 

  

Bloomingdale's Advert Via Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

“Appearing to promote date rape,” says the Wall Street Journal[4], the “creepy” and “offensive” advert reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Clearly, it went viral in the wrong way for the large retailer.

  

  

 Bloomingdale's Apology On Twitter

 Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

A Storm in a Teacup at Starbucks

 

At Starbucks, they knew what they were doing when the white snowflakes decorating the seasonal red cup design were removed. A seemingly simple change sent consumers in large numbers straight to social media, to sign a petition, and to boycott the brand, claiming that Starbucks was making an anti-Christ religious statement. “It’s just a red cup”, tweeted the voice of reason while Instagram lit up with Starbucks images and the nation’s top talk show hosts chimed in.

 

 

 Starbucks Red Christmas Cup 2015

Image via www.vox.com

 

 

Three lessons learned, says Entrepreneur[5], and small brands should pay especially close attention to number three on this list:

1) All PR is good PR. Starbucks marketing knew the response wouldn’t be universally positive, but they also knew this was not a crisis

2) The power of social media sharing is awesome — and free

3) Brands who react fast can newsjack a trend. “Other coffee brands got a boost from the issue, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, with its holiday cup release.

  

  

 Dunkin' Donuts Shout Out Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

The subject has also created opportunities for smaller companies, YouTubers and creative types alike to ride the wave and get attention.”

 

 

Just Wine Starbucks Cup Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

That’s the same brand strategy employed by the many John Lewis parody adverts that follow immediately on the heels of the store’s annual commercial.

 

 

Smaller Brands & Seasonal Brand Strategies

 

Small brands can make a large impact in the community by scaling ideas such as co-branding in a lower key way, supporting a charity or club, adding removable seasonal details to products and packaging design, donating Christmas trees to community centers, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

 

In London, independent, privately-owned residential estate agency Bective Leslie Marsh has supported West London Action for Children for over a decade. Estate agents and local residents partner to raise funds for the 98-year-old charity through year-round bridge and tennis tournaments, trivia quiz nights, barn dances, garden fetes and more.

 

To offset Black Friday’s emphasis on big box stores and chain stores, Small Business Saturday was launched in the USA in 2010. It focuses on the bricks and mortar local shops that are the fabric of the Ma & Pa character neighbourhoods with American Express is the main sponsor. Partnerships and promotion via Google street view, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook come up with initiatives to launch holiday shopping on the last Saturday of November too. 

 

Other successful ideas have included branded shirts and kits for a local sports club, providing staff to serve Christmas dinners at senior centres, running a toy drive or food hampers collection, singing Christmas carols to collect for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and similar. It’s important to make a small investment in well design brand collateral such as banners, posters, placards, T-shirts, caps and other branded items to decorate and to wear in order to properly associate the occasion with your own brand.

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Are you often caught short of time, or do you have a holiday marketing plan drawn up by Quarter 2? Do you need to include this as part of your brand audit health check or brand revitalization strategy?

 

• Does your brand have a charitable and/or community giving programme?

 

• Does your brand strategy include corporate social responsibility?

 

• Do you know what initiatives, outreach or volunteer activities your employees — your brand champions — would feel most supportive of on behalf of your brand?

 

• Do you feel confident about maximizing the potential impact on sales via volunteerism on behalf of your brand?

 

 

You might also like:

 

• Christmas Branding: Top 10 Tips to Infuse Your Brand with Seasonal Spirit

  

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

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

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

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

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

 

[1] As seen on Twitter #johnlewischristmasadvert

[2] Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail analyst, The Telegraph, 16/11/2015

[3] “Glad Tidings for John Lewis…”, The Guardian, 6/11/15

[4] “Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Draws Backlash…”, Wall St Journal, 12/11/2015

[5] “3 Lessons from Starbucks’ Red Cup ‘Controversy’”, Entrepreneur, 16/11/2015

 

 

FMCG Branding: Going for Gold with Fast Moving Consumer Goods

The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is one of the most volatile and toughest categories in which to succeed and sometimes considered the birthplace of modern branding. The competition has always been fierce and the fight for wallet share never more challenging then it is now.

 

Today’s FMCG industry is a multi-billion dollar sector that’s typically dominated by well-established household brands around the globe, from Coca-Cola to Kraft to Henkel. Breaking into that market as a new brand can be a serious challenge, particularly when you’re up against global powerhouses that have ruled their respective niches for decades with deep pockets. Having said that though, smaller brands have more opportunities to make their impact with limited resources than they ever had before, which helps level the playing field a little!

 

 Kraft Logo

Image via www.kraftfoodsgroup.com

 

The question is how do you move from a ‘C’ or ‘D’ tier, largely unknown, consumer product to become a recognized household brand? Success in the FMCG sector is no longer epitomized by just ‘nice’ logos and good packaging alone—modern consumers expect far more.

 

The most successful brands are consistently creating an authentic customer experience around their consumable products, one that is worthwhile and personally engaging. These brands give their core target audience a more compelling reason to buy and create brand perceptions through their brands personality, promise, values, story and total brand world per se, which their customers find irresistible.

 

The following is an insight into what some of the most successful FMCG companies are doing to maintain consistently captivating brands. What keeps them front of mind in terms of customer preferences, and how you can incorporate these strategies into your own brand building efforts.

 

 

Aligning With And Focusing on Your Core Target Audience

While it may seem counterintuitive, the key to becoming a household brand is not to try appealing to a broader audience—it is to be desirable to the right core target audience. You need to know your market, your competitors, and your sector’s environment intimately, so you can focus on developing your branding strategy specifically tailored towards your primary customers – those who are most likely to buy fully into your brand and what it stands for.

 

Understanding not only what your ideal customers wants, but also how your offering can enhance their lives is hugely important. It’s only when you truly understand their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations that you can really craft a concise and focused brand message that cuts through the noise.

 

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages from multiple channels 24/7. Your challenge is to deliver the right message, on target to catch their much sought after attention, at the right time and then, most importantly, to hold their attention. You need to develop a customer avatar which you then use to underpin your brand proposition and profile.

 

 Johnsons Baby Logo

Image via www.johnsonsbaby.com

  

Your brand should clearly indicate why and how you’ll meet your customers needs and that you understand what really matters to them. If yours is a family orientated brand then broadly speaking it might be important to communicate reliability, safety, and trust. However you need to dig deeper beyond just the general to the specific and identify more detailed characteristics to bring your brand alive in a way that’s meaningful, distinctive and different to your audience.

 

Millennials might enjoy quirky humor that helps mark your offerings as innovative but you still need to add something more unique to your brand story to help it standout and stick. Overall luxury brands focus on quality and prestige but they still need to develop other attributes, messages and stories that make their brand experience exclusive to them alone.

 

 

Developing Brand Loyalty

Returning customers are the heart of every successful company—and this is especially true in the FMCG sector where products are typically consumed quickly and frequently. Brand loyalty is critical to your long term success and you need to develop a brand strategy that helps ensure your customers become tunnel visioned with regard to your brand when they go shopping.

 

You want them to become blinkered to see only your brand offering so they buy it automatically because they aren’t even open to considering others. When you continue to meet their needs your loyal customers will not only continue to purchase your brand, they’ll become brand advocates encouraging family and friends to switch to your brand too.

 

How do you create brand loyalty? Many businesses make the mistake of trying to compete on price alone where only those with the deepest pockets can win. Customers aren’t necessarily looking for just the cheapest product. Cheap rarely engenders ongoing brand loyalty. Customers typically look for the right blend of quality and value, and many are willing to pay more for a brand they can trust and meets their needs on multiple other levels too. It’s also important to note that value doesn’t mean just price, it’s the complete mix of what the brand has to offer – your brand promise, brand values, brand culture, corporate social responsibility, customer experience, your way of doing things in your brand world etc. that collectively all add up to enhance perceived brand value.

 

 

One strong example of this is Johnson & Johnson, the global leader in baby care products. Johnson’s Baby has been helping parents and doctors give babies a healthy, happy start in life for more than 100 years – what a brand legacy. This company understands what its primary customers want – to give their babies a healthy, happy start in life because ‘every moment with your little one is precious’. 

 

 

 

Saving money might feature somewhere in the mix with parents but babies health and happiness is the primary focus, and not at the expense of their child’s care. They are looking for products with safe, gentle ingredients, backed by a company that genuinely cares about the well-being of babies. Everything Johnson & Johnson does is done to reinforce that message, be it through the products themselves, its CSR strategy or advocacy in baby skin care or baby sleeping advice etc. This is an ethical, quality-focused ‘caring’ brand, successfully engaging its audience by pulling at the heart strings through all its communications strategies – which all but the cynical and hard nosed would find hard to resist. 

 

  

Telling Your Brand Story in a Way That’s Relevant

Storytelling is more than just a buzzword. Creating authenticity with an emotional connection and an element of curiosity is very important to help distinguish your brand from the barrage of the external market. When you communicate your own brand journey, your growth and your message to potential customers, you’re able to connect with them on a more meaningful level.

 

 

 

The Askinosie chocolate brand story shows how its really important and worked for this relatively new confectionary company. Their target market consists of environmentally aware customers who typically shop in organic health food stores. Askinosie sets their brand apart through their packaging and their brand story which really resonates with their customers. Each of their chocolate bar wrappers relates personal stories about the cocoa farmers that supply the company with raw ingredients. The focus is on their relationship with Askinosie as business partners who are well compensated with prices that are higher than Fair Trade.

  

 Askinosie Chocolate Packaging

Image via www.askinosie.com

   

Great brand stories can help you elevate your products into the top tier and are a critical part of the successful brand mix and keep your customers coming back for more. A note of warning though – the brand values from your story and the promise it articulates must be consistently lived and demonstrated throughout the business at every level of interaction internally and externally every day.

 

Changing With The Times

The market is constantly evolving, and your brand must be flexible enough to keep up with the changing times. Successful FMCG brands understand how to recognize trends and implement shifts in strategy that will help them continue to stay relevant and meet market requirements over the years and decades.

 

 Starbucks Logo

Image via www.starbucks.com 

Starbucks in spite of all its ups and downs has largely maintained a strong grasp of its market combined with a willingness to change, and has managed to remain one of the most recognized global brands. The Seattle-based company began as a local retail coffee store, and grew into a worldwide chain that caters to customers looking for an upscale coffee experience. By combining quality coffee with a diverse range of related products, a pleasant relaxing environment in which to enjoy their coffee and engaging with their customers more personally—and treating their employees better than other coffee chains—Starbucks has dominated its niche. 

 

 

  

However, there is a fine line between staying relevant and incorporating new trends versus losing sight of what your brand really stands for by inadvertently ‘muddying the waters’ so to speak with an excessive plethora of confusing brand messages. You must always remain true to the core of what you stand for, whether yours is a well established brand or more recent launch to market.

 

Hershey Logo 

Image via www.hersheys.com

 

Hershey’s has seen a decline in recent times compounded by overenthusiastic trend-chasing activities. In recent years, the company’s brand promise of simple, tasty chocolate has been lagging behind in their efforts to anticipate changing tastes. Extreme diversification has resulted in a confusing tangle of confectionery varieties: milk, dark, and white chocolate with a variety of fillings, coatings and new flavours—all of which is somewhat confusing in its marketing to customers who just want an original Hershey bar.

  

 

Developing Your Brand Message

Strong branding is a vital factor for long term success in the ultra-competitive FMCG industry. In order to create a strong and compelling brand message, you need to fully understand your target customers, including:

  • Who they are: Demographics, motivations, trends, and demands
  • Why they buy: Specific needs and wants (rational and emotional)
  • What they buy: The look and feel of the products they prefer
  • Where / how they buy: Channel preferences, point of sale activities
  • How they consume: Key usage situations for your products

 

Pinpoint your target audience, and develop your brand strategy to focus on the things that matter most to them. Transform your offerings into an experience that will keep your customers returning, and create brand ambassadors who will recommend you to like-minded customers. Focus on what helps elevate and grow your brand and your customer base will expand with you.

 

What do you think?

 • How does your FMCG brand differentiate from your competitors?

 

• What message are you conveying with your brand? What should you convey?

 

• How can you tell the story of your brand more effectively?

 

• What steps are you taking to create brand loyalty?

 

• Has your brand evolved to stay relevant with the changing market—without losing sight of your core?