February is the month of love! Valentines day comes just 2 weeks into the month. Men all around the country set reminders to make sure they don’t forget this special day. That, or they call in at the services on the way home from their commute! What makes them remember whilst balancing the demands of fast living? The frightening thought of forgetting it I guess overrides your current thoughts of being already half way through Q1! There is something about remembering those we love though. They are front of mind, fondly thought of and make you smile. Now I can understand the love of your life making you feel this way, but your toothpaste brand? What is it about some brands though that make us love them so much? With all the love and emotion around in February, it seems only right to focus this month’s blog on how some brands manage to achieve those same feelings. Those rare companies that reach that divine status as a brand that people love! Its not just their customers either. These companies are equally loved by their employees! They seem to have that special something that just makes everyone love interacting and being around them. So what sets them apart from the other brands we could choose? At Consort we help companies to become ‘Love Brands’ by shaping their experience using our simple 7 step process. So let me give you a quick insight into those 7 steps to becoming a brand you just couldn’t live without!
Brands that are loved have a very clear purpose that resonates with its audience both internally and externally. Their vision and values are clear in their communications, which deliver the company personality to everyone they touch. They are sincere and genuine, delivering consistently against their purpose to build emotional connection. Distinctly different from others in their industry they stand for something that connects to their target audience and creates a relationship rather than just a transaction.
‘Love Brands’ don’t just connect with customers, they also inspire their employees and leave a positive brand impression in the community. When they touch each of these audiences with their magic dust, it consistently lives up to its purpose. Even brands that we don’t use can have this affect. For instance, take Aston Martin. It has that aspirational quality and style without the pretentiousness of some of its competitors, which makes it loved by a wider audience, not just its owners. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to feel like that. ‘Love Brands’ deliver their special personality in its culture, engaging people with a strong bond and building trust, making you feel like partners. It feels personal, bespoke and made to fit. Tailored in its approach to appeal to each generation, it fits into your life perfectly. Its a brand you are happy to let into your life and proud to recommend. Note the use of the words ‘feels, happy and proud’. The brand emotionally connects with the audience and when you feel strongly about the brand, you build advocacy, loyalty and forgiveness.
The strategies of the company are designed specifically with their approach to their audiences. They are aligned to the purpose & distinctly different to their competitors. They are a breath of fresh air. Fresh thinking & receptive to 360° feedback. They integrate both their employees and their customers in their future development, listening more than they talk! Their communication transparently delivers their messages with the feel of their purpose, values and vision a constant theme. 2-way communication though, they invite their audiences to co-create with them. They care about their audiences and take time to map out journeys for each of them, using their feedback to improve the experience. Ensuring that the experience is one that differentiates them, one that isn’t easily copied. They have inspirational leaders and specific recruitment processes that only allow people into their organisation that are matched to them. Whilst it is impossible to be liked by all, they have few detractors and most people are either neutral or positive in their reaction to the brand.
By adopting an approach that appeals to all audiences, ‘Love Brands’ ensure that they offer a consistently positive experience whatever channel you choose to use. They effectively blend the use of traditional channels with the digital revolution. The experience is positive and feels ‘easy & enjoyable’ when you need to use it. Tailored for the channel of use, each journey is mapped to provide highs and neutral zones, picking specific areas of customer priority to over index. They place equal importance on making it easy for employees to use the channels effectively. Ensuring the latest channels and devices are able to be serviced with ease. They place high importance on the view of the customer and having an integrated picture of the customer interaction history. They not only collect big data but use it to drive their commercial advantage, but more on that later!
Products and Services are pretty similar now across most industries. They may even be the same in brands that you love to those you don’t. So what makes the offer any different then? Well it comes down to emotion again. How does it feel to buy those products? What is the experience like when you part with your cash, is it transactional or do you not even think about that? Do you know that 86% of people are prepared to pay more for the experience if it is a good one? 15% are prepared to pay double! Why do you think business class air travel sells? People are not interested in cost; they are interested in value! The difference is significant. When people feel they have got good value for money, the price is irrelevant. You were prepared to pay the price, providing the offer matches your expectation for the cost. (That is assuming you can afford the cost, which is a different argument!) ‘Love Brands’ know this. They gear their experiences up to match what you think you are getting, delivering consistently against those standards. This is even the case with their employee offer. Ensuring that they are treated fairly and rewarded well, recognising their effort for their part in the mission. So the offer is something that might look similar on a stat sheet, but in reality will feel very different in the experience of buying, using and interacting with that brand. Nobody does this better than Apple!
Commercial advantage has shifted! It used to be on the product or service you offered. The price that you would pay for it or the availability of purchasing. But now that is all very similar a new competitive advantage has arrived. The effective use of insights is what differentiates advantage now. Not just collecting data, but knowing how to use that data and turn it into insight. Big Data was a flash word around 2 years ago, but now it has become bigger data! There is so much data available now that by the time you had worked through it all you would probably be out of business! ‘Love Brands’ know how to collect that data and then model it appropriately, knowing which parts to use. The value conversion comes from taking the analytics and turning it into meaningful insights, that enable you to create a differentiated experience for your customers. A personalised experience. One that is not generic, but specific for the insights relevant to that individual. One that flexes and learns behaviour and sentiment in its proposition, to deliver the best possible outcome for the audience. Sounds complicated, but it isn’t. Technology has caught up with the desires of todays customer, just not everyone has invested in them! You can be sure though that the brands who fall into this small utopian class are using insights to their advantage though!
The final step in companies that lead the way is that they keep evolving. Evolving all parts of this discussion, with the exception of their purpose. Their purpose remains in tact as the company moves forward, the heartbeat of the businesses ‘Why’. Yet every other area evolves to stay ahead of the competition. They have creative DNA in their veins! Encouraging evolution rather than revolution. They invest in the future, looking at ways to understand more and then reacting to that knowledge. Pioneers in their industry, new technologies arrive and replace old. More choice, higher standards, making life easier with every step. Those that lead the way ensure they push the boundaries, not follow the crowd. Thinking about the next generation, ensuring they don’t become the next Nokia! In business you are either moving forward or moving backwards! ‘Love Brands’ move forwards!
Whilst we have only touched on what makes up a ‘Love Brand’ in this article. We delve into much greater detail around these concepts when we help brands move towards this goal. So as it is Valentine’s day we wanted to give our own special gift to you all. We are offering the first 28 businesses to respond to our post, the chance to have their own business put through our new experience map – ‘The Value Experience’ absolutely FREE OF CHARGE! This offer is only valid for 1 until the 14th February so for your chance to see where your business is today click here and leave your details with the message “Show me where X marks the spot!” and we will be in touch to help you get on the journey.
Oh, Just one final thing. Don’t forget your Valentines gift in two week’s time, otherwise it could be your personal brand that ends up no longer being loved! Take this article as your friendly reminder, get organised now and win extra brownie points for making the experience special!