People spend a lot of time thinking and talking about company brands. And it is fascinating to hear about the brands they love and why — particularly at certain points of the year when marketing activity really heats up. Like the beginning of this month, for instance, when it was all about back-to-school supplies and finding out what stores had the best deals.
For Chief Marketing Officers, these conversations are invaluable. Understanding how people choose brands is important — without this understanding, companies risk being irrelevant, with downstream impacts like missed sales. And it can help to build a strong brand and value proposition.
When thinking about creating a modern brand, there are three things to consider:
Deliver a Dynamic Experience
For a brand to make a lasting impression, products and services need to keep up with how and where people like to interact. In today’s digital world, we are always on the go, so we need brands with a digital platform that is intuitive and supports us no matter where we are located, or what time it is. Apple’s app community is a great example of this – people can pay their bills, track their exercise, share updates with friends and download games to keep their kids entertained. Uber’s app allows people to know instantly how quickly a car can pick them up. And they can book and pay all at once and just jump out and go when they get to their destination. To make an impression, companies need to enhance everyday tasks and interactions to make them simple, intuitive and dynamic.
Foster an Emotional Connection
An emotional connection can be a big factor in building brand loyalty. When walking into Starbucks, there's a buzz in the atmosphere that is happy, warm and inviting. People get anxious for certain seasonal offerings – think Pumpkin Spice Latte. Items like this can trigger thoughts of activities with family during the fall when one of these is usually in hand. It takes the experience beyond that between customer and brand — it creates a shared experience and memory with their friends and families.
Stand For a Cause
And finally, people are drawn to brands associated with a cause aligned to their values. When purchasing a pair of TOMS shoes, for many it is less about needing a new pair of shoes and more that the purchase will provide a new pair of shoes to a child in need. You can’t miss TOMS’ One for One mission all over their shoe boxes – instantly connecting to one of their core brand attributes, while, at the same time reconfirming the consumer’s commitment to a brand that makes good products and does good for others. Another good example is shopping at Whole Foods, whose Whole Trade Guarantee is marketed throughout the store indicating their focus on ethical and social standards in sourcing. People know they are buying products from suppliers that have gone through intensive quality standards that align to their values.
Statistically, many consumers feel the same. In a recent study of millennials by Pinpoint Market Research, 88 percent want to see brands “effecting real change” in the community. And, corporate social responsibility proves to be a powerful differentiator — according to the Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
As marketers and leaders of companies, CMOs need to think like an end user — what do they expect in their personal lives? How can they shape their company’s mission, products, services and brand strategy to reflect the same? Companies have to be clear about the purpose they serve and value they create to deliver differentiation. And focus on creating a seamless experience for customers who need to juggle effortlessly between work and home.
Perhaps most importantly, companies that ultimately win have created brands that deliver an emotional connection with their customers, aligned with shared values. Customers want brands that make them feel good, and that they enjoy being associated with, whether it be a business or personal brand.
How can this be achieved?
Look at what consumers and users of brands expect. That's where the answers will be.