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What brands do – when they get it right…

What-do-brands-do
“A brand that captures your mind gains behavior. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.”
– Kent Huffman

We are creatures of habit with some basic instincts subconsciously dictating every day actions and decisions. Even in our oh so cultural society, it often feels that we are just a very thin layer away from our ‘uneducated’ ancestors we would now call wild. We remain  territorial and most of us seem to have an underlying desire to find a partner with certain attributes (depending on male or female preference), to have children, to gain a position within social and work circles. (It seems to me that ultimately pretty much all of our behaviour can be tracked back to the innate desire to find the best partner and pass on our genes).

Homo sapiens has remained a naked ape nevertheless; in acquiring lofty new motives, he has lost none of the earthy old ones. This is frequently a cause of some embarrassment to him, but his old impulses have been with him for millions of years, his new ones only a few thousand at the most—and there is no hope of quickly shrugging off the accumulated genetic legacy of his whole evolutionary past.’ – Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape

Businesses can tap into this unshakeable heritage of emotions and rational/irrational behaviour and build their brands to answer the basic needs of their clients.
In a nutshell, brands are about:

  1. BRAND AWARENESS – Most people don’t like  making choices. Brands add familiarity and a sense of comfort when picking a product. Our memory is selective and limited. Standing out and being in the mind of the consumer at the time of purchasing or decision-making is paramount.
  2. BRAND EXPERIENCE – Giving consumers confidence into their choice of product or service. Get it right, and you have won half the battle to get point 3. Better still, a happy customer will probably recommend you – but beware, there is the thought that people experience loss about ten times as much as gain, so better they see interaction with your brand as a benefit, not a disaster!
  3. BRAND LOYALTY – Evoke aspirations – inspire consumers to want to become part of the brand’s ‘tribe’. Would someone buy a t-shirt with your slogan on even though you have nothing to do with fashion? Is it ‘cool’ to be associated with your business? Are your products status symbols or attract a certain audience? People don’t like to be proved wrong, they don’t like to regret their buying decisions. Brand loyalty is a difficult one to get especially if your product is seen as a commodity, but if you can break into the world of being seen as a brand with added reputation and values instead, loyalty is a key factor to evolve and adapt to changing markets or consumer needs.

Perhaps, if a brand can create comfort, confidence and connections, it is doing so by being less of a manufactured product and more of an expression of human personalities. Bring on passion brands!

attitude, brand loyalty, brand management, Brand Managment, brand message

Can You Buy Brand Loyalty?

A question of brand loyalty
A question of brand loyalty

It remains to be seen if the latest move from coffee brand giant Starbucks will get their brand loyalty program back on track. Whilst they, like Google, Amazon and Vodaphone, have been using loopholes in the UK tax law to avoid millions of pounds payable to the government, they started to feel the effect of the bad publicity this tax evasion has created.
Even without considering the effect their behaviour has on local small business competitors, who have to face not only the massive branding and marketing budgets of Starbucks, but also the fact that they do pay 20%VAT on every cup they sell, the public is less than impressed especially since everyone feels the economic downturn and personal tax burden of us living in the UK.
Perhaps someone thought that offering to pay 10million Pound to smoothen the waves is a good idea, but it will have to be seen if they are that easily forgiven or if in fact it fuels the anger and conception that they are trying to buy their way back in…
This Guardian article has some more details.
Brand trust is a quick one to be broken and I for one will continue to avoid the bitter taste their actions left and go to a coffee brand that shares the pain of being taxed.

brand loyalty, brand management

SME Branding Lesson #22 – Turning a Negative into a Positive

I’ve just had a weekend in York and had lunch at a restaurant / bar with a Latin theme. It was spacious in itself but there was no toilet on the ground floor. You had to climb five flights of stairs and there was no lift – lots of accessibility issues spring to mind, even ignoring wheelchairs (try carrying a child up all those stairs…).
I could have left the place with a dampened feeling and not just tired legs, but they did something clever with their unfortunate toilet situation – they made it a feature!
All it took was some entertainment on the way up. Instead of emphasising the somewhat arduous trip, it made me walk up twice (second time iPhone in hand to capture the trail).
No business is perfect – and I feel that this is a really simple and nice example for how to deal with situations that have to be managed before they can eventually be altered.
I for one will be remembering this bar for the positive brand experience their innovative dealing with a negative situation has created.
clever-brand-management-02
















brand loyalty, brand management, brand message, Brand Strategy, Branding, Funny

Form over Function – Is Being Fashionable Really Enough to Innovate a Brand?

It has taken me a few days to digest a press release I received relating to Filofax, a brand I have been following for a while now. Here is the bit that that is almost too bad to be true when relating it to those brand followers that have been loyal and dedicated to the brand throughout its turbulent history.

Filofax press mention
Working the media… enough to reposition the brand?

The Filofax personal organiser is an iconic product with a strong heritage but as a brand they’ve found it challenging to stay relevant in the current digital age. We were challenged to re-position the brand to make it culturally relevant again and re-capture the imagination of ‘lapsed users’ who once used a Filofax but now rely on their smartphones to keep their diaries.
Following a usage and attitudes study, we identified that lapsed users and current Filofax users share the same common ground – they like to write notes and are very interested in fashion / stylish accessories. With this in mind we needed to make Filofax fashionable again to recapture this audience’s attention, so we set up a fashion-focused press office targeting key fashion and style journalists in aspirational and mainstream media, as well as influential bloggers with style focused tactics to change their perception of the brand.
From creating monthly trend reports that tied Filofax designs into leading catwalk looks, celebrity seeding, to implementing a series of style led blogger challenges, over the course of six months Filofax was starting to become recognised as a style accessory. This was all supported with a design partnership with iconic British fashion designer Alice Temperley who created a limited edition collection designed to showcase Filofax’s design capabilities but ultimately raise their profile amongst a high fashion crowd.
Helena Bloomer, MD of SLAM PR

Especially the ‘usage and attitudes study’ must have felt like a slap in the face of those users who are more keen on what’s in it than who made its cover. Some vented their frustration and published an open letter addressing the issue.
Dave Popely wrote a lovely reply to the PRs strange conclusion based on focus groups or other research which, if anything besides missing the point of the brand and its followers, puts our industry in a bad light. It made me cringe reading the buzzword loaded marketing speech and I am going to try doubly hard not to jump to marketing conclusions that are short sighted and biased.
Even though I am not a Filofax user, having just had a few encounters with those passionate about the product on sites like Philofaxy (hello Steve), I believe the very core of the ongoing success of the brand lies in the provision of a tool helping people organise their lives. Those people don’t want to rely on fancy gadgets, they appreciate the versatility, flexibility and reliability of paper and Filofax’s different systems for keeping notes is at the heart of their social and business organisation – day in, day out. To be pigeonholed as “people who like to write notes and are very interested in fashion/stylish accessories” is not only patronising, but alienates exactly the core of brand followers that seem to be keeping the company alive amidst the mass of digital alternatives.

Winchester and Malden
Kindly provided by Steve Morton from Philofaxy, throughout the decades Filofax has excelled as a brand of quality and function

I had a read of a PDF published on Philofaxy in which Kevin Hall lists the chronology of the company since the 1920s and if anything it highlights once again the lack of understanding that the true magic of the personal organiser lies in its functionality rather than its form.
There are so many possibilities of rejuvenating a brand without attempting to use the glittery but fickle and  shallow fashion direction. The best brand ambassadors are those who believe in the product and I just can’t understand why they are not being included in the development of the brand be it for a social campaign or at least for an in-depth forum or brainstorm. They meet up regularly as a group of enthusiasts sharing ideas, ways to file information, laughs no doubt. Why can the Filofax marketing department not see and capture some of that social magic and break through this strange notion that style will rescue them all.
Cat137_page9
An old system based on functionality

Just like Apple used to create extra special hardware and software for the design community, there is an opportunity to develop an extra special functional paper organiser that looks good as well – and if, as it has been with Apple (excluding SIRI and Maps to date) the design is just as amazing as the product itself, people will happily pay a premium.
Scotsman article about the filofax brand on sale again
Up for grabs – will the French know how to take the brand in the 21st Century?

It remains to be seen what’s next on the cards – with a new edition of the Alice Temperley range announced for the 2013 London fashion week and all those “style led blogger challenges and celebrity seedings” – or perhaps with the possibility of a takeover by French firm Exacompta Clairefontaine. Possibly the future ‘Le Filofax’ will be naturally confident of their French style such that the focus of the brand managers will shift towards the deeper appeal of the product for those using it as an integral part of their life.

brand loyalty, brand management, Brand Managment, brand message, Brand Strategy, Brand Vision

Another Brand Advert That Talks the Language of Land Rover

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu5rlsBzKEQ]
I came across this advert and I think it is another great example for using the language of a brand to get across the brand message. It’s simple, it’s not trying too hard and it even reminds of one of those student briefings for coming up with the essence of a brand and using it to create a memorable ad campaign.
Entertaining. And true to itself. I’d never drive one, but if I ever should need a cross country vehicle, I will probably start by looking at their brand.

Technorati Claim Token… N466NT9ZCNER

advertising, attitude, brand, brand loyalty, Branding

Spiderman, Spiderman – What Have They Done to You Now?

Spiderman
White trainers? Short sleeves? This rainy summer does not help convince my little one that this is still spiderman despite the suit alterations…

They have done well getting their movies linked with instantly available merchandise. My three year old can name you all the super heros not because we have taken him to see any of the movies, animations or comic strips, but because they are omnipresent in shop windows, supermarket isles, on food packaging and clothing.
A great example of creating a far-reaching brand. However, after this weekend I am not sure how loved the brand is in parent’s eyes! Dear son had earned a toy and since he is in spiderman mania we got him a matel toy figure – happy it did not come with another silly plastic gun that gets lost, doesn’t fire and is totally unrelated to the super hero within their movie story lines. What should have been an amazing spider man success turned out to be an amazing disappointment when little one pointed out that they made him all wrong! He was not wearing the right boots, he had no gloves, his sleeves were too short and he could not bend into the position of the poster display where he is crouching.
We resolved it by actually painting the faults in with permanent red pen and discussing at length how this was just a pretend toy – but it did make me realise once again how well we are trained to recognise music, patterns, visuals, logos and how deeply we associate them with our experiences of those brands – and how we struggle when somebody changes them.
It may be one of the many reasons why big brands tend to evolve their brand identity instead of giving it a completely new look – unless they are looking at a very different positioning and new brand message ‘ala BP in 2000.
BP rebrand
A new look for a new brand message and brand positioning strategy. Shame they messed it up a few years later.

Just why Matel decided to release a toy that bears so little resemblance to the icon they spent so much time and money for creating I don’t know, but I do have to admit it has been a valuable lesson in Martin Lindstromeque ‘brandwashing’ and the power of a marker pen.
 

brand loyalty, Funny, product development

The Mighty Power of Personal Brands and Twitter – and what the ASA has to say about it…

… In the case of Wayne Rooney, some may say that brand personality may be debatable compared to David Beckham or Stevie Gerrard, but he has undeniably an amazing followership on twitter and the brains behind him to make money from his brand.
Turns out, a lot of other celebrities have done the same and that kind of endorsement has been debated by the ASA and in the case of a tweet relating to the NIKE campaign, he has been asked to change/remove the sponsored tweet.
In an article the BBC writes:

“This is relatively new territory for us as a regulator,” ASA spokesman Matt Wilson told the BBC.
“People are experimenting and using Twitter to reach consumers, but the same advertising rules apply. It’s an ongoing process and this illustrates the care firms must take.”

Wayne Rooney Twitter Campaign for Nike
Not identifiable as marketing communications – Who’d have thought…

It is an interesting development and perhaps a sign of things to come as commerce exploits people brands as key influencers on social media. It also makes me wonder if such strategies will be a long-term success for both sides; the celebrity and the consumer brand. Either may be taken less serious or be seen in the wrong light when the true motivation behind brand endorsements is made obvious.
It does seem a logical way to use influencers to evoke desirability and connect a product or service with a certain status – but in my mind this works much better when it is not as obviously doctored or orchestrated as the Tag Heuer watches ad campaigns.
Tag heuer brand adverts
Pure paid brand endorsement by celebrities – always making me cringe slightly because of its contrived nature.

On the whole though I agree with Ed Aranda, cited in an article about the twitter endorsement issue, that people should be grown up and wise enough by now to understand those new emerging adverts and to take them for what they are – an invitation to pay to join the tribe of the endorser but by no means any more forcefully than all the other marketing surrounding us daily.

advertising, brand advertising, brand loyalty, personal branding

Filofax… A Fashion Brand on the Rise or an Endangered Species?

Alice Temperley for Brand Filofax
At £399, with little or no sales, is this really the future of Filofax?

Just as I heard on the grapevine from a reliable source that Filofax’s venturing into the fashion world trying to sell organisers for £375 and £399 (this is about 4 times the price of a conventional Filofax) may have been all but a disaster, in comes the press release that they will do it all again!

“I’m so pleased to be partnering with Filofax again to create a second collection, especially following the amazing response we received from the limited edition styles earlier on in the year. A Filofax is much more than just a diary, for me it’s a place to collect inspiration, write my endless lists and juggle my life. I wanted to turn it into an accessory which can accompany you anywhere; from day meetings to nights out with friends. It’s a busy world and still so important to write things down” says Alice Temperley, MBE

Whilst the current range, according to retailers, is actually bombing, it makes you wonder why they are doing another run – but then I saw the price range and it is significantly less than last time:

“Temperley for Filofax, consisting of the Violet and Ikat, will be available nationwide and online from September 2012 in pocket and personal sizes, priced £45 – £165.”

The feedback from their loyal, traditional customer base has been mixed – there seem to have been a lot of problems with the production and quality of the new range. It’s probably the single most important issue for a brand selling luxury brand experiences with high priced goods or services – you expect immaculate quality –so it’s a shame they got this so wrong.
Here is a link to anther blogger discussing quality issues.
I am sure Filofax will continue to work as a brand in some shape or form – and that belief is mainly due to the excitement and dedication I experienced talking to those that still see the value and place of a paper based diary in today’s age of smartphones and electronic gadgets.
Considering this dedicated customer base, such as the Philofaxy community, I still wonder if it really was a wise decision to stretch the brand into this new area  – and the notion that they are doing a fashion range at cut down prices now somehow defeats the whole purpose of it.
Perhaps they could look at working closer with their ‘fan base’ instead and do a collaboration with their actual customers  rather than investing all their efforts into an unknown market. I guess we just have to wait for the next press release after London Fashion Week and be surprised once again!

Alice Temperley, brand loyalty, brand management, Brand Strategy, Design, Fashion, Filofax

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