Becoming an enduring brand with a loyal following starts early and takes a lot of time and effort. Take these three cues from some of the best.
(From Inc., September 12, 2012)
It’s sometimes surprising to me that people can be against a brand, or rather so passionate about one brand that all others seem abhorrent. It’s especially apparent in the world in which OtterBox operates. There is a contingent of smartphone users that are staunchly tied to a particular device or operating system. There are endless forums dedicated to the praise of one and bashing of all others.
The smartphone market is a great example of how a premium brand experience creates loyalists -but brands have been creating experiences for their customers long before smartphones were even imagined in science fiction glimpses of the distant future.
Brand loyalty is important to earn and hard to keep. I have my favorite brands but am always willing to try a new one. That doesn’t mean I’m jumping ship, but I need to know what else is out there. I usually return to those brands that have gone beyond providing a product. Below are three common elements I’ve found in the brands I admire:
1. Connection With Customers
Today’s consumers want more than the product they are purchasing. They are looking for an experience, so premium brands offer a sensory package. BMW has really hit the mark on a sensory package–it’s the feel, the sound, the smell that let you know you’re behind the wheel of the ultimate driving machine.
2. Anticipate Needs
Better than giving customers what they want is anticipating what that might be. Amazon has built a business around this, offering intuitive purchasing suggestions. Not only does this element of the online retail site drive sales, it also enhances the user experience. Not all anticipatory products are a hit. Does anyone remember the Apple Newton? Most likely not. This early mobile device included many features of today’s smartphones and tablets, but the early 1990′s consumer didn’t take the bait.
3. Consistently Deliver on Quality
When I think of premium brands, quality is the first word that pops into my head. A quality product will land you customers, but brand loyalty is created by consistency. I always drove Ford trucks in my younger days, but stepped away from the brand for a time because of a perception that the quality previously delivered had slipped. I drove a Ford rental car recently that changed my perception. The overall quality and experience was much better than I had anticipated, but it was because of inconsistency that Ford lost me as a brand loyalist. Battling a negative brand perception is even harder than building a brand. Others are always ready to step in to ‘wow’ customers if you aren’t.
These are elements that I strive to see at OtterBox. Do we always hit all of these marks? The answer is no, but we always aspire to. Honestly, a company can never truly arrive at the peak of brand experience because the market is always evolving. If you think you’ve gotten there, you’re mistaken.