Truly great brands have mastered a critical strategy: the merger of products and services. Sure, components like sales and marketing are important, too. But when it comes to creating a brand that’s successful and memorable, integration is key.
Think about some of your favorite brands. Around the V3 offices, we’re gadget geeks and unabashed Apple addicts. And yes, we know—Apple is always the example, isn’t it–but there are a whole lot of people out there opting for the iPad over the Nook.
But there are others, too. Maybe you’d rather buy a Nike+ FuelBand than a FitBug. Or a Kate Spade handbag rather than its Aldo counterpart. Or Method or Mrs. Meyers Clean Day or Caldrea cleaning products instead of the cleaning products our moms favor. Or, for you Kansas Citians, a Christoper Elbow chocolate as opposed to a Hershey bar. And if you dig down into that consumer psychology, you’ll realize that it’s because the brands you truly love have created a culture unites products and services, creating an all-encompassing experience that makes you not only want to spend more—but come back for more, too.
“Put another way, a product is an experience that occurs in the moment,” writes Method’s Reuben Steiger. “A service is a relationship that extends over time and across platforms and mediums. A brand is much more than the logo; it is the pattern our brains expect based on everything we have previously heard, seen, and felt. All of these components roll up into the larger experience.” So very true.
Identifying the need for that sort of integration and experience is one thing—implementing it is a completely different thing.
The good news? Through his own experience with Method, Steiger has outlined 5 tips to help brands merge their products and services, thereby creating a more powerful experience that deeply resonates with consumers. I loved his tips and I thought you might like them, too.
No more brand book. Coherence wins over consistency. In today’s quickly changing business landscape, brands need to respond to customer needs in a timely, relevant fashion. It’s also important that you empower employees to create better, more personalized experiences for customers and clients.
Data = action. You already know that I’m a huge data freak. Numbers don’t lie—and information is power. Data tells you so much about your customers and should, without question, drive your strategies. And by tuning into your data and also by asking the right questions, you’ll create an informational framework on which you can build your brand experience.
Break down budget silos. Now’s the time for various departments within your business to unite and pool their resources for the good of a common goal. If your organization has walls, bust through them. Collaboration is key. Dude. Can I get a “hallelujah” here? Successful businesses (and agencies) today need to understand that they can’t always know it all. Collaboration is the smartest, most effective, most cost-efficient way to deliver solutions that work.
Iteration and innovation. Implement an agile approach to your company’s product and service design. That way, you can quickly test, refine, validate and improve upon the customer experience—and, while you’re at it, generate the feedback needed to help effectively guide future innovations. When I speak, I close almost every presentation with a quote from Charles Darwin. It is different, in its entirety, than most people know, and I believe it’s especially true today. Here’s what Darwin really said about the fittest and survival:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Did you get that part? The part about it not mattering how smart you are or how strong you are, but rather how adaptable you (and businesses) are when it comes to change? I love that quote—and think it’s absolutely, one million percent spot on. It’s true today and will become even more true as technology continues to dominate our world and things move, change and evolve ever faster.
Show, don’t tell. Your brand has a story—and it’s imperative that your sales and marketing team show, rather than tell, that message. After all, a great experience is one of the most effective forms of advertising—and helps move others to seek that same experience. We’re in the brand storytelling business—we get this. Focus more on telling your story and less on advertising. It works.
No matter your business or industry, I think you can use these tips to help refine your own brand experience. Not only will it help your company in terms of short-term objectives, but you’ll likely create more longer-term relationships that produce invaluable assets like brand advocates.
What do you think? What’s your favorite brand? Why?
Image via Mrs. Meyers Clean Day