Your Brand Can be Remarkable Too
From as far as I can remember, companies have unleashed their own forms of marketing Armageddon to both show off and protect their brands’ supposed ‘remarkability’.
If you need a memory jolt, just think about the billions of dollars global-minded companies like Google, Coca Cola, Apple, Nike, and Audi have spent on advertising campaigns to upstage their rivals in Yahoo, Pepsi, Samsung, Adidas, BMW among other foes.
Most of the early wars were fought on television and in print, but in more recent years the battlefield extended to the Internet, particularly social media, where success is heavily dependent on not only dollars and ‘sense’, but revolves heavily around strategy and execution to get consumers to pick their side in the marketing fisticuffs.
But while the above-name brands are world-renowned, are they truly remarkable in the eyes of the beholder… the consumers?
According to Chris Kneeland, CEO and Partner at CULT Collective – a leading marketing engagement agency for brands in North America – a remarkable brand is one that “receives above average adoration and advocacy compared to others in its category”.
“The word remarkable literally means to remark about, and ‘buzzworthiness’ and word of mouth are key indicators for remarkable brands,” Kneeland explains.
The key features of a remarkable brand, Kneeland posits, can be one of three things. “Either the product is truly noteworthy (like Lululemon, or Fender guitars, or Mercedes), or their services are best in class (Zappos shipping and return policy, Four Seasons customer care, Costa Sunglasses lifetime guarantee); or their customer experiences are amazing, for example Converse’s lifestyle experiences, Car 2 Go’s or Uber’s customer interface, or Tim Horton’s speed and consistency of delivery.”
Dallas Cowboys, Levi’s, Red Bull are remarkable brands
Even with a rough couple years that fell short of fan expectations, the Fort Worth-based professional American football team Dallas Cowboys was in 2016 ranked as the world’s Most Valuable Sports Team, according to Forbes.
That’s a remarkable brand, in the eyes of Kneeland. “Despite not making the playoffs for over a decade, they became the most profitable sports brand in the world,” he emphasizes.
Also in Kneeland’s remarkable brands category are Red Bull, whose sales he says are climbing though they do very little advertising; and Levi’s, which has dominated the denim market for over a century.
And why do these brands stand out? In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, theirs is a loyal fan base emotionally connected to a team whose play and competitive spirit, they believe, will return to to the glory days. This is brand attachment at its best.
Brand Red Bull conjures up images of extreme sports — those ‘daredevilish’ car racing competitions, mountain bike riding, bungee jumping, and mind-boggling soccer skills challenges that are intended to support its slogan that “Red Bull give you wings”. This is complemented by a unique distribution strategy premised on the very effective ‘go-to-market’ principle.
Levi’s dominance is the result of careful brand management, which includes their ability to constantly target and fix weaknesses and gaps in their marketing campaigns to continue to appeal to their base, nurture loyalty, and win new hearts.
These examples prove that there is always need to innovate, even where companies feel that they have what they believe to be a winning formula. Stagnation can be the death knell of a successful brand, while evolution and innovation will have the opposite effect in helping brands stay ahead of the competition and keeping consumers interested.
Don’t settle for ‘good’, make your brand remarkable
Moving brands from being average or good to remarkable requires the proper allocation of your marketing resources. According to Kneeland, far too many brands are focused on just being good or average, spending most of their marketing resources on paid media to convince their audience that they are “better than they really are”.
“(That’s why) Cult brands spend their marketing muscle actually doing something that is remarkable, and spending less money on advertising and price promotions,” Kneeland adds.
And Kneeland is right in that it has been proven over and over that strategy and not money is what determines advertising success as consumers are more receptive to ‘experiences’ rather than fall for what is fed to them through one-way communication.
These experiences can be impactful in building and maintaining relationships, creating value for consumers as well as give insight into what is going on into their minds particularly in this era where there is a growing appetite for personal connections.
But it is difficult to overlook that brand experience can be hard to pull off, can be expensive and thus a difficult sell to those who hold the purse in your organisation. But done right, it will open the door to new growth opportunities and result in a win-win for all parties involved.
Sustaining your brand’s remarkability
Remarkable brands must evolve to sustain their distinctiveness and evolving means not only product, but strategy as well. Says Kneeland: “A brand can never rest on its laurels. Zappos defined remarkable in the online retail space, but now their policies are copied by everyone. AirBNB was revolutionary at the time of launch, now there are lots of copy cats. Cult Brands continuously push envelopes and work very hard to maintain their competitive edge.”
The truth is, brand ‘remarkability’ is achievable, but companies must have a workable strategy to reach their desired ‘destination’. However, one has to keep in mind that success here is not only dependent on creative tactics, but also the people – both internally and externally — who are involved. Companies must ensure that these people are mobilised and the purpose and brand value clearly communicated to them.