- Brands that are in growth are more likely to be distinguished, prominent and connect with consumers
- Making an emotional connection is often the key factor in driving purchase
- Being distinguished can allow brands to become more premium
Evolution is inevitable
The world keeps turning, the way we behave on it keeps changing, and how we interact with one another alters with each new technological innovation. However, we have basic human needs that don’t change.
The need for love, acceptance and friendship hasn’t changed, but some of the ways in which we satisfy that need have shifted. You still have that friend who is quite high-maintenance but is always great company and you can rely on them. You still have those old friends who you used to see all the time but don’t any more. But when you do, you drop into the old routine. You have some friends that are really acquaintances. And you have your ‘platinum’ friends, the ‘gang’ from school or college, the drinking mates, the ushers or bridesmaids at your wedding, the friends for life.
Building brand friendships
Brand-building is the business of building friendships, making a connection and being something a consumer can rely on. Yes, the world in which those friendships are created has changed, but the basic need has not. In a time-poor and financially pressured world, the power of the brand becomes more important. People want shortcuts to decisions, both large and small. A strong brand can make life easier for customers by letting them know that it sees things from their perspective, doesn’t let them down, delivers on its promises and gives them value for money. Fulfil those criteria and you can have a friend for life.
At Opinium, we believe in helping our clients to make and keep friends for life. A platinum brand attracts platinum friends and creates a solid, sustainable business platform for growth.
Making a connection
Of course, not every brand can be Apple or Nike, but the principles of a strong brand remain constant across categories. The Opinium Brand Strength Index (BSI) is built on the key areas that turn good brands into great ones.
- Making an emotional connection
- Being prominent in your category – on the tip of people’s tongues
- Giving consumers something different, distinguishing your brand from the rest
We then relate those perceptions to purchase behaviour, as ultimately the brand needs to play its part in delivering sales, along with all the other parts of the marketing mix.
Many platinum brands are strong in all these areas. For example, Coca-Cola and O2 are both giants in their respective fields, scoring higher than average on all three measures, but both with a particular strength in being prominent in consumer minds.
Know what the priorities are in your category
Each market is different, so knowing where you should channel your focus on brand positioning to help deliver sales can give you a competitive advantage. As you might expect, we often find that making a connection with consumers is a major driver – but to what extent? In the supermarket sector, for example, making a connection and being prominent are the key factors for brands to focus on, whereas in the banking sector, being distinguished plays a bigger part in driving usage.
Making it personal
Your friends are your friends because you know about them, you know what makes them tick, what they like and what they don’t like. Brand friendships are just the same. To make them more personal, we need to get down to specifics and find out what attributes help build that connection or make brands more distinguished. For example, in the grocery retail market, ‘value’ and ‘ease of shopping’ drive connection with the brand, but the way to make a stronger connection is through ‘commitment’.
In life we should be honest with ourselves: we’re not all great at everything, and people have perceptions of us and what we’re known for. The same is true for brands, so we need to look at what consumers say is important to them to make that emotional connection and then assess whether our brand is known for that factor in consumers’ minds. This data gives an insight, for example, into why Tesco has been struggling recently: consumers no longer associate the brand with the key drivers that make that all-important connection.
But we have to be true to ourselves and to our brand positioning. Consumers might be asking for something which just isn’t us, in which case we need to find a way to show our brand can deliver on what they want in a manner that fits existing perceptions and our capabilities.
So the key to building lasting brand friendships is to listen to what your friends are telling you. Do you know what your friends want from you? For example, in a category where customers want their brand friends to be the centre of attention – the life of the party – there’s no point in being the quiet brand in the corner. Alternatively, if you’re in a category where customers are looking for a brand that is distinguished by its trustworthy, solid and discreet reputation, there’s little point in thinking that prominence alone will win you friends.
Making friends isn’t expensive and shouldn’t be complicated
It’s amazing to think that there are literally hundreds of brand managers out there who don’t know as much as they would like to about their brand. Sure, they know the sales figures, but they don’t know what consumers think and feel about the brand they are managing. Cost is often the excuse. Or, in many instances, their ‘brand tracker’ has become so convoluted that no-one reads the deck of slides any more.
Brand evaluation, done the right way, doesn’t have to be expensive. It needs to make the intangible become tangible and provide business-friendly metrics that deliver insights to help future brand strategy. Don’t be left in the dark. You can’t manage your brand if you don’t know what consumers think of it. Once you know what consumers want in your category, you can go about making those connections that will create lasting bonds, making consumers become advocates and, ultimately, friends for life.