With sales down in almost all categories, businesses are wondering: what makes a difference to customers? Businesses talk about their brands and brand recognition. In times like these I wonder: what makes a brand?
In 2004, Al & Laura Ries wrote a book called The Origin of Brands: How Product Evolution Creates Endless Possibilities for New Brands
Think about Starbucks
Last weekend, two big brands were in town: Elvis Presley
In 1954, Elvis Presley was asked who he sounded like. His reply? Nobody! The start of a new brand. Even John Lennon
I finally double parked the car and decided to interview a 60-year-old Elvis. His name is Aaron. He’s from Buffalo and has been an Elvis “aficionado” for over 30 years. With a great smile and good sense of humor, he says he just loves Elvis. I ask him what makes Elvis live on, and he says, “It’s all about emotion.” Elvis was the first to show it and connect with it, he continues. Having grown up with Elvis, he represented his own emotions; in fact he was really the only emotion around.
People take Graceland and their Elvis festivals quite seriously.
Next, I go to another part of the festival in and sit through 30 performances by Elvis impersonators. Wow! Elvis is represented in each stage of his life, including his time in the service.
I gaze around the crowd and realize the place is filled with women of all ages, but mostly 40-plus. Another wow. I thought: these are our flooring customers and they’re all at the Elvis festival. If I had suggested that a retailer have a “sing and look-alike Elvis night”, they would have thought I was crazy. But here they are all gathered at an Elvis weekend.
The other thing I notice is: the water bottles on the table all have the “pink ribbon” logo. In 1995, Jane Weiner, a professional dancer in New York City, learned that her sister, Susan Rafte of Houston, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Jane joined with friends and fellow dancers David Parker, Sara Hook and Robin Staff, to launch the Pink Ribbons Project
I continue to hang out with the Elvis crowd and continue to ask “why Elvis?” Because Elvis is all about emotion and connections, they say. You just want to be with him and be part of him. Forever. Every time I go to the
After the show I caught up with one of the lead singers, GC Cameron
So branding is about emotion. Does your brand evoke emotion? Bring people to their feet wanting more and more? Cirque du Solei
So, how important is the brand to your business? It would appear that if you do it right, nothing else really matters. What does “doing it right” mean? How about, for starters, that you connect with your customer? All customers connect differently, so you have to know your customers. Find out what they want, then give it to them. (Both Elvis and the Temptations knew their customers—the youth of yesterday and today.) Have a great product, keep updating and changing your product, but never forget its history. Don‘t forget there are people who will like you the way you were.
Brands have to stay new and fresh, but still retain their core values. When I think of our industry, I think of Karastan
Continue to build your core brand, keep it solid and connected to your customer. Don’t know if it’s connected? Conduct a survey and ask the customers you have lost why they left you. What didn’t you do that they found elsewhere? Remember that if you're brand "gets tarnished" it takes a lot to get it back, but it'
;s not impossible. There was the Kobe Bryant brand that went from a very unpleasant incident to MVP. If you work hard enough at it you can reclaim your reputation and your image.
Remember to keep things fresh by adding new lines and making a big deal about things you are doing. Get a connected to your community and build to the brand that “gives back.”
Make your connection emotional. Show your customers that you like them and you will go out of your way for them.
Continue to make your products better than everyone else’s product. If it isn’t different, the differentiating factor will be price. Who wins then? No one! You might think the customer wins but since you have devalued the product by dropping the price, she’s still not sure she got a good deal!
Remember: a brand is a promise to the customer. The promise is: I know the brand will always deliver and I will consistently get what I want. This is the business version of patriotism.
So, how does your brand measure up?
Like my mom used to say, all you've got is your name so keep it clean!