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In a post-Amazon-Souq world, the activities around building a brand will have to take center stage for companies across the MENA region. Memorable brands, built over the long-term, possess an unbreakable soft spot in the endorphin cortex of the customer's mind, depurating an overwhelming sensation of joy. Capturing this means that a brand can get away with value-based pricing, while its aspiring competitors, trapped in a product state, partaking in the race to the bottom with penetration pricing, are competing only on their ability to save the buyer money instead of focusing on the value they provide. All memorable brands we have worked on till now - whether it's ASUS, DELL, Falcon Aviation, or the suite of confectionary items under Perfetti Van Melle - all had a combination of one or all of the following long-term components.
Avid readers of Insights by Centric DXB will be more than familiar of our insistence that companies market their brands in a manner that breaks away from the clutter. The marketing mix must differ from the competition. How else can a company stand out? Differentiation is key. Brand identity goes much further than a brand name or brand logo, it encapsulates the brand value and how it is meant to make people feel about the brand when it is in their hands. Coke's brand identity used to be around "The Coke Side of Life" with the philosophy that everyone should be happy. Now the identity is around "Taste the Feeling", grounding the concept inside the product and not so much what the product stands for. While the new approach does pitch that "Coke is for everybody", the flaw has been that the demographic fixation has alienated loyal customers that identified with the brand on a deeper level.
The biggest success in vertical e-commerce has to be the Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever last year for over US$1 billion. The reason the story resonated was because it communicated where the brand started, where it was heading and how it planned to get there, with an emphasis on the journey and not the destination. A great story is the backbone of the most memorable brands. Nike focuses on the athlete and how different aspects of sports make people feel on a human level. Adidas and Reebok's stories focus on the teams and the sports, and how they are a force to be reckoned with. Choose the story that is authentic to your business and target audience.
Founded in 2006 under the for-profit social enterprise fad, Toms is a one-for-one shoe company that gives away a shoe for every shoe it sells. They regularly run campaigns that encourage participants to go without shoes for a day to instill their purpose. And while The Economist correctly points out to its negative impact on Africa as a result of shoe donations, the business continues to connect with its target audience by making them feel like saviors to the shoeless. And they are not alone, the charity angle has been exploited by Warby Parker (WB) and Feed as well, consistently communicating the charity element as the core of the brand strategy. WB's giveaways are its glasses while Feed facilitates 370 meals for Kenyan school children for every US$250 worth of their burlap bags purchased. Going a step further, WB works with non-profits to facilitate free eye exams in poor communities, elevating their mission to another level. It is worth noting that although the returns on marketing investment speak for themselves, we do not advise every company to market their product with the donation component unless the cause is genuine or an organic element of their inclusive business mission. Only go forth if your company can live up to a one-for-one commitment, as the above examples have.
Companies like 800Flower have placed the customer in the driver's seat, cutting out the middleman. With products created in-house, they bypass major costs of goods sold by offering a range of "celebratory" items online. Obsessing over the customer experience, the business uses C2 to segment its users according to their purchasing behaviors and motivators, playing a proactive role in the growth of the customer's platonic and romantic relationships. Not many businesses appear to care for their customers after a purchase is made, but imagine a company that has built its marketing messages around ensuring that you remember to show affection and appreciation to the people that matter the most. Companies interested in building memorable brands should obsess about the CX.
There aren't that many companies that celebrate their customers, but Nutria Danone takes it to a whole new level with their 'My Future Champion' project celebrating moms by giving them a voice in product development, design, attributes, and building their personal brands. Wherever relevant, rally the customers around an activity that makes them feel like a star, with the brand as the event sponsor or facilitator. The brand in question should never be sold, only thanked and that too briefly. When the customer isn't being sold too, you have them for life. It is never too late to transition from a product to a brand, but remember - it takes time and be prepared to play the long game with steady and incremental success. Be unafraid and embark towards evolution.