I know that we in Direct Response Marketing prefer not to talk too much about “branding”, but there are a couple of recent news items that I think have some useful lessons.
Firstly, Apple Computer recently opened the first proper “Apple Store” in Australia to scenes of chaos and pandemonium (“CBD Chaos As Apple Store Opens”). Amazingly, some people had waited over 30 hours just so they could say they were in among the first people to visit the store! (OK, they got a free T-shirt as well!) Such is the devotion of some people to the Apple brand.
Now, I’m not a particular fan of Apple, although I’m impressed with a number of their products. For example, I’ve switched to using “Safari” as my main web browser. But they must be doing something right to create such raving fans. Steve Jobs has a lot to do with it, obviously. The company has always had a very distinct position and they have created some great, and very cool, products.
Next, I recently mentioned the Reader’s Digest poll of “Australia’s Most Trusted People”. Well, they also have a poll of “Australia’s Most Trusted Brands”. The overall winner? Cadbury Chocolates. Other category winners include Sony (Electronics), Toyota (Cars), Bunnings Warehouse (Retail) and LG (Whitegoods).
Toyota is no great surprise to me. I think they are just a fantastic company and a great example of the power of focus and concentrating on the basics. While the US automakers have lost their way, Toyota has just got on with making good cars at a great price. As a result they are poised to become the world’s #1 car company (and they’re already far and away the most valuable company by market value).
LG, on the other hand, is more of a surprise. But again, just goes to show what a relatively new company with a relatively “unfashionable” background can achieve.
The keys to the success of these brands, according to social commentator Bernard Salt, is…
“…trusted brands have an emotional connection…promote a feeling of value, market leadership, ease and high quality.”
Note the emphasis on feelings.
So what can we as Direct Response Marketers learn from this? Well, although it’s not given much emphasis, the reality is that you are in the business of creating a brand for yourself. Perhaps more accurately, you’re in the business of creating a relationship with your customers. There are many elements that go into building that relationship but some of the important factors are the same as those mentioned as being important to brands.
Brands are also about trust, something else that I mentioned recently. In essence, brands are a promise to the customer about the kind of experience they can expect.
So, although you probably don’t have the big advertising budgets of the big brands, there are many things you can do to build a relationship with your customers and build your own “brand” in their eyes. Combine a strong relationship with the power of Direct Response methods and you have a recipe for success.