In Branding

It’s one thing for someone to “buy generic” and feel happy they got a good price. There’s no personal connection to the product. And they could go “shop generic” anywhere and there wouldn’t be anything to pull them back to that store. The experience they wanted was “something close” for the cheapest price.

But it’s entirely different when you buy “your brand.” Notice I didn’t say, “a brand”…but yours.

It’s yours because it reflects something about you. Something you value. Something you like. Something you believe in. Something that, when you taste it, wear it, drive it, get your hands on it—it makes you feel good. And makes you want to tell others, so they can experience the same joy and know something more about you as you tell your story.

And it’s not just a one-time shot. You want dependability. You want a guarantee that, no matter where you are in the world and no matter what your mood or who you’re with, it will deliver.

That’s what wins you over as a loyal fan. Because you know that the brand is going to deliver every time you two come together. The same great experience, time and time again.

So what does a brand have to do to command this loyalty? It can do many things, but one thing it has to do is be distinctive. It has to stand out to you and everyone else. For example:

  • Nike gives every person, no matter their skill or body type, the ability to get out there and just do it.
  • Squarespace helps you build a website as fast and confidently as Keanu Reeves stands up on the seat of his Arch motorcycle and rides down the highway.
  • Olive Garden gives you a little taste of Italy every time you pop one of their doughy breadsticks into your mouth.
  • Tom’s Shoes puts shoes on your feet so you can help kids around the world put shoes on theirs.
  • Tide makes everything clean, just like it makes every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad.

Of course, if the brand violates this trust, it can be devastating. Volkswagen fudging on emissions. Wells Fargo opening up 3.5 million unauthorized accounts. Peanut Corporation of America shipping salmonella-contaminated product. Enron…well.

So how do you recruit brand ambassadors—folks who will willingly advocate for your brand on a volunteer basis?  While it’s not as easy as pie, here’s a couple of guidelines.

  1. Do something really well. Whether it’s quality, speed, freshness, humor or outrageousness. Stand out.
  2. Protect and improve on your standout characteristic.
  3. Find some early adopters – people that just love what you’re doing and want to use it over and over.
  4. Make it fun so they can tell others. Reward them with free samples, bonus packages, test merchandise.
  5. Create a group to join. There’s nothing like a community sharing their experiences to pick up momentum. The world’s your oyster now with Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, FB, Pinterest.
  6. Appeal to what makes you authentic and remind your brand ambassadors over and over what they receive in the brand.

In short, make them proud.

As you do, they’ll find fresh ways to spread the news.

I know I do as an REI member, every time I get my co-op member dividend. Last time, I purchased a pair of biking gloves with it. They were a fabulous pair, fit just right, great grip, but didn’t make me perspire. Perfect out on the trail. Until I lost one.

Guess where I’m going back? Generic town? I don’t think so.

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