Stage 4: Beloved
At the Beloved Brand stage, you’ve become an iconic brand, either an all-time favourite brand or a brand of a generation.
These are brands are not only part of the lives of consumers; people identify themselves through these brands. People have conversations about these brands. Not only are people proactively outspoken, they would defend it as it’s their own brand. Just trying telling a Mac user that Windows 7 is better and you’ll experience just how embedded the brand is in their life. At this stage, you have to live and breathe as though you are the consumer. You should feel the constant pressure that you cannot let them down.
How the consumer sees you:
The emotional connection becomes so strong, that the consumer becomes blind to logic. For these iconic brands, it’s no longer about actual quality, it becomes about perceived quality. And these brands are more than just part of their life; they are a favourite part of their day. They see these brands as a badge of who they are, proudly displaying for all to see.
Why are you here?
There are four main reasons why you are at the Beloved Brand Stage:
- Iconic Self-Expression: Strategy shifts to brand personality where tone and manner in the execution are paramount so that Consumers connect with the brand and begin to see themselves in the brand. The consumers become fans of the brand, almost like a sports fan. You are constantly delighting the consumer whether it’s innovative products, added services or just the creativity in marketing. Things that you do make the news or the lunch time conversations.
- You’ve Managed the Perceptions: Demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. You’ve managed to capture how the consumer feels as a result of their connection with the brand.
- All about the Experience: You constantly look at your brand through the eyes of your consumer. Your voice of customer or customer experience tracking enables you to attack your potential weakness, even before the consumer notices.
- Wielding Your Power: You start to wield the power that comes from the tight consumer connection. You use that power to create favourable distribution, you challenge suppliers to lower their costs to serve you, you pressure competitors until they are squeezed out of the market and you even use the power against the very consumers that love you. You’re able to command a price premium and new launches are an automatic success. Your marketing is so iconic that the marketing-spend-to-sales-ratio is much more efficient than your competitors. Using the power gives you even more power.
Indicators in the Market
- Dominant Share Position: You take a dominant stance in the marketplace. Small brands get squeezed out.
- Net Promoter Scores: Very high net promoter scores among the most loyal consumers. Even non-users see the brand as powerful.
- Preferential Treatment: Retailers give you preferential shelf space and promotions to use your brand to drive traffic to their stores. Suppliers cut their costs in order to sign you as a customer. Even government might offer special benefits. Employer of choice for talent. Earned and Influential Media goes up.
- Brand Value: With such a strong profitability, able to see measurable Brand Value that goes beyond the P&L.
How to stay a Beloved Brand
- Keep it about the Experience: For those who love the brand, it’s no longer just about the product, it becomes about the experience. Keep finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumers. Coke’s latest Coca Cola Free Style is a great example of how to take the brand to the next level.
- Broaden the Audience: To ensure you are a brand that goes beyond the current generation of consumers, begin thinking about how to spread your brand to other age groups. A lot of fashion brands and restaurant brands have been trapped into the current generation and lose the status as styles change.
- Broaden the Offering: Take advantage of your brand’s loyal following to launch peripheral products that build on the routine. Capture more share of wallet of your most loyal consumers.
- Listen to Your Consumer: Give them a voice and be as responsive as you can. Beloved Brands that set up a dialogue, speaking the truth, with nothing to hide will win.
- Don’t become complacent: Constantly challenge the status quo to find weakness and attack it before your competitors have a chance to do it. Don’t let your arrogance get the in the way. Gap Clothing, Cadillac, IBM computers, Levis, Sony or Kodak who have each reached the Beloved Brand Stage only to be replaced by new products and brands and moved back down the love curve towards Indifferent. Most recently, Blackberry. Only 18 months ago, people jokingly used the term “crackberry” to describe their addictions.