In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this LOVE that helps drive POWER for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. With added power, you will be able to drive stronger PROFITS. For a Beloved Brand, prices are inelastic and you can trade consumers up to new premium options. You can drive share and move to new markets with your loyal consumers following. And you can put pressure on costs. All these drives added profitability for the Beloved Brand. LOVE = POWER = PROFITS
The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers. And under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers. It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.
Using the love to generate power
The forces of a beloved brand map out how a beloved brand can leverage the power generated from being loved.
- Power over consumers: A Beloved Brand with a loyal group of followers has so much more power–starting with a power over the very consumers that love them. These consumers feel more than they think–they are e-rational responding to emotional cues in the brand. They’ll pay a premium, line up in the rain for new products and follow the brand to new categories. Look at the power Starbucks has with its base of consumers, making their Starbucks moment one of their favorite rituals of the day and how consumers have now added sandwiches and wraps to those rituals. All-day long, Starbucks has a line up of people ready for one of their favorite moments of their day.
- Power over Porter’s 5 Forces: We can see that the love also gives Beloved Brands power over channels, substitutes, new entrants, or suppliers. With a beloved brand, there is power over channels because consumers would rather switch stores than switch brands. Apple has even created its own stores, which generate the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. And even with their own stores, Best Buy still gives Apple preferential treatment with a ‘store-in-store’ concept. With outspoken fans, they’ll even fight on behalf of the brand against competitors. Competitors can duplicate the product, but they can’t get close to duplicating the emotional connection. Beloved Brands even have power vs Suppliers, who want the beloved brand on their roster. Many suppliers will cut their prices, offer extras and first right of refusal on new technologies. In Apple’s case, Intel has given them the lead on new chip technology two years before they gave them to PC ultrabooks, giving them a huge competitive advantage. With these powers, it makes it hard for new entrants to breakthrough.
- Power over Employees: Beloved Brands have power over employees that want to be part of the brand and the culture of the organization that all these brand fans are proud to project. People at Starbucks love working there and wear that green apron with a sense of pride. Brand fans that get hired into the system, know the culture on day 1 and will do what it takes to preserve it. Starbucks employees ooze the brand and honestly from a cultural view, their interactions make the difference in the experience of the brand. Employees have their regulars, know their name and their drink. It’s no longer just the coffee. It’s your escape and your comfort zone.
- Power over the Media: Beloved Brands have a power over the Four types of Media: 1) Paid 2) Earned 3) Social and 4) Search. Beloved Brands have a much more efficient media buy–lower GRPs needed to break through and a lower Ad Spend/Sales is needed to keep share strong. Even for paid media, beloved brands get better placement, cheaper rates and they’ll be the first call for an Integration or big events such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. Beloved Bbrands have figured out the earned media, with launch events, press releases and executive storylines that seep into the mainstream press. Competitors complain about Apple getting a positive media bias–they are right, they do. As brands are still figuring out social media, it’s the most loved brands that are doing it right, whether it’s Coke, Nike or Apple. Are they smarter? Maybe. But the beloved Brands have such a huge advantage because people want to connect socially, want to share and want to influence. Nike did such a great job with social media during the London Olympics that people thought they were the main shoe sponsor–when it was Adidas. Lumping earned, social and search together as ‘free’ media, Apple generates over a billion dollars of free media via the mainstream media and social media.
- Power over Influencers: Beloved Brands have power over key influencers whether it’s doctors recommending a certain drug, restaurant critics giving a positive review for the most beloved restaurant in town or electronics salespeople selling a beloved TV. Each of the influencers become fans of the brand and build emotion into their recommendation. They become more outspoken in their views of the brand. And finally beloved the Beloved Brand makes its way into conversation at the lunch table or on someone’s Facebook page. The brand fans are everywhere, ready to pounce, ready to defend and ready to say “hey, you should buy the iPhone.” The conversation comes with influence as crowds follow crowds. This conversation has a second power, which creates a badge value. People know it will generate a conversation and are so proud to show it off. After all, they are in the club.
All these forces combine to generate power for the brand, that matches that of a monopoly.
To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits: