The world’s best brands all have one thing in common.
Their customers are passionate about their products and services. They will wait in line to buy the latest product release. They’ll buy unnecessary flights to keep their preferred status. They will buy clothes, water bottles, coolers, bumper stickers – the list goes on – with a logo on it and proudly display it.
Their employees and partners are also passionate. People will seek out a job with the brands they love because it says something about them. It affirms their identity in some way. Companies who tap into those unique elements will find easier to attract and retain talent. Best of all, employees will display that passion when serving customers.
I won’t name the brands who have built these cults of passion. You know who they are, and you probably have some brands who you have similar feelings about.
The question is “how?” How do you get to that point as a brand? So few have it, so many envy it. Most marketers would love to have just a sliver of that passion.
The reality is the passion is there. It is right under their noses. You can’t try to create it, you have to discover it.
Start with an Open Mind
We recently went through this discovery process with a client as they began a brand refresh. They knew that people cared about their brand, which has built up a great reputation over 40 years. They just did not have a clear answer as to why people felt so strongly about it.
The marketing leader from the company recognized that creating a new storyline and feeding it to their employees and customers wasn’t going to work. She wanted to invigorate the brand, but knew that listening was a better strategy than telling. We started by asking their people first.
We conducted an InFront study with the company, a national franchise business, which included their home office leadership, field office staffs and their customer-facing teams. What we found was a consistent pattern around three specific attributes of the business that people felt were their defining qualities.
The passion existed inside this brand. They just had not unearthed it or put structure around it the way they can now. The input from their employees and partners was critical to helping them develop a narrative around what truly makes the brand special.
The brand’s leadership started with an open mind. They wanted to build onto the strong foundation that existed, and they believe that they will be more successful in the long-run if they harness the perspective of their people.
Set a higher bar
It is easy to say, “we’re not one of those iconic companies that people line up to support.” Maybe you don’t have the budget, the history, or the creative horsepower that they do. But, what you do have is people throughout your company who care about the work they do. You probably don’t know all their reasons why. You probably don’t know what fuels them every day.
You need to find out. Commit to tapping into the more emotional aspects of what you offer and raise the bar for what your brand can be. Start by asking your people, who can uncover the authentic drivers behind your brand. You might not immediately turn this into a rebrand or a new campaign, but you will have a better understanding of the ingredients that make up your special sauce.
The passion will only be able to flourish once you can articulate it.