Living the brand

Posted by on October 12, 2011

I took my kids Halloween costume shopping last weekend and was reminded of the importance of living your brand. I have twin girls who are 2 ½, so naturally we headed to the Disney Store at the nearest mall to pick out the perfect princess dresses. It was Sunday, and we got to the mall a few minutes before noon, so the doors weren’t open. But ironically, at noon, the doors to the Disney Store don’t just open, there’s an important opening ceremony that must occur. Three employees come out with a special lock and guests standby as music starts up, a video of a timed countdown appears on one of the store windows and an employee starts walking through the store with a “magical” key that will not only unlock the store, but also unlock your imagination. Wow. Talk about living out the Disney brand. My kids along with other children waiting outside the door were transfixed and truly believed they were walking into a world of magic.

Something special does happen when your brand goes beyond the logo, the tagline and the mission statement to truly convey an experience to the customer. Following are three tips to ensure you are “living your brand.”

  • Position your brand so that anyone and everyone can get behind it – from the CEO down to the smallest customer. My husband gets coffee at Starbucks every day. Not only does he go for the coffee, he’s found it’s a great place to meet people, read the paper and to escape. He has become a brand ambassador for a product he could brew at home for less, but for him, the need to get it at Starbucks trumps everything else. The company’s brand positioning has definitely done its job.
  • Find ways to carry out your brand in even the smallest detail. Details do matter. When you walk up to Tiffany’s, you enter through a solid, very impressive door. Everything in the store is shiny. In my experience, employees who are dressed formally, wait on you right away. No matter what you buy, it comes in the Tiffany blue box with the white satin bow. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t matter what was in the box. If the box is the right color blue, it has perceived value, making this final purchase detail the one with the lasting impact.
  • Go beyond the status quo. When expenses were rising, airlines looking for ways to lower costs and increase revenues started charging for bags. Southwest Airlines, also known as the LUV airline, stood by its low-cost brand and started advertising that bags fly free on all flights. That definitely won them brand loyalty. In order to win over consumers who were leery about Internet shopping for clothes and shoes because they were sure the item wouldn’t fit and it would be expensive to ship back, Zappos offered free shipping both ways. This also created a host of customers loyal to the brand who now do nothing but shop from the convenience of their own homes because Zappos made it easy.

What other brands come to mind when you think of ones that are doing it right? Starbucks? Apple? Target? Join the discussion and weigh in on your top three.


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