By Carol Chapman, Principal & Co-founder, The Brand Ascension Group
Every business has a brand! Why? Because your brand is your business™!
And, every brand has the opportunity to be good, bad or indifferent; or great. For many brands, being good is just fine, but for those few that really push the envelope they prefer to be great or better yet, AMAZING. This paper focuses on brands that have reached the ‘amazing level’. And the question is what does it take to be amazing?
CHARACTERISTICS OF AMAZING BRANDS
Brands become amazing because they know what they stand for, stay true to it and it’s expressed in every thought, every action, every reaction, interaction, standard and process, every decision and cause they associate themselves with. What is it that amazing brands share in common?
- Establish and live up to a set of guiding principles (core values) in everything they do.
- Cultivate distinct branded cultures of inspired and engaged employees.
- Continuously delight their customers knowing that top-line and bottom-line results will follow.
- Establish standards of performance excellence and deliver on them consistently.
- Are innovative and continue to evolve with the times.
- Build community so that others want to be associated with them.
- Evoke and reinforce positive emotions that make people feel good.
- Create enormous employee and customer loyalty through positive, memorable experiences.
- Have a strong point of view that is expressed in creative and authentic ways that makes the world a better place—through even the smallest of gestures.
- Inspire and influence others towards right action.
- Give back to their communities and assist those less fortunate in the world because they care.
Great brands don’t become amazing without working at becoming that way every day. They understand that building and elevating their brand is a conscious, strategic and deliberate process that spans the life of their brand. It’s not a one-time event, haphazard series of actions or a clever advertising message! They put it all on the line with an all out focused effort every day—one employee and one customer at a time.
EXAMPLE OF AN AMAZING BRAND
Tony Hsieh, CEO of ZAPPOS.COM said in one of his recent blog posting, “We’re starting a Movement”. He talks about Zappos.com “changing the world by inspiring and helping other companies to focus more on culture, core values, customer experience, passion, and purpose –all without losing sight of financial goals”. In 2010, Zappos moved up to the #15 spot on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list. Happiness is a guiding principle in their company. By making employees happy, they make customers happy. It’s not surprising to find that 75% of purchases come from repeat customers and they are generating more sustainable profits and long-term financial performance. In 2009, they hit $1.2B in revenues. In their eleven years in business, they weren’t always as profitable as they are now, but they stayed true to what has meaning and heart for them as a brand, and it’s paying off more than just financially because they care about their employees and their customers.
Zappos Culture is what truly sets them apart. They have a “work hard, play hard” mentality. Their 10 core values are the foundation of their culture and drive the internal and external experience they create for the brand—how they interact and treat customers, reps and one another. For example, Create Fun and a Little Weirdness is one of their core values. They express it in creative ways through random acts of kindness on a weekly basis for other employees. It’s refreshing to see a brand that lives and breathes its core values through every aspect of its operations, so much that they open their culture up to other companies and individuals to visit, learn and share with them. And living their values certainly extends beyond the walls of the company as every employee is committed to delivering “Wow” through service to their customers. I’ve personally experienced their wow service and what an amazing brand they are!
Stay tuned for Part II for more examples of amazing brands and how your brand can become amazing too!