Published date: 20 Apr 2018
As today’s the day of one of the biggest races in the UK’ s sporting calendar – the London Marathon – we got to thinking about a race closer to our hearts – the race to brand relevance.
Only a few years ago, everyone was talking about differentiation as the key to giving brands a competitive edge. Yet in today’s digital age, differentiation alone won’t cut the mustard. Instead, consumers are expecting brands to offer products and services that are tailored to their needs and desires, delivered when they want them, on their terms. Brand relevance has never been more important.
Five steps to help you win when it comes to brand relevance
1. Understand and know your customers. Develop a customer-centric strategy extending all the way through from initial product R&D and design along the entire customer journey, ensuring every touchpoint with the brand feels authentic, personal, and appropriate. At all times strive to understand the customers pain points and desires and find ways to solve and fulfil them.
2. Remain agile and continue to innovate Whether it be improving what exists in the market or disrupting it and launching something completely new.
Brands that rest on their laurels enter into dangerous territory. What is relevant today might not be in a year’s time. Brands need to adapt and change to match ever-changing customer demands.
Customers are not as brand loyal as they used to be. Instead, convenience, practicality and value are becoming the winning attributes. Brands that can tease out ways to add value to their customers’ lives and be nimble enough to implement them will retain more customers, protecting themselves from competition.
Look at how Amazon continually pushes the boundaries of convenience – from the Kindle and 1-click purchase to fast product delivery on Amazon Prime, AmazonAir and voice command with Amazon Echo, to name just a few.
3. Be confident in who you are as a brand, know your USPs and stay true to yourself. While remaining relevant is key, it’s not about changing strategies to match fickle trends. It’s about adapting to customer needs as things evolve, while playing to your key strengths.
Apple has mastered this strategy. Known for paving their own way in product development and having little regard for what the competition offers, Apple plays to its own strengths, often delivering new products that its customers didn’t know they needed until they were available. By combining the three qualities covered so far, Apple is regularly placed top in the world’s most valuable brands1.
4. Be consistent. There are many stories of brands rising and falling in popularity, but to remain successful, consistency is crucial. Whether offering products or services, brands need to be consistent about keeping in-step with their customers’ changing needs. Those that do this well are the ones that seem to be leading the way. Take Google as an example. Always known for delivering consistently accurate search results, it is now one of the world’s most indispensable brands, offering a consistent quality of service across not only digital search but also maps, translation, advertising and analytics. No surprise they are also a consistent top performer when it comes to the world’s most valuable brands1.
Yet consistency goes beyond products and services into brand positioning and communications. Today’s consumers seamlessly travel across multiple channels and increasingly expect to be able to engage with brands on any channel they choose. So, brands need to ensure that their omni-channel communications are consistent yet relevant to the chosen platform.
5. Inspire your audience. Provide inspiration and spark interest to remain relevant. Netflix is a great example of this. It employs AI technology to serve relevant programme suggestions that tempt their customers’ to commit to new viewing choices. With this technology, in addition to their continuous investment in and promotion of top-quality productions, they continue to engage their customers’ interest and sustain a growing income from subscriptions.
As with any difficult race, preparation is required before success can be achieved. Yet, by employing a mix of the above tactics, brands should be able to improve their relevance, increase customer loyalty and achieve winning results.