Amplify and enrich your brand experience
Guest blog by Prasad Narasimhan, brandgym Managing Partner for Asia, based in Bangalore.
The problem of sameness is still endemic in several categories, with a cotinued over-reliance on emotional “sizzle”. The hope is that Photoshop, trick-photography, lighting and individual art directors’ brilliance will pull things through. But as we see in the collage below, it doesn’t tend to work out.
As Nordstrom & Ridderstrale said in their book Funky Business; “We live in a world characterized by a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, working in similar jobs, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality”.
Occasionally a stroke of marketing brilliance like Dove’s campaign for real beauty creates a brand that stands out in a stunningly distinctive manner – and builds brand & business – but this unfortunately seems to be more the exception that the rule. But even with a Big Idea supported by brilliant products & advertising, there remains the challenge of how to sustain consumer interest to maximize business growth.
Amplifying the brand experience
Across categories, we find that brands that are managing to sustain consumer interest create value for consumers at 3 levels simultaneously. Of course they create a great product experience. But they also find ways to amplify this experience with “engagement” (creating 2-way conversations) and increasingly also “enrichment” (how much they leave the consumer richer for the experience).
One way we’ve found very useful in bringing together the 3E’s in our work with clients is to explore & leverage 3 separate but interlinked spaces
In ‘Language’, we imbue a brand with unique vocabulary that consumers can learn & use happily.
‘Navigation’ is about a brand’s ability to guide consumer interaction with the category that gives it an advantage.
And finally, in ‘Narrative’, we create a set of stories that allow the brand to come to life, giving consumers interesting stories they can re-tell, embellish or even exaggerate – each time adding to their social currency as people.
When all 3 are expressed in interesting ways, we maximize the chance of consumers finding the brand interesting, in turn adding to their desire to interact with the brand.
Nespresso: a brand that does this beautifully
Language: Nespresso has created unique language through the naming of the various pods in their collection. Each name is snobbishly Italian, even as it allows consumers to identify their coffee type. So you can choose between flavours like Livanto and Volutto, names that roll off the tongue in a classy Italian way. And each comes with a description that allows consumers to feel comfortable with the language & tonality; e.g. Arpeggio below.
Navigation: The Flavour Wheel is a simple tool Nespresso uses to help consumers navigate their coffee experience with. The 4 zones are designed to be as simple, familiar & consumer friendly as possible (Espressos, Decaffienatos, Lungos & Pure Origin). The Wheel uses navigation parameters that consumers can train themselves to assess (ideal size of cup, strength, key aromatic notes, bitterness, acidity, degree of roasting & body) and of course, build personal expertise with. And a cool booklet gives consumers all the dope they need to explore the seductive world of coffee & choose the ones that best suit their tastes.
Narrative: The “Nespresso Trilogy” comprises 3 pillars – (1) perfectly portioned highest quality Grand Cru coffee, (2) smart & easy-to-use machines and (3) the Nespresso Club with personalized services. In each, Nespresso creates multiple stories that consumers can enjoy & retell. For example, Nespresso views its website as an online boutique, offering a personalized experience by keeping track of individual customer purchasing habits and using this to provide enriching recommendations that customers love to talk about.
The advertising with George Clooney has also been used as a narrative tool. Starting with the first spot where Clooney escapes afterlife only by handing out his Nespresso capsules to God in front of heaven’s gate, the campaign moves to the next spot where Clooney embraces heaven’s lovely secrets. The latest TVC adds a new twist to this saga; adding to the ‘storyability’ of the brand.
Exploring how we can leverage all three levels – Language, Navigation & Narrative – can help brands create more powerful platforms to engage & enrich consumers. And when done well as in the case of Nespresso, brands can highjack the category narrative, creating a profitable ‘category of one’.