We all know it’s exceptionally difficult to build a great brand, one that consistently inspires, influences and compels; one that gets customers to not only buy more and spend more but to advocate more. But when it happens—and we see it every day, from Uber to Birchbox, from Keurig Green Mountain GMCR +% to a reinvigorated Ford—there is generally one constant. Successful brands push themselves to continuously be what we at Prophet have coined as relentlessly relevant.
Brands such as Under Armour UA -2.82%Samsung continue to position themselves with a commitment to meet customers on their own terms, push competitors out of consideration and redefine entire categories—all while being authentic. And they manage to do this in an era of persistent change and rising customer expectations. If CES taught us one thing last week in Vegas in its consistent beating of the “internet of things” drum, it’s that change, interconnectivity and consumer empowerment will continue to be critical.
Today’s forward-leaning marketers understand that relevance isn’t fixed to a moment in time. A relevant, well-positioned brand is one that is alive, restless and relentlessly moving forward. It continues to challenge itself and its company by pushing itself to earn and re-earn its position in the marketplace and thus, loyalty—through innovation in its offerings, experience, content, messaging and alignment with like-minded brands.
As a rule, relentlessly relevant brands make bold moves. Starbucks SBUX -0.93% recently introduced a $7 delivery cup of coffee and continues to revolutionize mobile payments and, oh by the way, made sure that 1 in 6 Americans received a Starbucks gift card over the holidays. T-Mobile unveiled its unexpected new “Data Stash” program as part of its overall Un-carrier Strategy that continues to reinvent what unexpected should be. Swarovski is adding its unique sparkle to the (mostly ugly) world of wearable tech. Amazon’s Transparent took home the best comedy and lead actor awards last night at the Golden Globes. Strong brands. Bold moves!
Achieving this kind of relentless relevance means that companies have to make sure they are obsessed with their customers and equally obsessed with uncovering breakthrough insights that matter. They need to excavate fresh ideas, be nimble enough to implement them and make sure they delight customers at every turn. This means accepting that in today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected, peer influenced world, business models are challenged daily.
It requires speaking with one voice, across all channels and all levels. “Omni-channel” is a marketing word. In the real world, consumers seamlessly move across channels without thinking twice about which path makes the most sense. The reality is that most brands are running to catch up to the consumer and as a result are offering up brands that are fragmented, giving customers completely different experiences depending on the channel. Relentlessly relevant brands span internal silos much like consumers span channels…seamlessly.