So recently we got into a discussion about a brand and whether the customer cares if you make money. Well… we decided it depends.
On what, you ask?
Apple is a perfect example. They charge a premium for their products; however their brand is based on a solid foundation of products that simply work and a great customer experience. What’s not to like? Will everyone pay the premium for that experience? No – but many will, and those that do are loyal. The reality is that Apple has engineers and designers that develop a great product that makes the customer feel special. Apple has cultivated the devoted customer base that other companies strive for.
Now let’s talk about the other end of the spectrum. A company that sells something generic, ordinary, and off-the-radar. Maybe their product/service is hard to understand and their message is unclear. The customer will start to focus on negative aspects. “It costs too much. It looks cheap. It’s a rip off.” Ultimately, the customer could be lead to the conclusion – “They are making too much money.” A perfect example is gas. Who really WANTS to buy gas? No one. There’s a resentful feeling as we stand at the pump, sending dollar after dollar into our tanks. Gas, and the brand, offers no promise. The most successful, and often profitable, gas stations are those that manage to create a user experience; those like QuikTrip in St. Louis that offer more than gas. They create loyalty to their brand in an industry where most customers are just seeking the cheapest gallon.
You name it, we’ve all been there. With an Apple product you have millions of people waiting for their latest products, some camping outside stores the night before. Did anyone line up for the Microsoft Zune? I don’t think so. The Zune doesn’t even exist anymore. If the iPod disappeared there would be huge outcries. Why? Because the consumer has forged an emotional connection to the Apple brand and their products. The Zune was like comparing generic cola to Coke. The products are the same cost to the manufacturer, but one has a huge premium. Many people grew up on Coke, so there is a real bond there. They are willing to pay the extra money for Coke over the generic cola.
In the end, your customer doesn’t care about your profits. They just want to know that you will deliver on what you promise with your brand. No Brand Promise = NO customers.