What do companies like Amazon, Apple, Ritz Carlton, Zappos, Starbucks and Disney have in common? They are all customer-centric brands. Brands have become the customer’s perceptions of quality, value, trust, reliability and legendary service. People love brands when they can identify an emotional connection that goes beyond the initial purchase. Ultimately a successful brand drives sales and wins market share.
Each one of us has our own favorite brand. We all have a favorite restaurant, a hotel or a retail shop that we really love. We talk about them around our friends and colleagues. We share a review online and we continue to do business with them in the long run. The most successful brands put consumers at the heart of their business. They become genuinely customer-centric if they then design products and services to meet and exceed the needs of their customers.
One company that has continued to raise the bar and has gone through great length to serve its customers is Amazon. They continue to innovate and constantly think of ways to make the customer experience seamless and effortless. They continue to learn about the customer’s preferences and over-deliver to surprise and delight every time.
According to Denise Lee Yohn, a leading authority on brands shares that successful brands have some things in common. “They have higher-than-average profit margins within their respective categories. People are willing to pay more for their products than for products from competitors. Great brands also have higher “energized differentiation,” which is how Young & Rubicam’s BrandAsset Valuator describes the vision, invention, and dynamism of a brand, based on findings from consumer surveys.”
Customer-centric brands have several things that makes them unique and sustain customer loyalty year over year. Let’s look at some of those attributes that gives them an edge over their competition:
They have a customer-centric culture
Branding doesn’t begin with the customer. It actually begins with what happens inside and organization. What does your company stand for? What kind of service do you want to offer to your customers? The best brands have a culture that is not only focused on the customer, but also a brand of employee customer service. In other words, if you take care of your employees who serve the customer, they will in return take care of the customer. The people who deliver the customer experience are the most important to consider when you want to improve your brand.
They continue to add value
The main objective of customer-centric brands is to add value to people’s lives. A great brand creates value and a positive equity to its customers. Take for example a company like Apple. They are creating products and services to enrich people’s lives. Their products are meant to make our lives more efficient and productive. Customers want to know “What’s in it for me?” The best brands find ways to communicate clear benefits that the customer think is important to them.
They create an emotional connection
We love brands because how they make us feel. It’s not because of their famous log or icon. At the end of the day, they create a powerful emotional experience. Take the Ritz Carlton for example. The brand credo of The Ritz-Carlton states that “the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.” The Ladies and Gentlemen—the employees of The Ritz-Carlton demonstrate that customer service is highly valued through memorable experiences. They recognize what an honor it is to provide exceptional service to their guests.
They keep their promises
Customer-Centric brands keep their promises. They walk the talk. If they don’t deliver on their brand promise, nothing can help them sustain important influence in their market. They must deliver consistent, reliable service in every interaction with the customer. The brand promise can only be measured by what the customer says about the brand to their friends through their own feelings. A brand intentions are not enough, they have to speak with their actions and create trust.
They have a story to tell
The best brands have a story to tell. Their stories are irresistible, compelling and emotional in a way that people want to become part of. Telling a brand story will position you and your company as a leader in the marketplace for years to come. The most memorable customer-centric brand stories tell the unexpected, delightful stories that speak directly to our hearts. Take for example Disneyland. The Disney story inspires and continues to strike an emotional chord with many customers from all generations. Iconic brands such as Disney and Coca-Cola have long realized the power of their brand story to build powerful connections with their customers.
Customer-centric brands take time to build, but it can be done. You need everyone in the organization to believe they can make a difference in creating the best experience not only for the customer but for employees as well.