Creating Devotion For Your Brand

I was reading an article about Brand Leadership on Sustainable Brands (thanks for the link via @mgobe), and it offered three thoughts for brands to achieve Brand Leadership in the 21st century.

1.  Delight Your Customers – AND Your Stakeholders

I completely agree with this point. While most companies are still struggling to obsess over creating a great customer experience (especially if it might mean a short-term loss) – even less focus on making sure they have great relationships with their suppliers.  The more you work with your suppliers, the more they’ll work with you.

Have great working relationships with everyone involved with your company.

2.  Engage in Brand Activation Activism

“Brands can’t and shouldn’t take the place of civil society. But we’re in a world where brands are what get noticed.”

I disagree with this point. What exactly are brands, if anything, but ideas? A brand is comprised of the emotions and thoughts that are developed mostly by society … not just about products – but people, places, and ideologies. The problem arises though when brands are dishonest or a company is amoral (see all the controversy with greenwashing, pinkwashing, and Susan G Komen / Planned Parenthood PR fiasco).

Activism needs to be part of a company’s value system – not a marketing ploy.

3.  Think Drive – Not Demand

“We proposed that businesses start by asking how to Define, Deliver, Demonstrate and create Demand for better sustainability outcomes, (but)…“demand” is too narrow. Rob Cameron…  proposed we add a fifth D to the 4Ds: Drive

While I think Drive is important since strong leadership can develop and ‘drive’ an inspiring vision – I think there is another D that would trump this, and that is Devotion. 

All of the recommendations in the 4D framework have been top down. This is a great for driving and controlling strategy, but it can easily miss the boat on creating a brand or experience that customers are looking for.

What is missing from most companies is the understanding of their customers.

  • What is your customer’s point of view?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What experience(s) are they missing from a product or a company?

We can see example of this all around us. Just look at the devout communities built around bikram yoga, zumba, or crossfit.  These communities are thriving not because they are superior to other forms of exercise, but because they offer something more … a sense of belonging, community, and an aspiration greater than themselves. An ideal.

Drive can help to create this, but true Devotion is built from the grass roots – not just top-down, but bottom-up.

What are some unique devout communities you can think of?