Want to build your brand into a household favorite?
What are your favorites? Everyone has them…favorite towns, favorite foods, favorite songs, favorite movies… The first thing that comes to my mind, well, to be honest, is the movie Elf with Will Ferrell. This film catapulted itself into the coveted realm of Holiday Family Favorite almost instantly. Talk about How to Come Out of Nowhere!
I won’t make it through a holiday season without watching Elf at least once or twice. I suppose the reason this movie sprang immediately into my mind as my example, is because of one of most iconic lines. For those of you not familiar, Will Ferrell plays a Will Ferrell-sized elf named Buddy who hails from the actual North Pole, okay? Ridiculous. He finds himself in New York and wanders into Gimbels department store where he is mistaken for a new employee in the toy section because he’s dressed like…one of Santa‘s elves. His normal attire, with the little hat and the pointy shoes… Anyway, he encounters this less-than-enthusiastic manager who’s put off by Buddy’s jovial, elf-like, borderline manic energy, and asks him “Why are you smiling like that?” To which Buddy replies, “I just like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” And that right there, is probably one of my favorite lines in a comedy, ever. It’s so simple, but I swear I’ve quoted it with my friends a thousand times, all year round. It always seems to just come up randomly, and it always makes me giggle just like I’m doing now. It never fails. I love the way that movie makes me feel. I can actually name the emotion it gives me – Relief – specifically from the pressure to conform or fit in, combined with self-acceptance. It just never gets old.
Favorites are emotional. Favorites have staying power, and so will your brand.
Today we are going to discuss the Four Pillars of Becoming a Favorite, so you can Come Out of Nowhere, and catapult your brand into the coveted realm of instant classic. They are: Consistency, Conversation, Comfort, and Character.
Research has shown for years, that a person makes up their mind about whether or not they like something within the first 3-5 seconds. (Just enough time to see your Brand’s name, tagline, and logo) It’s called The Blink Test. If you google it as it pertains to branding, you’ll see it often referred to as “The Dreaded Blink Test” mainly because with today’s digital market, the average consumer is being swarmed with up to 5,000 advertisements a day, and deletes all memory of 99% of them. So how is a brand supposed to connect with someone in such a short window of time? I don’t agree with “The Dreaded” part. I think of it more like, “The Necessary Blink Test,” or “The Evolutionary Blink Test,” because it’s evolved out of necessity. How else are we supposed to wade through all this information??
And just like any test, it can be aced by studying your subject.
So let’s jump right in with the first of the Four Pillars:
Consistency is more than the first pillar, it’s the cornerstone. Every other Pillar of Becoming a Favorite is built upon consistency.
Did you know Coca-Cola is one of the most recognized English words in the world? I’m serious. In the world! It’s second only to the word “Ok”, okay. And ‘The Real Thing’ that’s made coke so iconic, along with its name, is that same simple logo they’ve used since Frank Mason Robinson created it back in 1885.
Are you picturing it in your mind? (That swirly white script with its bright red background).
Perhaps you recall when Coca-Cola tried to revamp consumer enthusiasm for the world’s most popular soft drink by changing the formula for the first time in almost 100 years. People. Freaked. Out. They went from A+ on The Blink Test to F- in, well…a blink.
That is the power of consistency – When you’re not consistent people run from you. When you are consistent, people come back to your brand again and again.
Which is… your business plan.
In April of 1985, a date that lives on in marketing infamy, Coca-Cola ignited the largest firestorm of consumer angst, the likes of which no business had ever encountered before, or since.
When the taste change was announced, people panicked! A man in Texas filled his basement with $1000 worth of original formula Coca-Cola. Protest groups formed such as The Society for the Preservation of The Real Thing, and Old Cola Drinkers of America, who recruited over 100,000 people, all demanding to bring back the original formula.
Keep in mind this was before the internet. Rounding up 100,000 people in a blink was quite a feat!
These people made a tremendous effort to send out a clear message:
Don’t mess with our favorite!
Obviously, “New Coke” tanked, and Coca-Cola was restored to its original glory just 79 days after “New Coke” hit the shelves.
When Coca-Cola messed with their product, they messed with people’s relationship to their brand.
In every relationship possible, including the relationship of your customers to your brand, consistency builds trust, and inconsistency breaks trust.
A golden rule of branding is that “If your brand starts to feel a bit repetitive to you, that means you’re doing it right.”
Think about famous rock musicians with classic hits that have lived on throughout generations. I’m sure The Rolling Stones have gotten a little burned out from time to time playing “Paint It Black” and “Angie” over and over again since the 1960’s, but they have a responsibility to their fans to deliver with consistency, the favorites that have sustained their band (their brand) for decades.
Changing ANYTHING about your brand, the logo design, the tagline, the formula of your product…any change whatsoever, will give your consumers cause to reassess their relationship with your brand.
Even if the product you are offering is exactly the same, changing your presentation will cause consumers to reassess your brand’s VALUES, and that’s a trust you don’t want to tamper with.
If people feel they share the same values as a company, they will remain loyal to a brand.
Imagine you go to your favorite restaurant and order their famous red tomato basil bisque, and it comes out piping hot… and fluorescent purple.
You are going to think “What the bleep?!”
“I promise, it tastes exactly the same,” your waiter insists.
And true enough, it does taste the same…but yet, don’t you still feel like perhaps this place isn’t what you thought it was, and consider for the first time, maybe trying somewhere else instead?
Defining your brand’s values clearly, and then standing by them again and again, day after day, builds trust.
Consistency allows people to feel safe in their relationships, and when we feel safe- we begin to love.
And being a favorite is all about the love.
Your customers are going to be building a personal relationship with your brand, and relationships are built on trust. We have a responsibility to our customers to deliver with consistency because they are always purchasing more than just a product or service.
As our brands reach more people, they evolve toward actually belonging to our customers, who have welcomed our products into their homes, their private lives.
Art has a similar impact on people.
Imagine if the Louvre decided to just slap some eyebrows on the Mona Lisa…people would be, not just angry…heartbroken.
Consistency will build trust, and trust will be the foundation for your customers to build a relationship that will endow your brand with the coveted status of favorite.
All brands talk, but favorite brands listen, and they listen well… They listen perhaps better than anyone else in their ideal end user’s lives. That’s why the second Pillar for Becoming a Favorite is:
Brands that cultivate an authentic, trustworthy voice, allow customers to feel heard. A great example of a brand that has created a fun, relatable voice is Oreo cookies.
In the past couple years, Oreo has expanded their Twitter following exponentially by developing a playful persona that is a bullseye for the brand’s strategy. Followers are now delighted to receive personal responses from Oreo that are made to sound as though the customers are speaking directly to an Oreo cookie. It may seem silly, but people love it! It’s playful and light-hearted. Oreo reaches their target market by tugging at the heartstrings of nostalgia and childhood in a whimsical way that makes people feel delighted and important.
In a relationship, when we feel heard, we feel loved. All of the favorite people in our lives are typically the ones we feel really know US.
When you are clear on the tone and voice of your brand, and deliver that tone consistently, your customers begin to feel- yes, like they know your brand- but more importantly, they feel like your brand knows them.
Cultivate a voice that delights your customers. Delighted customers talk positively about your brand, as they would a dear friend. We are all 50x more likely to buy from word of mouth advertising. Delighting your customers can make your brand go from being a blip on the radar to being the PLACE TO BE.
Give a friendly voice to your brand and let the personality shine through naturally, and your customers will deliver your message through natural conversations about their favorite things.
The Third Pillar of Becoming a Favorite is:
Comfort is a very powerful emotion to invoke as a brand.
Comfort is what takes the used car salesman stereotype off the table.
Comfort is a seat at the table.
Comfort is home.
Comfortable is how we feel with our most trusted friends.
And what’s a few dollars between friends?
People often don’t even think about money, when they are truly comfortable with their experience.
Comfort is established with the consistent fulfillment of a promise or expectation.
It’s that warm fuzzy feeling I get every holiday season when I snuggle up on the couch to watch my favorite holiday movie, Elf. My expectation is that I will be delighted when I get to that scene where Buddy enthusiastically blurts out “Smiling’s my favorite!” And the gruff manager barks back “ Make work your favorite, that’s your favorite, okay? Work’s your new favorite.” And I proceed to willingly lose my mind in peals of laughter.
Expectation fulfilled. Achievement of favorite unlocked.
We are all together in the wild uncertainties and unexpected curve balls of this thing called life. Our favorites are our touchstones. The tried and true. They are always there for us, just like a trusted friend.
In chaotic and uncertain times, everything may seem to be going topsy-turvy, but Disneyland is still “The Happiest Place On Earth” and so everything is right with the world.
That’s staying power.
Of course, brands with longevity occasionally find it necessary to alter or refine their strategies to keep up with changing fashions or expanding markets.
Now, Disneyland’s more frequently used tagline is “Where Dreams Come True.” But can you see how it isn’t at all, a stretch? Where else would dreams come true, if not the happiest place on Earth?
What do think would happen if the tagline for Disneyland were changed from “The Happiest Place on Earth” “Where All Your Dreams Come True”, to Disneyland: “You’ll have a nice time” “Where All the Lines End in a Pretty Neat Ride”?
BLINK TEST FAIL! (read all about The Blink Test here)
To pass The Blink Test, you need to ask yourself:
Does my name, tagline, and logo tell a story?
Is that story emotional?
Is that emotion consistent across all three?
Just remember, human beings naturally resist drastic changes. That’s why it’s so important to be clear about your brand’s core values and stay true to your origins.
Being a favorite is about being different, but staying the same.
Which lead us to the fourth and final Pillar to Becoming a Favorite:
Would you say that Kleenex or Xerox have successful brand stories? They’ve certainly hit the jackpot, recognition-wise, and both brands made the Forbes List of top brands last year. The truth, though? They have very little character.
Maybe you might say “Pass me a Kleenex” instead of “Pass me a tissue”, but do you really care if the tissue passed to you is Kleenex brand?
On the other hand, we wouldn’t dare confuse an Apple with a PC, because Apple stands in a league of its own. No one ever says “I have a Mac” unless they have an Apple brand computer. (Apple, by the way, topped the Forbes List of Most Powerful Brands)
Apple has character. It has characteristics that differentiate it from all other products of its kind.
Actually, the definition of favorite is: Preferred above all others of the same kind.
Apple has flavor. We know it, we love it, and we want it.
Even when you walk into a Best Buy, and enter the Apple section, it seems as though you’re in an entirely different store. When you walk down the Apple aisle, you step into Apple’s world. Turn down the next aisle and you’re right back in Best Buy again, with all the other brands of computers slumped together.
Brands that have an edge, a flavor, a distinctive personality, remind us of ourselves.
We are all unique in our own ways, and we don’t want to feel slumped anonymously together in the same aisle. We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to own an aisle.
Just like in our most trusted and rewarding relationships with people, brands with unique flavor, remind us of ourselves!
We are the same in many understandable and relatable ways, but we are also delightfully unique! When your brand has definite character, we feel like your brand understands us, sees us, and can relate to us. This is what catapults your brand into the coveted realm of Favorite.
The Four Pillars of Becoming a Favorite are: Consistency, Conversation, Comfort, and Character.
Define your four today! Write down each of The Four Pillars and make a quick list of how your brand best displays Consistency, Conversation, Comfort, and Character.
Get clear about your Four Pillars Of Being A Favorite Brand.
Thank you for joining me in our talk today about how you can use The Four Pillars of Becoming a Favorite to Come Out of Nowhere and Be an Inspiration to Millions. I hope this conversation has served you.
Becoming a Favorite is all about the love, so remember the most important step of building your Brand and that is to Love What You Do, and Love How You Do It.