Brand Experience

Great Design Makes Me Love The Brand (All Over Again!)


Last December, I went to my local Canadian Tire to buy a new pair of skates. I hadn't bought a pair of skates in over 10 years, and was overwhelmed at the selection of models and brands stuffed into the store's shelves. There were skates with laces, skates that looked as if they were designed by NASA, and skates that resembled ski boots more than they did skating gear.

To me, there were two key things that mattered in making my purchase decision. First, the skates had to be easy to get into. Second, they had to be wide enough so my feet wouldn't freeze up while skating (in my childhood, I never had a great experience with traditional women's figure skates as they were narrow and too rigid).

After trying on what seemed to be an endless selection of skates, I finally decided on a blue pair of the CCM "Alpine Performance" brand. By now you're probably wondering why all this is relevent to branding. Here's my point. I could have bought cheaper skates from another brand, but I chose the most expensive pair because they fit all of my buying criteria. The coolest thing was that the skates had the latest and greatest in skating technology called the BOA system. Rather than using laces, the skates are tightened using narrow cables that are extremely strong and durable. If I want to tighten my skates, I just press one knob and turn the button clockwise. To loosen the skates, I pull out the knob and simply pull off my skates.

When I use the skates, I get the feeling that CCM considered my needs as a skater and integrated them into the design of the product. What mattered to me as a skater was taken care of in every aspect of skate design.

The story would end there but there was one more reason I decided to buy CCM skates. It wasn't the key reason, but in the background it somehow assured me that the buying decision would be a good one. As a child, I grew up with three brothers - all of whom had CCM bikes. When one of my brothers grew out of his bike, it would then be passed down to me. I trusted that the bike wouldn't let me down, and it never did. My past experience with the brand was such a positive one, that I remembered it years later in adulthood. It reached me at both a rational and emotional level, and the story it told was one of trust, quality and performance with a hint of nostalgia.

Do you have similar stories to share? Is there a brand that you used as a child, that you're still using today? Why?

Guerlain Sniffs a Winner: Using Scent to Sell Product


Guerlain has introduced a new fragrance that will have us smelling like a baby. According to Sylvaine Delacourte, Guerlain's creative director of fragrances, L'Instant Magic is "built around white musk and these notes are very powdery and soft. I am especially fond of these notes because they remind me of my children's scent and soft skin when they were babies."

According to psychologists, scent is a powerful way of linking our thoughts and emotions to memories. Perhaps the smell of a BBQ reminds us of happy times spent as a family. The scent of apple pie is associated with comfort, happiness - and overall well being. Baby scents are powerful in that they take us back to a time of innocence - a time when everything was new and we were being nurtured by someone else. It's a comforting scent, and as adults we're willing to pay top dollar to bring that memory and feeling back again.

Who doesn't remember the scent of Johnson's baby shampoo or powder? Fred Tewell, group product director at Johnson's says that the smell from Johnson's baby powder "became ubiquitous and that's the underpinning of the baby smell in the American psyche." Tewell says that the baby scent is "calming, nurturing, not sharp - and doesn't immediately grab your senses. Instead, it wafts."

Do you think that scent links us back to experiences and memories? What are examples of specific scents that bring you "back" in time? How does the scent make you feel? What are examples of ways in which other companies have used scent to market their products?

Is Customer Service Dead?

If a brand is a promise, then why do so many organizations fail to deliver on that promise?

It seems that there are less companies (and people) out there who actually do what they say they will do. A recent article in BRANDWEEK by consultant, marketer and blogger Mark Stevens recounts his frustration with companies who fail to deliver on the brand promise.

While I haven't experienced a great deal of frustration with the companies mentioned in the article, there remain a few sectors where the level of service makes you feel as if you want to rent a hot air balloon and fly over their head offices shouting...."Hey! What about me? Remember me...the customer?"

The sectors who seem to consistently provide a horrible brand experience are:

  • phone companies
  • cable providers
  • large retail outlets
  • airlines
  • city institutions
  • banks

What we need is more people who care about what they do. We need better processes, and organizations that consistently deliver on their own promise to employees before they can even begin to tackle brand experience on the outside. If it's true that our external world is a reflection of our inner one, then what does it say about how many of these organizations are run?

Last month, we bought some new winter tires from a local tire shop. After visiting several garages who told us what we should by buying, we finally settled on a place that delivered what we wanted - and what was best for us. What's more, they kept their promise at every level of the process. They called to update us on stock availability. They called back when we left a message, and they sent us a thank you card to acknowledge their appreciation of our business. Now THAT'S customer service.

From the little tire shop that could...and did...we could learn a few lessons.

Why do you think there is a widespread feeling that customer service has declined? Why does it seem people care less about what they do - and how they do it? No job is perfect...but does it hurt to smile once in a while?