a useful guide to thebrand utilityingmar de lange / mountview
i love marketing. i hate marketing.marketing can be annoying as hell. but it can also be meaningful andauthentic. it can do nice things. even good things. the brand utility isan example. with this guide, i hope to inspire brands to do good.i made it quite extensive as i give you many examples of how thingscan be.not every case is a perfect example, many are merely a rst step. pleaselook at the diversity of the approaches, the ambition they representand, most importantly, the next steps they can take.ingmar
content1. the background2. what is it?3. why is this happening?4. how to do it5. important things6. the roundup7. thanks to
rst, there was the era of craftsmanship.marketing was natural. take a baker and his customers.the baker had a personal relationship and a daily dialogue withthem. it wasn’t just about the product, it was about theexperience - the smell of bread and seeing the baker prepare hisproducts. there was a shared context between the producer andthe customer, because they all lived in the same village and wentto the same church.
then, the era of industrialization came.marketing became unnatural. the bakery turned into afactory, the village became a town.the factory didn’t have a relationship with its clients. there wasno dialogue between them. it was just about the product, twochoices of bread on anonymous shelves. there was no sharedcontext between the producer and the customer because theylived in a diﬀerent part of town and did not connect in any way.
now, we are in the marketing era.interestingly, new marketing techniques are not aboutinnovation. they are about going back to basics.brands try to maintain personal relationships with their clients.they are slowly getting used to consumer dialogues. marketeerstry to create experiences by not just oﬀering products, they alsotry to create a shared context with consumers. They want theproduct to be a part of the ‘online villages’ that social mediacreated.
however, brands often forget one important thing aboutthe baker - the essential part, the question he always askedeach of his customers: what can I do for you?this guide is a about that question.
part 2.what is it?
questionproducts do something, advertising tells something.why does marketing have this polarized approach?can’t one thing do both?
in other words: can a promise and itsdelivery get integrated in 1 single activity?so there is no gap between what you sayand what you do.
enter: brand utilitythe idea: use the means and creativity you have available foradvertising to create a promotional service.
in other words, a brand utility is about: what can i do for you? it’s useful it’s a promotion
amazon used its advertising budget to oﬀer a free delivery service.
nokia is connecting people by providing silent environments to makephone calls.
nike gives running advice and water. runners can also try out newrunning shoes on their regular run.
at teaches you how to drive fuel eﬃciently by improving your drivingstyle.
whole foods promotes the use of its products by oﬀering recipes.
tesco shows you which supermarket has the lowest prices. even ‘we arecheap’ can be turned into a service.
advertising brand utilities eye-catching products and services useful usefulin short, a brand utility is a combination of two dimensions.
part 3.why is thishappening?
the most obvious: there’s too much advertising and it’s becomingless eﬀective.
also, digital technology is an important driver for the popularity ofthe brand utility. online products and service can now bereproduced at almost zero costs. just like a communication message.this transforms them into a new mass medium.
in other words: marketing can now offer a freeservice almost as easy as a communicationmessage. as a result, services and messages canblend together.
domino’s pizza shows you the realtime status of your pizza, from order todelivery. this service was a popular viral, and thus also became a message.
mobile phones are agreat stimulant as well.brands can now easily bepresent in consumers’daily lives, 24 hours a day.if they can provideadded value.in other words, they haveto oﬀer mobile services.
tesco + albert heijn oﬀer shopping advice on the spot.
ing + mastercard nd you an ATM nearby.
northface shares local snow nivea tells you what type of sunreports. lotion to use.
the same goes for social media.brands can be a continuous part of consumers’ daily lives,if they can provide social services.also, many online conversations are about sharing usefulphenomena. therefore, brand utilities become importantfor brands wanting to initiate online conversations. thisis the way almost all successful websites become popular.
rabobank initiated a social payments service with hyves, holland’slargest social network.
facebook oﬀers a social service whereby people can support charitiesby actively becoming a part of their projects.
the recession also stimulates the rise of the brand utility.eﬀectiveness becomes more important:you cannot always be funny, but you can always be useful.
part 4.how to do it
it is not so diﬃcult.
the essence: how can you make daily things easier?no, it’s not necessarily about big ideas,it’s more about simple, everyday use.
nutricia introduced an airport diaper changing lounge to care for yourbaby. a nice illustration that ‘everyday easy’ can still have a high impact.
with ikea you can easily design the interior of your house.
because so often in life, it’s the little, friendly gestures thatcount.
when you’re camping at a music festival, douwe egberts wakes you witha free coﬀee (when you request one).
lg washes your clothes for free.
gap will give you your money back if prices drop.
don’t think small gestures can’t have a big impact.because these utilities are easy to use and often digital,their usage spreads easily as well.take the popularity of iphone apps as an example. word ofmouth is not only initiated by funny content, but also byuseful, handy things.
and think about the cumulative impact of something that isused on a daily basis.
no, this approachis not new.
michelin oﬀered a guide with the best restaurants and hotels in 1920.
guinness (yes, the beer brand) introduced a book with the world’sgreatest records in the 1950’s.
on the contrary, theapproach is veryold.because its aboutbrands going backto the bakery: whatcan we do for you?
this means thatbrands should beless focused onvague, large-than-life lifestylepromises.it’s back tofunctionality.
wait. functionality is not boring. and not ‘cold’.facebook has a daily, utilitarian approach.but it ignites a lot of lifestyle and a lot of emotion.
obama also initiated a utility that resulted in a lot of emotion.
therefore: start with an insight, not with an idea.
amazon’s insight: knowing that a book is cheaper at amazon is very usefulwhen you are about to buy one in a book store.
hi charges your phone battery at music festivals. a strong insight, sincephone charging became an indispensable part of overnight music festivals.
an insight = can you make something... simpler faster more inspiring more available nicer eﬀortless
virgin atlantic makes it simpler to share a cab, which will improve yourwhole travel experience.
in other words: what is your brand here for? and what are the barriers to do this in an optimal way? knowledge motivatio (etc) ntime lexity location inspiration comp if, for example, the impact of the product greatly depends on the expertise of the buyer, you can oﬀer a service to better cook, drive, design or exercise.
with olay you can get personal advice on the skin product that best suitsyour needs, which will improve your product experience.
don’t use demographics when you think about a brand utility. use anactivity. it’s not about who your consumers are. it’s about what they do. running nike nike+ decorating ikea home planner communicating nokia silence booth cooking kraft ifood
check: is your utility really useful? really?
remember: just like a product, a brand utility should nd anunmet need. else, again, it’s just advertising. in otherwords, it’s about the approach, not about the medium.
a useful innovation: amstel developed a free management tool for yourown, real life soccer team.
nike + beck + smirnoﬀ + adidas discover the local hip happenings for you.they’re approaching the ne line between utilities and advertising.
checking this usefulness is quite simple: would peoplepay to use your utility? (if only a small amount).if so, then you add value.if not, then it’s advertising.(this doesn’t mean you actually have to charge for it).
kraft sells 7.000 mobile recipes for $0,99.
air france + allianz created an online locker for electronic traveldocuments. you can use it for 5,66 euros a month.
note, there is usefulness and there is usefulness. many brandutilities are still focused on being nice to have. only a small numbercreate utilities that are a need to have.
adidas oﬀers free showers, lockers and workshops for runners.when this oﬀering is withdrawn, many people will really miss it.
however, there’s a diﬀerence between usefulness and involvement.not every brand should be focused on high involvement.what’s important, is that there’s a t between your utility and your brand. Frustration Aspiration high involvement Brand can make Brands can inspire things simpler Sports Assurance Nike+ Nationwide Mobile Irritation Fun low involvement Brands can make Brands make things easier things more fun Toilet paper Beer Charmin Sit or Squad Wieckse Sun Radar original model: negative motivation positive motivation rossiter & percy
nationwide lets you manage all the paperwork on the spot after you had anaccident. this nicely reduces the irritation associated with insurances.
charmin makes it easier to nd free, clean public restrooms. this ts thelow involvement category of a toilet paper brand.
wieckse shows you the sunniest place to enjoy your ‘summer beer’, whichconnects to the fun domain of beer.
nally, its important whether the service your brand utility provides isactually an authentic part of the brand’s USP. !"#$%&($")*!)"#" that is a service Service that are part +!%)",-")*$"(,%$" part of the brand’s of the brand’s core +%,+,#),. core proposition proposition. !"#$%&($")*!)"#" !".($"$/)%! a service that is a nice extra !"#$%&($")*!)"#" 0,#)12".($ a service that is 3%!.4"!()&!),. nice mostly brand activation
in other words: brand utilities are notabout apps, technology or brandactivation.they are about providing a real bene tfor promotional purposes, one thatconnects to your USP, in whichever waythat suits your situation best.yes, the ‘what can i do for you’.
but so much for strategy. what becomes more andmore important is execution: developers of brandutilities should think like entrepreneurs,because usefulness can only be tested in the eld. nd a unmet need.develop a utility and go beta fast.then adjust it. and adjust it again.let it grow organically.when it’s ready, communicate it.
nike+ was only promoted by the man vs women campaign when theservice had already grown organically.
in other words:an idea is nicean insight is vital.a useful prototype is magic.
zipcar: use your phone to book, nd and open your rental car. a simple idea,but a concept that has to be tested with prototypes extensively.
google’s lab: try new software for free. the prototype phase itself can be apromotional service.
mind: a brand utility is about longevity.it takes quite some time to develop a useful service.but there’s a long term reward.
hp teaches you how to use computers and software (from many diﬀerentbrands). a service with a focus on the long term: hp changes the way youperceive and use technology.
apple teaches you how to use software and computers - a few consumersat a time.
using advertising, a brand utilities’ tipping point can be reached more quickly.growth by advertising growth by brand utility growth byfast growth, but short a a slow growth, but with brand utilitylifespan. a follow-up longevity to reach a + advertisingcampaign is quickly tipping-point, followed by longevity with a tipping-needed. exponential growth. point and periodically a faster growth.
ehem…advertising?yes, advertising is not dead. but it goes back to the basic rule:communication. letting people know something useful isavailable. plain and simple.
brand utilities can also stimulate a long term relationshipby oﬀering a recurring addition to a product.this can turn buyers into ‘subscribers’.