A useful guide to the brand utility


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I love marketing. I hate marketing.

Marketing can be annoying as hell. But it can also be meaningful and authentic. It can do nice things. Even good things. The brand utility is an 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 things can be.

Not every case is a perfect example, many are merely a first step. Please look at the diversity of the all approaches, the ambition they represent and, most importantly, the next steps they can take.

Ingmar de Lange

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A useful guide to the brand utility

  1. 1. a useful guide to the brand utility ingmar de lange / mountview
  2. 2. preface
  3. 3. i love marketing. i hate marketing. marketing can be annoying as hell. but it can also be meaningful and authentic. it can do nice things. even good things. the brand utility is an 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 things can be. not every case is a perfect example, many are merely a rst step. please look at the diversity of the approaches, the ambition they represent and, most importantly, the next steps they can take. ingmar
  4. 4. content 1. the background 2. what is it? 3. why is this happening? 4. how to do it 5. important things 6. the roundup 7. thanks to
  5. 5. part 1. the background
  6. 6. 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 with them. it wasn’t just about the product, it was about the experience - the smell of bread and seeing the baker prepare his products. there was a shared context between the producer and the customer, because they all lived in the same village and went to the same church.
  7. 7. then, the era of industrialization came. marketing became unnatural. the bakery turned into a factory, the village became a town. the factory didn’t have a relationship with its clients. there was no dialogue between them. it was just about the product, two choices of bread on anonymous shelves. there was no shared context between the producer and the customer because they lived in a different part of town and did not connect in any way.
  8. 8. now, we are in the marketing era. interestingly, new marketing techniques are not about innovation. they are about going back to basics. brands try to maintain personal relationships with their clients. they are slowly getting used to consumer dialogues. marketeers try to create experiences by not just offering products, they also try to create a shared context with consumers. They want the product to be a part of the ‘online villages’ that social media created.
  9. 9. however, brands often forget one important thing about the baker - the essential part, the question he always asked each of his customers: what can I do for you? this guide is a about that question.
  10. 10. part 2. what is it?
  11. 11. question products do something, advertising tells something. why does marketing have this polarized approach? can’t one thing do both?
  12. 12. in other words: can a promise and its delivery get integrated in 1 single activity? so there is no gap between what you say and what you do.
  13. 13. enter: brand utility the idea: use the means and creativity you have available for advertising to create a promotional service.
  14. 14. in other words, a brand utility is about: 'what can i do for you?' it’s useful it’s a promotion
  15. 15. amazon used its advertising budget to offer a free delivery service.
  16. 16. nokia is connecting people by providing silent environments to make phone calls.
  17. 17. nike gives running advice and water. runners can also try out new running shoes on their regular run.
  18. 18. at teaches you how to drive fuel efficiently by improving your driving style.
  19. 19. whole foods promotes the use of its products by offering recipes.
  20. 20. tesco shows you which supermarket has the lowest prices. even ‘we are cheap’ can be turned into a service.
  21. 21. advertising brand utilities eye-catching products and services useful useful in short, a brand utility is a combination of two dimensions.
  22. 22. part 3. why is this happening?
  23. 23. the most obvious: there’s too much advertising and it’s becoming less effective.
  24. 24. also, digital technology is an important driver for the popularity of the brand utility. online products and service can now be reproduced at almost zero costs. just like a communication message. this transforms them into a new mass medium.
  25. 25. in other words: marketing can now offer a free service almost as easy as a communication message. as a result, services and messages can blend together.
  26. 26. domino’s pizza shows you the realtime status of your pizza, from order to delivery. this service was a popular viral, and thus also became a message.
  27. 27. mobile phones are a great stimulant as well. brands can now easily be present in consumers’ daily lives, 24 hours a day. if they can provide added value. in other words, they have to offer mobile services.
  28. 28. tesco + albert heijn offer shopping advice on the spot.
  29. 29. ing + mastercard nd you an ATM nearby.
  30. 30. northface shares local snow nivea tells you what type of sun reports. lotion to use.
  31. 31. 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 useful phenomena. therefore, brand utilities become important for brands wanting to initiate online conversations. this is the way almost all successful websites become popular.
  32. 32. rabobank initiated a social payments service with hyves, holland’s largest social network.
  33. 33. facebook offers a social service whereby people can support charities by actively becoming a part of their projects.
  34. 34. 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.
  35. 35. part 4. how to do it
  36. 36. it is not so difficult.
  37. 37. the essence: how can you make daily things easier? no, it’s not necessarily about big ideas, it’s more about simple, everyday use.
  38. 38. nutricia introduced an airport diaper changing lounge to care for your baby. a nice illustration that ‘everyday easy’ can still have a high impact.
  39. 39. with ikea you can easily design the interior of your house.
  40. 40. because so often in life, it’s the little, friendly gestures that count.
  41. 41. when you’re camping at a music festival, douwe egberts wakes you with a free coffee (when you request one).
  42. 42. lg washes your clothes for free.
  43. 43. gap will give you your money back if prices drop.
  44. 44. 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 of mouth is not only initiated by funny content, but also by useful, handy things.
  45. 45. and think about the cumulative impact of something that is used on a daily basis.
  46. 46. no, this approach is not new.
  47. 47. michelin offered a guide with the best restaurants and hotels in 1920.
  48. 48. guinness (yes, the beer brand) introduced a book with the world’s greatest records in the 1950’s.
  49. 49. on the contrary, the approach is very old. because its about brands going back to the bakery: what can we do for you?
  50. 50. this means that brands should be less focused on vague, large-than- life lifestyle promises. it’s back to functionality.
  51. 51. 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.
  52. 52. obama also initiated a utility that resulted in a lot of emotion.
  53. 53. therefore: start with an insight, not with an idea.
  54. 54. amazon’s insight: knowing that a book is cheaper at amazon is very useful when you are about to buy one in a book store.
  55. 55. hi charges your phone battery at music festivals. a strong insight, since phone charging became an indispensable part of overnight music festivals.
  56. 56. an insight = can you make something... simpler faster more inspiring more available nicer effortless
  57. 57. virgin atlantic makes it simpler to share a cab, which will improve your whole travel experience.
  58. 58. in other words: what is your brand here for? and what are the barriers to do this in an optimal way? knowledge motivatio (etc) n time 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.
  59. 59. with olay you can get personal advice on the skin product that best suits your needs, which will improve your product experience.
  60. 60. part 5. important things
  61. 61. don’t use demographics when you think about a brand utility. use an activity. 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
  62. 62. check: is your utility really useful? really?
  63. 63. remember: just like a product, a brand utility should nd an unmet need. else, again, it’s just advertising. in other words, it’s about the approach, not about the medium.
  64. 64. a useful innovation: amstel developed a free management tool for your own, real life soccer team.
  65. 65. nike + beck + smirnoff + adidas discover the local hip happenings for you. they’re approaching the ne line between utilities and advertising.
  66. 66. checking this usefulness is quite simple: would people pay 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).
  67. 67. kraft sells 7.000 mobile recipes for $0,99.
  68. 68. air france + allianz created an online locker for electronic travel documents. you can use it for 5,66 euros a month.
  69. 69. note, there is usefulness and there is usefulness. many brand utilities are still focused on being 'nice to have'. only a small number create utilities that are a 'need to have'.
  70. 70. adidas offers free showers, lockers and workshops for runners. when this offering is withdrawn, many people will really miss it.
  71. 71. however, there’s a difference between usefulness and involvement. not every brand should be focused on high involvement. what’s important, is that there’s a t between your utility and your brand. Frustration Aspiration high involvement Brand can make Brands can inspire things simpler Sports Assurance Nike+ Nationwide Mobile Irritation Fun low involvement Brands can make Brands make things easier things more fun Toilet paper Beer Charmin Sit or Squad Wieckse Sun Radar original model: negative motivation positive motivation rossiter & percy
  72. 72. nationwide lets you manage all the paperwork on the spot after you had an accident. this nicely reduces the irritation associated with insurances.
  73. 73. charmin makes it easier to nd free, clean public restrooms. this ts the low involvement category of a toilet paper brand.
  74. 74. wieckse shows you the sunniest place to enjoy your ‘summer beer’, which connects to the fun domain of beer.
  75. 75. nally, it's important whether the service your brand utility provides is actually an authentic part of the brand’s USP. !"#$%&'($")*!)"'#" that is a service Service that are part +!%)",-")*$"(,%$" part of the brand’s of the brand’s core +%,+,#')',. core proposition proposition. !"#$%&'($")*!)"'#" !".'($"$/)%! a service that is a nice extra !"#$%&'($")*!)"'#" 0,#)12".'($ a service that is 3%!.4"!()'&!)',. nice mostly brand activation
  76. 76. in other words: brand utilities are not about apps, technology or brand activation. they are about providing a real bene t for promotional purposes, one that connects to your USP, in whichever way that suits your situation best. yes, the ‘what can i do for you’.
  77. 77. but so much for strategy. what becomes more and more important is execution: developers of brand utilities 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.
  78. 78. nike+ was only promoted by the 'man vs women' campaign when the service had already grown organically.
  79. 79. in other words: an idea is nice an insight is vital. a useful prototype is magic.
  80. 80. 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.
  81. 81. google’s lab: try new software for free. the prototype phase itself can be a promotional service.
  82. 82. mind: a brand utility is about longevity. it takes quite some time to develop a useful service. but there’s a long term reward.
  83. 83. hp teaches you how to use computers and software (from many different brands). a service with a focus on the long term: hp changes the way you perceive and use technology.
  84. 84. apple teaches you how to use software and computers - a few consumers at a time.
  85. 85. using advertising, a brand utilities’ tipping point can be reached more quickly. growth by advertising growth by brand utility growth by fast growth, but short a a slow growth, but with brand utility lifespan. a follow-up longevity to reach a + advertising campaign is quickly tipping-point, followed by longevity with a tipping- needed. exponential growth. point and periodically a faster growth.
  86. 86. ehem…advertising? yes, advertising is not dead. but it goes back to the basic rule: communication. letting people know something useful is available. plain and simple.
  87. 87. brand utilities can also stimulate a long term relationship by offering a recurring addition to a product. this can turn buyers into ‘subscribers’.
  88. 88. iphone - 1 purchase. iphone apps - recurring purchases.
  89. 89. part 6. roundup
  90. 90. be useful
  91. 91. this way, you can create personal relationships, initiate dialogues, create experiences and share context with consumers. just like the little bakery.
  92. 92. part 7. thanks to
  93. 93. a big thanks to annoying advertising benjamin palmer, barbarian bob gilbreath, marketing with meaning chris anderson, free crispin porter bogusky helge tennø, scandinavian design group jeroen de bakker, lab1111 johnny vulkan, anomaly joseph pine ii, the experience economy kees klomp, karmanomics koert bakker, rga piers fawkes, psfk rei inamoto, akqa robert stephens, geek squad rory sutherland, ogilvy russell davies seth godin, free prize inside stefan olander, nike tom himpe, advertising next trendwatching.com trevor edwards, nike
  94. 94. thank you ickr users! the following images where used (in order of appearance): http://www. ickr.com/photos/thomashawk/340185708 http://www. ickr.com/photos/loryraffa15/3183691751 http://www. ickr.com/photos/chefranden/1580191743 http://www. ickr.com/photos/kubina/993034390 http://www. ickr.com/photos/doctorow/2496308570/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/norax/2116823972 http://www. ickr.com/photos/timtimes/3219609202/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/kubina/993034390 http://www. ickr.com/photos/houseofsims/2847252842 http://www. ickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/462236736/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/9439733@N02/1878217084 http://www. ickr.com/photos/genista/56630040/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/visualpanic/418557809 http://www. ickr.com/photos/39718079@N00/261054170/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/nodaybuttoday/250126180/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/madeo/3550559941/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/pagedooley/3302646512/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/seeks2dream/472321882/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/34339147@N03/3197322966 http://www. ickr.com/photos/yakobusan/257012705/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/lilcrabbygal/377416299/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/syntopia/2060113009/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/mlehet/2453211354 http://www. ickr.com/photos/naama/27544572 http://www. ickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4290549470 http://www. ickr.com/photos/fazen/1101291373 http://www. ickr.com/photos/krassycandoit/2374920241/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/birgerking/3145391821/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/wallyg/3687570672 http://www. ickr.com/photos/fdecomite/3387351687/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/cleopold73/3677296594/ http://www. ickr.com/photos/inserttitlehere/94854950 http://www. ickr.com/photos/bsabarnowl/3998894081 http://www. ickr.com/photos/briannegus/2477107526 http://digiscape. les.wordpress.com/2009/08/img_1501.jpg
  95. 95. and thank you! ingmar de lange ingmar@mountview.nl
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