Commentary

Brand Purity Lessons From Grandmother

My grandmother's canning closet was a place of wonder for me as a child. Rows and rows of clear, unlabeled glass Ball jars displayed their treasures: peach halves floating in their own juices, crimson salsas and pickles nestled with dill stalks. My grandmother had created something instinctive, involving and one people wanted to identify with -- a recipe for Brand Purity.

By purity I don't mean innocence or fragrance-free, recycled, or without trans-fat or animal testing. I mean freedom from adulteration or contamination.

Pure brands are instinctive because they grab you by the gut and you reach for them almost without thinking, like the smooth shell of an iPad or curving hood of a Mustang. Pure brands are involving. The experience keeps you coming back for more. Starbucks advertises very little and can rely on a logo without its name because the experience immerses you and draws you back. Pure brands are identifying. We're proud to associate, own and shout about them to anyone who will listen. People pay a lot to have A&F stitched across their chests and will tweet about their latest purchase.

The First Leg - Instinctive

IBM's transformation to a service company is a success story in itself, but its purpose-driven brand idea keeps people focused on a bright shiny object that everyone wants a piece of -- a Smarter Planet. With an instantly recognizable visual language and playful iconography, the brand communicates multiple complex stories in a manner that is appealing to both CEOs and young mothers. IBM analysts estimate Smarter Planet has expanded its market potential by as much as 40% globally or $2.3 billion.

Instinctive Lessons learned:

  • Less is more, stripped down is beautiful and essential to success
  • Instinctive is not simplistic, but rather simple to connect with and comprehend
  • Instinctive requires flexibility and variety within a tight frame -- free from adulteration or contamination

The Second Leg - Involving

To keep us coming back, pure brands deliver a consistently rewarding experience.

FAGE Total practically created the Greek yogurt market in the USA. The brand experience is instinctive and involving. The graphic design is clean, the product is unexpectedly rich and creamy, and only experienced after peeling back wax paper. Online, the FAGE Community Cookbook extends engagement with recipes submitted by loyal users - from apple brulee to guacamole. According to SymphonyIRI Group, October 2010, 52-week sales for FAGE Total yogurt were up 57%.

Involving Lessons Learned:

  • Consistently delivers every time
  • Small acts can create rituals
  • Leverage fans to engage others

The Third Leg - Identifying

To be identifying, Pure Brands need to deliver on the first and second leg of human desire. Brand fanatics do the work of advertising for you and as social media has shown, are decidedly more effective at converting new users.

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day is largely responsible for creating the luxury cleaning products category. The company mantra, "There has to be a better way," and quirky type-driven pastel packaging have struck a chord with women and retailers around the country, declaring 'I'm worth up to 30% for a fragrant and earth-friendly experience.'

Kim Chisholm, VP of marketing, says: "Our most successful marketing programs allow consumers to experience the product." They set up hand washing stations in key markets and turned San Francisco's Ghirardelli fountain into a giant sink. Employing 53 bloggers from the Social Moms Network, Mrs. Meyers generated 7.68 million tweets by asking women to share their best ideas for a cleaner and greener home. The retail demand from behemoths like Target and Whole Foods -- coupled with the recent sale to S.C. Johnson and Sons for an undisclosed amount -- proves how identifying this brand has become in 10 years.

Identifying Lessons Learned:

  • It's about them and not about you.
  • Everyday can be a source of status
  • Instinctive + Involving leads to Identity

Brands don't need new and improved claims, distressed type or huge advertising budgets to create instinctive, involving and identifying experiences. Brand Purity takes restraint and clarity of purpose, but the payoff is worth the investment.

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