Look to customers not competitors to build your brand

There was an interesting interview with Tony Fadell in the Daily Telegraph last week. Tony Fadell is the inventor of the iPod and although the interview is meant to focus on his patest invention – smart thermostats – the conversation keeps coming back to his time at Apple.

You can read the full interview here

What I found most interesting was Apple’s approach to doing business. Tony Fadell talks about branding in a refreshing, relevant way. He says, ““If you’re a company focused on competitors,” he says, “you’ll be a follower. And you’ll talk to the media about all sorts of stuff. But if you’re a company focused on the consumer you’ll talk about the products that you’ve got and how to get the most out of them.”

This is so, so true. In the customer economy, if you spend all your time looking at what your competitors are doing and then try to replicate it, you are always going to be playing catchup.

But more importantly, this is the wrong place to look because companies don’t define brands anymore, customers do. And also, loyalty is a lot harder to earn and certainly isn’t earned by a traditional, corporate driven positioning strategy.

Apple talks about it’s products but more importantly, it lets consumers talk about its products and you need to build an environment where consumers can talk about your brand. Don’t be afraid to be talked about because it is already happening anyway.

In the social economies of Asia, giving consumers platforms or building communities for them to discuss your brand allows you to track the conversations and get involved when need be.

Critically it allows you to identify and engage with influential consumers, those people other consumers listen to. Because brands need to understand that in the customer economy, success will be determined by relationships not transactions. An automotive dealer doesn’t sell cars, they build relationships with people looking to make their lives more interesting, exciting or easier.

As that relationship evolves and solutions provided, they seek introductions to others who may also join the family by buying the product. This requires an investment in the product and also in the relationships. But the investment in the product can be determined by the needs of the customers.

Take a leaf out of the Apple book and look to your customers not your competitors to build your brand.

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