A recipe for love: A blog from our Head of Marketing, Russ Powell

On Thursday 19th October, I had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday-eve (it’s a thing. Even if no one else celebrates the day before their birthday) at the Figaro Digital Summit at the Emirates Stadium. It was a day of client meetings, presenting (check me out on this link if you’re so inclined) and running a roundtable session.

I’d been involved in plenty of roundtables but had never chaired one myself, so I was breaking new ground here. Fortunately I’d picked the topic which was “A recipe for love: How can brands ensure they’re trusted, authentic, and loved” and was hoping to mine the thoughts of other marketers on what makes brands loved and on the flip side what makes them hated.

I was very lucky to have a great group on the table, who were more than happy to humour my left-field opener of telling everyone else what their favourite crisp was. Someone went with nice and spicy nik naks, and although I’m not going to reveal who this mad man is, Matt from Age UK knows he caused quite a stir with that choice.

Anyway, as we got on to the actual discussion we firstly talked about the brands we loved. Riding high were Asos, Nike and Topshop, and I was very pleased that John from Dods also suggested Tottenham Hotspur. Always good to talk about how great Spurs are to another fan whilst sat in Arsenal’s stadium.

But then on a slightly different tack we talked about the brands we didn’t necessarily love but trusted. This was more of a mixed bag with Boots, First Direct, and Amazon all having their cases made because of their reliability, ease of interaction, and consistency.

We then talked/moaned/got angry about the brands we hated. I’m not going to mention any brand names here but the usual suspects all received a mention. Energy and Utilities providers, Train operators, budget airlines, mobile phone operators. It was a cavalcade of stories about poor customer service and broken promises.

All of this discussion though was leading towards us creating 2 profiles. One for a brand that would be hated and one for a brand that would be loved. What would these brands do? What would they not do? How would they go about things?

So, here are some top tips if you want to run a brand that everyone hates, or “Brand X”:

  • Make loads of promises and then never deliver on them
  • Ensure that you communicate with customers really poorly – either just ignore them completely or bombard them with constant sales messages. Either is good to get people to hate you. And if/when you do talk to them give them lots of sass and attitude!
  • Be really arrogant, and completely abuse your position. You may run a budget airline that has had a lot of bad press? Just don’t care what customers think because you know you’re cheap and that people haven’t got any option but to use you.
  • Be really sneaky, and always blame someone or something else when things go wrong.
  • Make sure you have loads of really complicated processes in place and that you surprise people with price rises or changes in services when they least expect it.

But if you want to be brands that’s loved, or a “Brand Y” here’s a handy check list:

  • Be transparent and reliable, talking to your customers like they’re actually human in an easy to understand way.
  • Be consistent in everything you do – in how you act, how you talk, how you respond, how your stores look, the marketing you do. Customers want to know what to expect.
  • Play to your strengths. Don’t try and be everything to everyone, focus on what you do well and then do it well.
  • Be fair. If someone’s having an issue make sure you listen to them and then deal with it in an even handed and reasonable way.
  • Take the time to really understand your customers so you can make sure what you do is properly targeted and relevant for them as often as possible. Ask them questions, seek their opinions, actually have a conversation with people.
  • Give customers something to believe in and take pride in. Tell you story honestly and show, don’t tell, customers how you can be part of their lifestyle.

I then asked the roundtable crew to think about whether the brands they worked for were more Brand X or Brand Y. I won’t reveal what everyone said but having those profiles we’d built gave us all quite a lot of food for thought about what we’re doing well and where we could also look to improve.

All in all it was a really enlightening 30 or so minutes of chat, and I was very glad to share it with those that had gathered on the table. Thank you to the 6 of you, Emma, John, Emily, Matt, Garry, and Hannah.

What are your thoughts on brand love though? What more could/should brands be doing to be loved? What else makes a brand hated? Let us know.

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