Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Branding For Loyalty

When you think about brands that have been around forever, you should be thinking about things that incorporate elements of your habitual life. The magic that miraculously happens when a product and/or service becomes a lifestyle is something that many dream to accomplish but only few have mastered.

Let's examine a few notable long term market share brands and see what can be gleaned!

Service/Product Experience
1) Disney. I'd say I've blogged about Disney ad nauseum if I could. But, let's be honest, there can never be enough learning from what the Walt Disney Company has done and continues to do. Nevertheless, to keep this brief (and not into another "another" Disney post), let us recognize that Disney is both memories and dreams, the best of times and the best times to come, a childhood wonder and a hopeful future - in essence, Disney becomes an intimate part of us for which products can be taken home with us and the experiences reinforced when we receive their services through the most positive of emotional constructs.

2) Starbucks. It's a lifestyle. Want coffee? Find a Starbucks. Feeling thirsty? Starbucks. Need a morning snack? Starbucks... and, hmm, somehow I think that snack would be best accompanied by some coffee. Hey! Lucky me! Starbucks. Indeed, Starbucks has developed a brand which you can not only rely upon, you can take it home with you in the form of collectibles, hardware, and self-service products. And, even when you go out and buy their coffee beans to brew at home, you still stop by stores to purchase a cup for which the price would pay for 1/4 of a bag of their fresh roasted beans. Meh. It's worth it! Right? Starbucks has taken a lifestyle element and turned it into it's own culture. Now THAT is powerful branding.

3) Southwest Airlines. The only way to fly. So many traveling experiences have nothing but frustrations, delays, cancellations, and the worst of horror stories to tell. With Southwest, it's service all the way. Southwest has the fewest proportion of complaints in the industry, and, is renown for it's good customer service. Perhaps what is most powerful is that Southwest consider's their employees their first customer. Wow, huh? Indeed, their organization culture prescribes that a happy workforce will deliver the best of service. This will naturally satisfy the shareholders, and of course, customers on all sides. What is more, traveling is expensive and Southwest isn't exactly cheap! Nevertheless, this company makes you smile as you walk up to them; smile as you spend your money on them; smile as you walk away now leaving poorer; and, thinking all the while about how you'll smile the next time you see their brand... waiting there, just for you... for them to deliver your next smile. That is truly service excellence.

Let us also examine some of the "chronic" services we depend on at large.

Interventive/Preventive Service Lines
1. Dentists. I made mention to the dentistry practice model in my post "Future Thoughts For Private Practice Physical Therapy." The reason I credit this so well is that from the pre-school age until our twilight years, "everyone" knows that we need to take care of our teeth. Some classrooms in school even have had a designated time for brushing teeth after snacks and lunch. Also, dentistry has become a primary care for teeth, serving the entire family structure. Word of mouth is severely powerful in this regard and spreads like wildfire in social circles.

2. Car Mechanics. While not exactly holding the best of reputations, mechanics are quickly cleaning up their name thanks to social media. Perhaps the most notable tool has been Yelp. It used to be that unscrupulous mechanics were able to hide behind their garage door and under their car racks. Now, hah! There is no place to hide. Moreover, as it reflects on most urban life in North America - transportation is a "need." We need automobiles to keep our lives, our economy, and our society moving. No car. No job. No life. Mechanics service a continued need. This continuation is a powerful brand construct, even if it isn't necessarily welcome.. but hey, it certainly works as a business model.

3. Hair Stylists. It is popularly acknowledged that hair stylists are the everyday counselor of their patrons. Hair stylists make us (the "royal us") feel better about ourselves. They make us confident, ready for the world, stronger, more energetic - a present force to be reckoned with. They also become our close friends. We see them with regularity. They can assist us in maintaining a beautiful self, or, transforming into a new emboldened personality, and even with important life decisions. They are also the only people that can do all those positive things to our persona, simply by styling our hair. That exclusivity is unique - so special, in fact, that even when the times are tough, we still find ways to go out and see them. Can we say VALUE?

Finally, let's quickly take a look at an example of a brand which develops it's own lifestyle integration. In our day and age, the most prominent forces of these are that of technologies - and - such is the brand we're about to discuss.

Product-Lifestyle-Integration: Apple vs. Evveeerything else. This dichotomy is truly impressive. You cannot love both sides of the coin; you can only serve one of these masters. Most Apple users only use Apple products. Their phone, computer, laptop, tablet, power sources, and technological accessories are ALL Apple. Additionally, owning Apple isn't just a essence of having a type of property. It's a statement of existence. One does not simply own Apple products; one is actively being an Apple user. The most strategic thing about Apple products: they only speak Apple. There is no other brand that is easily compatible. Therefore, once you get used to an Apple product, it is difficult to change this habit and switch to another platform. It has become integrated into the very way you engage, interpret, process, perceive, ane expect technology as a whole - and henceforth, life. You are loyal to this brand, and thus, generally see the world through this lense:

Some Closing Thoughts
Branding for long term market share - aka - brand loyalty, is one of the holy grails of the marketing world. Do this, and you have made a lifetime customer. What is required? Well, the brand must develop habits, turn dependence into joyful reliance, spread goodwill, drive an exclusivity for the product/service/experience, and send every customer home with a smile - better yet, a smile whenever the customer even thinks of the brand itself.

So then, a challenge to my PT folks: How is this to be done for physical therapy practice? I think the best venue would be through primary care and/or family practice (which of course, separates the outpatient from the inpatient practice patterns). To this, I have a few guests post for you to consider - AND - I would absolutely relish your thoughts on how we can transform our current profession into one which can boast of brand loyalty.

A Case For The Primary Care Physiotherapist.

And, a two part post which delves into the evidence behind having a primary care PT:

Talk soon!


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