Recently I checked into The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. Knowing the brand your expectations are by default tuned to the highest level – still I’ve time after time managed to be surprised. When I wished to access music in my room, I was told that the CD library didn’t exist in this particular hotel. The apologetic concierge however asked me out of curiosity which CD’s I was looking for. Listing all my favourite artists I hang up wondering the reason for this curiosity. 20 minutes later the bell rang on my door. The same person as I’ve been speaking with over the phone handed over a bag with three CD’s purchased by the hotel, all the favourites I mentioned – and given as a gift to me.
I bet you’ll never forget this story – neither do I. But the case is that the extra $20 the hotel decided to spend on my account makes me spread the story – just like now. Would you still claim this wasn’t worth the investment … hardly!
The story is very much in line with another experience taking place in a Louis Vuitton store, the maker of luxury leather goods, which explicitly does not offer a lifetime warranty on its products. In fact, the company's documentation states a charge will be applied for repairs. The salesperson to whom you return your faulty product further reiterates this when you take it in for repair. But when you come back to collect your item, you'll almost never pay for the service. The salesperson assures you this was done especially for you.
The over deliver and under promise builds your brand in ways which few can imagine – as it reflects a brand which cares about you – rather than a brand which traditionally only cares about it’s shareholders. It’s a story, which stays with you for life – and not only keeps you as a loyal customer – it makes you spread the rumour. If you don’t believe me ask any kid about how many bricks there is in any box of LEGO –and the answer would be – “there are always too many bricks in the box”. I remember as a kid I always noticed the pleasant surprise – which always made me think this was a special gift for me. Many years later, when visiting the factory I realized, other factors were the true reason for this generosity – still the story stays with me forever.
February 27th, 2009
By Jack Trout
With this year’s Super Bowl behind us, this seems like a good time to address the advertising business and how it has lost its way.
A couple days ago, I was in a Scandinavian airplane on my way to Los Angeles. Ignoring the airline food, I noticed a cute little branding experiment on the tray. A small notice was printed on an item. It declared, “Pepper has been called the gift of the East.” (I overlooked the fact “gift” means poison in my native Danish.)
More than 20 years ago, I went to university. A marketing man from the start, I picked the oldest and biggest Marketing department in the country, at Lancaster University. It was in one of my first classes, Retail Marketing, that I learned about Tesco.
Social values redolent of the ’50s, ’60s, and even ’70s are quietly being readopted by brands. These values are becoming more strongly expressed in the communications of brands plugged into the trend.