Over the years, we have conducted brand equity measurement studies for hundreds of brands and over the years, we have also helped leadership teams position hundreds of brands.
Some time ago, I checked into a hotel in Hong Kong. The receptionist handed me a bunch of business cards. They weren’t the hotel’s business cards but my own, complete with my phone and fax numbers and contact details while staying at the hotel. It was a gesture that kind of made me feel special.
As the Far East seems to move closer and closer to the west, and its two billion people open their wallets to brands, it might be valuable to seek some inspiration from oriental culture. At least, from one part of the Far East, which is as culturally diverse as Europe’s thirty-plus countries are, and as varied as the cultures of North America’s states.
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.
Disney, Kellogg’s, and Gillette are three completely different brands with one commonality. Over the past decade, they’ve established a branded language, whether they know it or not. In my latest book, we found 74 percent of today’s consumers associate the word “crunch” with Kellogg’s. Another 59 percent consider the word “masculine” and Gillette as one and the same. Americans formed the strongest association of masculinity to Gillette, by an astounding 84 percent.
Disney scored higher in purloined language than any other brand. This brand welcomes you to its kingdom of fantasy, dreams, promises, and magic. If you’ve stayed at a Disney resort, taken a Disney cruise, or eaten in a Disney restaurant, it doesn’t take long to hear “cast members” greeting guests with, “Have a magical day!”
For over half a century, Disney has consistently built its brand on a foundation much larger than its logo. A substantial chunk relies on songs and voiceovers that almost always include Disney-branded words. Associating words with brands comes at no extra cost. Disney’s manages to “own” six of them: “dreams,” “creativity, “fantasy,” “smiles,” “magic,” and “generation.”
Our BRAND sense study shows over 80 percent of the world’s population directly associates these generic words with Disney.