Someone once said, “without a customer you don’t have a business”. For a long time, I credited Peter Drucker with this piece of wisdom, but can’t find it in any of his writings. What Drucker does say, is that the only purpose of business is to create a customer. From my perspective, both statements are at the very heart of business success, and why strong brands are worth billions of dollars to their creators.
Let’s face it, every business thrives on repeat business. A customer who returns is gold. A customer who refers you, or your product or service to a friend, is better than gold! And the cornerstone of repeat business – the absolute foundation of every referral, is your brand.
I don’t believe for one minute that I’m overstating this. After 35 years working with brands I have come to the simple conclusion that a powerful brand creates such a strong relationship with your customer, that they want to come back again, and again and again!
They come back because of trust! That’s what strong brands do. They build trust between you, your product, your service, and your customer.
Look up any discussion on loyalty and you can’t miss the correlation between loyalty and trust. They are indivisible. The renowned ‘Mac’, Australia’s best known dictionary, not the ‘build it yourself burger’, defines trust as ‘reliance on the integrity, justice etc., of a person, or on some quality or attribute of a thing;’.
Think about the brands you are most comfortable with and ask yourself why. What is that ‘thing’ that has created the bond of trust between your iPhone and you, or between you and that pair of sneakers, or for you and your partner, that special little restaurant down at the other end of the block?
The power of brands, and their ability to create trust in the right hands is frankly, indisputable.
Look at the top ten brands listed by Interbrand in their annual 100 Best Global Brands review http://www.interbrand.com. The collective ‘brand value’ of those 10 organisations is a staggering $500 billion, plus! That’s not the list price of the companies, but the real, calculated value attached to the power of the brand to bring back customers.
You might not think you are in the same league as Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola or Google, but you have the same ability to build a successful and powerful brand – if you are prepared to put the brand at the centre, at the very heart of your business strategy.