By Jeff Fromm
Quick: what do brands like Trader Joe’s, Harley Davidson, Caspar, Seventh Generation and Apple have in common?
True believers, the super advocates — employees and consumers alike — who know, participate with and share their favorite brands more than anyone else.
In his book, “Scratch: How to build a potent modern brand from the inside out,” author and Barkley Chief Idea Officer Tim Galles says you can engage your entire organization to activating your brand through a clear connection to a core idea — what he calls a red thread. This creates an inside-out business model that helps employees engage and interact with consumers in a way that builds loyalty and Brand Love® in the process.
“The modern market is brimming with apathy, infinite choice and bang-bang demands, which means it takes more than a witty Super Bowl ad or witty one-liner to win over consumers,” Galles writes. “True believers are your biggest fans. Whole brands are designed for and with them.”
True believers reflect and respond to a brand’s culture —the outcome of what happens when your brand’s beliefs and behaviors guide both your workforce and your communications to customers and partners.
From a workforce standpoint, True Believers can impact the bottomline in more ways than you realize. A Columbia University study showed the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with a strong brand culture is a mere 13.9% compared with a 48.4% turnover in unhealthy brand cultures.
In the market, True Believers and the Brand Love® they generate give price elasticity and frequency of use advantages. Today's modern consumer is discerning, sifting quickly through endless choices that bombard them. Their final decisions are often based on emotional connections to their favorite brands, preferred brands, which tend to get a small price premium and more frequency of use than their competition.
For my book “The Purpose Advantage: Unlocking new ways of doing business,” I studied Seventh Generation, the all-natural laundry soap that competes against a much better known brand — Tide. The latter costs less, and it cleans equally well. Because Seventh Generation has a solid base of True Believers and the Brand Love® that results from such a following, it charges 10% more at shelf, a dollar more a jug.
It’s Seventh Generation’s virtuous circle of mission and purpose woven into every single thing they do. Their employees believe in it —and so do consumers, who are willing to pay more for it.
“Our mission drives our business and the business drives our mission. The truer we are to the mission, the better job we do at creating safe, effective and natural products,” said Joey Bergstein, CEO of Seventh Generation in an interview. “The better the products, both for the consumer and the environment, the better the business results, which we can then reinvest into innovating our products and the marketplace itself, bringing us back to our mission of nurturing the health of the next seven generations and beyond.”
Think Ben and Jerry’s which pairs a delicious, more expensive product with a strong, outspoken and relentless commitment to social justice and sustainability— and its fans literally eat it up.
Think Bombas, the BOGO sock company that donates a pair of (fairly pricey, technologically superior) socks to homeless shelters with every purchase — and has switched out its marketing emails for purpose-driven messaging.
Think Caspar, the mattress company that is not only changing the way its products are sold and shipped, but for prioritizing sleep for its employees.
How can you find and connect with your brand’s True Believers?
Think of the following question as a true believer’s elevator pitch for your brand, informed by a tight set of powerful ideas and language. The more you sweat this language, the more helpful it will be.
What is your brand’s promise to the world?
Imagine this as the first thing people will see on your website.
What do you do for humanity?
At the end of the day, Brand Love gives companies an advantage. They have price elasticity and frequency of use advantage. They have word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse, and they have the ability to drive values that are shared as a part of their competitive DNA. It's not just a product or service that you sell, but what your company or organization values that makes turns your employees and consumers alike into True Believers. This powerful group has the potential to not only be authentic proponents of your brand but powerful influencers, actively using their network to add scale to your brand’s communication efforts.
Want more on True Believers, Brand Love and how to create a thriving brand culture?
Check out these additional resources:
The Purpose Advantage: How to unlock new ways of doing business
Oct 26, 2020
Brand Culture, Finance, Marketing, Modern Consumer, Purpose, Scratch, Sustainability, Whole Brands
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