Branding can be such a meaningful and powerful way of reaching out to consumers. Don’t believe me? According to McKinsey & Company, strong brands outperform the market by 73%
. I could just leave that stat there to speak for itself, but I want to dive a bit deeper into why brands are so important to consumers. In particular, why are more and more consumers turning to ‘honest’ brands, such as LUSH?
Whenever we begin work with a new client, the first thing we do is try and uncover their purpose, the 'why' that drives them. It might sound like more agency waffle, but it's not just us that's interested in this. These days, it is no longer enough to just tell consumers to buy your product. Brands are waking up (#woke) to the realisation that customers want to know their story and understand where they come from. In this era of online activisim and the quest for authenticity, what you stand for and the causes you champion are more important than ever before. They will take a genuine interest in why you do what you do. And they might just happen to buy what you're selling along the way.
Falling in love with flatpack.
Branding represents the human side of the business, a side that consumers can relate to and form an emotional connection with. With this driving brand loyalty, consumers are more likely to stick with their favourite trusted brand, and one that appears to care about them. An example of this is IKEA. Their purpose isn’t just to sell furniture but, as they put it, to “create a better everyday life”. Clearly their main business goal is flogging flatpacks, yet their approach is to do this by appealing to potential customers, demonstrating their commitment to providing value to their customers beyond the point of sale. Trusting a recognisable worldwide brand such as IKEA, consumers are able to identify IKEA as a business but also a brand that cares about its customers.
Nothing to hide
As a consumer, you want to know what you’re getting. You want the brand to offer you comfort, happiness and general satisfaction. If you’ve previously had a positive experience with a brand you’re likely to form an opinion of the brand being trustworthy, which gives you peace of mind.
Take the incredibly popular 'Lush Kitchen' Instagram account
and YouTube channel. Here, LUSH - whose tagline is “Fresh, handmade cosmetics” - showcase a series of “How It’s Made” videos and images where they go behind the scenes of some of their most popular products. Being transparent with the ingredients in their products, the videos focuses on LUSH employees in the “kitchen” narrating the step-by-step process of how their products are made. It’s all fresh lemons, tea infusions and so on, mixed together to create the well-known and loved products. LUSH consumers buy the products because of how natural they are, placing huge importance on the use of fresh, organic and ethically sourced ingredients. Taking consumers inside the factory and through every step of the process reinforces LUSH’s brand values and reassures consumers that they brand they’re so invested in does exactly what they say.
Does your brand have a conscience?
Consumers are becoming more conscious of what their branded products represent. They like to understand the values, morals, aspirations of the brand. For example, a new study by Nielsen
found that consumers are becoming more and more conscious of beauty products containing more natural and simpler ingredients. They concluded that over the last two years, facial cosmetics have gone from just 43% paraben-free to 54%, sparking a rise in cosmetic companies developing paraben-free cosmetics. This can be linked back to consumers showing interest in brands’ values and morals, making these brands a lifestyle choice. This could be through the brands themselves or through word of mouth. Once they have an understanding of this they look to a brand for safety and familiarity, reducing the risk of disappointment.
As a designer, I am all too aware of the importance of a powerful brand. But if a brand wants to thrive in this digital era of instant feedback and online campaigns, it is no longer enough for them to just look good. For their brand to be truly loved, they need to show they have a heart.