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Strong brands help their users experience their magic

by Nigel Hollis | June 27, 2012

Last week I spoke at the launch of The BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Latin American Brands 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My job was to illustrate what made a strong and financially successful brand, but I am not sure how necessary that was. After all, the people who spoke after me represented some of the strongest and most valuable brands in the country: Google, Natura, Skol and Petrobras. 

My presentation stepped through the different success factors identified in our new ValueDrivers framework

At the heart of the framework is the understanding that people are predisposed to buy brands that they find to be meaningful, different and salient. Meaningful in that the brand experience is significant and appealing to them. Different enough from the alternatives that they are willing to choose the brand and pay a price premium for it. And salient so that the brand comes readily and easily to mind when cued by specific needs and circumstances.

Different brands create meaning for their consumers in different ways. Google alleviates people’s angst when faced with our increasingly complex digital world by facilitating their ability to navigate and manage their lives online. Natura, the Brazilian personal care brand, provides people with a sense of physical and emotional well-being. Skol beer appeals to people’s desire for fun and refreshment. The experience does not need to be dramatically different from the competition for a brand to be successful. It just needs to be different enough (in a good way) for people to favor it over others.

Flavia Simon, Head of Consumer Marketing Brazil, stated the concept of the meaningfully different experience very succinctly when she quoted Andy Berndt, Managing Director at Google Creative Lab:

"Know the User, Know the Magic, Connect the Two"

For some brands that magic can be very elusive and hard to identify. Without it they struggle to identify ideas and executions that resonate with their customers and consumers. For other brands that magic is central to all they do. To my mind, Natura is a brand that exemplifies a brand that understands the magic it brings to people’s lives. Brazilians value Natura not just for its products but its philosophy and the way the company acts.

Those actions are informed by a strong sense of purpose and a set of beliefs that inform all its actions. Perhaps one of the most telling examples of this is the fact that Natura did not issue any bonuses this year. Not because they did not meet their revenue and profit goals but because they did not meet their social and environmental goals. It is a brave move and a clear signal that the brand seeks to live up to its promises, even when in the face of potential employee discontent.

Are there any brands that create a magical experience for you? How do they act? Please share your thoughts.

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