Okay, just for the record let's state the obvious:
- Yes, having a strong brand is very valuable.
- Yes, the highest goal of advertising is to create a strong brand.
- No, for the most part consumers are not in love with brands
- No, consumers do not want want to have a conversation with your brand, or an "authentic relationship" with it, or co-create with it, or engage with it, or dance with it, or take a shower with it.
As I've said about a million times (and Prof. Byron Sharp has said much more articulately in his book, How Brands Grow) most of what we call "brand loyalty" is simply habit, convenience, mild satisfaction or easy availability.
I promise you, if Pepsi would disappear tomorrow, most Pepsi "loyalists" would switch over to Coke with very little psychological damage.
Nike devotees would throw on a pair of Adidas without having to enter rehab.
McDonald's faithfuls would cheerfully eat a Whopper without the need for counseling.
In fact, according to Havas Media, “in Europe and the US, people would not care if 92% of brands disappeared.” And, to be perfectly honest here, I would not care if Havas Media disappeared.
Which brings us to a lovely bit of new age marketing baloney published on the Entrepreneur website recently called "How to Get Customers Raving About Your Brand"
Apparently, in the never-never-land of brand babble, the way you get customers "raving" about you is through transparency, or to quote the article, "transparency is the new black." Somebody please shoot me.
You see, consumers are now so enchanted by their love of brands that they are studying brands to see which ones are most transparent.
This makes it a little difficult to explain the world's most successful company -- Apple -- which, with the possible exception of North Korea, is the most secretive enterprise in the history of mankind.
Apparently, opaque is the new transparent.
The meatball who wrote this thing thinks Starbuck's is successful because of its transparency. On the other hand, I have a feeling it might have something to do with having a store on every corner, making the stores clean and comfortable, and serving a good cup of coffee.
In fact, I did a little survey at my Starbuck's this morning. I went around and asked everybody why they were there. Transparency came up exactly... hang on, let me check my notes... oh, here it is -- no times.
But this is the new ideological world of marketing. Marketing is no longer about meeting the practical needs of customers. It's about high-minded principles of transparency and co-creating and conversations and...
Well, I'm afraid I have a very old guy opinion. You want customers raving about your brand? Sell them a good fucking product.