Three brands I love, and three I use

Here you can see three of my personal favourite brands.

I love Apple. I watch Steve Jobs talks and on a bad day I can even find courage from a commercial like this. Everything Apple does comes from a vision that is so much larger than the company. I used to be a fanatic user of their products, in the 90’s when PC’s were hopeless. Then something happened, at work I was forced to use a PC, found it okay while the Mac OS changed into something else. I have tried to use a Mac recently, but I can’t really stand it. Why does ordinary file listings shout at me in hard to read bold font? Why should that annying little circus of dancing candy appear as soon as I want to do something? It feels like an unfocused toy. I even tried to use an iPhone, but for me a cell phone that needs your full attention for simple everyday actions, and that does not provide the tactility of real buttons, is not acceptable. But the brand I love!

I also love SAS. For me SAS concludes the pride of being Scandinavian, I still get a warm feeling of it since the time when business travel was something cool and exciting. I love the design of all the little serving things, the colour of the seats and the fresh Scandinavian food, when now that is served. Unlike others I don’t mind the high average age of the stewardesses, and I will not make silly jokes about their ability to tell you stories of the early days of airline travel. But in comparison with the airline I use most, SAS means passing through gigantic and inefficient airports, endless taxing, no more of that good food; a dry sandwich if you are lucky. And a price tag that makes you look for other alternatives. When I go with SAS, my expectations are at a maximum, and I often get disappointed.

And i love Campari. It embodies the dream of Italy, I like the logo and the name, and it looks so good with its sparkling red colour. But it is only recently that I have managed to drink it plain on ice without making funny faces. It’s very bitter and it doesn’t taste very much else.

So instead I use PC computers with Microsoft Windows. There are plenty of silly things that you need to learn to work around. I agree that the look of the glossy standard XP, Vista or win7 interface is even worse than Apple’s, but you can personalize the interface in so many ways, and if you use the classic design theme you get a working environment that for me feels professional and focused. My friends in the usability trade give me compassionate smiles about this, but I don’t care.

Ryanair has through its price policy given me an opportunity to make much more travels within Europe. A life style that it would take a much more stressful and in negative sense demanding job to uphold. Several times I have bought cheap tickets to Paris and other places, just for the lovely feeling to have a ticket to Paris. But finally I have gone every time, and every trip has been efficient, reliable and comfortable. The transfer to the more remote airports takes some time, but this is often compensated by the efficiency of a small airport and that the flights often arrive ahead of time. I hired a car in Paris-Beauvais once, from unfastening the belt in the plane to fastening it in the car there was less than 15 minutes. And when the other airlines charge 2- 5 times more, there is not so much to consider.

And i actually like Jägermeister. That is not something you brag about, actually it’s an interesting product because even though it is very successful, very few people that drink it actually like it. But I like its round, spicy taste, and it reminds me of the vastly underestimated, friendly tourist country Germany.

Conclusion: loving a brand is not the same as buying the product. While good branding is a key to success, it is a risky strategy to reduce the experience value to just the brand perception. In the old industrial world you could do that, today and tomorrow you cannot. Apply the same amount of effort and creativity to the experience as you give the brand!

  1. 4 Comment(s)

  2. By Micco Grönholm on Apr 9, 2010 | Reply

    Olle,

    Clever post.

    In my book, the experience is an integrated part of the brand (and quite often a very important part).

    After all, brands are made in the minds of the buyers, and their associations to a certain brand is in general based on the interplay between ”the expectation” (simplified: what the brand says/promises) and ”the actual experience” (simplified: how the brand acts/performs).

    I wrote a piece about this subject a while ago [in Swedish], that generated a highly interesting and illuminating debate in the comments field: http://micco.se/2009/10/om-varumarken-kanslor-och-forvantningar/

    By the way: Have you read Johan Ostlund’s (more recent) guest post on The Brand-Man about the power of habit, ”Vanans makt kan vara minst lika stark som känslornas”? It too has some contact points to your post. And on Monday I will post a sequel that I think you will find quite interesting.

    Live Well!

  3. By Olle Torgny on Apr 9, 2010 | Reply

    Good points! Even though we know that the brand promise and the product/service/offering properties finally end up as ONE experience in the human brain, by tradition these things have been developed separately. I think that if you coordinate the various elements of your offering with the brand strategy you can get so much stronger, and more meaningful, results. As with the car metaphor. And more concretely, in the car industry this development has come quite far, due to competition, expensive product, similar basic performance and the strong role in our public life.
    I will follow your blog!

  4. By Martin Sjöman on Apr 14, 2010 | Reply

    Hej Olle!

    I love your blog, and this post was interesting and personal. I agree with the above comments: The user-experience changes have begun to change your emotions for the Apple Brand. A good example of the dangers of losing the contact between the vision/brand promise and the development of the offerings/experience. Often the result of a gap between the marketing department and product development.

    It’s interesting that most comments on Micco’s blog-post seem to imply the opposite? ”alltså, förenklat, att framgångsrikt varumärkesbyggande handlar om annat än produktens egenskaper” (branding is not about the product’s characteristics). They are ONE, and merging their development makes both stronger.

    Thanks for an inspiring piece of reading!

  5. By Olle Torgny on Apr 14, 2010 | Reply

    I would say that in the daily lingo of advertising people, ”brand” means the result of advertising. And ”post-usp” advertising deals not with the properties of the product but rather other things like what you might expect as a result of using the product or other abstract values and ideas. This has it’s origin in the idea that you cannot compete with the product itself. (based on a rather modernistic definition of what a product is, as something fixed and given). I guess it’s somewhere here that the confusion starts.

    If Apple had products and software solutions that suited me, even if they were not aligned with the brand promise, maybe I would buy their products. And if also the brand was aligned, even more surely!

    As it is now, my feelings for Apple are intact, I am just not buying their products. Bad for Apple!

    An interesting question is if the exterior appearance, physical handling, software structure (OS) and on-screen presentation are in line with each other, and with Apple’s brand? I will be back with a post on this subject soon because I know what I think!

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