Driving brand performance in disruptive times—measuring and managing winning brands

by | Apr 20, 2020 | Public Relations

Do brands really matter in a world of endless choice, transparent product ratings, and intelligent decision-making assistants? The answer, more than ever, is yes—but only a few have real meaning for consumers, while many risk becoming a commodity, a new report from creative consultancy Lippincott reveals. The firm’s latest research unveils a new standard for building a winning brand: Go-to Brands.

Underpinning Go-to Brands is the finding that the best brands excel on two core dimensions: Connection and Progress. While companies have long understood the value of being “customer-centric,” today’s consumers are looking for a more personal connection with brands that champion their worldview and values.

Equally important is a brand’s ability to enable progress for customers

This is whether by solving a larger societal problem or making a smaller quest in daily life easier. When connection and progress reinforce each other, a brand becomes resilient, with more loyal customers willing to follow it across adjacent offerings or forgive it for any missteps. And, while it’s becoming harder and harder to become “Go-to,” the prize is bigger for brands that succeed: Go-to brands are likely to see 5x more revenue growth than brands that fall short in delivering connection and progress.

“In a world where 80 percent of product searches start on Amazon or Google, even the successful brands with satisfied customers are being intermediated,” said Simon Glynn, chief strategy officer at Lippincott, in a news release. “Only a few brands are sufficiently front of mind to be sought out directly and for those, the rewards are big.”

According to the study, brands today are classified in one of four categories:

  • Comfort Brands

These brandswin users’ hearts with strong connection but aren’t seen as boundary pushers and enabling progress—they’re at risk of being disrupted. U.S. examples in Lippincott’s research include Netflix and Coca-Cola.

  • Enabling Brands

These types of brandsare valued for what they do and the progress they enable, but not loved for how they do it. Many are celebrated innovators, but without winning users’ hearts, they’re at risk of losing loyalty. U.S. examples in Lippincott’s research include YouTube and Uber.

  • Transactional Brands

These brandshave low scores on both dimensions of connection and progress. They have room to grow across the board and are at risk of becoming a commodity brand.

  • Go-to Brands

These types of brands are the bar setters, where other brands should aspire to be. Many earn permission to play across traditional category boundaries. U.S. examples of Go-to Brands include Amazon, Spotify, Samsung and Southwest Airlines.

“The more the world becomes algorithmic, the more we want to connect as people,” said Heather Stern, Lippincott’s chief marketing officer, in the release. “With Go-to Brands, we didn’t want to develop another brand index but rather a diagnostic that helps businesses innovate and build more meaningful relationships with their customers.”

Along with how a brand scores on connection and progress, the study measures customers’ emotions when interacting with a brand at each touchpoint along the customer journey and a brand’s future-readiness, revealing how well-positioned it is to serve the customer of the future.

Go-to Brands is backed by research from Brand Aperture, a proprietary suite of tools tailored to build, measure and manage Go-to Brands. The diagnostic provides an evaluation of performance today and directive implications for improvement across three dimensions:

  • Overall Brand Profile measures a brand’s performance today using the primary dimensions of connection and progress that are at the core of what makes a Go-to Brand.
  • Emotional Depth reveals how people feel when interacting with a brand across 25 different emotions, unpacking why it’s succeeding or failing at connecting with customers throughout the experience.
  • Future Readiness focuses on a brand’s momentum (“Are its best days ahead of or behind it?”) and its fitness to serve the customer of the future, based on emerging trends and Lippincott’s Customer of the Future research.

Download the full report here.

The primary wave of the survey was taken by over 30,000 consumers in June 2019. Brands have been diagnosed in the U.S., U.K., China and France across twelve industries and cover a broad range of maturity and sizes.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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