When I started out, I thought of brands largely in terms of signposts. It was a way of differentiating your product from the competition.
As I started to dig deeper into customer psychology, it all seemed to make sense. A brand was simply an associative network of emotional, sensory and rational experiences in our memory. The more consistent you could make those experiences, the stronger the brand.
Then, by chance, I got involved in a study about the impact of technology on student behavior, which was being led by an anthropologist.
Although little to do with the study itself, anthropology gave me a new lens through which to look. I started to see brands in a different light. People were using them as a way to express who they were, and what they stood for, as a symbol rather than just a signpost.
Then came the light bulb moment.
I was doing some groups of loyal Tesco shoppers, real brand advocates. What struck me was how glowing they were in their praise. In their eyes, Tesco could do no wrong. Asked why, one remarked “they just try to make our lives a little bit better every day”. The room just lit up. Everyone agreed.
For them, it was more than just a supermarket, a convenient place to buy food. They had completely identified with the “Every Little Helps” philosophy that stood at the heart of Tesco's culture.
It united them, and inspired them, in that room...and in their lives.
Tesco had become a part of their identity, by standing for something.
Such are Loyal Brands...