Brand loyalty and advocacy

8 06 2007

I recently read Jill Stover’s post about her talk on Branding for Libraries. She summed up the main points of the talk as follows:

1. How you execute your brand is highly context-specific. Your brand depends on your personality and abilities, your competitors, your patrons and their perceptions, and your organization.
2. Every marketing decision you make and every contact you have with patrons is an opportunity to live your brand and to do something remarkable.
3. Brands are not just descriptive, they’re aspirational.
4. No one cares about what you have; Patrons care about what you can do for them.

As I read this, I realized how uncomfortable I still am with the word “branding.” I think my discomfort comes from not understanding exactly what branding is. It’s more than a logo, I’m sure of that…but what does it mean? The dictionary actually isn’t very helpful on this front – brand is a noun, the “type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name,” while branding is a verb, and encompasses “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.”

It seems like there should be more to it. There’s something in that second definition that’s missing. Could it be loyalty or perhaps advocacy? I was still puzzled about this, and then Logic + Emotion pointed me to the Ad Agency of the Future video panel. It’s a little slow-going at first, but then it gets really interesting. The two speakers I found most interesting were Clark Kokich and Nick Law. Here are some of my favorite paraphrases:

Clark Kokich: Marketing can’t be a satellite to the company, it has to be integrated. An every day part of customer service and product development.

Nick Law: Talked about the N!ke + campaign which he says isn’t just a marketing idea, but a technology idea. It’s a product, an application, but it reinforces the brand. Providing a service (track running stats through the nano) but then “embroider the experience” when they’re looking at the stats (that’s traditional marketing) but also provide a social network to share, communicate, inspire, challenge others (creates an emotional experience and a change in behavior and thoughts re: the brand)

Clark: “You can’t build a brand with ads, you can only create awareness,” make promises, etc. A brand is created every day with integration in the stores, products, service. Digitally this happens through the medium, that customer experience with your site should be a customer service interaction – digital salesperson should be providing a good service experience for them.

Nick: Don’t “be weird”… be useful. Find out what would be helpful to your customers and then provide that service – like with N!ke + they provided services and community that users wanted and it tied them more closely to the brand.

I really connected with the concern Mark and Nick had for the customer. And that’s what libraries need to do, too. Looking back over Jill’s list, items two and four really jump out at me. Combined, they encompass the concern for customers we should have at libraries. Make every interaction a marketing experience. Integrate marketing at every level of the library – the volunteers should be as concerned with the branding effects of good customer service as the library director. They should know that the quality of the service they provide is magnified by the number of patrons they see every day. That’s how we’ll keep our patrons coming back – that’s how we’ll have loyalty.

Item 4 on Jill’s list will remind us how to be advocates. That’s how we’ll bring new people in. Figure out how we can be useful to them – to do that, we need to find out what their hopes and dreams are, what they hope to achieve for themselves. And then we need to find out how to help them achieve those goals. Not just looking at existing library services and spinning those with a benefits curve, but actively coming up with new services to bring more patrons into the library. Seeking out ways that we could better help our communities and simultaneously increase patronage by being more useful to them is key.

Libraries can only remain relevant if they nurture and develop brand loyalty, and increase their connection to patrons by developing and supporting services that are truly useful.

Update: I just realized after reading another post on her site, that Jill’s third item (brands are aspirational) referred not to the aspirations of the company/organization, but the hopes/dreams/aspirations of the customer. Exactly! 

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8 06 2007
Dale

Talk with someone at Dallas Public Library about “This Is My Library”, for an example of a great campaign (not branding, though) for a library. The minds behind it were a designer for a luxury retailer based in Dallas and a marketing guy from a big Texas law firm. Great for libraries to learn from other professionals!

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