Connected Brands Playbook

August 24, 2021
Andres Campo

In this digital economy customers are very distracted, often to the point that it is impossible to get their attention. With information floating on the web and automated advertising, getting your message to potential customer can be challenging. To be effective your product has to be meaningful to the customer’s life to get their attention. Additionally, your message has to be clear and relatable to your target audience.

6 principles to die for

These are the 6 principles that leading brands follow in order to provide a unique experience for their consumers. We will take Nike, Apple, Uber, Amazon & Spotify as examples.

1. Center around an active purpose

Nike's logo
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”

Developing tools that allow athletes to perform better has always been Nike’s motivation. Since the company’s early days, Bill Bowerman (Co- Founder) was applying science and research in order to produce the best running shoe. Bill wanted to enhance the performance of track runners at the University of Oregon, and it was through his purpose that Nike went out to become one of the biggest success stories in the U.S.

Bill had a clear vision of what the Nike shoe needed to be.

Bill bowerman on his golden days
“A shoe must be three things. It must be light, comfortable and it’s got to go the distance.” — Bill Bowerman

It was this clear vision and its execution that brought success to Nike. Visions are what dictate the future of a business: if your vision is limited and out of scope, you will not grow to your full potential. Embedding your purpose into your vision will help you stay passionate throughout the toughest times.

When a company focuses on providing value through their purpose, the connection with the customer happens. Athletes want to perform better because they are naturally competitive, and Nike has filled the gap of performance that many were looking for.

How to apply:

  1. Review your offering and your vision and align it with your purpose.
  2. Make sure your product is a solution to a specific problem
  3. Formulate a vision that represents your biggest ambition for your business

2. Connect everything together in an ecosystem

There is no one better at creating ecosystems than apple. With a wide range of products, ever since the iPod came out, Apple has been developing high end experiences to their customer through their ecosystem. For Apple a combination of software and hardware allow them to deliver a unique experience that was very innovative at the time.

iPod+ iTunes (Where it all started)

Music has not been the same since the iPod. It certainly hasn’t for the millions of fans that could carry thousands of songs at once. This ability to enjoy all of their music collection on a small device made users fall in love with Apple.

Steve Jobs and the Ipod

But was it the iPod that changed the music?

It was also the software that did the trick. It was extremely easy to use and intuitive, it rarely lagged and performed very well on the devices.

What stands out here is that the iPod without iTunes would have not reached its success. iTunes provided the experience of an ecosystem: when you connected the software and the hardware, you were able to manage the content on it. The experience of a user-friendly ecosystem where you can organize all your music at your convenience and consume it the way you want was ground-breaking at the time.

The lesson by Steve Jobs goes beyond “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. Jobs taught the world the importance of providing a complete experience. We see ecosystems now everywhere around us: Google, Microsoft Huawei among others.

How to apply:

  1. Create an experience that customer can use with ease.
  2. Review which of your products complement or interact with each other.
  3. Connect your offering, provide bundles that feel like a uniform experience.

3. Create Value Through Innovation

Uber’s logo & Uber Cab’s first platform in 2009

Uber is as controversial as disruptive for transportation services. But Uber had to re-invent itself in order to become the transportation solution that it is today. The original idea for Uber was very innovative: when Uber Cab started back in 2009, it wanted to connect consumers with black cars that could drive them anywhere just by interacting with the app.

UberBlack was the first service known: the idea was to get picked up by a black car that will be near your area. This will give the passenger the sense of exclusivity and luxury. But after some time, Uber realized that their potential could achieve much more.

Travis Kalanick using the iconic black car service.

How can you create greater value for users and also for the drivers? For Uber, this was an important issue because the drivers are the backbone of their offering. In order to address this, they decided to open a platform with new services. They realized that the real value of Uber was not in being an exclusive means of transportation. The company was providing more value by making the mornings of their users easier by arranging quickly and affordable transportation service. The company was also helping thousands of unemployed drivers that needed the flexibility that Uber provides today.

Uber went on to become a global phenomenon that has sparked creativity in new business models that are built around sharing. No matter how innovative your product is, if it is not creating value, it will be useless.

How to apply:

  1. Analyze and asses your current offering. Make sure that is up to market standards and that you have value that differentiate you from the competition.
  2. Make your best product better. Think how your best product could give more value to the user or the consumer. Provide new ways for the consumer to enjoy or interact with your products or services.
  3. Take a good look at what is the current state of your industry is: Is there anything that you can apply from another industry such as technology, tools, methods, strategies?

4. Turn customers and users into members

Amazon's prime Membership logo

One way to ensure you will get repeated business from a client is to turn them into members. If you think membership programs don’t work ask Amazon how it is working for them.

Well executed membership/ Loyalty programs could be the biggest value of your business. Ask anyone around you who uses Amazon why they like to shop there One of the reasons will be because of their 1–2 (day?) shipping. Forget that! What about same day delivery to an Amazon location. Forget that! What about locations throughout the city where customers can pick up the most popular items on the online store. Amazon has done it all for their prime members and this has made the difference.

Jeff Bezos in the early years of Amazon do you know are you know

Are memberships even worth trying?

Amazon has managed to become your trusted digital store, or at least for 100 million people around the world who are subscribed to a Prime membership. With great prices, reviews, deals, and ease of use, buying on Amazon is as enjoyable as walking down the mall.

The Prime membership is winning and it is because of the value that it delivers to their customers. Amazon products that are Prime are generally more trusted since Amazon holds most of Prime products at their warehouses.

Members love Amazon because it makes their lives easier. Members can order anything they may need without leaving the comfort of their homes and knowing their product will get there quickly and as expected. In addition, Amazon has provided some amazing features to their memberships, such as a credit card, prime video, thousands of free books, audio books, special discounts and more. Amazon is really going all the way with their members for around $12 or $6 if you are a student.

Amazon has mastered the membership business model since day one. From the early days on, Amazon has been collecting data about their users’ interactions in order to provide a better experience. Based on this data Amazon has been able to deliver great services and products that users cannot get enough of.

How to apply:

  1. Review which of your products and services customers may need at least once per month.
  2. Give something extra. Customers will come back if they see the return on investment when buying from you! Otherwise convenience could sway your customers another way.
  3. Keep track of their activity: which solutions or products do they engage with the most? Personalize their experience based on their needs and wants.
  4. Develop a reward systems that adds to your offering.

5. Come to life through interface and experience

TED's logo and slogan

TED is not a business that sells products online, they also do not sell services, on their website either. For TED it’s all about ideas, sharing knowledge and educating communities. In essence their product is 5 to 20 minute talks that may cover any given topic depending on the speaker. How do users interact with this content? For TED, their website has been a powerful tool that helps them to spread ideas easier than ever.

Websites are not new, but many companies still fail to use them efficiently. TED has put together an interface that provides a unique experience. When browsing their website their filters can help you find just the right talk for the right moment. These talks are very well categorized with hundreds of different categories such as: choice, demo, depression, Wikipedia and many more.

Chris Anderson delivering a talk prior to taking leadership of TED in 2001

With Chris Anderson’s new vision in 2001 TED was able to reach new heights and become a powerful platform to exchange knowledge. TEDx talks are held everywhere in the world.

It is through their website that these talks live in the web and can be watched anywhere at any time. Within their interface the users enjoy the experience of learning about new ideas.

Their interface is focused on usability, which matters for the watcher. It is easy to explore new topics, find great suggestions and share them with your friends. Rich visuals and simplicity over junky text. TED has focused on developing impactful content that is easy to consume and that aligns with the experience. Color palettes, animations and transitions are just a few things to keep in mind when developing an interface.Their interface is focused on usability and these matters for the watcher. It is easy to explore new topics, find great suggestions and share them with your friends. Rich visuals and simplicity over junky text. TED has focused on developing impactful content that is easy to consume and that aligns with the experience. Color palettes, animations and transitions are just a few things to keep in mind when developing an interface.

How to apply:

  1. Develop an interface that is user friendly and interactive.
  2. Focus on the experience, make sure that your content aligns with the interface and the organization’s values. It has to be a uniform experience no matter the platform.
  3. Build around rich visuals. Share images with context and complement them with text that is direct and short.

6. Connect through culture with your audience

Spotify Brasil themed 2018

Spotify just like Apple has changed the way we listen to music. It is not just that: they have also changed how artists approach their music. Spotify is a Swedish company that has gained some space on your smartphone by allowing you to stream from their 40 + millions of songs available on the library.

With over 40 million subscribers, Spotify has managed to win the world’s ear, but how did they do it? Maybe the answer is on your Spotify account. After spending some time using the App you realize that it gives you suggestions based on your country, and this is because Spotify has taken the time to develop a playlist for each country they service. What is the best part? These playlists are often filled with local underground talent.

For Spotify connecting with their users through culture has allowed them to lead the music stream industry. After using other platforms such as Deezer or Apple music it is easy to realize that their libraries are limited and that most of the new music is released on Spotify first. New artists can be hard to find on other platforms particularly on Apple’s music.

My personal recommendations from Spotify (Hint: I'm from Colombia)

Spotify feels like turning on the most popular radio station of the area. The most popular songs are featured in diverse playlist and are classified by mood, gender, artists and other factors that make an awesome Spotify playlist. This makes navigation easy and also saves the time of making your own playlists. Ultimately, using the app also helps you feel at home if you live abroad.

How to apply:

  1. Identify which aspects of my product or service can interact with the traditions of the region. Build marketing campaigns around cultural aspects of your offering.
  2. Identify the important events or holidays of the region. These can be used to connect with your users through your offering.
  3. Create content that speaks to the local audience.