Metamorphosis of things

How your brand becomes your customers’ stuff

Luke doesn’t really do brands. The 20 something musician is not a fan of marketing and hates a hard sell.

But a glance round the interior of his beautiful Bristol house reveals a different story. The George Nelson lamp, Lascelles clock, Brabantia bin in the corner and Ecover on the draining board, his Lowden guitar and his Converse kicks, not to mention the wealth of Mac gadgetry in his well-appointed studio, all speak of considered choices. In each case one brand has been chosen over another.

How we define ourselves and our relationship with our stuff is a nuanced business. For Luke, the influence that brand identity has on him works at a much more organic level than overt advertising. Yet he doesn’t profess to want a lasting relationship with a brand, he talks about something much more transactional. Because of this, Luke’s purchases quickly become his stuff with his personal taste and identity overwriting the brand identity. (Check out what he does to the Apple logo). Luke is not unusual. We are all curators of our own brand. One of the challenges companies face is discovering the role their brand plays in each customer’s version of themselves.

What matters to customers

When brands misunderstand what matters to customers, they risk everything. Luke cites Maplin as a brand that gets it wrong for him. It should have been the perfect match: disposable income with a penchant for electronics seeks accessible high street retailer. But the in-store customer experience did nothing but rile him. With such an inability to read their customers’ individuality, perhaps it’s no surprise that Maplin closed all bricks and mortar shops in 2018.

A tailored approach

We know there are broad traits in post-digital customers like increased expectation of ease and simplicity. But how can brands tell what this means for their customers? For Luke this means solitude to shop in peace. For a less confident shopper it might mean hand holding and help.

As a brand you can’t find out by chipping at the surface with just ‘research’. If you want to get closer to your customers and unearth how they form their associations, sentiment and relationship with your brand you have to draw on all sources of customer understanding. We do this by combining research with other forms of customer insight. It’s here that we find your customers ‘why’ and hone your brand’s ability to use it to build value.