What has your brand created for me lately?

Every once in a while a product comes along that sells itself. (Think of Apple's iPhone. All you had to do was hold it and you were sold right?) And sometimes there are brands that transform customers into admirers, followers or even advocates. (I'm told once you drive a Ferrarri you never go back to a Volkswagen. Or once you own a Leica you’ll sell your Nikon etc.)

But for companies who fight the tough fight, trying to gain market share by convincing prospects of a superior brand, features, benefits or better differentiated solutions, there might be hope.

Increasingly brands can provide something that is useful, usable and desirable to the customer that does not happen to be either their product, services or solutions.

Think of these examples:

1. Nike sells shoes and clothing. And with “Nike +” they also provide a utility platform that allows runners to connect socially.

2. BF Goodrich sells tires but recently created a social community called “Nation of Go” the heart of which is the Web site and App that allow drivers to share, contribute and create their favorite driving tours.

3. Hasbro needs to sell “Monopoly City Edition” game sets and creates a 3D Monopoly inspired online game attached to Google Maps and Google Earth that allows users to compete for big prizes.

4. Nokia sells phones among other things.They created a mobile App called Nokia Money to do basic financial transactions through their mobile device.

You get the idea.

Think of it like this. Marketers have always given stuff to customers and prospects to keep them interested in their brands. And it used to be good enough to offer a coupon, a whitepaper or more recently watch a video of a white paper as a means of connection. But now brands need to try harder to become more customer-centric and connect in more meaningful ways. We need to be asking: “What do my customers need, want and desire? What would make their jobs easier, their lives more fulfilled and maybe more fun?”

Combining that customer insight with creative and engaging solutions, is the key to creating usable, useful and desirable experiences that ignite your customers and your brand. Activity like that keeps your brand alive and well considered for the slam dunk purchase.

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