Over at IDEO (a global design consultancy) they’re pretty certain that a successful brand is one that creates and maintains meaningful relationships with customers. Members of the IDEO team are often out on the lecture circuits discussing branding, brand strategy and brand stewardship. Of these three, brand stewardship, or a brand’s long term strategy tends to be left on the back burner for more immediate gains. This is kind of like leaving the oven on after you take out the cake. Bad things can happen in the background while you’re focused on the beauty and taste of the cake. It’s not that bad things are guaranteed to happen but they could if you’re not paying attention. This is the gist of a lecture given by Andrea Mallard of IDEO. Whatever your short term gains, you’ve got to keep your eye on the long term strategy – which is really hard when a delicious, lovely cake is sitting on the table.
The best thing you can do to have your cake and eat it too, is to understand your customers. What do they want and need from you? When do they want it? Why? How does it fit into their lives? More than that, good brand stewardship means you’ve got to check out the other bakers in your neighborhood. What will you do to keep their cakes from topping yours? In the eyes of your customers you should be the lovable brand. The one they’ll want to bring to their friends parties. And when the frosting on your cake melts on a hot, muggy day, as it surely will, you should be honest about what’s happening and your customers may forgive you.
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