As a brand, you know that customer needs change frequently and surprisingly so. Companies that thrive do so by staying relevant. But how do you keep your brand from becoming irrelevant in the first place? According to a recently published study, companies maintain relevancy by being ‘relentlessly customer-centric’ and listening to and anticipating what customers want and need.
In today’s world of expanding customer expectations and constant competition to reach (and stay at) the top, brands must continually find new ways to engage with customers and commit to meeting them on their terms. Those that do hold onto their relevancy are constantly seeking deeper and more meaningful connections. They push themselves to earn customers’ loyalty (over and over again) while maintaining their authenticity as a brand.
In January, New York-based brand consultancy Prophet released its inaugural Brand Relevance Index, a ranking of brands based on their relevance to consumers’ lives. Who came in at #1? Apple, of course. But why? Well, not only is Apple the king of innovation, but it also focuses its efforts on developing features and design elements that make consumers’ lives easier, before they even have to ask.
Prophet surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers about 400 brands across 27 industries. The research found that the top 10 most relevant brands have the following four characteristics:
- They are customer obsessed (“I can’t imagine my life without this product.”);
- distinctively inspired (“I trust this brand”);
- pervasively innovative (“I love how this product continues to add features that I didn’t even know I needed!”);
- and ruthlessly pragmatic (“This device makes my life so much easier!”).
For consumers, relevance speaks directly to the indispensability of a brand in their daily lives. More often than not, consumers remain loyal to brands that they trust (and KNOW that they need in order to function).
Surprisingly, both Google and Facebook didn’t make the Top 50 cut. “A big part of relevance is trust,” said Prophet’s Chief Growth Officer Scott Davis. These technology companies performed poorly on trust due to mounting concerns about data privacy and security. On the other hand, traditional brands that are pragmatic, trustworthy and transparent – like Clorox, Band-Aid, and Betty Crocker – rose to the top. This hammers home the fact that brands can not become complacent when it comes to customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is no guarantee. Brands need to learn the importance of earning their consumers’ trust over and over again.
Ultimately, how can a brand avoid irrelevance? Consumers want it all, so it’s imperative to master these four principles. Doing well in just one or two categories is simply not enough. Essentially, it boils down to indispensability. Consumers need to NEED you – and they need to trust that you have their best interest in mind as you continue to evolve. Business models are challenged daily; a dynamic and forward-leaning strategy is crucial for a brand’s long-term success. Let customers know why you are evolving and how it will benefit them, rather than amending with service or product improvements. “The brands that scored high in our Index enjoy healthy long-term demand and a strong bottom line because they are constantly reinventing themselves to satisfy and delight consumers,” says Davis.