Not all Brands are Born Equal
‘Not all brands are born equal’ – a statement worth making before I launch into a review of this cranking New Zealand brand who’s taking on the world. In our world as brand strategists and identity designers we work with brands of almost every description; retail brands, wine brands, FMCG brands, professional services brands – you name it, we’ve got a pretty good fix on what makes it tick. One thing we know is some brands get a free hit from social media, they are just more suited to this method of brand communications and more attractive and sticky to the people who most often frequent these new channels of connection. But before you dismiss this article as not relevant for your business, I implore you to take pause, read and consider where the opportunities may lie for your business as social media takes hold of the way we interact in the way email did fifteen years before it.
When we look at brands from different categories and with different products selling to different markets, there’s no doubt some seem better wired to social media and a brand communications channel. Retail brands typically resonate well through the mediums as they extend the one-on-one relationship of shopping, and that many customers have with many retail brands. Brands with younger markets also typically find a good fit in social media. And the other category are brands with built-in anticipation – so travel brands are a good fit as their customers will often spends months in anticipation of their trip and thus their connection to that brands involved with their travel experience.
New Zealand’s Jucy rentals, who now also own their niche in Australia are an example of a brand born to play in the social space. However Jucy’s success at creating rich relationships through social media did not happen through a natural sense of entitlement. The final and most important factor is a brand owner who not only understands and believes in social media, but who is integrates it seamlessly into their businesses activities.
I was fortunate enough to be in Queenstown, New Zealand a few weeks back at a conference with around 300 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs where I met with one of the Jucy Rentals founders Tim Alpe, and learned about the Jucy Rentals story.
Seeing the world through brand coloured glasses as I do I was impressed by the brand centric mindset of Tim and his brother Dan. From the beginning they not only had a clear vision of the brand they were building, but also the way social media would play a role in their success. Starting with a handful of rental cars, they soon added small campers, growing to include a Jucy bus and Milford Sound cruise boat, a Jucy Hotel in Auckland, as well as exporting operations to Australia and now the US.
The social media strategy of Jucy is simple in its structure which includes a blog, twitter, facebook and youtube channel. But it’s the richness of the content and the manner in which they intuitively utilise those channels that make Jucy’s social media activities hum. Advertising and Lovemarks guru Kevin Roberts talks about the ‘Public Generation’, the section of the market who happily live their life in public through the way they engage social media. For the Public Generation, organizing a night out is as simple as checking facebook to see who is going to be where, and then posting your own status update to let everyone know when you’re going to be there too. Take this behavior a step further and it’s no surprise that many of Jucy’s customers feel very comfortable inquiring about bookings, accommodation in shanghai or making a complaint through Twitter or Facebook.
Likewise, Jucy’s online staff, who are encouraged to build relationships and communicate person to person are equally comfortable with this public communication approach. The Jucy brand personality flows through their social media channels such as the ‘xx’ double-kiss tweet sign-off.
Jucy camper customers are routinely offered the use of a flip video camera. In return at the end of their trip they hand-over a copy of the content for Jucy to leverage through their social activities. They have a very active youtube channel as a result, and collect some powerful testimonials that become marketing campaign content in their own right. The clip below is one of my favorite examples of where this can lead – and with 78,000+ views so far, I’m not the only fan.
facebook pages can be a powerful channel for communicating brand personality and for brand story telling. Jucy use leverage their facebook page to connect seamlessly with the sense of anticipation that naturally comes with travel and adventure.
One of the cues we look for to illustrate the level of love for a brand is their presence on photo aggregation sites like Flicky, Instagram and Pinterest. When someone takes the public step of posting a photo of themselves engaging with a brand, it’s rates as a highly personal form of brand adulation. Throw in a wedding and the adulation score goes off the charts.
So yes the Jucy Rentals business is perfectly suited for social media, but don’t be fooled into underestimating the ongoing hard work and systems involved to seamlessly integrate social into their brand and marketing activities. Regardless of how well suited your business is or isn’t to social media, the reality is the number of people using these channels every day is now rivaling those who watch television. And given the targeted, personal and cost effective attributes of social, the only question is what more could you be doing in this space for your brand