What can businesses learn from football fans and Apple?

Football fans are incredibly passionate about their teams. Wouldn’t it be great if your customers felt as passionately about your business, if they’d tell everyone about you and if they’d defend you to the ends of the earth?

The key to this is to remember that humans are tribal. We have that innate desire to belong to something. 

Although we no longer live in isolated tribes it doesn’t mean we aren’t tribal. Today, in the West, we create an identity for ourselves through the businesses we align ourselves with.

That is a key element that the big brands know that many SME’s miss. Nations created national flags to bring their tribe together and give them an identity. The flags of the big brands are their logos; helping fellow members of the tribe recognise each other and tell the world which tribe they belong to. No matter how advanced we are; who we give our allegiance to often tells our peers who we are and what we represent.

Branding is like a flag. It helps the consumer declare to the world what they stand for. When in business, think to yourself “What does my brand stand for?” Is it a clear message?

But remember; the brand is a promise to the consumer. It is a promise of an expected experience. “Buy us and you will receive this.”

By making a promise you attract customers, by keeping that promise you create loyal fans.

Remember the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” campaign from Apple in the mid 2000’s? The campaign was effective because the message was clear; use a PC and you are in for a major disappointment and frustration, use an Apple and begin creating your dream. What’s important is that Apple delivered on its brand promise and this is why we see so many Apple products today.

It is imperative to make sure your business can deliver on its brand promise. For example, let’s take Samsung. In order to compete with Apple in the mobile phone industry, Samsung decided to deliver a “bigger” phone. Samsung’s focus was on a particular feature of its product and for some months, it looked like this tactic had worked. However, those people that switched from Apple to Samsung began to head back to Apple. Why?  It was simple; the Samsung was too complex to work. Many Apple users who had switched found the Samsung operating system user-unfriendly and problematic.

People returned to Apple in droves and Apple seized an opportunity; they saw the consumers’ demand for a bigger phone and then delivered it.

Research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC (CIRP) reports at the end of Q4 2014 in the US that “86 percent of Apple customers upgraded from an older iPhone after the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were launched.” Furthermore “Samsung and LG saw far lower loyalty rates, with 25 percent of Samsung owners and 18 percent of LG owners who activated a phone in the quarter switching to an iPhone”. (Source: http://www.digitaltrends.com/apple/apples-iphone-6-6-plus-going-strong-us-stealing-samsungs-thunder-south-korea/#ixzz3Ru2Seda6)

Apple once again is leading the market. One company had focused solely on its features (Samsung) while the other focused on the experience and tribe (Apple).

Dominic Kitchin advises that in order to create a tribe, the customer experience must be at the core focus of any business. Branding helps us tell the world who the tribe is. It is like a national flag – or a football strip. But branding without delivery is simply a lie. People will become discouraged and look for something better.  Delivering the brand experience will ensure your business stands out.