Impactful marketing is often considered synonymous with being cool, edgy and shock-inducing, with brands grabbing at consumers for attention. Yet, as consumer tastes rapidly evolve in a world bombarded with brand messages, sometimes the best way to stand out is to simply make yourself useful.
Brand utility or “marketing as a service” is the concept of providing tangible value to a consumer. To cut through the clutter of options, it’s more important than ever for competitive brands to develop by sharing information and ideas that offer practical value in consumers’ lives. Below are a few Orange Label tips along with some examples of brands that are successfully demonstrating brand utility.
Be Genuinely Useful and Prove Efficiency: Esurance helps consumers drive and buy more intelligently with Fuelcaster, a web-based gas price predictor that helps users determine if they should fill up today, or wait and save. This positions Esurance as a brand that cares about the consumer’s complete driving experience by solving real driving problems.
Be Interactive and Interesting: The Sherwin Williams iOS and Android ColorSnap app allows consumers to harness color inspiration whenever it strikes by capturing real-world colors from images taken, and converting them into paint swatches. Giving users the opportunity to control and personalize their product experience catalyzes engagement and inspires sharing, speaking strongly to the brand’s value and commitment to forward-thinking customer experience.
Be Helpful, Relational and Innovative: During a snowy winter season in Canada, Duracell placed “heated” outdoor bus stops along transportation routes. These unique bus stops required that inhabitants touch marked points on each side of the housing station, while also touching each others’ hand to complete the connection that activated the heating technology. The campaign theme dubbed “A Moment of Warmth, Powered by You” provided a much needed literal utility for consumers in that moment, and the campaign sub-messaging, “We have winters, but we also have each other” connects the brand’s elements of humanity and technology.
Weave in Brand Attributes and Convey Care: During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Mini Cooper provided Rickshaw transportation near events in the city. By helping attendees get around in compact vehicles, Mini Cooper provided an unexpected point of value that wove their brand attributes of resource sustainability and commitment to the environment into their utility-based marketing strategy.
While more and more brands incorporate utility marketing into their strategies (i.e. the Charmin Bathrooms placed in Times Square, or Betty Crocker’s YouTube Recipe Channel) they all prove one truth: marketing is becoming more about brands working harder and smarter for the consumer, rather than simply pushing their messages onto audiences.
So the next time you’re in a strategy or brainstorming meeting and someone asks you to create a “viral video,” consider building a memorable and useful campaign that consumers will embrace and appreciate for the right reasons. This approach has the ability to establish emotional connections, exponentially build brand value and sustain long-term brand relationships.