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How to Build Customer Loyalty with Brand Intimacy (CxOTalk #354)

How to Build Customer Loyalty with Brand Intimacy (CxOTalk #354)


Brand loyalty, customer experience, but how
do we create brand loyalty? That’s our topic on CXOTalk. Mario Natarelli is the managing director of
MBLM. He wrote a book called Brand Intimacy. MBLM is an independent interdisciplinary agency. We are headquartered in New York City and
we have offices in seven countries. My role here is managing partner, as you said,
here in New York, and I lead teams of strategists, consultants, designers, programmers, futurists,
and support staff. We’re all really passionate about helping
clients build ultimate brands. Futurist, that’s really interesting. Designers, I get, but where do futurists fit
into this? Brands are really about what the potential
is for the future, and so we really need people who are understanding trends, both at the
macro level and also specific to industries or specific to companies and where and how
are those trends going to affect business in the future and what can a brand do to get
ahead of it? In order to build a brand successfully, you
have to be able to project, where is the future as its relevant and pertains to where you’re
headed. Is that the idea? Think of a brand as the future manifestation
of the business. Don’t think of the brand as being in the rearview
mirror. Really, brands should be driving progress,
momentum, driving the aspirations of the company forward. That’s a future state about what can be and
what that potential can be. When you talk about brand intimacy, let’s
link that important concept to what you were just describing. Well, it’s a concept that we’ve been working
on for nine years. It’s a journey that we’ve taken very seriously. We have developed a model and done global
research to validate that model. It’s predicated on the idea that we can and
we really need a new marketing paradigm, one that’s more suited to our times. As marketers look at the marketplace, we see
proliferation, brands struggling to gain a kind of foothold, to be seen, or to kind of
cut above the noise. We see a challenge where customers are ever
more in control of brands today than they have ever been. We see that technology is creating incredible
transformation and a pace of change that is increasing over time. More importantly, probably most important,
is that what we know about the brain today is very different than what we’ve understood
in the past. When we make decisions, emotion drives those
decisions. Those forces are really what drove both the
impetus for the book and the formation of MBLM and this idea that we can really create
a better marketing paradigm for our times. How would you characterize that marketing
paradigm and how is it different from the traditional paradigm of marketing? Well, I think one of the things that we discovered
when we were creating this idea of brand intimacy is that what we understand about brands today
is different. We are living in multifaceted, interconnected
times. Brands are much more reciprocal than they’ve
ever been with consumers before. The role that technology is playing, both
as an enabler for brands but also a barrier, is very different than it’s ever been before. Those are some of the reasons that we felt
a new model was necessary. When we looked to see what existing models
or thinking was out there, they tended to be very linear in their nature and very rational
in their orientation. When you think about the way we make decisions,
if emotion is playing a key role and emotion isn’t being factored in those traditional
models, then clearly there was a reason to kind of look at this in a new way. Is emotion then the operative driver of this
difference between how brands presented themselves and were built in the past versus today? Yeah, think of this as a complementary way
to think about brands. This adds on to other philosophies and theories,
right? At its core, brand intimacy is the emotional
science of how we bond with brands. That, as an understanding, can live side-by-side
with other constructs and frameworks. The point here is that this new thinking can
reveal and maybe give you a sense of leverage or a new way forward for opportunity, growth,
and success. You say brand intimacy is the emotional side
of how we bond with brands. Right. Please elaborate on that because it seems
like it’s maybe the crux of the matter here. Absolutely. Maybe an example is a good way forward. Let me use you as my Guinea pig. What brands, Michael, do you have in your
life that you feel a strong, emotional connection with? Oh, God. I guess everybody talks about Apple, but there
are many. Go on. Sure. Everybody has got a few, even skeptics. Once we probe a little deeper, we can reveal
that, whether it’s the car they drive, the news that they read, the coffee that they
drink, or the shampoo that they favor. There are these brands that we are, in a limited
way, very emotionally connected with. What we’d like to know is, how does that happen? What can we learn from those patterns? Then how can we apply that to companies or
to brands that are in need of more of it? I guess that begs the question; how do we
apply that to brands and what can brands do? What should brands do? I think the first thing is to understand how
we measure the emotional connections that we form with brands. How do we understand them? Do they exist? Are they strong? Are they weak? Where can we improve them? I think that’s one way to approach it. The other is, we create an annual study and
look at the top brands, 400 brands in the world. We’ve gathered over 20,000 consumers’ input
around these brands. The reason we do that is because we can learn
lessons from who does this really well, whether it’s specific brands that rank historically
very high or industries that are just naturally better at this than others. Between the lessons and understanding where
performance lives today, I think you can chart a new path, a new strategy, create new activations
or ways for brands to perform better in the future. Mario, the benefits that you’re describing,
do they accrue primarily to the brands or is there an equal benefit to consumers on
the other side? Yeah, that’s a great question and one that
we don’t hear as often as you would think we should. Let’s talk about benefits. Why does this matter and why should you care? I think the first and the most important thing
that we’ve discovered is, the more intimate you are with a brand, the less you’re willing
to live without it and the more you’re willing to pay for it. If you’re business-minded, if that hasn’t
got your attention, another thing we’ve discovered is that when we look at the top-performing
intimate brands and we compare them to the Fortune 500 or the Standard & Poor’s index,
intimate brands outperform those indices both in terms of revenue and profit and over time. This isn’t something that’s just logical or
sounds nice. This is actually creating real business outcomes. That’s, I think, an important benefit to be
mindful of. That’s clearly a business benefit. From a consumer perspective, I think what’s
interesting when you think about brand intimacy is that, ultimately, it’s oriented around
getting closer to the customer, understanding needs, wants, desires, and triggers from decisions
to buy or use. A better a brand can do in that regard, I
think, ultimately, benefits the customer inherently. Mario, you were talking about the benefits
but let’s drill into what brands should do in order to develop a greater sense of intimacy
with their customers and closeness to their customers? We have a detailed model that measures brand
intimacy. In that model, you can uncover certain ingredients
that help or enhance intimacy. That’s certainly one way to research and understand
where you perform today, what can be improved upon in the future, and which levers can get
you there. I think that’s probably the primary way or
primary starting point. Another framework or way to think about this
that we use with our clients is a really simple one. That is, essence, story, and experience. Think of a brand as starting with essence. What do you stand for? How do you represent yourself to the market
both visually, verbally, and from a strategy point of view? That’s the kind of core foundation of a brand. Then, around that, we call it the story layer,
the narrative. How does a brand communicate or engage with
an audience? That is typically underleveraged. Then the final layer, what we call the experience
layer, is the orchestration of touchpoints and channels to make sure that that brand
is effectively and seamlessly meeting moments with their consumers and customers in effective
ways. Essence, story, and experience is a very simple
way to think about how a brand thrives. It sounds simple, but it’s actually really
hard to do for a lot of reasons. One, it’s beyond the remit of just a marketer. It involves strategy, operations, customer
service, and many other departments in an organization. It’s also hard to keep doing, so it’s one
thing to achieve it but you really need to keep it in a pervasive or continuous mode. That’s very challenging for companies, especially
large ones. Yeah, please continue with the challenges. What we discover is that you really can’t
have a strong story without a strong essence. You can’t have a strong experience without
both essence and story. These are kind of like concentric circles
that are ever-growing. What we’ve noticed also is that companies
tend to get myopic or sort of singular in their focus and they don’t necessarily see
the interrelationships of these things or necessarily appreciate how much effort an
investment, over time, it takes to maintain or to excel in these areas. When we look at brands that do very well in
our study—whether it’s Disney, which was number one this year, or Apple, which is perennially
a top brand—we see companies that are both diverse and growing and dynamic but, also,
extremely strong at defining and exhibiting a strong essence, delivering meaningful and
provocative stories and, really, amazing and thoroughly well-orchestrated experiences. We are talking with Mario Natarelli, Managing
Partner of MBLM. Mario, we have a couple of questions right
now from Twitter. The first one is from Sal Rasa who asks, “How
can an organization align its culture to help reach the emotional connections that you were
just describing?” I think it’s a good question. Brand intimacy starts inside, right? We often hear about this from a brand-building
perspective. It starts with the employees and the internal
stakeholders. If you think about bonds with stakeholders—not
just customers or consumers, but stakeholders in the broadest sense—then, clearly, the
bonds that the company is forming with its employees are paramount and primary. If you’re thinking about a great essence story
and experience, that’s got to start with your employees first. We spend an inordinate amount of time and
focus in our brand-building efforts on the organization inside. Yeah, it’s very fascinating. As I have spoken with senior execs from large
organizations, including some of the best CEOs that I know, one common theme seems to
be, we have to take care of our employees first. Right. Because they’re the folks who are then going
to translate whatever they do into the right experiences for our customers. As corporations merge or change, leadership
migrates or evolves, you can imagine the forces at work at pulling apart essence, story, and
experience for the employees. When that happens, you see the effects of
that in the market, whether it’s in customer service, product development, strategy, or
marketing and sales. Clearly, those start with strong leadership
and an investment in aligning the internal stakeholders around a strong brand. As you’re talking about essence, story, and
experience, it is very clear that much of this goes well beyond marketing. Yet, branding, we tend to think as fitting
within the marketing function. [Laughter] Right. Right. How should companies, people working in companies,
handle this? It seems like a kind of difficult paradox
to me. Yeah, and this is a difficult word, right? A word, “brand,” has been used and misused
a lot lately, especially. One thing that might help is to think about,
we’re all past the point that a brand is more than a logo or a static thing. If we can kind of call that antiquated thinking,
I think the next evolution is to think about a brand as a relationship. I think that makes a big difference when you
do that because it clearly signals that it’s more than a marketing function. If a brand is about a relationship, how you
nurture those bonds of that relationship is paramount. It really starts to motivate the thinking
or the priorities, I think, in much more positive and effective ways. Are there many companies that do this well? It sounds so simple to think about brand as
a relationship, but then the tentacles reach across the operations of a business in so
many different ways that it seems to then roll up—you indicated this earlier—roll
up into the core strategy of the company and the foundation of its relationship to customers. Imagine our challenge when we try to explain
to a CFO that the emotions that you’re forming with a brand are important. Analytically minded or more data-minded individuals
struggle with this idea that emotion matters and how you measure and/or leverage it matters. We are continually fighting that resistance
within companies to sort of chart a path that is holistic. There are clearly rationally driven measures
that are important to running a business. This isn’t trying to supplant them. What we’re trying to say is that there is
another element that can be a really important growth or leverage point for a brand or a
business and it’s to not lose sight of that and to say, “Okay. If it’s there, how good are we at it? Who does this well? What can we learn from them? How do we leverage it against our competitors
in the category that we’re in or where we hope to be?” Do marketers, from your experience, hear or
feel resistance as they try to elevate the branding conversation into a core business
strategy conversation? Well, that’s a great question. This tends to be industry dependent. Some industries, I think, are a little more
aligned. I’ve seen previous interviews that you’ve
given with CMOs that are at companies that totally get it and the role of marketing plays
a central function in the success and advancement of the business. Often, marketing tends to be treated like
a shared service and relegated in many ways. That’s unfortunate, for sure. I think the other thing that’s happening in
corporations is this challenge between the role of marketing and the role of technology. You’re seeing a hybridized effect going on
between CIOs, CTOs, CMOs where, ultimately, who owns the relationship with the consumer,
the stakeholders the most, who is most responsible for it in measuring it and adapting to it,
that’s getting tricky now when technology and infrastructure of a corporation is playing
a much bigger role in how you reach those stakeholders and also measure performance
against them. We hear marketers talking about the marketing
stack, meaning the layers of technology that they use. This is not a technology conversation, is
it? Brand intimacy is not a technology conversation. It is really born from the challenge that
technology has presented. Frankly, the invention of the iPhone in 2008,
’09 was one of the major signals that we needed to rethink brands and how they live and how
we interact with them. Technology is the primary gateway for most
of the experiences we have with brand. It’s almost impossible to deny that, so it’s
playing an ever-increasing role. As marketers, we’re having to wear multiple
hats and many of them involve sophistication or understanding of technology. The marketing stack and the technology roadmap
of a company are, in many ways, interconnected. At best, marketers and technologists are going
to have to work in a more collaborative way or they’re literally becoming more hybridized
in nature. It seems that many marketers confuse or conflate
the role of technology with the ultimate outcome that they’re trying to achieve. In other words, or to put it in another way,
we have this fascination with technology and I think that that takes away from the essence,
the story, and the experience that you were describing earlier. Yeah, technology runs the risk. As I said earlier, it could be a great enabler
or a barrier to success. It can get in the way of that frictionless
experience that you’re hoping for. It can get in the way of thinking about what
really matters and building strong bonds with your customers. Technology is the enabler of that process. It isn’t the replacement of it. Mario, we have another question from Twitter. Kristin Myers asks about the differences or
the linkages between brand intimacy, brand loyalty, and I’m going to throw customer experience
into that. Let’s introduce customer experience in this
as well. I love the question. All right. Loyalty is, I think, a very dated and challenging
concept. I think this is the best way to illustrate
it. I may be loyal to my service provider of my
cell phone, but I’m a trapped loyalist, to be honest. I don’t really have any emotional connection
to my service provider. However, every month, I am loyally paying
that bill, or maybe reluctantly paying that bill. That’s a great example of how loyalty has
become a kind of dated construct. Also, when you think about loyalty programs
today, whether it’s your points on your credit card or airline miles, et cetera, those have
also become very stale and sort of benefit-less experiences more and more. Intimacy was really designed as a way to kind
of go above loyalty. This is striving for something much more elevated. It’s also harder to achieve. However, we think the benefits of getting
there ultimately will create bigger rewards. That’s where I would park the difference between
intimacy and loyalty. No pun intended on that word “rewards.” Let’s talk about customer experience and the
difference between that and brand intimacy. Customer experience is, for us, the measurement
of interactions across channels and touchpoints. It’s a very vital and important way to think
about the performance of a brand. Brand intimacy ultimately is about the bonds
that you’re forming between the brand and the customer. It’s a much more narrow, much more focused
exploration of that relationship. Customer experience plays, again, a pivotal
role and it’s kind of the macro view of performance of one dimension of the brand and intimacy
is kind of inverting and looking at it in a much more singular way and a much more bond
specific way, relationship-specific way. Is brand intimacy then a component, one component
of the broader concept, customer experience? I think that’s fair. I think it’s a complementary aspect or way
of thinking about it. I think one of the challenges as marketers
or as business leaders have is, what are all these things that we’re talking about, whether
it’s satisfaction, loyalty, intimacy, or customer experience? What do I use them for or which overrides
which? It is a maze of constructs and theories and
that can be a big challenge for business owners, I suspect. The way I would think of brand intimacy is
a much more core, fundamental understanding of marketing, right? Thinking about it as, how do we connect with
individuals and/or brands? Why do we choose them? How do we increase the odds and/or the performance
of the connections that we’re making with the people or the brands that use us? Those other things all play pivotal roles. We aren’t suggesting you replace them or discard
them, maybe with the exception of loyalty. Those things still, I think, are relevant
in many ways and can be very helpful. As I talk with CMOs and they may talk about
other concepts and high-level strategies but, at the end of the day, it seems it’s all about,
how many clicks are we getting; how many views are we getting; can we track this lead from
source back to revenue? Right. How does that connect with brand intimacy
at all? Yeah, another really good question. When we think about the performance of a brand—and
you cited a few important measures, whether it’s traffic or attribution—those are really,
really critical things. Think of those things like the symptoms the
patient is showing you. You want to monitor those. You want to measure them. You want to be clear about the role that they
play. You want to understand what you’re doing from
an investment perspective that’s creating that performance. You also need to, I think, take a step back
and look at this more holistically from a brand perspective. When you think about the essence, the story,
and experience, if you’re looking at clicks, which of those is contributing in a positive
or negative way to the amount of traffic you might be generating? Is the challenge with essence or is it really
in the story layer? Maybe it’s in the channels or the experience
part of the challenge. When you look at attribution, again, it forces
you to think about it from a brand perspective. Is our problem upstream or is it downstream? What we like to use intimacy for is more fundamental. Those things that you’re measuring are going
to be continually important and should be fine-tuned. We’d like to add some measurements, though. We’d like for you to think about the degree
of bonds that you’re forming. Are they strong? How are you measuring them? Do you know the brand intimacy of your brand? Is it going up or down relative to your competitors? What can we do; which levers can we affect
that would improve that performance over time? We have another question from Twitter. This is from Zachary Jeans. Thank you, Zachary Jeans for asking this because
it’s a continuation of what I was just asking. Zachary Jeans says this; he says, “As a marketer,
how do you illustrate the ROI of building a brand through creative expression aside
from just pure lead generation or customer retention and express this, explain this to
the C-suite?” We think brand intimacy does that because
we know that when we measure the best brands at brand intimacy, they outperform financially
both the Fortune 500 and the Standard & Poor’s. That’s not a simple statement. To outperform those indices is very difficult
because Fortune 500 is a revenue-based index and you get booted out if you aren’t performing. The same goes for Standard & Poor’s, although
that’s a market gap driven index. To outperform those, you’ve got to be doing
something right, not just short term but long term. That’s one way to think about this that you
can create a measure that has kind of overriding strength that delivers business outcomes. We know you’ll pay more for a brand if you’re
intimate with it. We know you’re less likely to live without
it. Those are great levers to convince business-minded
individuals. However, there are other ways of measuring
a brand and its strength, whether it’s equity or value or there are other things out there
that people are using, reputation for example. Depending on the context, some of those may
be valuable or useful. We think intimacy is better than many of those,
but those are also long-standing traditions that a lot of executives appreciate, whether
it’s the satisfaction index or an equity study on how a brand performs relative to its customers. Those are great and useful tools to kind of
sway the argument back into the role that brand plays and why you need to invest in
it. One of the ironies of this is that business-minded
people really understand assets. They really get that. Brand, if thought of as an asset, one that
you nurture and invest in, and see it more from that perspective and less as a cost related
challenge, I think you’ll find the conversation is already, I think, more in a better direction. A CMO is listening to this conversation, listening
to you, goes to the CEO of the company, and says, “Brand intimacy, brand equity, and all
of that,” and the CEO says, “Great. All of this is great but all I care about
is that you turn leads into sales.” What should that CMO do? Well, that sounds like a sales function, but
I think the CMO, yeah, to sort of build on what you’re saying, “Bring me more leads,”
right? Bring me more leads that I can close or help
me in the different aspects of my funnel, whether it’s the bottom of the funnel in closing
more or the top of the funnel in generating more opportunities. Those are very tactical outcomes of what marketing
is, what marketing should do. I think, to pull back, look at that, and say,
“All right. Well, what brand am I using to gather these
leads? How competitive and strong is it in the market?” If the answer to that is, “Well, it is what
it is. Just use what you’ve got,” then, of course,
you’re going to become more of a tactician. “All right. I’m making best with what I can do,” right? If you have more latitude, then you go back
and look at it from an essence, story, and experience perspective. Use that as an analysis or an assessment of
the brand to say, “All right. Where are there gaps? What can I do better here?” We know that if you get all of that right,
you’re not going to have a challenge differentiating yourself in the market. You’re not going to have a challenge projecting
a brand that people will be attracted to and choose. That may be two ways to think of it. Are you in tactics mode or do you have the
luxury or the opportunity to kind of step back and improve the brand from an essence,
story, experience perspective? If so, assess it and then do it in a strategic
way. Ultimately, then, the answer is, you’ve got
to do both. You need to have a strategic perspective around
the value of your brand and how you build it. Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s very easy to ask and want greater demand
flow. We all want that and need that. It’s another challenge to think through, well,
where does that come from and how do I get there? Many marketers, I think, are often pressured
to deliver those outcomes without the benefit of what the strong, cohesive strategy can
ultimately deliver for them. You’ve been alluding to this through our conversation
but, in a practical way, what are the steps that a brand, an organization, or marketers
can take to build that brand intimacy that you have been describing? Maybe thinking about the model itself is a
good way to illuminate some potential avenues. The model is really simple in its setup. We think about intimacy from the perspective
of, you have to be a user, so this isn’t about perception or awareness. You have to be a user of the brand. We measure the characteristics of how you
bond and the intensity. There are six characteristics and there are
three stages of intensity. Those areas are really fertile places where
you can improve a brand. Let’s start with characteristics. We call them archetypes. There are six main ways that brands bond with
us, six universal ways. No two brands are identical, but many brands
in the same industry have similar kind of archetype setups. The six archetypes are:
• Fulfillment, this idea of delivering exceptional service, so a brand like Amazon or Four Seasons
is a great example of fulfillment. • Identity is the second archetype. This is the idea of being a brand that promotes
an image that you aspire to. Harley Davidson or, say, Patagonia is a great
example of that brand. • Enhancement is the next archetype. This is about the feeling of being smarter,
more capable, or more enabled by the brand. Technology companies do very well here. Apple, Google, or Samsung are good examples
of enablement brands. • Nostalgia is another one where a brand
that kind of connotes a warm memory from your past, so brands like Lego are really strong
there. Disney is a great example of a nostalgia brand. • Ritual is the next archetype, a brand
that you use on a frequent basis, something that’s part of a daily habit or routine. Starbucks is a great example of a ritual brand. • Then, ultimately, the last one is indulgence,
which is this idea of pampering, of gratification, so beauty care products do very well there
and grooming products do well there. But, also, Netflix is a great example of an
indulgence brand in the way that we kind of binge-watch entertainment. Just looking at archetypes for a second and
those six, again, no one is more important than the other. Many brands are dominant in one and have associations
in others. Those are great and fertile ways to think
about improvement, think about your competition and where you can distance yourself from them. We use them almost like briefing mechanisms
when we work with brands. How strong are you in this area? Do you want to win in this area? Can we make you better there? What strategies or tactics can we deploy to
make this particular archetype stronger for you? That’s archetypes and I think that’s a great
mechanism or tool. The next area is stages. This is, again, the degree of intensity between
the customer and the brand. There are three distinct stages: sharing,
bonding, and fusing. Each build on each other. Sharing is about this idea that you and the
brand are first connected. You’re sharing information with the brand
and vice versa. You’re getting to, in a way, know each other. There’s a kind of habit-forming. The bonding stage is a little more rare or
a little more difficult to achieve. In the bonding stage, now you’re a little
more committed. You’re not necessarily using competitors of
that brand and trust is forming. Then, finally, the final stage is fusing. That’s the most rare. Very few brands reach that level and for good
reasons. In the fusing stage you are, in a sense, inextricably
linked with the brand. Your values and the brand values are very,
very close or very aligned. Michael, you said earlier, Apple was an example
of a brand for you. If you really think about what Apple stands
for and what it does, I imagine those values are probably very simpatico with yours. We all have brands like that or some of us
have brands like that in our lives. Stages is another way to think about how to
improve a brand. What stage are your customers in, your stakeholders,
whether it’s employees or your end-users, and what can you do to advance them up? How can you get them from sharing into bonding? How can you build more trust with them? If they are in bonding, how can you move them
up into a more co-identified stage where your values and theirs are more intertwined? Those are really, I think, again, fertile
and interesting ways to think about progress for a company or a brand. Then what is the connection between paying
attention to these archetypes and these phases and trust? You use that term “trust” several times. Yeah. The bonding stage is where trust is formed. I think trust is an important pivot from building
from sharing into bonding and then, ultimately, into fusing. Without trust, you really don’t progress forward. We have another question from Twitter, again
from Zachary Jeans. Zachary is on a role. It’s a great question. “Can you give us a specific example of how
a brand executed on your advice around intimacy?” Yeah, and our website has lots of case study
examples of companies that are using elements of our strategy and thinking. I welcome you to check them out. They span industry, scales, and sizes, really. This isn’t something that’s just for large
companies or multinationals. We’ve done this with startups. We’ve even done it with individuals, athletes,
and celebrities, so it’s a universal way of looking at and thinking about brand building. To answer your question directly, I’ll choose
American Airlines as one of our most, I think, celebrated case studies. Here is an example of a brand that had really
grown tired. This is what we see a lot of. The patient comes to us with a dated expression,
misaligned kind of execution of the brand, one that really felt like it needed to get
modernized. Through strong essence, story, and experience,
we worked over many months with large, integrated teams to redefine what does this brand stand
for. How do you express it both in its logo and
also its design system, its language, its tone and manner? How does it communicate to the market in advertising,
in internal communications, in the plethora of places that you hear about or interact
with the brand? Then, ultimately, how do you engineer the
vast amount of digital touchpoints that an airline brand would have from check-in systems
to website, status boards, and on and on it goes, entertainment systems. All of those are moments that the brand is
either gaining traction or intimacy or it’s diluting. Brand intimacy, like brand trust, can change
over time. For example, I remember when Google was founded
and their motto was something to the effect of “Do No Evil.” Google then was this aspirational, great,
trusted company. Today, I’m very loyal to Google for the reasons
you described earlier because I don’t have a choice, but they’re certainly not a brand
that I feel any kind of intimacy with even though they know my most intimate details,
so things change. I’m going to keep this really short. That’s a great example of a brand that probably
could do better in terms of that emotional connection. What about YouTube, which is owned by Google? How do you feel about that? For me, I spend a lot of time with YouTube. I see YouTube as being functional. That’s it. Okay. It serves a purpose. Well, in our study when we asked, again, 20,000
consumers what they thought, YouTube ranks higher than Google for probably good reason. However, Google did finally make the top ten
this year. It is improving. I think they’re more than aware of this and
are working on it. I think you’ll see it improve over time. At least I hope so. Okay. Another question for you. Brands or people are listening to this and
they say, “Yeah, this is all well and good, but our company has got a lot of negative
baggage. We’ve had some problems in the past. It’s an insurmountable problem. We don’t know what to do. What should they do? The opposite of intimacy is what we call indifference. That’s something you probably want to avoid
at all costs. The challenge is, how do you repair a brand
with a bad reputation? Again, I harken back to this analogy of how
we bond with each other. Intimacy of people and brands are very analogous. Someone with a bad reputation is going to
work extra hard to try to mend or cure that relationship. It’s going to be very specific on the people,
the context, and the degree of the damage. I think that’s true for brands too. We love looking at brands when they go through
these missteps. They’re fascinating case studies when you
think of them, whether it’s Tylenol episode, Toyota, the United Airlines passenger dragged
off the plane bloodied, Antennagate with Apple, or how about this new one with Facebook and
Cambridge Analytica and the data breach? These are opportunities for brands to leverage
their goodwill, to invest in mending the relationships. In some cases, they have repaired them and
are excelling. In some, the jury is still out and we should
see if they will be able to survive them. Think of it in relationship terms. It’s going to take time, investment, a lot
of energy of repair and mending. Presumably—correct me if I’m wrong—the
companies that do this well are the ones who recognize that brand intimacy is a strategic
imperative; it’s not just a component of the marketing function. Correct, and it’s never one and done. This is a continuous and continual process. Again, as is any relationship like you just
described. Or any asset that you want to maintain. What about personal branding? You mentioned that you work with celebrities
and athletes. Presumably, then, this applies to personal
brands as well. Yeah. On a hunch, last year, we created the first
study of famous figures, which is politicians, athletes, or other luminaries. We wanted to see if intimacy correlated so
that we could measure the bonds that we have with these individuals like we do with brands. That study is free for people to see on our
website and explore. It’s fascinating to see how the performance
of athletes versus celebrities, entertainers, singers, or politicians vary how they bond
via archetypes and stages. That’s a study that’s a lot of fun that we
look forward to repeating again in this fall. Do you have any advice for individuals who
want to build their personal brand based on the frameworks that you have? Essence, story, and experience: it totally
relates and can be used. We have simple sort of multi-step documents
on our website that can help you if you’re interested. As an ambulance is moving by here in Chelsea,
pardon the noise. Our website can give you some interesting
features and guidance in that regard. Okay. In our final minute of this rapid-fire series
of questions, any final thoughts or ideas that you feel are important to share before
we finish up? We have this kind of headline, “Don’t use
antiquated thinking to solve problems for the future,” and I think that’s an important
way to think about how brand intimacy can help your marketing. The world has changed and how we interact
with brands and how they interact with us is dramatically different than it ever was,
and so we should be continually looking for new methods or techniques to stay ahead of
the curve. Okay. Mario Natarelli, Managing Partner of MBLM,
it’s been a very fascinating conversation. Thank you again for taking your time today
to join us. My pleasure, Michael. I enjoyed it. Thank you. You’ve been watching CXOTalk. Before you go, subscribe on YouTube and hit
the little subscribe button at the top of our website and subscribe to our newsletter. You can see Mario Natarelli’s book, Brand
Intimacy. It’s very good. Their website, MBLM, is MBLM.com, and take
a look. Thanks so much, everybody. I hope you have a great day. Bye-bye.

1 thought on “How to Build Customer Loyalty with Brand Intimacy (CxOTalk #354)

  1. At 27:57 – Touches on a great point in answering the question why should a CMO and CEO care about the Waze a strong brand essence helps drive the total sales that helps businesses survive. In fact, understanding what the guest is sharing will help businesses realize if they have a business that can grow. Not understanding your customers’ psychological triggers and how to position brand experiences with that customer Reality/perception is a recipe for poor business performance.

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