group. But when you look at the great brands like Starbucks, Patagonia, and Ikea, what they're doing is not CSR, it's CSV: creating shared value. They're creating value for everyone that's involved with their business, not only for their customers. They're designing their supply chains, developing products, and engaging their workforce in ways that are more sustainable, and make a more meaningful impact on our world than any other traditional give-back program would.
CRM: Your fifth principle, "great brands sweat the small stuff," is all about crafting customer experience. Why is "the small stuff" so important?
Lee Yohn: Great brands know that every interaction that customers have with them will either build their brand image or diminish it. As a result, every interaction matters. The small things that an organization does through a combination of little touch points have a far greater impact on customers than big advertising campaigns or marketing programs. And it makes sense—your individual personal interaction is going to shape your opinion of a brand much more than reading a print ad will. So brands need to make sure that they're executing on every one of these touch points and that that execution is on brand.
CRM: Can you give an example of a brand that embodies some of these seven principles?
Lee Yohn: One principle I mention is "great brands avoid selling products," and Patagonia, an outdoor apparel retailer, is a great example of this. Patagonia certainly has very high-quality materials and technology in their products, but they're always seeking to relate that technology or that innovation in a very human form. If you look at its catalog, 75 percent of it consists of stories and pictures of people and it's like, "Oh by the way, this person just happens to be wearing this jacket and Patagonia gear." I think that's a very powerful way to hold people's attention and get them excited about the brand, and ultimately convert them to purchase. Ultimately, Patagonia exemplifies the power of seeking an emotional connection over just selling products.
CRM: Many of the tips in What Great Brands Do are geared toward B2C brands—how do they extend to the B2B space?
Lee Yohn: While there are dimensions that I would attribute more to B2C than B2B, these can apply across the board. In B2B environments, you might be selling a service or a technology, but ultimately, your people are your brand. They're the embodiment of your brand and are what your customers are buying. Because of that, it makes these principles that much more critical. This piece of software that you're selling, it's serving a purpose; but with technology in general, it's much easier for people to compete with you if you're only selling a thing as opposed to developing a culture. It's the culture that makes other businesses want to do business with you, so it definitely has an application.