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The Relevant Brand

One day, everything was business as usual. The next, it was anything but that. Over the course of a year, our relationship with the world around us changed. This included our relationships with the brands we allow to be part of our universe, those most relevant to our daily lives.

Prophet, a digital consultancy and global research firm, produced a brand relevant report identifying the change. The company surveyed more than 13,000 U.S. consumers to determine which 228 unique brands they could not live without. 

Prophet noted one brand’s move from convenient to indispensable, another firm’s change in perception from dependable to comforting, and how one transformed from innovator to empathizer and other evolutions. Maybe it was less a season of “from and to” than it was “from this to now that, too.” 

Ten brands were seen as moving forward in a year of staying put

There are lessons from this season of innovation for those of us working to make our brand relevant each day. One of those lessons is to be more human.

Prophet measures brand relevance by four principles: customer obsessed, ruthlessly pragmatic, distinctively inspired and pervasively innovative. These qualities are human traits, initiated by and revolving around people. Brands learned that being more human in its interactions with consumers is the way to quickly and deeply affect relationships. 

Prophet’s Top 10 Relevant Brands

  • Apple
  • Peloton
  • KitchenAid
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Lego
  • Costco Wholesale
  • Honda
  • Johns Hopkins University of Medicine
  • PlayStation
  • Amazon

Consider that even a sales transaction became all about the relationship. When trips to the store – any store – were limited, consumers saw Amazon as coming to the rescue. Speaking of the world’s largest marketplace and their reliability, customers said things like, “can’t imagine my life without it” and “meet[s] an important need in my life.”

Being reliable was something that had earned the brand a reputation for convenience. Becoming indispensable meant it was the consumer’s most trusted option. Read that as preferred – and maybe even only – supplier.

Relevancy isn’t limited to global brands. We saw local brands increase their relevancy, too. For example, when the coffee shop around the corner moved its dairy case from the kitchen to the front porch, they went from a popular meeting place to an essential grocery supplier. They became a new kind of difference maker in their neighborhood.

We don’t need a global pandemic to be or to become a relevant brand

When we allow our human qualities to inform the course of our business, innovation follows and the metrics come along.  Take Peloton, for example. The company connected people with one another at a time when everyone felt disconnected. Sales grew. Similarly, Lego, known for inspiration and innovation, reminded people that there are things to do away from our screens. It reminded us how to play. Sales grew.

Meeting people where they are in their time of need is the everyday way to develop and sustain customer relationships. What they need from us will change, but that’s okay. It allows us to evolve and add value.

What were the new and more human ways you connected with customers this past year? How have those changed the way you’ll serve them tomorrow? 

The standard for what makes a good customer relationship is a bar raised by someone every day. It can be you. We simply have to let the human out, no pandemic required.