Dev Patnaik’s Wired to Care, reaffirms the importance of empathy to build brand value. Carnegie’s quote out of How to Win Friends and Influence People mentioned by Patnaik in the beginning of the book, best sums up the importance of empathy: “If you want people to be interested in you, you should be interested in other people.” To generate interest or empathy, brands need to always maintain a connection to their customer base.
A brief synopsis of his expose is that continuous, in-depth research in tandem with a fine-tuned brand strategy is necessary for maintaining competitiveness, whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand. Many businesses today may still overlook research simply as a quantitative tool used to measure purchasing behavior or validate findings. However, an important part of research is seeing the world through the customer’s eyes to uncover new problems versus only solving problems that already exist.
By forming deep relationships with customers, brands become more nimble and are able to adjust with changing markets. Patnaik takes the readers on a journey of success stories of some popular and also less publicized brands such as Zildjian, OXO, Nike, Xbox, Harley Davidson and IBM. He weaves the stories around a common theme, where the brand’s success is attributed to a special relationship with its customer base.
IBM’s development into a profitable consulting business can be attributed to CEO Lou Gerstner, who restructured the company into divisions based on industries, not location. As a real IBM customer during his former tenure at American Express, Gerstner’s experience proved that IBM’s division according to geographic region hampered its ability to serve global customers. As a former customer, Gerstner realized there was a need for information technology solutions on a global scale, so he restructured the company to take advantage of this opportunity.
Both Harley Davidson and Zildjian – a 400-year-old cymbal and drum company — share a common company culture where the employees are customers themselves. By hiring customers, the lines between producer and consumer are blurred. Employees become the vessel for understanding the core target market and provide first-hand knowledge for making good business decisions.
Similarly, Nike rose to success because its employees share an appreciation for what the brand delivers. It has a culture of category enthusiasts who live and breathe sports and test-driving products and taking a break in the work day to go for a run is encouraged. Additionally, Nike makes it a priority to engage with young athletes on a deep level to understand what they look for in athletic apparel, which is what has kept Nike relevant for so long. With an ongoing exchange of ideas, opportunities are realized much faster, thus fueling innovation.
By the end of the book, any reader should surely be convinced of the value of brand research, cultivating customer relationships and enabling a culture of brand ambassadors to help build brand value. Stepping inside the shoes of a customer whether it’s through in-depth interviews, ethnographies or hiring customers, helps brands to not only solve problems, but to discover new problems. In turn, this mindset helps organizations of all sizes and shapes future brand success in more ways than one.
If you are looking for a brand strategy firm to help you with your brand research, contact BrandingBusiness.