A strong brand lives on the details. This is perhaps an obvious truth but not so “obviously” followed in a general way. The strongest evidence of this is that the brands that invest in these same details still stand out from the competition. What we are seeing generically is a focus on the product and the idea that branding is – still – somewhat folkloristic support of marketing. The belief is that if you have the right strategy and the product is good, that’s enough. Well… that’s not enough.
We can always talk about Apple. They are “the” example – that everyone gives in the “TedTalks” presentations – where the strength of detail reinforces the brand that – as all code people scream – is not as innovative as that. Only what it has is much, much attention in detail. But I can also talk to you about my gym. Just notice how I say “my gym” because even though I’m just a customer I feel part of the Brand. I identify with it because it struggles to identify with me as well.
Some time ago I changed jobs and started looking for a gym in the area. I had no reference, so I went out on the street, went on the internet and searched. I found some more traditional places and then one day I stopped my car in front of a very cool and dynamic entrance and at the door it was only written: “Chase”. I found the Logo very powerful, the whole wooden portico inspired a place with class. I even thought it might be a restaurant, but then I realized it was a training center. I was curious and started by going on the internet. Well, long story short story, I made the contact to know prices and conditions and they invited me to go do a training first. So far all normal. I’ve been a customer of many gyms and because of my connection to Judo and Rugby, I know those dynamics well. So I went to my free class, and everything changed. I was greeted by Ricardo. The owner and director of the project. We talked a lot about what I was looking for and he was listening. You know? he was really, really listening. Asking questions and listening to the answers. I realized I was not with a normal salesperson. So I did the first class and stayed.
In the following months, I’ve noticed how people who go to Chase have easy empathy with each other (which creates excellent workgroups) and that’s because – at the beginning of everything – we all had empathy with Ricardo (and with Tiago and all other teachers who also have empathy with Ricardo). And I noticed that this “Box” (as it is called to the gyms more oriented to an intense workout “cross fit” style) is always very tidy because Ricardo arranges the weights every hour and aligns them according to colors. And the teachers as well (they say that Ricardo sends messages with pictures of the messy room to teachers who have lost their way). And when magnesium dust falls on the floor they suck in the hour. And when you arrive late they smile, but you cannot go in anymore so as not to disturb others. And in each class, only 12 fit because that’s how Ricardo (and Tiago and all the other teachers who also have empathy with Ricardo) guarantee that they listen to you and accompany you and advise you. And every day has a different exercise plan (a “WOD”) that Ricardo puts on the internet and in the gym app. When you miss and write to Ricardo, he responds immediately. All of these are brand details that bring people together around the brand. People who say, “my gym”, though they are just customers. This “empathy” does not go unnoticed and generates many comparative conversations in the locker room. People who came from other places because they liked the style, people who came with Ricardo since he was a personal trainer at Virgin Gym. I also read about people who left because they do not like the style and that too Is ok. It shows that the Brand has its target audience well identified and works for it. It does not communicate with “everybody” because – who works in branding knows – that this is not possible. This focus and this “empathy” is a technique called touch-point analysis, that Ricardo does by instinct or strategy but does well. At the level of the best. And it works.
This analysis involves looking at all possible interactions with a brand stakeholder. Be a customer, a prospect, a supplier, a friend of someone, a teacher. Everyone feels the care of the Brand at the called touch-point. In each of these contacts, Ricardo constantly analyzes whether brand attributes are being well communicated and this message is having a positive impact on the relationship with the stakeholder. This is unique and is undoubtedly the reason for the success of the project. Of course, I can also tell you that I’m much more fit, that I lost weight and that they are professionally very competent. But that’s a commodity. Being aware of the details is not, but it should be. Because it makes a difference to those who pursue the idea of a powerful brand. Like Ricardo, who will now open a second gym, so they tell me.