Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Nordstrom

Emineo Media Nordstrom

10. Focus on the customer: Nordstrom

When mythic stories circulate about your company’s awesome customer service, you know you’re doing something right. That’s the hallmark of this upscale department store, which is rumored to have once graciously accepted the return of a set of tires, even though the store has never sold tires.

“Nordstrom is all about the power of delivering exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond a typical service experience,” Northwestern’s Calkins says. Emineo Media Nordstrom

Nordstrom scored strongly among respondents for concern for the customer, as well as for the quality of the products in its nearly 230 stores. Attentive service–which includes a liberal return policy, e-mailing digital photos of new items to regular customers and sending thank-you notes after purchases–frees the Seattle-based retailer from having to focus on competitive pricing, which helps keeps profit margins higher.

“They don’t pretend to have the lowest prices, but they don’t have to,” Calkins says. “When people go there they know they may pay a little more, but the service is so good that it makes it worthwhile.”

Respondents criticized Nordstrom for not providing consumers with much information about its corporate decision-making policies, but Calkins contends that when building a brand identity, it’s OK for your proposition to focus on one principal element, as long as you do it right.

“What makes this brand tick is the service experience, not the approach,” he says. “Nordstrom has never focused on its company or its people; all of that positive energy is directed at the customer and the retail experience, and it’s the secret to their success.”

Source Entrepreneur

Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Southwest Airlines

Emineo Media Southwest-Airlines

9. Serve up the quirky: Southwest Airlines

This low-cost carrier has consistently set its own route in the airline industry, creating a distinct personality through everything from open passenger seating to flight attendants who sing the safety demonstrations.

“Southwest has always been a very independent brand that’s quick to break the norms of the airline industry,” says Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at Emineo Media Southwest-AirlinesNorthwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “From the seating assignments to the fact that it doesn’t list in many of the big online reservation systems, it has always prided itself on being very different.”

Calkins says much of Southwest’s brand success comes from the fact that although its operations and corporate culture are idiosyncratic, those differences support the company’s central function.

“Southwest has a fun, energetic corporate culture that’s unique in the airline industry, but at the core they are a very proficient operation that gets travelers from point to point in an efficient, affordable manner,” he says.

While the airline received low ratings for not sharing information on decision-making, those protective measures may be among the reasons it continues to thrive. Several of the big carriers have tried to follow Southwest’s model with low-cost subsidiaries (think Delta’s Song and United’s Ted), but none have been able to maintain them.

“You can see what [Southwest] does–they fly one kind of airplane, they don’t charge for baggage and they have friendly employees–so you’d think someone could replicate that, but they can’t,” Calkins says. “The magic of Southwest is that even though the brand has many unique elements, all of the different pieces work together to serve its customers in a unique way.”

Source Entrepreneur

Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Starbucks

Emineo Media Starbucks-2

8. Forge connections: Starbucks

After suffering a slump a few years back, the world’s leading specialty coffee retailer has perked up its business and its brand by getting back to its original promise of bringing people together. “Starbucks has gotten much more in touch with the reason they’re here, and that’s to help create connections,” author Stengel says. Emineo Media Starbucks-2

From the free Wi-Fi to the in-store music to the large tables with room for groups and meetings, the company’s stores are designed to help customers interact. “Go into any Starbucks, and business is happening and people are sharing, and the company understands that,” Stengel says. “Everything in there is about connection, discovery, inspiration and creation.”

Startups would do well to note the company’s innovative approach, which has enabled it to set the agenda in a category that has been around for centuries. “They carved out this dynamic niche with their brand and became very successful, and there’s still nobody else like them,” Stengel says.

The key, he says, is to thoroughly understand category norms and competitors’ strategies, and determine how to direct those toward your advantage. “If you’re an entrepreneur entering a category, maybe you can’t set the agenda, but if you can redirect that agenda, that’s how you win,” he says. “If you’re going to enter a category and be a ‘me too,’ don’t bother.”

Source Entrepreneur