Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Starbucks

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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

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Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Nike

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7. Can-do attitude: Nike

On its website, Nike declares its mission to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” adding, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”Emineo Media nike-just-do-it2

It’s that aspirational message and mainstream appeal that connects the athletic apparel company to consumers worldwide, according to branding consultant Kevin Lane Keller, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. “Nike’s always been extremely customer-focused, with a broad access point that makes the brand relevant to elite athletes as well as the everyday person,” Keller says. “It’s about self-empowerment and being your best, and the brand really does invite everyone to ‘Just Do It.'”

Nike’s constant product development, including introducing technologies such as Nike Air cushioning and Dri-Fit fabrics, is one of its biggest strengths, according to Keller, who says that consumers tend to equate innovation with expertise.

“When you’re innovative, consumers are more trusting, because they think you really know what you’re doing,” he says. “Nike’s first product was just the first step on this journey that’s allowed them to completely transcend their roots as a quality running shoe to be everything athletic, all over the world, in all kinds of sports.”

Keller says Nike gains trust points because celebrated co-founder Phil Knight is still involved with operations, a fact noted by one survey respondent who claimed to be “confident that [Knight’s] company would always behave responsibly.”

Notes Keller, “When the founder is still there, people respect the brand in a way that doesn’t happen when the reins have been handed down over and over. Having his voice and persona still associated with the company keeps it closely connected to the consumer.”

Source Entrepreneur

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Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands: Ford

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6. Stay consistent: Ford

In an era when the only thing that seems certain is change, Ford’s consistent branding has established the company as a beacon of reliability.

The Blake Project’s VanAuken points out that from its simple, one-syllable name to its iconic logo and emphasis on founding father Henry Ford, the company’s brand identity stands the test of time.

“Everyone knows and admires the Ford story,” he says. “Of the three Detroit-based automakers, Ford has the most consistent brand, product strategy and execution.” Emineo Media ford

Ford also listens to and acts on its customers’ needs, VanAuken adds, noting that CEO Alan Mulally is actively involved in interacting with customers through social media.

Those attributes forge a strong connection: The brand ranked high for stability and dependability, and respondents gave it the strongest average ratings for concern, specifically for behaving responsibly and caring about the well-being of employees and customers. Several respondents cited Ford’s refusal to take government bailout money as evidence of the company’s integrity.

VanAuken emphasizes that consistency needs to reach all corners of any business. “Changing the logo, tag line and messaging on a frequent basis will ensure that nothing about your brand sticks in your intended customers’ heads,” he says. “Once you have developed a unique and compelling value proposition for your brand, repeat it again and again.”

Source Entrepreneur

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