Chief Digital Officer
Today’s fastest growing brands are those that are committed to helping customers get the most out of life, and digital is a key enabler...
Brands who are serious about helping their customers are investing in both content and digital products and services that are memorable, timely, inspiring, and valuable.
Eve Sleep goes beyond beds and mattresses - it is committed to helping its customers enjoy good quality sleep, and its rich blog is central to this - while Headspace offers free mindfulness features for those in need.
Burton Snowboards is transparent about its commitment to sustainability, stating its goals and tracking its progress on its web site, while GoPro majors on content, not product, and in 2019 passed two billion views on YouTube.
Many brands choose to shout about the superiority and excellence of their products. Yet smart brands overtly position themselves as catalysts for change, as enablers and facilitators of a better life for their customers.
Of course, such companies still need a great product, but they also need to create a brand proposition that clearly articulates what they stand for and the role they feel they can play in customers’ lives. Communicating this means investing in content so good that customers go out of their way to read it, and in providing digital applications that are useful, content-rich, easy to use, and which become an integral part of their customers’ lives.
Positive experiences change perceptions and ultimately influence how people feel about a brand. Brands who are serious about helping their customers are investing in both content and digital products and services that are memorable, timely, frictionless, consistent, reliable, helpful, inspiring, useful, supportive and valuable.
These brands don’t just talk-the-talk; they walk the walk with purpose, and they thrive as a result.
Let’s take a look:
Not just a bed and mattress company, but a brand that invests in helping its customers to have a great night’s sleep. Its Sleep Better blog offers a wealth of advice, from tips to help people drift off to foods to help them sleep. The brand also forges partnerships to further both its knowledge and the value it adds — for example, it recently worked with British Rowing to design a sleep sanctuary at its national training ground, aimed at helping early rising athletes to get optimum rest away from home. The content-rich web site also has an insightful ‘Morning Diaries’ section profiling different people’s sleep routines, from pilots to breakfast TV presenters. Its passion for enabling better sleep is embedded in everything it does.
This brand exploited a gap in the market for affordable, attractive fitness gear for 18-25 year olds, and smart content creation on social media enabled it to raise awareness in a targeted way, building a community beyond its products. It has tapped into a network of influencers, and recruited a team of brand ambassadors, fuelling content such as tutorials, vlogs and work out videos on YouTube, which in turn spawns UGC. Gymshark also conducts regular Twitter polls to gauge feedback on products and workouts — its audience knows it is being heard, and the feedback informs future content, such as the Gymshark Central blog, which is full of tips, articles and recipe videos. In August 2020 the company received a valuation of over £1bn for the first time, making it one of less than 25 British companies with ‘Unicorn status, just eight years since its inception.
Community building is at the heart of Under Armour’s success (it projects to be worth $10 billion by 2020). The fitness brand has bought a number of fitness apps and technology platforms including MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal (which has over 180 million users) to boost its community building, helping to connect people with a shared passion. After building a loyal following on Twitter and Facebook, it has recently invested in long form content using podcasting, in partnership with iHeartRadio, giving listeners an insight into the training secrets of elite athletes.
This brand’s mindfulness app is dedicated to helping users live ‘healthy happier, more rested lives’, and its platform lends itself well to making a real difference (for two million paid subscribers). Even non-paying customers can access a wealth of valuable content, and articles and guides about meditation and mental health are promoted before any mention of the brand’s product features. During Covid, Headspace even gave people struggling or facing unemployment access to paid features for free. Its content is positive, engaging and evergreen, from ‘how to stop worrying’ to ‘how to sleep better’. Critically, it encourages a strong community by enabling users to ‘buddy up’ and inspire each other.
This D2C beauty brand was spawned from a beauty blog (Into the Gloss), with user discussion revealing a market opportunity to involve beauty consumers in the product creation process. The blog has resulted in a highly engaged online community that is at the heart of the brand, using the insights gathered to create new offerings, with followers discussing, inspiring and helping each other to discover beauty products. Glossier combines product-focused content with UGC, but its transparency and openness to feedback and discussion means it has become a trusted source of information for all things beauty-related, and customers’ wants and needs lead to new product creations, making users feel truly valued.
Committed to living life at a slower, more thoughtful pace, Dorset Cereals’ products and ethos are all about nourishing the soul. Its web site is distinctive as a result of its playful style, with online games as well as a rich blog that is tightly tethered to the company’s location - Dorset - reinforcing the provenance of its products and underlining its authenticity. Content encompasses lifestyle, walks, holidays, nature and culture in the county, all aimed at helping people to make the most of their free time, and to discover their locality in a wholesome way. Its products are simply part of the bigger picture of living well.
GoPro has been hugely successful at engaging audiences who are passionate about sport, and tapping into that enthusiasm to build a community and encourage users to share their experiences of the brand’s products. Of course the product range — quality action cameras — is perfectly suited to UGC, but the brand maximises this value, buying the rights to self-shot, inspiring videos, polishing them, and posting them to its owned channels. By focusing on the customer experience, and emphasising content rather than products, it promotes loyalty and trust among users, underlining its ethos: ‘enabling the world to capture and share its passions’. In 2019 it passed two billion views of its content on YouTube.
The D2C recipe box company is all about helping its customers to cook tasty, nutritious meals at home, and it uses customer data to create a better customer experience — for example, making specific meal recommendations based on people’s previous orders. Instead of cashing in on the many people looking to subscribe to Gousto during April’s lockdown, the company prioritised serving existing customers rather than taking on new ones, shifting the team that would normally work on customer acquisition to producing more content, communications and newsletters. Its slick, colourful blog includes a wealth of ‘cook like a pro’ tips and seasonal recipes as well as content on time saving and sustainability.
Snowboarding has moved from a niche sport to a mainstream hobby and even a world class sport, and Burton Snowboards has had to continue evolving to stay relevant since its inception in 1977. Sustainability is core to its three pillars of People, Playground (environment) and Product, committing that every person making its products works in safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly conditions, for example, and stating that it is working toward making all of its products with organic and sustainable materials. People can track the brand’s live progress on its web site (it is 38% towards achieving its sustainable materials goal), while other content includes a revealing article on the waste and pollution caused by the textile industry. Burton is a company with a mission that clearly goes beyond product or profit.
The sports gear company is committed to ethical, eco-friendly and sustainable products, and is built on the belief that clothing should last a long time, and be high quality, instead of cheap and disposable. Its web site is content rich, supporting its stance and educating visitors on how it meets its goals — for example, one article explains how it produces clothing from recycled coffee grounds — rather than pushing its products first and foremost. Its blog contains interviews with its athlete ambassadors, talking about their sporting journeys, as well as useful content such as how consumers can identify the best clothing for their needs, and insider guides to preparing for specific sporting events such as ultra marathons and triathlons.
You’d hope that most brands that want to survive and thrive offer a product or service that their customers need or want. But not all brands have a proposition that overtly states that their purpose is to truly help their customers get the most out of life. These ten brands are the exception, not the rule, but they do pave the way to the future.
We’ve recently spent time looking at our own positioning. We want to stand out in a crowded agency marketplace, and to articulate what we do well and appeal specifically to the brands we feel we can help the most. In short, we’re a digital experience agency for brands who are serious about helping their customers get the most out of life.
Is that you?
Today’s customers demand authenticity and transparency from brands. Digital is the perfect platform for companies to communicate this, using thoughtful, targeted, relevant and timely content to express their commitment to helping their customers to get the most out of life.
We believe that moving too slowly in digital is the biggest risk your business faces. If you are ready to move faster in digital, we are here to help.