Lego was crowned as the UK's best-loved brand this week. Does a desirable brand always equate to profit? Natalie Calvert says it's more complex than that.
Strong brands appeal to customers on an emotional level. Businesses which succeed in making us feel like they share our values and our aspirations are incredibly powerful - we as customers want to be part of that brand and that ‘feeling’ they inspire in us.
This is why Lego has just been announced as the UK’s most popular brand. Lego has done a great job diversifying, moving into films and video games while retaining the sense of fun and exploration that has made the plastic bricks so enduring. People have an affinity with Lego and this has helped propel the brand to the top of many people’s list.
The list also acts as a warning to those organisations which have a strong brand but let it wane. BA was until recently the UK’s preferred brand year-after-year, but has fallen to a lowly 27th position in the latest survey. Why? Because while adjusting its pricing to compete with the budget airlines and the emergence of premium brands such as Emirates, BA got stuck in the middle. It has so far failed to appeal to either those looking for the cheapest flights or those able to afford luxury. In doing this, BA has lost the one thing that made it so desirable - that brand ‘feeling’ that customers wanted to be part of.
Does a strong brand make a profitable brand?
However, there’s a crucial point to make about brands and their value. Yes, the popular UK brands are able to exploit the positive feelings they inspire to grow. But don’t assume that the most popular brands are automatically the most successful.
Amazon and Google fail to provoke the kind of emotional connection that Lego and some other brands do, but they are financially far more successful according to this survey.
Amazon and Google have become behemoths because they create a strong, recognisable brand built on an irresistible proposition. You might not get emotional about Amazon’s 'faceless' ordering system, but you’ll not find a more convenient or comprehensive shopping service. And this is why we use it, again and again.
Facebook is a great example of why you don’t have to be an inspiring brand to be successful. Few of us ‘love’ Facebook. In fact, the majority of people I speak to or who reference the social media platform are more in the 'loathe' rather than 'love' camp. Yet Facebook is the 5th most valuable brand in the world, valued at $90 billion. It continues to be incredibly popular for personal use and the data it holds means that advertisers value it for targeting prospects. Therefore, Facebook succeeds despite its poor image.
This doesn’t mean that brand value is a red herring. The point is that brand is a complex thing. It’s about finding the right balance between nurturing a brand that people love and creating a brand which is financially successful. The question is, which type of brand do you want to build?