I’m all for innovation in marketing, but IKEA might be taking it a bit far: they seem to be running the world’s first customer disloyalty campaign. They’ve threatened legal action against their most active brand fans and customer champions, in the form of IKEAHackers.net and IKEAFANS.com, in large part for using the IKEA name and marque (in the course of celebrating and praising the brand).
It’s not like those sites have only just come to light. In fact, IKEA and IKEAFANS have been working together since 2007. In return for advance product info and exclusive access/interviews, IKEAFANS provided customer feedback and data. Oh, and created and managed a massive community of IKEA fans out of sheer passion and enthusiasm. IKEAHackers, in case you don’t know, is a wonderful, crowd-sourced compendium of ingenious hacks for IKEA furniture, giving entirely new uses and personality to the BILLYs, EXPEDITs and RIBBAs of this world.
Taking legal action against one of your biggest and most popular fan sites is an error. Going after two? That points to a deeper problem. And it’s that, as we’ve said before, IKEA need to learn that you can’t have complete control over how people act online. IKEA launched Share Space in 2011, which takes the walled garden approach: use our products to be creative, in the way that we want you to, in the manner we decide. And that’s not how the online world is. Which probably explains why, in June 2014, (according to Alexa) Share Space was getting 2,200 daily visits, compared to 44,000 for IKEAFANS and 110,000 for IKEAHackers. Of course, all of those are dwarfed by IKEA.com's staggering 5.2m visits per day, which makes you wonder why they're bothering. Not least because the traffic on the two fan sites represents the most ardent, vocal, connected fans they have…so the backlash was inevitable and the subsequent backtrack over IKEAHackers was not a big shock.
What this really shows is something we’ve said for a while now: your brand is what you do, not what you say. You can make as many lovely, emotional stories about customers using your products as you like, you can give away all the free pencils in existence…but it gets cancelled out when you attack your biggest fans for short-term gain. If your words, actions and touch-points aren’t aligned, you’re in trouble.
So the less-than-radical takeout from this episode is this: if someone is celebrating your brand, if they’re building your community, encouraging participation and enabling new ways of using your products…maybe don’t try to stop them. You heard it here first.
What do you get when you strap a GoPro to a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and fly it into a fireworks display? Something pretty amazing, that’s what. There’s tech for tech’s sake…and then there’s combining it with a little bit of ingenuity to make something truly special*.
*which may or may not be illegal. Do not try this at home.
Interesting experiment from Opel Denmark which set out to change drivers’ perception of the brand – by hypnotising them.
It was reported this week that BA are facing the threat of new strike action this summer. Having watched A Very British Airline, the BBC’s recent behind-the-scenes look at the company, I can’t say I’m surprised.
In a segment on the airline’s steward training programme, the voiceover cheerfully revealed that as labour supply far outstrips demand new starters are paid next to nothing. We then saw young hopefuls booted off the course for such trivial misdemeanours as being two minutes late or not wearing enough lipstick.
Officious trainers patronised and reprimanded wannabe cabin crew in scenes interwoven with clips of first class cabins being inspected for even the tiniest scratch. It goes without saying that in the airline industry a rigorous employee vetting process is essential, but everyone ought to be treated with respect whether they’re drinking the champagne or serving it.
As discussed in more detail in our ‘Your people, your brand’ white paper, successful experience brands don’t just focus on the customer, they create a consistent, compelling experience for every stakeholder – not least employees on the front line.
The Oculus Rift seems to have singlehandedly dragged the world of consumer VR into the 21st century, thanks to a staggeringly successful Kickstarter campaign that saw a funding target of $250k and $2.4m pledged (relevant).
One of its failings is that is does make you look a bit stupid while wearing it…so the content needs to be amazing.
UK retailer Topshop have risen to the challenge with their AW 2014 ‘Topshop Unique’ catwalk show.
Five headsets, in the window of their Oxford St flagship store, allow competition winners to get live streamed, 360 HD footage of the show.
It answers a similar question to the one we had for the 2014 Wella Trend Vision show: how do you create a digital experience for a catwalk show that truly engages a wider audience? How do you make sure that it’s up there with the live experience and not just a poor second?
They’ve done it well. You can get the best seat in the house, with models in front of you and high-ranking fashionistas just behind. Or go backstage. Or a bird’s-eye view of the venue, watching a timelapse of the build. Add in live tweets, UGC images and AR elements that bring out the creative theme and you have a digital layer for a live experience that almost makes you wish you weren’t there.
You know you’ve achieved mass awareness when your product becomes a verb (google it if you don’t believe me). The most controversial has to be ‘to photoshop’. Whether it’s creating impossible body shapes or changing the very meaning of an image, it’s a fact of modern life.
(Of course, altering imagery has been going on for centuries, whether it’s ‘forgetting’ to paint a blemish or good old-fashioned airbrushing.)
The next chapter has arrived, from Tokyo’s Foton. Live, real-time video ‘airbrushing’.
Impressive. Mildly terrifying. And a big plus one for face-to-face contact.
A while back, I was walking by the Lego Store at Rockefeller Center and I saw this amazing installation of little, humble, Lego men. They were assembled in their various colors and from a distance, they made up Lego’s Logo! How fascinating is that!
It reminds me how people bring value to a brand, and the brand in return, defines employees and what they find valuable in a company. Without people, brands in themselves… really mean nothing!
When my home Wi-Fi recently stopped working for no apparent reason I contacted the provider to find out why. After jumping through a series of phone menu hoops I got through to a real live person who told me it was a network fault and all I could do was wait until it was fixed.
Call me demanding but if I’m paying for a service, I expect to receive that service as agreed so I asked for an email address to which I could complain.
‘Of course,’ came the reply, ‘the address is PO Box 123, Milton Keynes…’
‘Ha, you’re funny… the email address please?’
‘There isn’t one.’
So this company, which has already wasted so much of my time and which provides technology services, thinks I should: type a letter, print it out, find an envelope, walk to the post office, buy stamps, walk to the post box, and then sit around twiddling my thumbs for a fortnight waiting for a reply.
In 2014. Really?
If I’m looking for this address I’m obviously unhappy about something. If I’m already annoyed, why make the situation worse and more complicated?
A customer getting in touch for any reason, good or bad, is a chance to impress them; turn them into an advocate; make them tell their friends what an amazing experience they had; re-woo them.
And it really ought to go without saying that the last outcome should be an even angrier (potentially ex) customer.
As I walked by the Starbucks store outside my place on the way to the Subway station, I somehow noticed this sign posted on the door. “Take Comfort In Rituals” Starbucks clearly understands the value of their store’s position just outside the subway stop. They know hundreds of people will be passing through that subway each day to work and back.
Starbucks, ritualizes the experience of walking into their stores daily as a way to ease the first time customer into a routine of purchasing a drink each time he or she walks by the store, just like how the subway is a routine daily ritual for thousands across countless cities. Smart way of building brand loyalty!