“Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely.”
Dale Carnegie typed out this mandate in his enduring tome on How to Win Friends and Influence People way back in 1936. He realized 80 years ago the same thing that many of today’s most popular brands have, that the best way to bring someone around to your way of thinking, is to make them feel like they matter. So fundamental to a person’s wants and desires is the feeling of importance, that if you can give them that gift, they will stand by you despite all sorts of other faults.
One of the major discussions happening in agencies and branding conversations across the country is the idea of “purpose-driven brands.” Brands that stand for something more than just the products they sell, or the services they provide. Brands that are bigger than dollars and cents, bigger than supply and demand. Brands that have a purpose are thriving, brands that don’t are trying to find one. There are examples of this idea all over the web.
Why do people love these purpose-driven brands? Well, if we can ladder up this idea a notch or two, we’ll find that it’s pretty simple, and it’s not a new concept. Quite simply, brands with a purpose make us feel like we matter. Tom’s shoes is an obvious example. If you buy a pair of their espadrilles, Tom’s donates a pair to someone in need. Tom’s is doing a great thing, but perhaps more significantly for the health of their brand, they’re making YOU feel important. You leave the store not only with a new pair of shoes but the feeling of making a difference in someone’s life. That’s significance. That matters. Another example. Look at Patagonia. If you spend much time with their brand, it’s pretty clear they have a mission much greater than profits. Their brand stands for conservation, exploration, and connection. The financial issues are secondary. They make donations and make a direct financial impact also, but they don’t shout those things from the rooftop. Instead, when you buy a Patagonia jacket, you’re given the feeling of importance through a community, through belonging with this grand idea of living for something better. By wearing the jacket, you’re positioning yourself as someone above the rat race of the world. You’re given a feeling of importance based on your ideals.
Purpose-driven brands are a new tactic of a familiar strategy. It’s a fantastic way of making customers feel important, but there are many others.
Remember when Zappos was all the rage? Tony Hsieh’s dedication to customer service was second to none, and they built an outstanding business and brand on this ideal. Why did it work? Amazing customer service makes you feel important. Being listened to, and having action take place because of what you’ve said, makes you feel like your voice matters. That’s what people are looking for, and if you can impart that feeling even once, it’s difficult to disengage the connection.
Before that? There are lots of examples, but one that stands out are status brands. Why do you buy a Mercedes or a BMW? Not because they’re far superior vehicles, but because they reflect a certain status which makes you feel important. The brand reflects the position you’ve attained in society. Not only can you afford a luxury automobile, but you also have the evolved taste and sophistication to select the best one. Your purchase and affiliation with the brand separates you from the pack and imparts that ever-important feeling of importance.
So remember, there are plenty of tactics to execute a common strategy, but at the end of them all, is making the customer feel like they matter.
I’ll leave you with another piece of Dale Carnegie to ponder.
“There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important. John Dewey, as we have already noted, said that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature; and William James said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” As I have already pointed out, it is this urge that differentiates us from the animals. It is this urge that has been responsible for civilization itself.”