It’s that time of year again. Halloween and Bonfire night are out of the way, and we enter the pre-Christmas interlude where it becomes permissible to chuck the odd tin of Celebrations in your shopping trolley and stock up on Christmas Cards. And of course, we all wait in eager anticipation of the Ad Wars.
By Ad Wars, I mean, the appearance of those adverts that determine whether it’s okay to start being festive. It’s like the Christmas Claxon. Coca Cola, Toys R Us, John Lewis and M&S to name a few. But it’s fair to say that the most eagerly awaited advert, the one we all talk about, the one that is trending within four minutes of hitting the internet – is branding heavy weight John Lewis.
This morning Moz the Monster hit our screens, it was tweeted, shared – friends of mine even texted me to say “Have you seen the John Lewis advert? It’s out!’
John Lewis is an incredible example of how powerful a brand can become and it happens to be my favourite brand in terms of awe-inspiring effectiveness. It’s just a genius in every possible way.
But what makes it so powerful and how can you replicate the principles of their success into your own business? Firstly, John Lewis know their customer. They understand her profile better than she understands herself – they know her age, how many children she will have, her disposable income, what car she drives, what brands she loves, what paper she reads, how tech savvy she is, what her education level is, whether she prefers Nandos to KFC and if her house has an en-suite. They have a laser focus on their target customer profile and she is at the forefront of their mind with every commercial decision they make.
I often work with brands, and I ask them who their target customer is, and they say to me something like “Women, between the age 16 and 60”. While it’s natural to think that the wider your funnel, the more you’ll scoop with it – this is a wholly ineffective strategy for building a brand. Successful brands have a very specific customer in mind, and of course not everyone who walks through the doors will be a 46-year-old divorcee, with two children aged 17 and 23 called Olivia and Alex, who likes Max Mara and has a penchant for all things duck-egg blue; that customer profile might be what they work to and benchmark against.
Secondly, John Lewis has executed in the most beautiful way: a perfect storm. It is consistent. Their mantra “Never Knowingly Undersold” runs through every corner of their business like a message running through a stick of Blackpool Rock. It is authentic, it is natural, it is believable.
‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ is the heartbeat of the brand. I could write an entire blog post about the connotations and implications of those three little words, but just think for a moment about the feeling created from those words and I am sure you will agree, they sum up integrity, honesty, decisiveness, quality and mostly importantly, customer service – which John Lewis is built on.
John Lewis have pioneered an annual custom – imitated by other retailers for its innovation by way of the Christmas Ad. Every year they deliver a heart-warming, wholesome short video about friendship and magic, about family and love, about integrity and goodness – in short, about the principles that their brand is built upon. It creates interest, anticipation, curiosity – it reflects their own values and reinforces their brand message. Never Knowingly Undersold.
And that is how you create a brilliant brand.