In 2009 Jeff Bezos famously told Amazon’s shareholders that “advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.” In 2014 Amazon produced its own TV ad for the Fire phone so maybe Jeff didn’t intend for it to be taken too literally, or enough had changed in the following 5 years that it didn’t count anymore.
Regardless, the idea that an organisation can build brand value with its users through product or service led communication alone isn’t completely without merit. A number of once unknown technology brands have built much of their reputation in this way.
As Jim Carroll puts it:
Tech brands spend the vast majority of their time and energy in the pursuit of innovation; creating astounding products is their main obsession. There is always something new to say, whether it’s a big breakthrough or a modest upgrade. Which is why their communications are so firmly rooted in product truth.
Obviously working with a brand which wants to broaden its audience and already has a genuinely innovative and useful product or service is helpful. However there is something incredibly rewarding about working with a client to create, or improve something, that in-itself delivers a brand experience. Certainly it’s better to create a product or service with marketing baked in from the start.
It requires trust to make effective changes within a client business, with wider departmental involvement than marketing. For a business to deliver on what it promises it can require real change in areas such as customer services and product delivery.
The established premise that marketing should work back from consumer needs requires clients, and in turn their partner agencies, to consider what they can do to meet or even surpass customer needs.
As Helen Edwards described it:
What consumers need is better products, improved service, easier lives, a cleaner world, and more health and happiness. The proper job of marketers is to identify, or better still, anticipate, these needs, and imagine ways to fulfil them that might lead to sustainable returns.
Being an organisation that invests in product innovation and improved services should be central to delivering a brand ambition and in turn market success.