The Edelman Earned Brand Study Reinforces the Importance of Purpose in Customer Experience

I had the opportunity to be the opening keynote PRSA Houston’s PR Day last week. The luncheon keynote was given by Edelman’s Tonia Ries. Tonia presented findings from their Global Earned Brand Study.

Tonia Ries Edelman Earned Brand

Becoming an Earned Brand

Here are some highlights from the study of over 13,000 consumers in 13 countries:
  • The pace of change in marketing is accelerating rapidly.
  • Upstarts like Uber, Tesla, Warby Parker and airBNB are challenging long-established brands, and categories are being re-imagined.
  • Purpose is emerging as an expectation. The study found that 62 percent of respondents would refuse to buy a brand if it fails to meet its obligations to society.
The Study aimed to codify the strength of consumer-brand relationships. The Edelman Brand Relationship Index measures brands on a 100 point scale based on 18 variables. The average score was just 38. The Takeaway: There is a tremendous opportunity for brands to strengthen and grow.
 

5 Stages of the Relationship

The Study showed five distinct stages of a brand relationship: Indifferent, Interested, Invested, Involved, and Committed.
Photo Credit: Edelman Earned Brand Executive Summary

Photo Credit: Edelman Earned Brand Executive Summary

 
To quote the Study,
At the Indifferent level, shoppers buy without much thought. At Interested, they might choose a brand over competitors based on their recall of a review or a logo. By Involved, consumers actively scan the shelf for the brand. But the real commitment comes in the last two stages, where the consumer mindset moves from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ At Invested,the consumer believes the brand shares his or her values, and might try to convince another shopper not to buy a competitor. Finally, at the top of the scale [Committed], the relationship truly becomes about shared benefit—the consumer will take action with and for the brand.

Where are the Opportunities?

earned brand indexOut of seven attributes, there are a couple clear opportunities for brands (highlighted in yellow and purple. Those attributes are acting with purpose and telling a memorable story. This aligns with the work Graeme Newell and I are doing in the Red Goldfish Project. A red goldfish is when a brand embraces being for-purpose and does the little things to bring that purpose to life for both customers and employees.
 

Final Takeaways

Here is how Edelman defines an earned brand:
The Earned Brand’s story is not simply told, it is demonstrated and experienced; and, to do that, brands can’t operate with a style guide alone.The Earned Brand has a world view and a belief system, a purpose and a reason for being—one that defines not just the communications, but how the brand behaves online,offline, and in all contexts.An expressed set of values informs which products are made, which language is used, how customers are treated, and ultimately the legacy the brand leaves in the communities it serves.
Here’s my takeaway: Your brand is no longer what you say it is. It’s what your customer experiences, what shared beliefs you have, how they feel about your brand, and most importantly… what they share with others.
 
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here’s a video with Richard Edelman and Michelle Hutton talking about the Earned Brand Study: