I can’t help but observe brands when I’m travelling. I love walking the aisles in local grocery stores, examining packaging and noticing the spaces in which brands engage with consumers. So, I’d like to share my recent experiences with the Moleskine, Nespresso and Whole Foods brands. Each reminded me of the power of brand extension, brand experience and brand purpose respectively.
I was waiting at the entrance of the spectacular Time Warner building at Columbus Circle in Manhattan when I spotted what looked like a Moleskine pop-up store in the lobby. The eclectic and colourful window display caught my eye. Once inside, I was mesmerized by the colourful range of notebooks, bags, pens, pencils and other accessories. Who knew that this maker of the iconic and legendary black notebook made so much more?I surmised that their core competency of “designing blank space” has enabled them to innovate not only with products (Moleskine Passions journals, the laptop bags) but also with digital channels (myMoleksine) and events (Moleskine Portraits).
What can we learn from Moleskine’s brand extensions? Stick to yourknitting! Expand into adjacent and complimentary product lines, butmake sure your extensions embody and enhance what your brand stands for. Maximise your investment in the master brand (new products do not necessarily mean new brands). Moleksine went from theirlittle black journal to customised journals to accessories that support the entire gamut of writing and sharing. Everything they produce emphasises that they are an open platform for creativity. What is most inspiring about the Moleskine story is how this maker of the paper notebook is not only surviving but truly flourishing in this digital age.
In Florida, a thirty-foot high stacking of colourful Nespresso pod tubes from floor-to-ceilingat the Nespresso store took my breath away. The store is designed like a lounge in which you can seamlessly move between checking out numerous Nespresso machines and gadgets, tasting the newest concoctions, or sinking into sofas and chatting with friends.
Nespresso teaches us thatthe essence of your brand must be felt with every interaction. Itis flawless at every touch point that you encounter–the sleek machinesthat produce an espresso in fifteen seconds, the iconic podsin myriad flavours, the boutique bars, the knowledgeable and friendly baristas,and a sophisticated online presence. Every interaction with the brand reinforces a premium, authentic and stylish coffee experience.Yes, it’s the closest I’ve gotten to George Clooney (their brand ambassador)!
I took the time to spend a few hours in the Whole Foods store in Miami and fell in love with the brand all over again. I was a huge fan when living in New York almost a decade back, and so I was thrilled to find that the Whole Foods experience had been taken to an entirely new level in terms of food theatre and the experience of premium food shopping.
Whole Foods is a chain of grocery stores defined by its brand purpose of Healthy Living. This philosophy guides all decisions,from the way it treats employees to its environment practices to, of course, its selection of produce and other goods in its stores.
What can we learn from Whole Foods? First, that a mission-driven company with a distinct philosophy has the power to rally all stakeholders around a common cause.When you are crystal clear on what you stand for and the values that underpin your every decision, business becomes simpler–and more effective.
Moleskine, Nespresso and Whole Foods are just three examples of brands that have gotten it right. They are leaders in their respective market segments, charging a significant premium over competition–the ultimate brand nirvana.
Lulu Raghavan, managing director, Landor Associates