Using Personalization to Create Timelessness

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In Lovemarks we refer to the characteristics of ‘past, present, and future’ and it is the combination of these values that creates a sense of timelessness. A Lovemark is a brand for all seasons; stalwart in its priceless value throughout every stage of a person’s life. It is the opposite of Fads (Low Respect, High Love) which are hugely popular for short periods of time but have limited lifespans in terms of desirability. A timeless Lovemark lasts through the ages. A Fad is in demand only for a moment. 

One way to create timelessness for a brand is to provide the customer the ability to create their own brand story through personalized service, products and delivery. This ties the brand to the ego, enables a means for self-actualization, celebrates a specific time in personal history, and provides a memento to be treasured into the future.

There are many ways to apply personalization to create timelessness.

Service: Personalized service is what ‘mom and pop stores’ celebrate as one of their most defining characteristics. It is the intimate service that makes loyal customers and causes people to be hugely passionate about their local neighborhood stores. It was said that large retailers are unable to provide the type of intimacy people were looking for, and for a time, this looked to be true.

To counter this issue, some large brands offered more personalized service models. Minor touches like writing names on coffee orders and enabling customers to specify type of their beverage became synonymous with Starbucks. Last Christmas, Hallmark opened HMK, a store that not only handed shoppers a warm cookie as they entered, but gave them the ability to customize much of its products with their own unique spin on the spot.

With the growth of data and sophistication of retail service technology, brands are now better able to tailor their communication and create more individual service. Upon check-in at a hotel, concierge can greet you by name. You can customize the type of pillow, scent, music, and travel itinerary during your stay. Amazon.com recommends products on browsing and purchase history.

Product: Developments in manufacturing technology, combined with a willingness on behalf of customers to pay more for unique products has been the incentive for more brands to offer personalization. This has materialized through limited-edition runs, naming campaigns (i.e. Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’), creation platforms like NikeiD, and lab-like retail environments where products are hand-manufactured on-site (i.e. Le Labo).

Though the products and the degrees of customization are varied, the premise is still the same as when people traditionally requested engraving on a particularly sentimental memento. Many people do this on mobile phones and tablets. The process of putting one’s personal stamp on a product creates a sense of ownership and pride, and strengthens the bond between brand and consumer.

Delivery: One method that should not be overlooked in terms of delivering a personalized experience is creating the knowledge that care has been taken at delivery with that particular person in mind. For example, a person thinks when receiving a package “I know this has been prepared just for me” or “I feel like I have been considered” and that creates a sense that the consumer is being valued as an individual.

It could be as simple as delivery a name handwritten on a box instead of a computer generated label, or the knowledge that the package has been hand-wrapped. Or do like the British retailer ASOS, which customizes emails to its international consumer based on geography. So while they’re emailing British shoppers about summer trends and specials, they’re reaching out to Australian consumers with trends on winter clothing. 

Understanding the uniqueness of your customers and identifying their individual self-interests will allow your brand to create more inspiring brand experiences. It may not take the form of a personal email, but it might take into account geography or gender. It may lead to new platforms for self-expression and suggestion, or change the way you train staff to interact with shoppers. Providing more personal products and services will lead people to think about your brand more intimately and regard the relationship as one for the long haul.