Or is it the other way around? Do great companies all do great marketing?
Marketing, at its highest level, is the practice of making people feel a certain way about your company.
Great products are never enough. Promoting features and benefits is never enough. Nike, Apple, Coke – the great ones, the companies that continue to flourish over time all have at least one thing in common – they all do great marketing. Not ‘good’ marketing – that level of marketing is achieved by a relatively small number of companies on a regular basis – I mean ‘great’ marketing. Consistently great marketing is more to the point. IKEA is one of those companies.
Does Nike excel because they build a vastly superior running shoe? Has Coke maintained it’s market leadership for over a century because its unique flavour of sugar water is significantly superior to that of its competitors? Of course not.
There are thousands of companies with great products who employ great people and yet most of these companies will quickly come and go. Some may linger, ebbing and flowing with the tides of a fickle market, but eventually they’ll either fade away or be absorbed by a larger, even averager (it should be a word) company. They’ll never elevate themselves beyond the intrinsic value that the features and benefits of their products or services offer.
Do customers relate to your brand on an emotional level?
How do great companies achieve great success with marketing? They create marketing that gets you to relate to the brand on an emotional level. They show you (not just tell you…) how to feel about their company. That’s it. That’s the secret. It’s that easy… and it’s also that difficult.
Detractors will continue to rail against the “Apple Fanboys” and Nike zealots and yet what company wouldn’t want a legion of supporters out there talking up their brand and eagerly awaiting the next product announcement. ‘Fanboys’ are the holy grail of marketing. (Just ask Tesla’s Elon Musk…)
What makes IKEA even more interesting as a company is that they are not a premium brand in a premium category. They sell decent quality furniture at a low price that you put together yourself… and yet, somehow, they are one of the most recognized brands in the world. The video above is testament to their continued excellence in promoting their brand and showing you how you should feel about the company. That’s what great marketing achieves at its highest level.
Why this video works
This video works because it makes you think and it makes you feel. Most video promos do neither.
1. This video tells a great story
IKEA is clean and spare, it’s both vast and simple at the same time and IKEA is, or has been, part of your everyday life. Those are the attributes that IKEA wants you to associate with their brand. Especially the last one. The vast majority of the first world population (excluding the most privileged, of course) have at one time owned and haphazardly constructed some IKEA furniture. The purpose of this video is to remind you of that – that IKEA has been right there with you through the ongoing adventure that is your life. For most of us that evokes very powerful and positive feelings. Time seems to melt away the hardships endured and turn them into something slightly more romantic. That’s the story this video is telling.
2. Editing style.
For the first third of the video I wasn’t sure where the promo was going. The editing style didn’t immediately tell me the whole story. The juxtaposition of the ‘real memories’ and ‘imagined memories’ was confusing. (I’m not a quick study…). It took a while for the ‘oh… I get it’ moment to arrive. That said, making you think isn’t a bad thing. They could have set up the video in a more formulaic fashion: real/imagined, real/imagined, in a match-posed style from the get-go, but sometimes it’s more fun if you have to use your brain a little.
3. Great videos always have great music.
The purpose of music in a video is to set the tone and pace of the video, to pull you through the story and ultimately to tell you how to feel. The choice of music here is inspired. The music sets a beautiful and nostalgic tone that reminds the listener that ultimately, it’s all about ‘you and me’. The music even has it’s own backstory – it was a lost demo track by an unknown group called Penny and the Quarters that was discovered in a record executives files 40 years after it was recorded.
IKEA doesn’t do a lot of promos that scream 50% OFF THIS WEEK ONLY!!! They don’t lie about the price of their furniture (like the majority of the furniture industry does: WAS $3,250, NOW !1,999!!!,), instead they just remind you that they are there, that they are an important value brand and that they’ll be around tomorrow when the vast majority of their competitors will be gone.
The correlation between great companies and great marketing remains very high.
Like all things that involve business and the vagaries of human emotions, there are always exceptions to the ‘great marketing = great brand success’ rule. Microsoft and Samsung are two companies that jump to mind. Neither has ever done anything approaching ‘great’ and yet both companies have built an enduring brand presence with a broad global appeal around good products and sometimes good, but never great, marketing.