The Friend-Like Relationship
Without exception, successful brands are characterised by a friend-like relationship with their customers.
While both Servant brands and Friend brands must have unique functions, sensory experiences, and communications, it is the intensity with which a customer feels those attributes that lifts a brand from a servant to a friend.
Friend-like brand relationships typically provide significant amounts of brand loyalty and word of mouth recommendation. They can also help brands to command a price premium and, in general, consumers are more willing to forgive mistakes.
A key requirement for a brand to be considered a friend is that it aligns with the customers’ own values.
Most brands recognise this and include a statement on sustainability on their websites. Unfortunately, consumers now expect sustainable practices of all brands and it no longer a USP.
While brands should look for any opportunities to make a statement on their values, the most powerful ones are where a brand leverages one of its own special qualities.
A great example was the release by Darrell Lea of Liquorice Allsorts-inspired makeup for Mardi Gras and Pride.
For the release, Darrell Lea changed the name of its Liquorice Allsorts product to Darrell Lea Loves Allsorts. The brand collaborated with The Lip Lab – an Australian cosmetic brand – to launch the initiative with the aim of supporting the inclusivity and diversity of society.
It is important for brands considering these types of initiatives to ensure that they cannot be accused of “greenwashing”. For Darrell Lea, this involved developing the concept in collaboration with QLife – an Australian LGBTIQ+ phone and webchat service for people who need support on their issues such as sexuality, identity or gender.
Getting it Right (Most of the time)
In 2021, the broad consumer movement to remove the stigma
from periods was instrumental in Woolworths’ decision to rebrand its feminine hygiene section to “period care”. In making the announcement, Woolworths managing director Natalie Davis said, “Many of us still tread around using the word period as if it’s inappropriate or something to be ashamed of. The truth is periods are a very natural part of life.” 19
BONDS Bloody Comfy Period Bikini reflects those personal values to create a strong brand fit with the customer’s inner self and values.
BONDS entered the market by offering a variety of comfy undie shapes, with different absorbencies available so one could use them any day of their flow. The kicker: kinder for the environment as unlike disposable feminine hygiene products, the Bonds Bloody Comfy Period Undies are designed to be worn, again and again, reducing the heavy flow of single-use products going into landfills. The underwear market leader ultimately wanted to offer women of all ages a reusable option that would not compromise their comfort or the brand’s hipster-like aesthetic.
This was another way in which the brand demonstrated its fit with the personal values around sustainability.
A key element of the product launch campaign involved working with six female Australian artists to create Unplugged – a bespoke, acoustic-style album of songs inspired by the artist’s own period experience while wearing Bonds Bloody Comfy Undies. By associating the product with the existing strong emotional connections held by the artists with their fans, BONDS immediately became a “friend of a friend” and not just another product on the shelf.
The album was promoted across multiple channels, including Triple J and an integrated communications campaign based on “Live Life Unplugged” catchphrase. The campaign was highly successful, delivering a sales increase of 356%, 12.1 million media impressions, 190k+ listens across all platforms, and a 54% average YouTube VTR.20
Approximately 9 months later, BONDS ran another integrated communications campaign based on Cheer Bleeders, a specially created cheer team, and recorded multiple cheers based on the “Cheer Thru The Bleed” tag. The campaign sought to highlight the product’s functional features during physical activity while reinforcing its unique brand positioning.