(originally published 2013 on www.christianvatter.com)
Brands provide meaning, services provide utility. Combined, they add up to what we (Martin Jordan & Christian Vatter) call Brand Services, which is a simple service or communication tool offered in addition to the core product or core service and designed to help promote it. We fully agree with Mitch Joel when he writes for the Harvard Business Review Blog “Marketing is no longer just about messaging and brand loyalty. Now, brands can provide a high level of utility with real tools that consumers need to enhance their daily lives.”
In an ideal world, Brand Services provide usefulness like a service, create awareness through novelty like an ad or PR campaign, and at the same time help build up brand reputation by making brand values come alive. Instead of just giving the promise like traditional forms of communication they already can deliver it. By being useful, Brand Services are more relevant to customers. Furthermore, customers can gather positive experiences with the brand, which helps to build the relationship.
We gathered 30 examples of this new marketing tool that helps to complement traditional methods. But only a few of them range high on all of the factors usefulness, novelty, and brand-fit. Currently, we are working on an approach and further relevant factors to design great brand services deliberately.
Virgin Atlantic’s “taxi2” helps travelers to pool together for a cab ride at the arrival airport.
KLM’s “Must-See-Map” is a digital city plan of KLM destinations, where you can invite your friends to mark their favorite places and suggestions for you. You then can have the map sent to you by KLM for easy reference at the destination.
S-Oil, a South Korean gas company offers the “Here Balloon“, a parking space finder: A nifty balloon that helps to find empty parking spaces in large parking lots. (Picture source: Adforum.com)
Tesco offers an easy way to shop on the way home from work, just by photographing the items on a billboard.
The bookstore “The School of Life” offers bibliotherapy, a half hour consultation with specially trained employees about your reading habits and interests. In the end, they provide clients with a reading prescription (picture source: flickr.com, Alastair Humphreys).
KLM’s “Meet & Seat” provides passengers the option to sit next to interesting people, based on Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.
Durex offers with “SOS Condoms”, a service and app that delivers condoms based on your location. Delivery is supposed to be discreet, e.g. through a pizza boy.
The toilet tissue brand Charmin provides an app called “sit or squat” that helps to locate clean public toilets.
Hornbach, a German DIY chain, offers a comprehensive book that teaches you everything from laying parquet flooring to building a pond.
Rite Aid provides an app that helps to order drug refills just by scanning the bar code and choosing a pickup location.
The Dutch supermarket, Albert Heijn, offers with “Appie“ a smart shopping list that can be filled by typing in items, scan barcodes, brows shopping history, recipes or special deals. The list sorts nicely into the order of the mostly used walking route of the store you entered (picture source: fontanel.nl)
Lufthansa “Doctor on board” is a service to provide in-flight medical assistance: Doctors can register to receive benefits; in case of an emergency, flight attendants can locate help quickly.
Hyatt hotel in Kyoto offers its guests an iPhone with pre-installed apps that help navigate through the city (picture source: destination360.com).
Guide Michelin, one of the oldest brand services, offers a list of worthwhile restaurants for travelers.
In Bulgaria, the Audi Quattro Action Team helped during harsh winter 2012 drivers with their stuck cars - thus bringing Quattro power to life.
The LG “Wash Bar“ in Paris offers free laundry on the latest LG washing machine models (and other electronic equipment) while enjoying free drinks.
Adidas Runbase is a concept store in Tokyo located next to a popular running site. Besides running gear, it offers free showers, lockers, and workshops for runners (picture source: Adidas.jp).
Ikea has been offering for years the Home Planner: A useful web-based app that helps to plan for furniture in your home (picture source: freshome.com).
Nike’s trial van did the rounds at running events and favorite running spots offering “no sales pitch. Just shoes, advice and water”.
Allianz and Air France teamed together to offer the “Allianz Protect”, an online safe for travel documents.
Nutricia, the medical nutrition company provides the “Babycare Lounge” at the Dutch airport Shiphol where parents can rest with their child or find facilities to change diapers or heat up the baby bottle (picture source: youropi.com).
Nivea Sun launched an app in Brazil that tells users which sun protection to apply.
Nokia appeared with the "Nokia Silence booth" at music festivals in order to provide a space to connect with people in a silent ambience (picture source: theothers.tistory.com).
With “The North Face Snow Report” app Northface provides weather and snow related information, through weather data and twitter feeds.
Ikea caters to women’s needs in Australia. At a service called “man land” women can leave there husbands to watch TV or play computer games (picture source: news.com.au).
The Kraft “iFood Assistant” brings recipes and how-to videos to the kitchen (picture source: intomobile.com)
Again Ikea offers a free hotel for drivers. In this temporary hotel at a French freeway between Paris and Lyon tired travelers can rest for 20 minutes and test the latest Ikea mattresses (picture source: yahoo.com)
Hellmann’s Recipe Receipt helps printing a recipe on every grocery shopping receipt when the mayonnaise is bought.
Ray Ban offers the “Bright Light” app that helps to find sun spots in cities to enjoy the sunglasses even more (picture source: designtaxi.com).