When I spoke at the Marketing Pioneers event in Amsterdam, one presentation got me thinking.
Huib Van Bockel, marketing director for Red Bull in the Netherlands and who also coaches other Red Bull marketers throughout northern Europe, spoke about what he calls a Brand Bank Account.
While Huib’s presentation was in the Dutch language, I was able to speak with him several times before and after the presentation to learn more.
The concept is that each brand has a virtual bank account with items being deposited into the account and withdrawn from the account at all times. Huib says that when a brand gives more than it receives, it will grow (just like when you deposit more money over time into your bank account than you withdraw, your net worth will grow).
“I based these ideas on The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm,” Huib says. “Everyone says ‘how can I get people to love me?’ But instead the right question is ‘How can I develop my ability to love?’"
"It’s the same with marketing a product," Huib says."How can we do more for our buyers?”
The Brand Bank Account
Brands add to their accounts by creating things of value and giving them to people. For example, Apple has the genius bar and their free seminars. Corporate social responsibility is another form of giving (adding to your brand bank account).
Brands withdraw from their accounts through the attention that they demand from consumers in the form of television commercials, print ads and the like.
"Probably about 90% of current marketing is shouting at the consumer; 'buy me!'" Huib says. "Whether it is on TV, web or radio, people are watching a movie, checking out a website or listening to a song when a commercial is forced upon them. Marketing people tend to think people like their commercials, they have worked so hard on, to me it is obviously a withdrawal."
Give it away
Huib’s ideas are totally consistent with what I’ve said for years about removing gates from free content (such as ebooks) and making that content totally free. Just say NO to squeezing your buyers, I say. When you give away valuable content with no registration, you are adding to your brand bank account, making your brand more valuable.
These ideas are also consistent with Seth Godin’s concepts about gifts as he talks about in his new book Linchpin.
Every brand should figure out ways to give that are consistent with their brands.
For example, in the Netherlands Red Bull works with one or their core buyer personas - BMX bike riders – to create dirt tracks, contests and other things of value to this audience, adding to their brand bank account. Check out this terrific video to see what I mean. Direct link to Red Bull Backyard Digger Zoetermeer 2008.
And for the creative buyer persona, Rooms of Red Bull is a place for creativity, a place for artists to get inspired, create and expose their work. Rooms of Red Bull is another way the company adds to their brand bank account.
I really like Huib’s concept.
What about you? Does this idea resonate with you?