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How Nespresso Builds your Identity With Their Brand

Andrew Badham 2018-05-17 17:38:26

About a year ago, friends bought my wife and me a belated wedding gift, a Nespresso machine. Being mildly addicted to caffeine, I was rather chuffed with our new toy and further chuffed with the voucher for free coffee pods that accompanied it. The voucher comes with every Nespresso purchase and it’s a damn clever promotion. You see, in order to claim the voucher, you have to go to the Nespresso store where you will get to fully experience their brand. You can’t purchase pods at a supermarket either; they want to control what you experience and associate with their product. Now granted, you can buy the machines just about anywhere, but that’s not their major product; it’s the pods.

So, to claim our free coffee, we marched ourselves off to Nespresso in Sandton. The first thing that struck us was the surprisingly dark textures the store used, deep blues, mahogany wood and low lighting. It wasn’t so dark that it felt oppressive but dark enough that it created a sense of intimacy and warmth. The second attribute to catch our eyes was the meticulous placement of every item; the neatness was truly exceptional. To my décor loving wife, this was about as much brand signalling as she could handle. Thirdly, there is the coffee tasting. The aroma of the freshly made coffee invites you in and the news that its free makes it even sweeter. All this comes together to form a quiet sense of sophistication and elitism.

Now, here’s where Nespresso gets sneaky; after you’ve experienced all of this branding you buy your pods and become part of the Nespresso club. You become part of their brand, which means that you are now, by association, elite and sophisticated. It’s a positive association, something you’d likely want to say about yourself and so you’re happy for it. You accept the branded relationship. What’s more, it’s a virtue you’d want to signal to others, “look at me, look at how sophisticated I am”. And here, Nespresso helps you out; the carry bags are easily recognisable, sleek and certainly don’t appear cheap. So, they’re helping to brand you as you help to broadcast their brand; it’s perfect symbiosis.

This tactic is not unique to Nespresso. Harley Davidson’s official brand promise is simply “we are Harley Davidson”. It’s pure identity branding; you don’t want the bike for the bike’s sake, you want it because of what it says about you. The ability to say something about ourselves is a powerful motivator and if your brand can play to that, you’re likely to do quite well. 

The formula is fairly simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy; it takes creativity and planning to do this well. Nevertheless, you could break it down like this:

  • Let the customer experience qualities of your brand they’d like to associate with
  • Include them in the identity of your brand
  • Help them to show off their identity

The ways in which you could go about this are numerous and are going to completely depend on what your brand and your products are, but if you understand the principle you’ll be able to apply it.