The FINANCIAL — Every brand wants to be number one in consumers’ minds, but very few brands actually are. In fact, only 100 of the 10,000 multimillion-dollar consumer companies around the world can claim to be an “apostle brand”—one that inspires enduring trust, loyalty, and almost evangelical endorsement, according to Rocket: Eight Lessons to Secure Infinite Growth, the latest book from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), available now.
The book—coauthored by BCG senior partners Michael J. Silverstein, Dylan Bolden, Rune Jacobsen, and Rohan Sajdeh—provides a roadmap to building a brand that can stand the test of time. It draws on more than a decade of research, in-depth case studies, and findings cultivated from a proprietary database of 400,000 consumers in 20 major countries.
Rocket tells the stories of sixteen business leaders, illustrating how the best companies defy the typical life cycle of a brand, make their customers fall in love with their products or service, and achieve sustained growth. One of the central themes of the book is the need for companies to understand, create, and cultivate “apostles,” or consumers who act as brand advocates. BCG’s research shows that these consumers constitute 2 percent of customers and account for 20 percent of a brand’s direct revenues. They also account for 80 percent of revenues achieved through recommendations and 150 percent of profit.
“Winning over apostle consumers isn’t just a tactic or a strategy, it’s the whole battle,” says Silverstein. “An apostle brand is one that understands the power of its apostles and is deeply focused on what customers really want, creating stunning emotional experiences, engaging in an authentic relationship, and then harnessing customers’ loyalty and emotion. A brand becomes poised for phenomenal growth once there’s a customer willing to tell its story 100 times.”
“We’ve uncovered a global phenomenon,” says Jacobsen. “In Europe, consumers are more strapped than those in the US. They lock on to a small number of brands that shape their own identity. These brands never stop evolving, indulging, and surprising their core customers. Those customers then tell their friends, “Try this.” We’ve found such recommendations to be incredibly powerful.”
The book presents eight rules for brands that want to achieve long-term success:
Don’t ask your customers what they want, because they won’t know until you show them.
Woo your biggest fans, because they’re absolutely worth it.
Always welcome your customer’s scorn, because you’ll come back stronger.
Looks count, because people really do judge a book by its cover.
Transform your employees into passionate disciples, because love is truly infectious.
Ramp up your virtual relationships, because that’s what your customers are doing.
Take giant leaps, because you’re not going to win with timid steps.
Find out what “schismogenesis” means, because it will save your relationships. (Schismogenesis describes how brand love can turn to hate, and what companies can do about it.)
“Specific, pointed, targeted products are a winning card,” says Sajdeh. “These eight rules help companies understand demand spaces—the unique pairing of use and occasion, which we’ve found to be instrumental in helping companies unlock growth.”
Rocket’s eight rules are designed to help a brand forge an emotional connection with consumers, which is necessary to win over apostle customers. “When brands fall short, it’s because they offer ‘me too’ thinking,” says Bolden. “Even well-established brands fail when they fall prey to cost cutting and value engineering. Great brands always make an emotional connection. That leads to love, loyalty, advocacy, and unlimited growth.”