Branding Done Right
In between interviews, photographing events, and enjoying the outdoors (Saturday and NOT Sunday!) I noticed some seriously great experiential branding - companies that truly get developing brand loyalty. A few days ago, I received a post card coupon from Starbucks giving me a free Birthday beverage despite having signed up for the Starbucks card days after my Birthday. While I don't particularly like Starbucks coffee and their prepacked food, I can't deny that when I actually find a seat, it's a great place to work. And their soy lattes aren't that bad either.
On Wednesday morning, I went with my roommate and her friend to Radiance Tea House and Books. The dumplings and tea were amazing. It was a perfectly relaxing, inspiring atmosphere. And most importantly, our adorable waiter was just about the friendliest I've encountered, recognizing my roommate's friend as a regular and greeting others as they came in. And there were a ton.
On Friday, I sat in the best cafe with free, reliable Internet that I have found so far. I'm almost hesitant to mention the name because I was able to find a seat but here it goes.. VBar in the village on Sullivan street. According to their website, they have another location on St. Mark's and 1st. This must have opened after my time but I'll have to check it out. Everyone happily and quietly sat working on their laptops. Occasionally, some random person would talk loudly in a foreign language on their cell phones outside, interrupting every one's concentration and providing collective entertainment. Especially the young NYU student, loudly gossiping as she walked in where she was promptly reprimanded by the owner. I had a ham and fontina panini that was delicious and managed to be productive. There was a general feeling of good vibes, happiness and the belief in good karma. I'll be back.
Today, I trekked 10 blocks in the heat to the ING Café on 58th and 3rd, seeking air conditioning and another place to work. I only bought a banana, allowing me 45 minutes of internet, but at 25 cents, it was worth it. The chairs and seating areas were comfortable and internet reliable. Would probably be a great place to work on my novel once I'm not so focused on finding a job. I'd say less distracting than a café since it was relatively empty. I felt like ING was providing a service to the community. Branding. Company loyalty.
And finally, I stopped off at Club Monaco - one of my favorite stores, and will be even more so when I can afford the clothing. I particularly like the one on 65th and 3rd avenue. It's less crowded and seems to have just as many options as the Flat Iron and SoHo stores, although not as many sale items. Every sales clerk is impeccably dressed, polite and genuinely happy. The store layout is inspiring. I'd model my future apartment after it. And my cashier even introduced himself, shaking my hand. Oooh la la. I believe once a month, they have champagne filled evenings that I attended and of course, and bought something during.
So what did we learn from all this? A company can have a good product, but a great product is one that extends to the sales people and to the experience itself, generating customer loyalty and breaking through the clutter of infinite brand options.