Why a great brand story is just as important as a great product

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a young student shopping in a renowned department store. In my pocket I had 100 marks that I had gotten as a Christmas gift. I was about to use them for a wise investment: bed sheets, just as my mother had suggested. After wandering around amongst the shelves, I finally mustered enough courage to ask for help. “Which sheets would you suggest? I want good ones.”

The saleswoman’s face lit up with a smile and she lead the way to a display in the middle of the shop floor. “Touch the fabric,” she said softly.

I touched it.

She looked at me with an approving smile and started to pour glowing praise over the sheets. Surely I now understood that these sheets are heavenly. “Beautiful, thick New England-style cotton, which practically melts under the iron! It’s really easy to make the bed, and is a great high quality brand…”

These arguments have been etched into my mind, because I – a poor student  – was really struggling to justify paying 470 marks for a set of sheets when I left the store, new sheets in a bag, into the pouring rain. I had paid more for them than I set aside for all my food expenses in an entire month. This morning, almost two decades later, I woke up in these same sheets after a good night’s sleep. The words of the saleswoman have proven to be true a thousand times over, and I have recommended the brand to my friends just as many times, without a doubt.

This story illustrates just how valuable a good story and a high quality product are. The production cost might be 30% higher than the brand on the shelf next to yours, but your gross profit is surely more than twice as high. As the years have passed, a large group of loyal followers have gathered around this brand. A group of people whose values are in lockstep with the brand’s. To them, quality and good design equals sustainable living and the small luxuries of the everyday.

Success doesn’t come by chance. From its first steps, the Swedish brand Lexington has had a crystal clear vision about what it wants to represent. The company has followed that brand vision without hesitation. Consistence, clarity and a story that resonates with its consumer base has helped Lexington become not only a classic, but a success in a category that faces fierce competition as well.

There is a clear connection between the profitability of the business, and the understandability of the brand: studies show, that in companies where the business strategy is subordinate to the brand strategy, the operating profit is almost double compared to companies in which the brand is understood narrowly as being marketing. This is where Lexington stands out: a strong understanding of the customer segment, high quality products, a strong visual identity and great customer service create a holistic brand experience, an experience we are willing to pay for.

Anybody who says that “a sheet is a sheet is a sheet” is wrong. There are sheets, and there are sheets. And every business leader should know the difference.

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