‘Quality, originality and relevance’ are the new Triumvirate of marketing.
An article in The Guardian on ‘Google Search Changes’ started with a reminder that ‘Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird search algorithms affect around 90% of online searches, according to Search Engine Watch.
These algorithms strip out “bad searches” – sites stuffed with keywords, duplicated content and manipulated hyperlinks – and rightly so; the onus for higher search rankings has consequently been placed on the ‘quality, originality and relevance’ of online content.
However, it isn’t just ‘search engine performance’ that’s affected by this triumvirate.
A brand strategy cannot succeed unless the three elements of product, customer and competition are treated as equally important and interdependent.
My ex-Father in law was a fire fighter. He once imparted a hugely important fire fighting fundamental that has remained with me as a metaphor for marketing success. He explained that to make combustion there must be fuel, heat and oxygen. Fire cannot exist without all three in place and in balance: If you remove the balance the combustion fails.
Translated into business, in order for a brand to be successful, products (or services) must be designed to satisfy the needs of customers that aren’t already being provided. Those ‘needs’ maybe ‘functional’, but could as easily be ‘social’, ‘emotional’, ‘spiritual’ or any combination. They need to be appropriate in quality, originality and relevance in order to have a sustainable competitive advantage.
But this is not a line in the sand. Customers’ needs evolve and the competitors innovate. So products and services must constantly look at the status quo as a current event, but not a future one.
This is the point a lot of businesses fail to understand and make provision for. The biggest challenge of the best brands – those with longevity – is to maintain ‘quality, originality and relevance’.
Change in quality, originality and relevance is inevitable for a number of reasons. The effects of social, political, economic and technological trends, individual circumstances, life-stages and experiences mean customers expectations, needs and wants are constantly shifting.
Brands that do not have their finger on the pulse of change in those areas cannot hope to remain relevant. So research and development must be a constant.
Also, the motto ‘the enemy always gets a vote’ is worth remembering, as it is a mnemonic for never-ending innovation driven by mankind’s need to problem solve. Problem-solving is human nature. It’s a driving force behind evolution. ‘Mankind’ is potentially everyone else.
Darwin’s theory of evolution didn’t say ‘survival of the fittest’ and mean the strongest, fastest, and most athletic. He meant those that adapted best to the conditions.
‘Quality, originality and relevance’ are the driving forces of the successful brands of today.
How many brands have declined and disappeared because they didn’t adapt their quality, originality and relevance tetrahedron? Thousands you’ve never even heard of. But recent examples of market leaders that are no longer the force they were in the mobile phone market alone include Nokia, Blackberry, and Motorola. What happened to NEC and Ericsson?
Google is no longer just the search engine that crushed it’s rivals. The number of products and services it launches every year is huge. They don’t always get it right. But with the ‘Android’ mobile phone operating system, their own mobile phones, Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube alone they are no longer a ‘search engine company’.
But quality, originality and relevance are also the driving force behind the sustained success of their search engine. Forever adapting the rules that bad marketers endeavour to cheat, in order to deliver to the user the best results. They spend $Ms to improve the algorithms to out fox the enemy in favour of the user.
Amazon too, have developed a number of products and services to maintain quality, originality and relevancy to maintain their mission to be ‘the most customer-centric’ brand. They developed Kindle, bought the InternetMovieDatabase and have also just launched their own mobile phone device the Fire Phone.
If you are a brand owner challenged to bring quality, originality and relevancy, then think ready, aim FIRE. And aim again.