Who would think that spending time in a furniture store can be fun before IKEA showed up with her signature blue-&-yellow facade, adding to the canopy of Singapore's urban skyline?
Considering that this island country is only about 278.6 square miles, having two IKEAs on this red dot* is like living in home decor heaven. Before I curb my excitement, news on the street is that a third store is in the works for 2021!
*The country of Singapore is so small that it is often displayed as a red dot on a world map.
While I anticipate visiting this new store during my next yearly pilgrimage to the Lion City, a 3-plus-hour drive is how long it will take to go to the nearest IKEA store in my present reality. It does make for a fun road-trip with friends between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Frisco, Texas, and the Swedish meatballs are just the cherry on top.
In this B.R.A.N.D. Freeze moment, I will be discussing how this global giant remains true to her brand as she continues to grow a cult following.
B: IN THE BUSINESS OF SELLING ___
Saying that IKEA is not in the business of selling furniture may sound oxymoronic. IKEA’s vision is to create a better everyday life for people, and that’s what she is selling; a ‘better everyday life’. Besides offering well-designed and functional home furnishing products at a low price, IKEA does so much more to achieve that vision. Learn about IKEA here.
It’s easy to view your business as a financial transaction; you sell something that people are willing to buy with money. But when you change that paradigm and consider the problem you are solving for your customers, it will inspire and guide many operational and marketing decisions you are going to make as a business leader.
A: HOW IS SHE SELLING "A BETTER EVERYDAY LIFE"?
What is one problem IKEA is hoping to solve for her customers? Looking at her vision/mission statement, we can conclude that people are not able to find inexpensive furniture/furnishing that are well-designed and functional. And how do low-priced products promote “a better everyday life”? In IKEA’s marketing, you will see why she is in the business of selling more than just furniture or furnishings. Let's learn from the pages of her catalog:
IKEA's iconic yellow price tag, seen both in her catalog and throughout her stores both in Singapore and the U.S., draws attention to the low pricing. But she is not just selling inexpensive blinds and teddy bear. She is selling a "better bedtime".
COPY IN CATALOG: Build a better bedtime. Kids don't always find it easy to drift off - and not just because of the monsters under the bed. A cozy, comforting sleeping area of their own can help them relax, especially if they share a room.
IKEA is speaking to the parents; that "a better everyday life" is one where their children look forward to bedtime in a room they call their own. In addition, IKEA will always devote a whole level of their store to simply showcase their products laid out in different settings. Both parents and children can explore a variety of themed bedrooms and get a feel of how they can create a similar space in their home.
IKEA is always telling stories and people (ie. her customers) are the main character. You can find these stories weaved beautifully with their equally diverse range of products online, on-site, and on-print.
COPY IN CATALOG: When opposites attract. These two lovebirds recently took the plunge and moved in together. They both feel at home in their new apartment: it's an eclectic contrast of two different styles and stories that come together perfectly. Just like them.
In the case of the lovebirds featured in the catalog and those in real life, "a better everyday life" is when people of different culture or background find beauty in their union as well as in the space they will start calling home (furnished with IKEA's products of course).
It's also clear that IKEA appeals to DIYers who enjoy flexing some muscles while expressing their own aesthetics. Her unique instruction that comes with any product requiring assembly is comprehensive yet easy to read and follow. Flat packaging (for ease of transport) and self-assembly have long been IKEA's way of keeping cost low for customers. And for those who rather not do-it-yourself, IKEA offers delivery and assembly services.
COPY IN CATALOG: An area for weeknight dining, weekend game-playing or anytime DIY-ing. Thanks to the makeshift modular dining table - three smaller ones pushed together - and plenty of extra chairs, this room really can do it all, all the time.
IKEA is known for her modular products that work for small spaces. But instead of selling the features of those products, she paints a picture of "a better everyday life", where one can use his/her space for entertaining, relaxing, and creating, any time and any day.
R: SHE IS NOT ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE
Some might argue that IKEA's products are not the most durable. But then again, she is not in the business of selling products. One truth that all business leaders must acknowledge; you cannot be everything to everyone. Trying to be all things to all people will cause your business to lack focus and your attempts to reach people will fall on deaf ears. Defining who you are trying to REACH; the second component in the B.R.A.N.D. System, will help your brand be memorable.
First aired in 1969, Sesame Street and Big Bird with several other muppets have been instrumental in educating and entertaining children with letters and numbers. They have also been known to address weightier issues like tackling loss from death and embracing cultural differences. In 2015, a muppet with autism named Julia was introduced to teach kids kindness and empathy towards other with similar development disorder.
Big Bird from Sesame Street was invited to orbit the earth onboard NASA’s Challenger in 1986 when the mission went horribly wrong and claimed the lives of seven passengers.
Caroll Spinney, the man underneath the yellow feathery costume, has made Big Bird quite a celebrity when NASA invited him on that mission to get children interested in space.
D: What DRIVES you to excel?
Dillon James, a spiritual cowboy and a country Post Malone as Katy calls him, is chasing his singing dream and wanting to turn his life around after battling drug and alcohol addiction. “I love him like I almost lost him... and I am not letting go,“ Dillion’s mom Lindy talked about her prodigal son. Dillion in the same segment revealed his motivation, “I want to be your son. I want to be your brother.”
Just Sam, a New York City subway performer, is wanting to show her grandma that someone from the projects can also have their dreams come true. She was very emotional during her first audition in front of the judges and asked to “do the train thing” to get comfortable. During Hollywood Week, she brought out her ‘lucky’ tip box which later received cash from the three judges. “I came out here to have fun and I made some money doing what I do everyday,” Just Sam tearfully said after that performance.
While many may dismiss all these sob stories as scripted and intended to increase viewership, that's not the purpose of this post. The goal is for you to examine the driving force behind everything you do in life and in business.
Identifying what drives you involves digging deep into what you value. Our core values are personal code of conduct and when aligned with that of your business, you will find greater fulfillment. It will guide your hiring process, excite your team, inspire marketing decisions, and ultimately form a solid foundation for your brand.
Other than that, I love a good story and I like a good cry. Judge me.
Review the components of this B.R.A.N.D. Freeze.
N: What is your NICHE in the market?
Unlike being on stage, the contestants’ movement is restricted during their performances due to limited space and stationery cameras. The image quality is also fairly similar to that of a home-made video and the artists can only do so much between make-up and lighting to appear presentable. Like the contestants, your business is also put in an unfavorable position.
“The situation that we’re in is unique but it reminded me what it’s like to be at home and practicing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush," Katy Perry commented after watching Makayla Phillips’s performance. Have the challenges you faced as a business owner caused you to consider giving up or re-examine the passion that started the business in the first place?
Having a niche in the market boils down to the knowledge and/or passion you have about it. What is fueling your determination to figure things out when time is tough? Luke Bryan shared about being able to hear the nuances of the contestants’ voice because of the lack of a studio audience. What are the nuances of your business voice that will make you stand out in the market?