SMPL Q&A: 4 questions on personal premium with Liana Dinghile

SMPL Q&A is a feature in which we interview our experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. Recently, we sat down with Liana Dinghile, group director of strategy at Siegel+Gale, to talk about how the concept of personal premium is changing, and how brands now need to rise to the challenge of delivering premium services, products and experiences — not because they are luxury, but because premium is the new norm in the marketplace.

What does brand premium mean today?

Brand premium was long considered the higher luxury end of a market, the product, service or experience you pay indulgently more for. But premium is now very much a label awarded to the companies that recognize, through their brand promise, what truly holds value for people above all else. This can be anything from efficiency to extravagance — the benefit that’s of greatest value to someone, when and where it matters.

So what does premium mean to customers?

Premium, to customers, has the following characteristics:

  • It matters to an individual, in a moment.
  • It is different for each individual.
  • It is the reward for sharing precious information and data.
  • It is no longer a category in its own right.
  • It’s an experience we value above all else.
  • It enriches, but often in very pragmatic and personal ways.

But above all, in many cases, it is the experience of simplicity — and that premium is most definitely personal.

Who is delivering on this new type of premium experience?

Disrupter brands have delivered on this regularly and with great innovation. Brands that challenge a market by operating with simplicity, building entire business models on what matters most to customers and raising the bar in terms of what customers can expect from a brand’s promise and how the brand delivers on that promise.

Examples of this new type of premium include the premium of proximity, such as the ease and efficiency brought to you by Uber. The premium of controlling your home security or energy consumption brought to you by Canary or Nest. The premium of choice, diversity and empowerment brought to you by AirBnB. The premium of fairness brought to you by John Lewis.

The domination of digital and the automation of services have opened up new premiums too. Some of the above examples speak to that in terms of proximity, ease, and efficiency. And on the plus side, there is so much opportunity to personalize all the way down to the fingerprint and minute.

But digital interactions should not replace human interaction. They should instead elevate them, making personal interactions all the more important.

What does it mean for companies and their branding strategies?

By definition, premium is what someone places most value on. But few brands have a handle on what that brand value is.

Delivering a premium today means:

  • Recognizing the power of people, shifting power to customers and realizing the power of employees.
  • Turning underwhelming experiences into moments of delight.
  • Identifying pain points in everyday processes and removing them.
  • Valuing people’s time and providing services to them where and when they need it most.

Offering customers a brand premium is no longer limited to the exclusive few, and the brands winning are those that have embraced the power of simplicity to deliver desirable experiences for their customers. Yet despite the obvious benefits of simplicity, brands that can deliver on the promise of a personal premium remain a rarity, and like everything rare this makes it more desirable than ever.

Liana Dinghile is group director, strategy with Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @LDinghile

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