How Best Buy evolves its brand

October 20th, 2010     by ddeal    

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How do you keep evolving the brand for a $49 billion retailing giant? At Best Buy, keeping the company brand fresh starts with the vision of CEO Brian Dunn, who addressed 650 Razorfish clients and employees at the 10th Annual Razorfish Client Summit.

At the Client Summit (which I organized), my employer Razorfish challenged marketing executives to succeed by taking ownership of change at a corporate and personal level. The theme of the event was “Evolve.” Brian set the pace for the event by discussing the top five strategies for evolving the Best Buy brand:

  • Meet people where they are. It’s not enough to have a strong message, service, or product. You have to distribute your ideas to where your customers live. Best Buy does so by aggressively using social media, such as the vaunted Twelpforce team of Best Buy employees who provide technical advice to customers on Twitter.  “Too often we rush to try to monetize social media,” Brian said. “Not everything you do is a source of revenue or profit pool.” To be sure, Best Buy is hardly the only big brand using social media; but it’s important when a multi-billion dollar company like Best Buy reinforces its use of social to its peers at an event like the Client Summit.

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  • Don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Brian believes in encouraging a fun, irreverent culture inside Best Buy even though some of his counselors have advised him to adopt a more reserved tone befitting a Fortune 100 company. (His reply: “Tweet me.”) Having a little fun inside Best Buy reflects on the company brand, for instance the use of humor to educate Best Buy customers about recycling.

  • Find the core of your story, and shout it from the rooftops. This is a refreshing message at a time when social media pundits have belittled the importance of effective messaging. Yes, it is important for a brand to have a compelling message — it’s how you share it that matters. For instance, Best Buy relies on authentic testimonials to show that the company cares about its customers.

  • Engage your employees. He said, “It’s easy to say, ‘Yep, our employees differentiate us,’ but if you’re not connecting with your employees to listen and learn, then I think it’s just lip service.” Brian puts his money where his mouth is. He has a reputation for visiting Best Buy stores all around the world, hosting town hall meetings and speaking plainly with store employees. And he listens to his people on Facebook and Twitter. But he engages employees in other ways, too, such as pranking employees on April Fool’s Day with a fake employee newsletter story about Keith Richards working part-time at a Best Buy store in its Musical Instruments department.

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  • Be relentless with your message. Brian passionately believes in the Best Buy “Connected World” message — or the notion of connecting people through technology to the services they need, the information they crave, the entertainment they desire, and the people they love. Brian shares that message consistently to everyone — analysts, news media, vendor partners, employees, and shareholders.

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After the Client Summit, I had a chance to experience what Brian was talking about. I returned home from the Client Summit to discover that the wash machine in our home was broken. So I decided to try a local Best Buy for a replacement — not because Best Buy is a Razorfish client but because I often shop at Best Buy for home entertainment and usually find what I want. I’m happy to report that my experience was positive from the time I stopped by a Best Buy (on Butterfield Road in Downers Grove) on October 15 to the time my new wash machine was installed on October 17 (a Sunday afternoon). Here’s what Best Buy did right:

  • The in-store service was prompt. No waiting around for someone to help me.
  • The salesman, Tony, read my family’s needs perfectly. He understood that we sought an easy-to-use machine at an affordable price. He explained the features of units with different price points so that we made an informed decision, but he helped us find the right Whirlpool model without too many bells and whistles.
  • The in-store experience was actually fun. Think about that: my wife and I had fun buying a wash machine. That’s because Tony had a sense of humor, and he clearly enjoyed trading jokes with his fellow employees and with us. The appliance section just seemed like a place where employees give off a good vibe.
  • The post-sales experience was flawless — an area where many retailers stumble. I received a follow-up phone call confirming the delivery date/time within 24 hours of my purchase. The delivery occurred within 48 hours of the transaction. And — this is really crucial — we were given a brief (two-hour) window. It just kills me when delivery people force you to sacrifice your entire day waiting for them. But I can live with two hours (and by the way, the delivery occurred inside the window with an hour to spare). The delivery team was professional and, like the Best Buy employees, personable.

The Whirlpool is working just fine, too.


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