I love Amazon – I love Costco and I love low-cost no-frills airlines like Spirit…..

I was just thinking “Which Brands do I love” and these are the ones that came to mind.

Of course, I like Porsche, Armani, Apple and Breitling, but it’s easy to get me to like you if you make amazing high-end products and grovel around me if I spend loads of money with you.

No, the truth is it takes significantly less to keep me happy. I  like things (and people) that do what they say they will do and I love brands that do that.  For example, I recently flew to Chicago from New York for $90 with Spirit. That’s about 800 miles; They’re taking me from New York City to Chicago for about 11 cents per mile – in an aeroplane! Of course, there are terms and conditions I need to stick to, like small amounts of hand luggage and printing my own boarding pass, but when they are turning a 13-hour drive into a 2-hour flight for 11 cents a mile, you can’t complain can you? Actually tell a lie, I heard someone complaining that his seat didn’t recline! Dude, really? We’re on the subway… in the sky. It’s not meant to be luxurious… that’s the point.

Costco are brilliant, and it’s the same situation. If you are prepared to go into a warehouse and buy 9 months worth of toilet paper in one go they will sell it to you at a fraction of what you pay elsewhere – totally fair enough in my book. I bought a large curved screen TV there recently and smashed the screen in the first week (because I’m an idiot) and they changed it for me!

Then there’s  Amazon. I know the minute I click on the buy button I’m done – it’ll arrive on time, be properly packaged and will be exactly what I ordered if it isn’t then there’s no fuss I can send it back and receive an immediate refund – brilliant!

They are also customer driven and that makes me happy. For example, I know they love me because they started as a book store & then invented the kindle. This meant you don’t really need books anymore but they realized that for some this was a better option. They totally make me feel like they have my best interests at heart (I do realize that they probably don’t, but I don’t really care, I am happy to accept that they do. Let’s pretend they do)

I think it comes down to the feeling that the brand is doing things for my benefit rather than their own and that they realize in the end it will pay off. Costco didn’t need to change my TV, Amazon did not need to change their business model to give me a more convenient option for reading and Spirit didn’t have to work on keeping costs low to give me another travel option.

I think there is a good lesson here for our team when we are working up news stories with brands embedded. The key is to focus firstly on the story, to give a reader something interesting or funny or engaging to read about and to supply the publisher with quality content. Of course, the brand behind the piece want their share of name checks and key messages and we will try our hardest to keep them happy but at the end of the day, it’s all a bit pointless if the heart of the story is not engaging enough to give pleasure to the reader. Communicating brand messages via earned media coverage is a highly effective strategy, but we need to play the long game and put the reader & consumer first every time.