Recently I attended the first Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit in Shanghai. Three days of female business solidarity, inspiration and networking. Also attending was MCM CEO Sung-Joo Kim - one of Asia’s most high-profile businesswomen.
I’d never previously considered MCM, the luxury leather goods brand Kim acquired in 2005, as an aspirational ‘me-brand’. A bit too much glitter and glitz going on. At DWEN, Kim told her story to women entrepreneurs from around the world. How she was disowned by her strict Korean family for pursuing a Western education and a career as opposed to an arranged, business-allied stay-at-home marriage and kids, and how she built a successful career in retail from virtually nothing.
By the end of the speech, I wanted the handbag. I wanted an MCM bag because I empathised with her story, I empathised with her choices, and I empathised with her championing of businesswomen everywhere: "I want to prove that women can do as well as men - and even better."
Suddenly, for me an MCM bag became a powerful symbol of brand values that were completely in synch with my personal values. I walked into the MCM store at 3 on the Bund determined to make a purchase and to carry it with pride - the only question was, which bag?
That’s the ultimate goal of every brand - decision made with commitment ahead of point of purchase. It happens when you present your brand values in a way that enables your customers to connect with and internalise them - delivering brand value that is more personal than public validation.
As with people, so with brands: successful relationships are built on the fact that you both want the same thing.