The power of a great brand: Club Med case studyJan 11, 2024
Find Your Superpower newsletter 041
Read time: 7 minutes
Topics covered: Branding, customer service, brand experience
I had no choice but to write this newsletter on Club Med.
No, this post is not sponsored (I wish it were). Rather, I have not been able to stop thinking about the Club Med brand since I returned from one of their resorts in Hokkaido, Japan two weeks ago.
“Club Med has got their branding right,” is the thought that has been running through my head.
From the time we disembarked from the bus and entered the resort, to receiving a refreshing hot towel and welcome drink from a smiling customer service manager, to the moment we left the resort, everything was choreographed to perfection. There was really no point where they dropped the ball.
And they had two very exacting customers to deal with—my kids.
Brand is often not what we think it is
Many of us, myself included, may initially consider a brand to be a company’s logo, product packaging or color scheme.
Which is why new entrepreneurs and solopreneurs place a priority on designing a beautiful logo, website and marketing collateral when they start their business.
But that’s not why I am writing about Club Med (although I’m sure they have a nice logo and website).
The late Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Roberto Goizueta once said: “In real estate, it’s location, location, location. In business, it’s differentiate, differentiate, differentiate.”
What makes Club Med so special is their ability to differentiate themselves from the pack, by focusing on creating an enjoyable experience for families going on vacation together.
Other ski resorts do not offer a "done-for-you" experience—in some cases, you would need to plan ahead and book ski passes, rent ski gear, and even find transport to get to the slopes. For someone who has a jam-packed daily schedule in equatorial Singapore, that thought itself is enough of a deterrent to NEVER go skiing.
Club Med is different—your ski gear is pre-booked and the mountain is literally behind the resort. The entire onboarding experience is seamless.
Once you’re in the resort, the wooing begins. The cafeteria was a smorgasbord of sushi, seafood, chocolate fountains and excellent Sapporo beer on tap. I did not hear any complaints from the kids (and the mom).
In between meals, you could stop for a snack of a sandwich and coffee. All kinds of mixed drinks were free-flowing at the bar. They even have a kid’s club that would take care of your kids all day for you.
But what struck me as their biggest differentiating factor was their customer service.
The staff put on hilarious singing and dancing performances for the kids, they held dance parties at night, and every time there was a birthday celebration all of them would go over and sing for the kid at their dinner table.
If the perception of a brand is tightly woven with the brand experience, then they had essentially seared their brand in my mind.
A tale of contrasts
After we had finished skiing at Club Med, we took the train back to the city and spent a few days at another hotel.
It’s only been two weeks, but I can’t tell you what the name of that hotel was.
I tried very hard to remember the hotel’s name, but I simply can’t remember anything about that hotel now, nor do I ever want to return to it.
When we entered the hotel, there was only one viable option available to us—to take the elevator to our room.
It was a pretty posh hotel, but nobody could communicate with us in English at the service counter. There was no activity at the lobby area: no music, no drinks bar, no café or coffee machine.
It was vanilla, generic, lacking in creativity, and completely undifferentiated.
The contrast was too great to not notice.
The point here is not that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys; the point is that if you differentiate yourself enough, you can charge whatever you want for your service or product and people will still pay for it.
People are prepared to pay for an unforgettable, delightful experience, especially if they are going to spend their savings on an annual trip to a faraway country with their kids.
Not only do I believe that people will pay, I also believe that they will return year after year to pay you whatever you charge for it.
Lessons for our personal branding efforts on LinkedIn
I want to draw some clear parallels between Club Med branding and LinkedIn branding.
1/ Differentiation creates brand loyalty
If you sent me blindfolded to a random resort and asked me if it was a Club Med resort, I am confident that I could state with at least some certainty whether it was or not. That certainty is important, because it means that if I want to recreate a past successful vacation, going to a Club Med resort is shorthand for a great family vacation. That differentiation creates brand loyalty.
On LinkedIn, likewise, some content creators have a distinct messaging style and content niche. We follow them because they are unique, and that is really refreshing amidst a rising number of ChatGPT content creators on the platform. That’s why I suggested previously that all of us stop using ChatGPT prompts to create our posts (regardless of whether you attempt to edit it over). If you use the same ghostwriter as 180 million other people, there’s absolutely no way you can end up with a post that reveals your unique personality.
2/ Surprise and delight is the best kind of customer service
The logistics of keeping a ski resort running daily is staggering and mind-boggling. But Club Med said “hold my beer” and 10x-ed in every category. Every night was unique: from bingo night to movie night to a “White party” rave. There was never a boring evening, and I even saw a kids’ ski instructor on pancake duty one evening. If surprise and delight is their goal, then I was both surprised and delighted.
On LinkedIn, many of us already have difficulty meeting basic demand—consistent posts, staying focused on our domain expertise, engaging with our connections and followers regularly. But instead of playing defense, we need to play offense. How do we surprise and delight our readers?
By offering outsized value in each post, sharing rare career tips and hacks, peer mentorship, a peek into the behind-the-scenes of someone in <insert niche>... content that truly makes a difference in another person’s career development and professional life.
3/ Audit every touch point for a consistent brand experience
Wherever I turned in the resort I saw consistency. Like how everything was perfectly set up in the morning when I walked into the cafeteria at 7 am. Like how every device in my hotel room worked. Like how they tagged all of my ski gear so nothing would get lost. Every nuance had been deliberated on by someone.
When I land on someone’s LinkedIn profile I do a quick audit of their profile. I scan their headline, hashtags, “About” summary section, followed by their “Featured” section showcasing their top content and finally their work experience and education. I then quickly scroll through their past 5-10 posts. If it all checks out, I follow them. Because of their commitment to consistency, I am willing to trust them with my time and emotional energy. I know they won’t go rogue and mess around with my head.
A LinkedIn thought leader roadmap
I know that a (1) differentiated, (2) consistent and (3) occasionally surprising and delightful brand is one that will soar on LinkedIn.
That’s precisely what I have been focused on doing for my own brand for the past four years (I started posting actively in 2020).
On 26 January, I will be sharing my 12-month LinkedIn thought-leader roadmap, which will explain how you can go from a relative unknown on LinkedIn to top of category on LinkedIn.
This Zoom workshop is complimentary for my course buyers.
A caveat is that you must already have the necessary experience and/or education record in a specific niche or industry, and all you need is the right strategy to pop on LinkedIn.
If that describes you, please join me to hear more!
🔴 DATE: Friday, 26 January 2024, 11AM - 12PM (GMT +8)
🔴 LOCATION: Zoom webinar (an invite will be sent closer to the date)
Simply purchase any online course from me at : https://www.julianachan.org/courses
Let’s go 2024!
Thanks for reading issue 041 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.
For those of you who are new to my newsletter, Find Your Superpower is subscribed to by 30,000 people, and discusses the following three goals: (1) Making a career transition, (2) Professional branding on LinkedIn, and (3) Reinventing ourselves for the future of work.
Here’s how we can stay in touch:
1. I would recommend you purchase my course, The LinkedIn Success Mindset. In this all-in-one guide to LinkedIn, we will learn how to manage our mindset, take action and avoid making cardinal sins on the platform. I will be giving course buyers a LIVE branding basics workshop on 26 January 2024.
2. If you are very new to LinkedIn, consider my masterclass on LinkedIn professional branding, Find Your Superpower: How to Rebrand Yourself on LinkedIn. This 1h on-demand video course that will help you identify your professional brand, write a brand statement from scratch, and launch your brand on LinkedIn. Don’t muck around for years on LinkedIn, sort your profile out quickly.