Designing our future 'Life facilitators'
The rise of the unifying service brand - and the integral role of design in its success.
Over the last half decade, we have seen some interesting shifts in the buying habits of people in privileged and developed markets. Notably a decline in the need for ownership in its traditional sense. With the vast majority of ‘things’ no longer being unobtainable (in the developed world anyway), our idea of what status means is changing. Amazon Prime delivers us boring old product in a matter of hours - so what’s special about that anymore? The best version of ourselves is no longer understood through what products we 'own', but rather the experiences we buy into, and the services that allow our lives to run more smoothly - and importantly, what these say about us.
More and more, companies are realising that it is services, not just physical products that are the future. And this idea of better ‘life facilitators' is gaining more and more momentum. Recently John Lewis has built its ‘Home Solutions’ service offering quality trade professionals you can trust, and we have seen IKEA buy task rabbit, which allows people to pay for help assembling furniture as well as other household chores. But ‘gig economy’ facilitators aside, services that make us re-appraise an existing way of doing things and that unite diverse audiences with differing agendas are particularly interesting. Turo’s business model disrupts the car rental industry by connecting car renters directly to vehicle owners. A high number of cars sit idle much of the time and by connecting them with prospective car renters, Turo aims to make better use of them. The brand connects the aspirations of diverse audiences through the spirit of adventure.
Recently, Echo worked on the positioning and branding of Canopy. Canopy is pioneering a progressive future for everyone invested in the home rental market. An app based offer, Canopy’s Rent Passport enables trust-rated property owners, agents and renters to connect in a rental community built on merit and mutual respect. Canopy has engineered a post-deposit reality by insuring trust.
An Integral part of positioning and branding these offers is the need to create and communicate a proposition so that it resonates with a very diverse audience of users, each with very different agendas and reasons for interacting, but with the potential for unifying under a broader purpose. With Canopy we needed to create a language that would be attractive to renters, landlords and agents – and that would help level their agenda’s.
Here’s our key considerations when creating a unifying service proposition.
1. Bring emotional clarity to a core central proposition.
A clearly defined proposition means that audiences can immediately see where the relevance lies for them. We need to determine what unites these often diverse audiences rather than what highlights their differences. Often this can be done through the emotional brand purpose that is bigger than our differences.
2. Create a living, flexible identity and tone of voice
Create a visual and verbal communications system that has the ability to talk to different people in different ways, whilst staying true to the core proposition. Always be aware of different agendas and individual start points for interacting with the service.
3. Build a community that connects people to something bigger than themselves.
Remember the bigger purpose and what you are fixing. Canopy understands that the housing rental industry is neither fair or friendly. There are 22 million renters in the UK with 60% of Londoners forecast to be renters by 2025. Equally, Londoners spend at least 60% of their wages on rent. Canopy’s core purpose is to create a rental community where all parties benefit through mutual empowerment. The service puts cash back into the hands of tenants and grants property owners peace of mind, better protection and simplified admin.
The best services create a better way for all, as well as an easier way for just one specific audience. The result is a new found sense of unity amongst a community that can then benefit in personal and unique ways.