One part of marketing and public relations is developing relationships between customers and a brand. If successful a community of customers will form around a brand. Within that community you will find “fanboys/girls”. I’m going to use the term fanboy through this post, not to exclude, but to simplify.
Fanboys are a brand’s unpaid zealots. You find them all over the internet, on blogs, forums, IRC chat. They talk about how much they love x, y or z.
Some companies are exceptionally good at manufacturing fanboys. Apple, Nokia, Sony, and Blizzard Entertainment are a few examples of tech and gaming brands which do this.
I’m a bit of a Samsung fanboy – I always recommend their products, though not to the exclusion of other quality brands. I’ve had good experiences with several Samsung products and trust that they’ll be a good experience for others.
I’ve been thinking about what these brands do differently to generate this kind of fan support and I came to a couple of conclusions.
1. A well established brand
All of the examples I listed have been around a while. They’re well-known, household names. Blizzard is extremely well known among gamers.
2. A Consistent User Experience
All four of the examples I used have a pretty consistent and positive user experience. They’re all known for quality and user support.
3. Cross-platform integration
This applies more to Sony and Apple than the other two; though Blizzard’s Battle.net is a well established multiplayer platform that they’ve used for their games over a decade. Sony and Apple have created a family of products that all work together. Apple computers have seamless support for iPods, Apple TV, AirPort networking devices, etc. Once you get one, you’re locked in.
Sony has done similar things with home theatre, PS3, audio players, and more.
Integrating with a lifestyle
It really struck me as amazing when I was checking out iTunes 8.1 and discovered that the new iTunes DJ (replacing the Party Shuffle smart playlist) supports integration with the iPhone and iPod Touch over WiFi, letting partiers request songs directly over their handheld device.
It’s really not a necessary feature. At a small house party it’s not a big deal to go over to the computer and queue up a song. At big parties I don’t know of many professional DJs using iTunes. They tend to use higher-end professional software, in conjunction with turntables and CD players. However, the feature is really cool!
If you read my blog, you’ll know I’ve got my eye on a buying a smartphone and I’ve been excited about the Palm Pre since it was anounced. This feature is making me take another look at the iPhone. Not to mention all the neat looking games appearing on the iTunes App Store.
What are your thoughts on how fanboys are created by brands?