Branded Utility has a number of definitions in the marketing world. In my world it is more than simply a branded public service; it’s something that moves a customer closer to a sale or position of greater loyalty.
Ingmar de Lange did a neat presentation on Brand Utility, but we are not always on the same page. Nokia providing a quiet room on city streets for mobile callers is nice, even with a big logo on the door, but it’s not uniquely Nokia. MasterCard providing an ATM finder phone app is helpful but not uniquely MasterCard.
A branded utility, to me at least, is one that no one else can offer. Users need to plug into the product or service grid of the marketer a for a utility to be truly branded — to use an electricity metaphor. Simply slapping a logo on something useful and making it free is lazy. It may be less lazy than a poor boast and claim ad but we can certainly do better.
I once suggested that Ben Benson give away golf umbrellas to customers of his expensive steak house caught unprepared on rainy days. Branded utility. Why was it unique? Because the customers were at Ben’s. When thinking about branded utility ask yourself “Has the usefulness of the gift or a value made the customer more committed?” Or just similarly committed? If the answer is more, then the investment was worth it. Peace!