This site is in beta. Tell us what you think.
Chapter 3 | Orbit

Generate Brand Gravity

Our next topic is Generate Brand Gravity.

The future of competition is who can generate more Brand Gravity. Learn to assemble more generators so your ORBIT will generate more gravity.

Competing on gravity

The future of competition is who can generate more Brand Gravity.

Apple and Google demonstrate the power of ORBIT. Consider how you chose an Android or Apple smartphone. It probably wasn’t about the megapixels in the camera.

Apple and Google have created competing gravity systems.

  • Apple has iTunes, Genius Bars, FaceTime and Siri.
  • Google has Search, Maps, Gmail and YouTube.

Each of these systems creates an ongoing relationship that extends far beyond the purchase of the phone.

The choice between Apple and Google is not “Which product will I buy?” but “Whose ORBIT will I be in?”

Gravity Generators

The more generators you can assemble, the more gravity your ORBIT will generate.

These five Gravity Generators animate the Shared Purpose as a gravitational force of attraction.

  • Intrinsic Value: Provide value regardless of whether a prospect becomes a customer.
  • Peer Connections: Foster communication between community members.
  • Social Currency: Provide or enhance mediums of exchange between community members.
  • Little Data: Tell community members something they don’t know about themselves.
  • Return on Engagement: Look for ways to combine transactions and relationships around the Shared Purpose.

Gravity Generator 1 of 5

Intrinsic Value

Provide value regardless of whether a prospect becomes a customer.

Most interactions with a brand are about the transaction: What you should buy. Why you should buy. How you can buy.

These communications have extrinsic value:​ They have no value to the prospect unless they buy the product.

You can’t create pull when you are pushing your product. To create gravity, you need to deliver something that is of value even if the person doesn’t become a customer.

Intrinsic value creates a relationship with prospects outside the context of the transaction. Good content marketing has intrinsic value. So do many apps and services. For instance, Starbucks delivers Intrinsic Value with comfortable seating, free WiFi and charging stations.

Example

Nike+

Nike+ is at the center of Nike’s Orbit Strategy.

Nike+ doesn’t push Nike products. Instead, it pushes you to improve your performance. Anyone can join the community, even if you haven’t bought Nike gear.

There’s intrinsic value in the ability to “track runs, challenge friends and get motivated to keep going.”

One cool feature is called Cheers. You post to Facebook when you go for a run. If your friends reply while you are running, the app interrupts the music with applause or encouragement from celebrity athletes.

Nike+ has grown into a comprehensive program for other sports. You don’t just buy Nike products. You are part of Nike’s social system.

Where do you feel the landscape

has changed in your business or industry?

Gravity Generator 2 of 5

Peer Connections

Foster communication between community members.

Which has more pull: a lecture or a cocktail party? The cocktail party, of course.

And the host of a good party doesn’t talk about themself, but rather introduces guests based on their common interests.

In our social age, brands need to stop giving speeches and start hosting parties.

You can go where the party is already happening, like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Or you can throw your own party by creating an original platform.

Regardless of location, remember the pull is ultimately a result of how people connect with each other, not with you.

Four examples

There are multiple ways to tap the power of peer connections.

Gravity Generator 3 of 5

Social Currency

Provide or enhance mediums of exchange between community members.

By definition, a currency is a store of value and medium of exchange. Markets use financial currencies to make transactions, while communities use social currency to reinforce relationships.

The purpose of a social currency is not to make a transaction, but to express a relationship. Social currencies don’t have a price set in the market.

For example, when you’re moving, you can hire a professional mover and pay them in cash—or you can ask your friends and give them pizza and beer. You can’t pay the mover in pizza. And your friends would find it awkward to take your money.

To accelerate the “liquidity” of relationships in your social system, either create your own Social Currency, or facilitate the exchange of existing ones.

Example

Adobe Behance

Adobe’s Behance community illustrates how the elements of an ORBIT strategy fit together. The business goal is to engage creative professionals around Adobe software such as Photoshop.

The Shared Purpose of Behance is “to empower the creative world to make ideas happen.”

The Strategic Narrative is based on the idea of “putting control into the hands of creative professionals.”

Behance addresses professionals not only as the conventional Social Facet of a​rtist, b​ut also as entrepreneurs.

For Peer Connections, the Behance platform connects professionals with each other and with potential clients.

The Social Currencies are jobs, projects and portfolios.

Gravity Generator 4 of 5

Little Data

Tell community members something they don’t know about themselves.

Where Big Data is what companies know about us that we don’t know they know, Little Data is what we may not know about ourselves.

Big Data creates push. Little Data creates pull.

When you land on a web site and a “retargeting cookie” is used to deliver ads, that’s Big Data. When Nike+ shows your history of running times, routes and playlists, that’s Little Data.

Ideally, Big and Little Data combine to fulfill the Shared Purpose with experiences that are personalized and reciprocal. This creates a virtuous circle of transparency and trust.

When Little Data is used as a social currency, it also generates gravity to pull others into the brand ORBIT.

Example: Coke Freestyle

Coca­Cola’s Freestyle machines are more than self­-service. Customers can create custom mixes with over 100 combinations.

  • Each Freestyle machine is connected to the Internet, telling Coca­Cola which flavors are the most popular (Big Data).
  • With a mobile app, you can save your favorite mixes (Little Data).
  • You can connect to the machine and have it make your favorite mix. That’s Coke machine as bartender (a new Social Facet).
  • You can also share your mixes with friends (Social Currency).

Coca-­Cola could create even more gravity by sharing the most popular mixes back to the community. That’s Big + Little Data. This would further fulfill its Shared Purpose “to refresh the world.”

Gravity Generator 5 of 5

Return on Engagement

Look for ways to combine transactions and relationships around the Shared Purpose.

Companies measure the return on their investment, but not the customer’s return on their i​nvestment. This investment is measured in money, time, energy, ideas, trust, social capital, etc. For ORBIT, a better measure is Return on Engagement.

For companies, can they generate revenue from relationships without it feeling like “bait and switch”?

For customers, are they getting value from the relationship with the company beyond the products they buy?

To increase Return on Engagement, look for a way to combine transactions and relationships around the Shared Purpose.

Remember to embed the transaction inside the relationship, not to exploit the relationship to drive the transaction.

Look for ORBIT sightings

To practice ORBIT thinking, just browse your favorite business news.

Look for articles talking about company’s business or marketing strategies.

You will start to notice that some companies are more “push” and others are more “pull.” Some are building ORBITs, and some are still pushing products.

When you find a sighting of an ORBIT, look for the building blocks we’ve explored here.

Example

Sephora

Cosmetics company Sephora has a vibrant social system that incorporates many ORBIT principles. A rich portfolio of experiences embeds the cosmetics purchase inside an ongoing relationship with Sephora’s “beauty consultants.”

  • Sephora’s online community, Beauty Talk, enables anyone to ask questions of experts and peers (Peer Connections).
  • Another community, Beauty Board, enables customers to post their looks and the makeup used to create them (Social Currency).
  • Color IQ is a portable technology to measure the exact color of one’s skin, enabling a perfect match to the right foundation color (Intrinsic Value/ Little Data).
  • Over 80% of purchases are made through its Beauty Insider loyalty program. The data enables Sephora to fulfill its mission of “personalized beauty” (Return on Engagement).

Where do you feel the landscape

has changed in your business or industry?

Begin your ORBIT Journey

Simple steps can help catalyze your ORBIT strategy.

The first steps toward an ORBIT strategy don’t have to be elaborate and expensive. You can:

  • Re-­invigorate your content marketing with a Shared Purpose and Strategic Narrative.
  • Host events or forums for your customers (Peer Connections) on matters of mutual interest (Shared Purpose + Social Currency).
  • Update your positioning and messaging to emphasize relationships over transactions (Social Facets).
  • Collect data that can be delivered back to customers in ways they find useful (Little Data).

ORBIT is a journey as well as a destination. You will learn as you go. You just need to start.

Exercise

Intrinsic Value

In this simple ad-lib, the blanks represent a nascent ORBIT strategy.

For example, Nike might say, “Since we know our customers value tracking their runs, it makes sense for us to offer the ability to challenge friends and get motivated…even if they aren’t making a purchase.”

Now, try completing this sentence with your own brand's core offering (noun 1) and an ORBIT-style offering (noun 2).

“Since we know our customers value [noun], it makes sense for us to offer people [noun] …even if they aren’t making a purchase.”

Exercise

Social Currency

Where can your brand generate social currency?

ORBIT Activities:
What rituals, traditions, or social conventions involve your product?

Social Currency:
What do people talk about, share or exchange in these activities?

Enable / Empower:
How might your brand participate in, enable, or improve that experience?

Recap

The future of competition is who can generate more Brand Gravity.

The more Gravity Generators you can assemble, the more gravity your ORBIT will generate.

  • Intrinsic Value: Provide value regardless of whether a prospect becomes a customer.
  • Peer Connections: Foster communication between community members.
  • Social Currency: Offer or enhance mediums of exchange between community members.
  • Little Data: Use data to tell community members something they don’t know about themselves.
  • Return on Engagement: Look for ways to combine transactions and relationships around the Shared Purpose.

Go Deeper

Read "A Good Digital Strategy Creates a Gravitational Pull" by Mark Bonchek

Read "Three Steps to Generating Brand Gravity" by Mark Bonchek

Share with others