NHF Communications and Marketing conference today. The highlight was a session by Greg Nugent, who was Director of Brand, Marketing and Culture for the London Olympics and Paralympics.
I still get a bit giddy when I think about London 2012 and how amazing it was; after the opening ceremony I wrote this.
One of my favourite memories of the Games was being on a train coming back from Manchester and the ticket collector telling all the travellers about the medals Team GB had won that day, complete with impressions of dancing horses. When he finished the carriage broke out in applause.
To have created a brand that was so loved that people randomly applauded it (and it was the brand, as well as the amazing athletes, that people loved) is nothing short of genius, especially given the shaky-ish reputation the London Games had in earlier years.
Greg told the story brilliantly but what stood out was the relentless focus on what customers wanted. At the end of every day, the team asked visitors how their experience had been and pushed them to give even the smallest criticism. The team then had between 11pm and 6am the next morning (when the park opened) to put it right for them. Spectator experience was just one element of the brand but it was probably the most important one. Greg made the point that inconsistency in the brand experience drives customers crazy.
A direct connection with spectators was also key to the brand's success. With a powerful customer database, they were able to release information direct to the public at the same time as the media, which built trust in the brand.
By the end of the Games, they had only had 13 serious complaints (so few that Seb Coe could personally call them back) and 89% of the country thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened. Ever. Which is pretty cool.
So what can housing communicators learn from this? Well London 2012 came and went. We're lucky because our brands are in people's lives for a long time giving us even more of an opportunity to wow them. The challenge is to make that direct connection and relentlessly focus on what our customers want.