‘Brand intimacy’ agency MBLM recently released its 2018 report, which is a study of brands based on emotions. The agency defines brand intimacy as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.
Nikon ranked 8th on MBLM’s Brand Intimacy Index 2018 with a score of 57.7 – up from 46.1 in 2015.
So, we spoke Nikon MEA’s brand manager, Blossom Furtado, to see how the company merges a passion for photography with acute business sense.
Photography has undergone a complete evolution from its days as a studio activity for the elite noble class. It has truly become a medium that has borne witness to the world and has been instrumental in capturing and preserving iconic moments. The camera has been our window to a world that lay beyond reach. From the medium format to the current digital era, cameras have had to adapt to the changing times and needs of its user.
What began as a way to preserve personal memories slowly became the medium of the historical narrative, preferred and best understood by the world. Perhaps its greatest asset is the lack of a uniform language that may restrict its understanding. When Kevin Carter of the Bang Bang Club photographed the infamous “struggling girl” capturing a starving girl with a vulture poised behind her, the inhuman conditions in violence-struck South Africa became clear to all. That is the infallible power of photography where mere images become symbols of an entire body of thought.
For many, who are only capturing their own history, a camera may be a mere photo device that sees the light of the day only on special occasions. In fact, it may even have been replaced by a phone camera that seems more convenient. But, is that what photography is? An endless array of filters and light correction? Photography is the art of capturing that rare still moment in time that becomes a part of the fluidity of time and history. A photographer will tell you of the deep connection they have with their camera and how, in many ways, it becomes one with their minds when they are capturing a moment. Such intimacy and synchronization is only possible when one has a passion for photography. The joy of looking through the viewfinder and hearing the sound of the shutter is one that is unrivaled by any other device.
Creating connectivity with the brand
Nikon believes in the power of photography and staying true to our roots even as we move toward a more digitized world. For the past 100 years, we have appointed ourselves as custodian of the art [of photography] and the equipment that supports it.
As a brand, our philosophy is centered around creating a personal bond with our consumers. In fact, the aim to personify the brand was the crux of our entire marketing strategy as well as what guided our customer relationships. Cameras are largely dissonance products where the consumer might feel lost among the technical specifications. Our aim was to gain the trust of the consumer – both amateurs and professionals – by providing them with a glimpse of the Nikon experience through our products. We invited them to try the cameras and take home the memories of the day. This exercise helped communicate value and develop a bond that went beyond the point of purchase.
We also understand that art needs an audience and cannot exist for the sake of it and so, we believe in nurturing it and giving a platform to photographers – even aspiring ones –– to bring their work to the mainstream audience; whether it is through photography training or through our support programs that mentor and mold photographers on a global stage.
Building communities through care
The bond between photographers and their cameras is sacred, each setting a product of careful consideration. In fact, it would not be hyperbole to say that most photographers feel a connection with their cameras that goes beyond its functional aspects.
Each photographer is different in terms of style, subject and substance but ‘I am Nikon’ seems to have united people across genres.
For us, the relationship with the brand does not end at the sale; rather, it begins the day of the purchase. Our post sales services are what help us not only build but also sustain the community that has come to depend on us for their artistic expressions. At Nikon, we believe that we do not sell cameras; we sell lifestyles.
Our Nikon Premium Member loyalty programme is aimed at creating a bond that also yields tangible benefits to its members by building a community of passionate photographers who have a staunch ally in their pursuits.
The ‘Nikon Social’ programme is yet another way we combine inspiration with education aimed at social media content developers. Headlined by an influencer, these intimate sessions are instrumental in understanding how images can be an effective way to stand out in the crowd.
Art is deeply personal and contextual and a brand that works within these parameters will die a slow death if it’s impersonal and only concerns itself with sales. More than critics, reviewers and experts, the artists have to be able to trust the brand that will become their medium. Nikon began with a simple aim to service the photography community and provide them with the tools they needed to create their works of art. Through quality equipment, we wanted to enable talent to take their rightful place under the spotlight. The Nikon world is a place where needs are met but expectations exceeded and our every move stems from this belief.