Brand essence and customer experience
August 3, 2015
What makes a brand? Legally speaking, it’s a set of ‘signs’ that certify the origin of a product or service which differentiates it from competitors. For me, it is a symbol of trust, and will provoke a mental association that is exclusive to that brand, either rational or emotional. Essentially, a brand is a name that influences buyers, and has evolved from merely a design and communications led idea to one that is embedded deep within the DNA of an organisation.
Today’s Head of Marketing or Head of Brands has to focus not only on brand promise, but also the experience that it delivers, and there are a number of challenges presented by this. According to the CIM research paper, ‘Customer experience management: A practitioner’s checklist for driving change’, these are:
• Leadership – is the brand supported through all departments in the organisation?
• Reputation of CEO – over half of organisations surveyed include marketing on their management board
• Marketing clout – marketing has a limited role in influencing the organisation
• Positioning and strategy – aligning both brand positioning and strategic vision
Customer insight should be the key driver of all decision making so that a brand can deliver the best customer experience, yet 50% of organisations fail to anticipate or track customer needs, or even understand what drives customer preferences. Insight should be shared throughout the organisation by the senior team and form the basis of decisions made within every department. This way, employees are made to feel empowered by the brand vision and inspired to deliver the best brand experience.
So what must we do?
All decisions made by an organisation needs to take brand vision and values into account, from recruitment activities to ensuring that the reputation of the CEO is ‘on brand’ and an integral part of the brand story. Creating and using both customer experience guidelines and employee brand behaviour guidelines is key, as is constantly sharing insight across the board.
7/10 brand leaders believe that creating and delivering a great customer experience is more important than simply pumping out more marketing communications. Organisations need to adopt more of a matrix function where marketing opens up channels of communication between all departments and forms the glue of an organisation, right the way from the board and CEO, to each and every touchpoint throughout the customer journey – this way, a brand is fully aligned to deliver an authentic customer experience.