Brand is often limited in its definition to awareness of a product or service. A company markets its brand – creates the name, broadcasts it to target customer segments, and applies it to its corporate identity or a set of products and services. The brand makes the company, product, or service recognizable.
This limited view of brand is destined to fail in today’s business environment. Marketing, which orchestrates only a small part of the brand-customer relationship, puts the face on the brand, making a set of promises.
Creating a coherent brand experience requires aligning every touchpoint of your organization with your brand. The more perfect that alignment, the more perfect the customer brand experience. You can’t escape your brand. Either you make the customer experience, or it gets made without you. Brands are essentially the collective perceptions of an organization’s key constituents (customers, suppliers, investors, employees, etc.) and are defined more by deeds than by words. Brand is how your customer experiences what you do.
Visionary companies recognize that responsibility for brand management belongs with the organization as a whole.
It’s your choice: deliver an effective brand experience or don’t. If you’re active in shaping the customer experience you can develop a rich and long-lasting relationship, firmly based in your brand. Where you fail to create a strong relationship with customers, a competitor will. Here are five places to start:
1. Clearly articulate your brand identity. If you can’t clearly articulate your brand identity, you’ll be unable to control how customers interpret it. A clear brand identity sets expectations across your organization for your products and services.
2. Establish a customer value proposition and use it to guide each department. The various departments responsible for delivering against your customer value proposition need to understand what the customer value proposition means to them.
3. Define the optimal customer experience. Identify the contact points where customers interact with your company.To create a holistic brand experience, you need to create a consistent and compelling experience at each of these touchpoints.Take an outside-in perspective when aligning each department with your customer value proposition and brand identity.
4. Cultivate relationships with customers. Treat these relationships carefully. Listen attentively to what you’re being told, learn from it, and respond.
5. Strengthen your brand over time. Based on what you learn from your customers, recalibrate your brand. Always be aware of how your brand can strengthen your brand-customer relationship.