By: Act! Blog | 3/02/2017
Branding is one of those concepts that’s difficult to nail down. Most businesses know they need a strong brand, but most don’t understand what that means or how to achieve it. Is your brand a logo, your packaging design, a slogan, or is it something more subjective; a perception your customers have about who you are, what you value and how you meet their needs?
The truth is that effective branding is both. The best brands are consistent not only in the face they present to the marketplace—the symbols and messaging they use—but also in the way they interact with customers, how responsive they are to their concerns, and the extent to which they clearly articulate and keep their promises.
Think about Your Best Friends
Some people you meet become friends; others don’t, and there’s a reason. Of all the people you meet, some take the time to listen to your problems without immediately interjecting their own. Some come to your aid when you need help, not tell you they’re too busy. Some take the time to find out what’s important to you, like a card on your birthday, or a hug when you’re feeling down. And some are grateful when you do something nice for them.
The best brands are like best friends. They’re empathetic and take the time to know you, what problems you have, and what you care about. And they’re grateful for your business and show it.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Good branding and outstanding customer experience are inextricably intertwined. Brands make a promise to customers, and a positive customer experience fulfills that promise. At the same time, having a good experience through the customer journey solidifies a company’s brand - and both branding and customer experience succeed by establishing a powerful emotional connection with customers.
In “How To Create A Brand-Defining Customer Experience,” Brian Solis notes how important customer experience is to good branding:
“Customer experience is the next battlefield for brands. Those that get it right, will not only create long-lasting customer relationships but will also earn a significant competitive advantage over those that solely compete on product, price, or promotion. On the other hand, companies that do not master the art of customer experience will lose relevance and market share over time.”
Strategies to Build Brand and Improve Customer Experience
Customer experience and branding are mutually beneficial, and there are steps you can take to make them work together to help your company grow. Here are three strategies you can use to reinforce your brand with positive customer interactions:
1. Make every touchpoint an opportunity to reinforce your brand. A positive customer experience isn’t linear - it’s more like a discontinuous web of “connector moments” across many touchpoints. It’s like having a good experience with a customer service representative or receiving a discount when you're dissatisfied. Improving customer experience means understanding what works and what doesn’t in each of these moments, then linking them to create an overall positive impression. Each of these moments is an opportunity to build your brand by fulfilling brand promises.
2. Extend emotional connections to customer interactions. The best brands use emotional triggers to reinforce their message. The ASPCA doesn’t simply tell you about the ways your contribution helps animals - it shows you with videos that evoke powerful emotions. But it goes further, extending that emotional connection to the experience you have in your interactions with caring call center reps. The brand promises empathy and caring, and the customer’s interaction reinforces that promise.
3. Bring your company’s vision statement down to earth. Your vision or mission statement is central to your brand. It tells customers why you’re in business, whether that means delivering quality products or outstanding customer service. By their nature, vision statements are lofty and theoretical. A positive customer experience grounds and reinforces your vision statement, showing customers you mean what you say.
Your brand tells customers what you value and how you can meet their needs better than your competitors. Positive customer experiences extend and reinforce your brand by showing, rather than telling customers that you mean what you say. To learn more about the ways you can improve customer experience to build your brand and your business, contact us today.