Companies often invest a colossal and uncompromising amount of energy and resources into innovation. But what about the customer experience that supports an innovative product or service? Do the offer and the experience work perfectly together to enhance the brand’s value? Here are two simple exercises to put things into perspective.
To simplify the subject of this article, we’ll use the term “offer” to encompass the nature of a company’s activities, whether this offer is a range of products or services.
State of mind
The offer + The experience = An impactful brand
I like to think that any business systematically has two complementary and perfectly inseparable “products”: the offer itself and the customer experience that supports it. When the two are aligned, they are profitable for a business. When they are not aligned, it can hurt your brand.
Your offer will always be at the core of your customer experience. Even the most stellar customer experience would be of no value if your offer did not fulfill its advertised promise. The finest packaging cannot compensate for a poor quality product. The biggest global brands have understood the importance of aligning their offers with an unmatched customer experience. A high-end product requires a high-end experience. An innovative and modern product requires a similar customer experience.
But what’s your benchmark? Without a doubt, your brand is your anchor. And your brand still has to be authentic, distinctive and meaningful. Here’s an initial exercise to get you started.
The mirror game
Marty Neumeier said:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization. It is not what you say it is. It is what THEY say it is.”
This is perhaps the most realistic and telling definition of the concept of a brand. The idea of a brand is, above all, a matter of perception. It is an intangible concept in which rational and emotional intertwine to build a brand empire. What if you applied this principle to establish your brand?
Objectively compare your perception of your brand to that of its target market. Of course, quantitative and qualitative analyses help to better understand how your brand is perceived. Intuition is rarely the best measurement tool—especially when it comes to perception.
Now, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the image you have of your brand correspond to that perceived by your target audiences? You call yourself a leader in your market—but is that truly the case?
- Is what you believe to be unique and distinctive about your offer really understood by your targets? For example, you believe your customer service is proactive and empathetic. Have you ever really evaluated the level of your customer service?
- Is what you claim to deliver as a brand promise actually perceived as such? Are you positioning your brand according to an innovative vision? How solid is your vision and does it permeate your entire business?
- Does the level of your customer experience reflect the level of your offer? For example, do you provide high-end product? If so, is your customer experience on par? Do people believe in your brand without even having experienced the product?
If you notice a distortion between your perception of things and that of your target market, a change is required! You are not leveraging the full potential of a strong and fully activated brand. If you’re having trouble answering these questions clearly, it’s your brand that’s blurry, not the mirror image! We will address brand audits in a future article. But let’s assume that the clarity of your brand in all its dimensions is a given for both your internal team and all of your target audiences. Let’s move on to Exercise 2.
Let’s now focus on your customer experience—the multiple touch points that surround your offer and make it even more relevant, more exclusive, more attractive, and more decisive before, during and after the purchase. Now switch chairs! Put yourself into the shoes of each of your personas and simulate the journey that each customers takes—from comparing your company with the competition to the buying process itself to wondering whether or not you would actually recommend your offer.
Identify all possible points of contact with your brand, such as your digital presence, communication tools, sales force training, customer service, etc. Go each step of the customer journey. Ask yourself: would I be my own customer?
Spread out all your print and digital communication tools. Explore your competitors’ websites and social media. Consult other consumers’ opinions. Break down your buying process and analyze the information about your offer. Focus on the packaging or your samples, the accuracy of your videos, your sales force’s approach, etc.
For each of these touch points:
- What do you feel? Would you instinctively want to choose a competitor or your company?
- What image emerges? Is your overall brand image on the level of how you perceive your brand?
- What do you understand about your brand? Are your positioning and brand promise aligned with what you think you’re communicating?
Tip: Focus on a 30,000-foot view! Your customers do not over-analyze. Think more about spontaneous perceptions. You’ll be surprised to see how perceptions can draw customers in or send them to the competition.
The game of perception
By performing these two exercises with a lot of introspection, you’ll see how perception plays a crucial role in your overall brand experience. You’ll notice that what Marty Neumeier says is true:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization. It is not what you say it is. It is what THEY say it is”.
Initially, our work as an agency is to unearth and properly define your brand. Our second job is to ensure that your brand is deployed so that there is no distortion between reality and people’s perception. We make sure that what you say your brand is and what THEY say it is are perfectly aligned. Our ultimate goal is to build a brand that will become your organization’s main asset.