Any conversation about customer experience (CX) must include a discussion of brand power and where it can lead. How important is branding? Brand power energizes CX by creating positive recognition for a product or service, a pillar that, in turn, supports the marketing company’s revenue and ROI. The common thread running through the world’s iconic brands is recognition – positive, undisrupted, target audience recognition.
How do you get positive recognition?
While developing and providing a high-quality product or service is fundamental, smart marketers know that positive recognition doesn’t always spring up organically. Instead, two key goals are clear:
- Create trust in the value of the product/service.
- Connect a distinctive name to the developed value and trust.
Recognition branding is the business activity focused on building a positive name and impression, taking into account every touchpoint in the customer journey. Easy to say, not so easy to do. Although these points seem clear, marketers far and wide miss on both counts because they make fundamental errors from the get-go.
Mind the traps
Keep an eye out for these branding journey traps that marketers fall into the most.
- Sending out mixed messages, thus triggering confusion. A confused prospect generally steers toward a more straightforward solution – even if it represents, in reality, inferior value.
- Promising something you can’t deliver. In this unfortunate situation, customer disappointment quickly undermines trust.
- Failure to define and deliver a meaningful difference that distances your product from the competitors’. Unless there’s added value, you have nothing to hang your hat on — and your prospect has no reason to become your customer.
- Miscalculating how your customer wants to hear from you. For example, some companies steadfastly push for personal meetings, ignoring that their prospects prefer online communication. Ask a sales manager what happened with a lost opportunity/sale, and the answer is often, “We had a great solution but never got to engage the decision-maker.” Knowing the preferred communication mode makes it more likely that the conversation will continue and the deal will move forward.
- Don’t overcharge for the added value. One of the biggest mistakes is charging too much for an extra benefit. Added value may be lost if pricing doesn’t come into the calculation. Ironically, you can show the enhanced value without adding physical benefits to the brand. Here’s how:
- Present things differently, through a unique medium, coupled with a more engaging message, with logos and colors that resonate better.
- Make your promotional package the deciding factor – even in markets where products are very similar. It’s all in the eyes and minds of your audience.
- Harness all available branding resources and don’t hesitate to use them to the max.
How to work with what you have to customize your brand
Don’t fool yourself. Be a realist when overviewing the picture from end-to-end. Start by making your staff aware of the pitfalls listed above and their counteractive properties. Helping employees understand the impact of their actions is much more powerful and effective than simply giving them a “Don’t” list. That said, the branding challenge is far from over – there’s so much more to do.
- Capture a theme and mood with innovative graphic designs focusing particularly on logos, diagrams, and imaging. Supplement this with selective color selections and typography.
- Take time to structure message content that speaks to the emotions and logic of your target audience, in a voice that they take to – not recoil from.
- Concentrate on message flow so that the listener is staying with you on point – not mind-speeding ahead or falling behind.
- Anticipate hesitations and be realistic about prospects’ doubts. Have sensible answers to frequently asked questions.
- Plan on how to get the customers to listen to your proposal. Then, work on how you are going to get your brand material to work for you.
- Bring everything together to develop marketing materials, social media advertising, pitch decks, sample packs, logo distribution on letterheads, calling cards, and similar. Although this is but a small piece of the total challenge, the consistency and attention to detail will pay off.
What can we learn from the most recognized brands
When you think of brand recognition, what companies come to mind? It’s not by accident or great fortune that the worldwide iconic brands include companies like:
- John Deere
- Banks like Chase, Capital One, and international giant Barclays
- Medical and insurance companies like Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana
And don’t forget the entertainment frontrunners Dreamworks, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. The list goes on and on. But what do they all do consistently and effectively?
- They focus on audience recall. At every touchpoint through the sales process, customers of leading brands see the same design elements and consistent messaging. Leading marketers leave no stone unturned in identifying with the customer so that the latter remembers their brand at all pivotal moments. They take great pains to leave a brand visual imprint in the minds of their customers.
- They are in sync with the way customers think and the principles guiding their actions. They know that the more the brand connects to customer values, no matter how repetitive, the more likely it is that brand loyalty and confidence in it will emerge.
- They are acutely aware of the dynamic nature of touchpoints. Look at top brand promotions, and you’re sure to see consistent branding across all the channels customers rely on for product connection. With prolific growth in touchpoints almost daily, this is severely challenging but vital to get right.
- They develop and use brand books. Professional branders appreciate that straying from the branding theme can be immensely costly. They resolve this possibility by structuring a brand book or style guide that:
- Details every aspect of a brand, providing guidelines and directions on how to use the brand elements across all channels.
- Creates continuity and uniformity in the team effort. Designers and writers moving into branding projects rely on the brand book to bring themselves up to speed and stay on track.
- They appoint a brand ambassador. Messaging and channel coordination are massively complicated. It can quickly go south, even with the best intentions and with all team members onside. Groundbreaking brands leave nothing to chance:
- They routinely appoint someone with the responsibility of making sure that every outbound communication is on point with brand objectives.
- It boils down to the appointee (usually a recognized communications executive in the company) systemizing the flow of content, through every channel, to consistently reflect the central branding theme.
So back to the original question: How important is branding? Arguably, it’s the most critical aspect of the customer experience and one that no company can afford to ignore. It spells the difference between success and failure in the overall CX effort, bringing sales enablement strategies into a new light. Branding value is not a passing trend. It’s been around for a long long time, and in the digital era of multi-channel multi-choice competition, it’s more relevant than ever before.