Why a customer focus is key.
One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make with their brand is a sole focus on what they think is ‘cool’ or looks good. They have an idea of what they’ve always wanted their brand to look and feel like. This often comes with a disregard for what is possibly the most important factor in an effective brand – what resonates with your customers.
WTF is brand?
Firstly, when we’re talking about brand we’re not just talking about a logo and some colours. These are, of course, fundamental components of a brand but are by no means the be all and end all. Your brand is basically every touchpoint that someone (a customer, a candidate, a potential partner, your employees etc) might have with your organisation that could impact the impression they have of you. It’s anything that might give them a positive or negative feeling about you.
A lifetime ago (or it certainly feels like it), I used to work in hospitality – predominantly in hotels. There was a concept that resonated with me when I was being trained in and later trained others in customer service. It was called ‘Moments of Truth’. Taking the example of a hotel, the ‘moments of truth’ are any interaction a guest might have with any aspect of that hotel. Be it the staff, the food or drink or even a piece of furniture. Each interaction has the potential to contribute positively or negatively to that guest’s experience of their visit. Someone opens the door and smiles for you +1, there’s no-one available at the front desk -1, there’s a complimentary bottle of wine in your room +5, the bedsheets are dirty -10 and so on. The purpose of this is for staff to understand that the positive interactions are useless if the next interaction brings them right back down again.
Now think of your brand as if it was that hotel. What interactions are a potential customer having with my brand and will they have a positive or negative contribution to their experience?
This is why a carefully considered brand is so important. It’s absolutely essential that we have as much control over the impression we’re giving as possible. We have to be aware where the ‘moments of truth’ are and ensure they’re consistently improving your ‘score’. There’s no point in having a really engaging social media presence if none of that is evident when a user arrives on your website. Or a really friendly tone throughout our website, if you’re then going to be let down by someone who answers the phone.
Our brand should be ingrained throughout our organisations. Our people should be trained in the role that each of them play in delivering it properly.
Especially for you
Once we understand the all-encompassing nature off brand, the next step is ensuring the impression we’re giving is the one our customers are looking for.
When I hold workshops with clients to help them develop their brand, we talk a lot about effective brands. Whilst my clients will often bring examples of brands they love, I intentionally use brands that don’t work for me personally but I believe do a fantastic job of connecting with their target audience. These aren’t brands I would necessarily want to be like, unless I was going after those customers. I’ll also bring examples of brands I don’t think my clients will like to get them thinking about why these brands are effective with their target market.
I think this is so important as it gets them thinking outside the brands they think are ‘cool’ and pretty. It also allows us to move away from the inevitable Adidas/Apple/Supreme conversations. Let’s talk about why Innocent’s tone might be sickeningly sweet to a lot of us but have helped them corner a very specific corner of their market with great success.
This is also why my sessions always have a firm focus on audience and creating customer avatars that represent the market they’re going after. What problem are we solving for them? What do they need to be made easier for them? What else do they like?
Without the answers to these questions, I can’t do my job. Yes, I can help you replicate your favourite brand. I can give you a flashy logo, build you a website with loads of animation and an arty black and white promo video. But, any success you might have off the back of it will be purely coincidental.
Your brand has to be built around the people that are going to be interacting with it. If it doesn’t work for them then every interaction is going to put you further into the minus points. Your ‘brand hotel’ might as well be a building site with unmade beds, no electricity, and handily situated next to a chemical plant.
Although I’m sure most of us would take it if it meant a holiday right now!
If you’re looking to develop your brand and tell your story in a way that will resonate with your audience, be sure to get in touch.