Brands reduce uncertainty by promising and delivering a consistent experience. That’s in the end what makes consumers come back. Once you have managed to put your brand on the radar with consumers, the moment of truth arrives. The ‘live experience’ must be consistent with the expectation that you – implicitly and explicitly – have created with them.
If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful – Jeff Bezos, founder Amazon
The difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘brand affirming’ live-experience What’s good or bad depends very much on what brand you are. An experience becomes ‘brand affirming’ the moment it (re)confirms the expectation of the client about the difference a brand makes.
- In an upmarket, fancy looking supermarket (which promises ‘a festive food experience’) I’d get totally annoyed with a boring offer, messy appearance, slow and disinterested staff and messy careless displays! I expect exciting products, cooking demonstrations and attentive staff.
- In a cheap supermarket (which promises ‘bargains you’ll get nowhere else’) I’d be totally ok with the same experience. In this case my experience delivers proof for the promise that the shop does everything it can to keep prices as low as possible. I get the basics for a value for money price.
- If I’m in a Volkswagen showroom, it makes perfect sense to me if the car salesman is wearing an informal polo, approaches me in an informal way and displays a charming sense of humour. I’d would feel alienated if the Volkswagen sales-guy would serve tea in gold-rimmed china cups and wear a posh suit.
- At Jaguar, it would be exactly the other way around.
Whatever works for another brand, doesn’t necessarily work for yours. These examples show the devil lies in the details! What makes a customer happy or comfortable depends on the expectation your brand has created, consciously or not. If their expectations are matched (preferably exceeded), chances are high that they will come back. Otherwise they will move on to another brand. Which means all your investments to put your brand on the customer’s radar and inspire trial are down the drain.
- Your brand’s experience should be in sync to live up to the expectations you’ve ‘planted’ in your customers’ minds.
- Organizations (and employees) that put the ‘brand experience’ of their customers first, ask themselves at every decision or action they take: how will this impact the customer experience?
- The devil is in the detail. Each ‘live contact’ customers have with a brand, can affirm their preference as well as break the spell.
- Brand -oriented behaviour doesn’t come automatically. It requires focus, dedication and perseverance.
Ask yourself regularly the following questions:
- Is my organization in sync, is it geared to fulfil our brand promise? Are our organizational structure, processes and systems helping to take the brand forward?
- Do I have an overview of all contacts that customers have with my brand?
- Does every brand expression (visual, tactile, verbal, functional, behavioural) reflect my brand identity?