There are two very distinct but equally important ways of looking at brand:
- the internal perspective: what does it mean for the business
- the market perspective: what does it mean for consumers
Together they form the complete picture and create the right conditions for brand to drive business growth. Oftentimes only one perspective is taken into account but one cannot be without the other. They sit on a continuum: at one end we have the internal perspective or the brand proposition that sets out the organising principles for what the business is and does; while at the end we have the market perspective or “what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
Aligning these two perspectives and ensuring consistency from one end to the other is what makes great brands stand out in the market.
What sits in the middle?
Many brand strategy projects end up on a very high note, just to be deflated some time down the line when the “What now?” question comes up. This points out that the shiny new strategy has not been translated into day to day activity and no one really knows what it actually means for customers.
On the other end many ‘comms’ projects become campaigns that even when nicely linked to the brand proposition fail when confronting the market reality. These campaigns bring customers to the brand only to leave them disappointed when not finding the same ‘brand feel’ at different touchpoints.
Creating an authentic, ownable and recognisable experience and consistently delivering it throughout all brand interactions (inside-out) leads to all stakeholders associating positive emotions with the brand, driving brand engagement on all levels.
This is what brand experience is: an end to end customer journey that is carefully designed and managed to create a consistent positive association with the brand.
Truly successful businesses go to extreme lengths to ensure that everything they do ‘feels’ like their brand. BMW has always been impressive at it:
Just think how empowering it is when consumers recognise a brand by how its experience feels. And this is exactly what BMW does, going well beyond their product – the car – focusing on what the customer actually feels – joy.
So how do we create a brand experience that feels right
Designing the brand experience means translating the brand proposition into a distinct, identifiable and coherent way of doing things, i.e. tools, behaviours and communication style.
It means carefully mapping out all the existing and potential brand touchpoints and then identifying the desired ‘feel’ of each interaction between the brand and its stakeholders. Once all these are charted it comes down to engineering the journey. This ensures that what the customer gets is an authentic and consistently positive experience that is ultimately desirable.
In time the customers (and employees) will come to associate this experience or feeling with the brand. To achieve this we need to ensure that:
- our products/services (i.e. our most important brand touchpoints) are designed with relevance in mind;
- we consistently deliver the same brand “feel” for our customer throughout his entire journey;
- all our behaviours – from messaging to the actual selling experience and (especially) servicing our customer post-purchase – are on brand;
- we have set the right tools in place to coordinate and align all our brand touchpoints;
- our marketing communications are all in line with everything else.
Relevant is the key word
Relevance is in the eye of the consumer. Only by ensuring that your brand proposition is meaningfully translated into day to day operations you can design and manage the experience consumers have with your brand. And by creating a compelling, genuine and ultimately desirable brand experience you establish a consistent brand continuum that ensures your activity is and stays relevant.