A few weeks ago I talked about how to build ‘experience’ into branding and why it is so important if you are to create a more meaningful and longer lasting connection with your customers. This close bond will ultimately lead to the growth of your business through increased awareness, repeat business and customer loyalty.
This week I want to talk about why you need to start thinking about how your brand extends beyond your logo, business card and website.
Your branding already goes beyond your logo, whether you realise it or not. It’s your social media, it’s your customer service, it’s the unwrapping of one of your products and more.
Once you understand this, you can start to take control of these experiences. You can design them so that they work in a way that represents the values of your brand to enrich the customer experience. For your brand to feel genuine and believable, the customer's experience of it must be consistent throughout.
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We’ve all enjoyed opening an Apple product. Every detail has been carefully considered and perfectly executed with precision and clarity of purpose. It’s an experience in itself, which is an extension of their branding.
Well now imagine you opened your new iPhone or Macbook and there was a problem. You would expect the same level of performance from their customer support - for the call to be answered and solved swiftly and painlessly.
But if instead you were placed on hold for 18 minutes before being greeted by someone who got your name wrong, was reading a script instead of actually listening to you and then accidentally cut you off, you’d be furious.
Although that is an extreme example, the way you’d now feel about Apple would be so very different and you’d probably tell people about this discrepancy in brand experience.
The beers are on Venmo
Another important, yet often overlooked component to branding, is how your brand communicates with customers is through your social media. You are able to win so many fans through valuable and authentic content, that it is foolish to not consider it an essential component of your branding.
However many Brands forget or more accurately, are let down by the person / agency in charge of brand strategy, who often completely overlook it.
A recent example that caught my attention featured a College Kid called Sam Crowder who was in the audience for the College Football game Tennessee against Virginia Tech. ESPN’s popular weekly college football preview show College GameDay, was at the game and spotted Sam in the crowd holding up a homemade sign that read: 'HI MOM! SEND BEER MONEY.’ Underneath the letters was a colored 'V' representing the logo for Venmo, the digital wallet that allows people to pay each other through their smart phones.
Well it turns out that over 2000 people, including Venmo themselves sent him some beer money! They even covered it in the social media.
The whole experience is authentic, real and a wonderful spontaneous example of Venmo showing the benefit of their product and their brand personality at the same time.
These stories always make for great PR, but often they rely on the person in charge of the social media feed to be sharp enough to see the opportunity and respond accordingly. If you have someone in your business able to do that fantastic, but what happens when they leave? Their talent leaves with them and now your Brand presence on your social media goes back to being ordinary.
How can you keep your branding on point no matter who’s in charge?
Well, it does come down to training and guidance, but it goes a little deeper and comes back to what your brand stand for - your brand beliefs and values. That’s why it’s so important to clarify what these are in the very beginning.
As Collette Phillip - Brand Strategist and Founder of Brand By Me who has worked with global brands such as McDonald’s and P&G explains “You can be successful in your market in the short term without having clarified your brand values, if what you do is unique, but as soon as a rival enters your market with a well defined brand and clear purpose they will go on to dominate your market, usually crushing you in the process”.
By clearly establishing what you stand for, you will have a guide to your brand values and beliefs to refer to, meaning you will have a consistent presence and tone of voice throughout all of your communication.
Examples to look up to:
I have explained how Customer Service and Social Media Content is an extension of your branding, so here are some examples of amazing branding that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy:
Although all of this seems like a lot of effort, the 2 things you mustn't overlook is:
1) These stories where Brands have gone above and beyond what was expected (in a genuine way that felt authentic and true to their brand values) are very sharable. If a Brand wanted to pay for this type of positive PR, it would cost a fortune and still wouldn't get the results that they wanted. These gestures are expensive as far as thought, time and effort is concerned, but very cheap when you consider how powerful the message is that they send out.
2) They are fun! It's far more enjoyable to behave in this way because you are being true to yourself and making friends along the way. You are having a positive impact that is improving the lives of others and aren't simply following protocol.
Have your brand values and beliefs clearly established and start to consider at how they can be applied to all aspects of your customer experience, to enhance the relationship between your brand and your customers.
If you haven't considered what your Brand Beliefs and Values are, or maybe you don't even know, I'd love to help you figure them out. So next week I'll be writing an article all about how to establish them and it which will include a worksheet to help you make the whole process quick and easy. But if you can't wait for that, please feel free to get in touch.
Have a great week!