Key to the successful delivery of brand experience is your ability to drive ownership and delivery of your brand from the inside out, top down and bottom up, throughout your organization.
Not only is internal brand management important for creating and maintaining strong brands, it is the critical first step for delivering a branded customer experience. Recognized as a key competitive differentiator by marketers across segments and sectors, brands that have been well-positioned in the past are finding that the competitive marketspace is shifting under their feet.
From decreased loyalty to increased price sensitivity, today’s customers are proactive, looking for and finding the brands they want – and leaving in a heartbeat if the experience doesn’t measure up to expectations. In fact, 87% of customers surveyed in 2008 said they’d leave after a single negative experience.
Not much room for error, is there? This is where an understanding of the brand commitment threshold comes in – that point at which “The Company” cedes control of the brand to its employees, whose commitment to it is at the heart of creating a branded customer experience.
Four steps to delivery of a branded customer experience: Understand—and control—the management, interpretation and delivery of your Brand.
Ultimately, the relevance and strength of your brand is defined by how well you are able to create and sustain delivery of an experience that creates differentiation (from your competition) and preference (for your brand). Including all your touchpoints – from your products and services to customer support, marketing activities, sales and more – how customers “experience” your brand is what will drive them closer to or away from your organization.
Our perspective – which has been validated by multiple research engagements run by MCorp Consulting, as well as studies from Forrester and others – is that employee behavior lies at the heart of the branded customer experience.
So how do you get there? Follow these four steps, with your organization crossing the brand commitment threshold in the process. They include:
- Codified Brand: The first step in delivering your brand is defining it. What are your values? What is your promise? What does delivery on your promise mean to employees and customers? How does it look, and feel?
- Implemented Brand: Once you’ve codified your brand, you’ll need to implement it. Beyond (but including) the consistent visual and verbal delivery of your brand across touchpoints and messaging matrices, management’s buy-in and support of the brand vision, and their support of employees in delivering it, are critical steps in crossing the threshold.
- Interpreted Brand: Do your employees believe? Once they do – that the organization buys into the vision, from the “top down” – they’ll begin to own it. This means delivering on it in their interactions with each other, with customers, and with your broader community of audiences and stakeholders.
- Experienced Brand: Bottom line? Your culture drives the brand experience. When the brand is articulated, management holds itself (and employees) accountable for delivering on it. At the same time, employees will interpret and begin delivering against it, consistently delivering the “branded customer experience” which will set you apart.
At the end of the day, the value of most businesses is based almost entirely on the value and loyalty of their customers. And the value and loyalty of your customers is based on your employees, regardless of their role or position in the company. When it comes to “living the brand” everyone is equally responsible; your Brand comes from inside… and must be experienced internally first.
More than just a clear vision and values, your brand must inform and motivate employees and customers, driving both internal and external interactions. Crossing the Brand Commitment Threshold is what sets you apart from the competition, driving more prospects and customers, more effectively, closer to your organization.
The result? The consistent delivery of a differentiated, branded customer experience, and more satisfied, more loyal (and more profitable) customers as a result.