Offering services and products alone is not enough in today’s economy. Organizations are spending millions on providing their customers with not satisfactory but memorable experiences. Creating a brand that moves consumer’s sensory experience is what sells and move products in 2017. Managing the customer experience is an emotional one and is a herculean task.
For this reason it is helpful to begin with some advice from those who have embarked and helped organizations succeed. Following the below tips from Heather Kenny, copywriting and communications expert, LinkedIn page can set your organization on a strategic path for success.
- Brand, know thyself. You can’t have an identity if you don’t know who you are. Everyone knows a “people pleaser,” who changes their opinions and personality to try to be acceptable to everyone. Effective brands know who they are and who their audience is, and they aren’t going to waste time trying to convince those that won’t naturally have an affinity for them. Much like people with confidence, brands with confidence will be more attractive than those desperately trying to get everyone to like them.
- Start from the inside. The only brand that will be truly effective is one that motivates and engages your employees—so they have to have a say in what it is. Dictating your brand and expecting employees to fall in line is not going to promote productivity. You also have to make sure that you talk to people at every level—from front-line customer service staff and junior managers, not just executives and brand strategists—and listen to them. This diverse set of perspectives will strengthen your brand and create authenticity (see No. 5 below for more).
- Have a narrative. Stories are an innate part of the human experience—they are how we make sense of the world and give events meaning. Brands that effectively harness the power of narrative are more likely to be appealing, especially when they resonate with universal truths or experiences. Such narratives build an emotional connection.
- Create an experience they’ll remember. People may buy out of necessity or they may buy for emotional reasons, but providing them with an experience, not just a product or a service, can create an unforgettable impression they’ll remember. Consider Nordstrom’s free personal shopper service, in which a stylist will ask you about your needs and preferences, pluck items for you from the racks in preparation for your visit, and you can simply show up and try them on. It’s a boon for anyone who hates shopping, but it also creates a personalized, unique, and even luxurious experience.
- Be authentic. Today’s marketing-savvy (and often cynical) consumers appreciate a brand that they perceive as authentic. Organizations and brands can manifest authenticity in various ways, from the materials they use to their origin stories, but generally authenticity is signaled by trust and sincerity.
- Align your external values and image with internal actions, processes and behaviors. Consumers aren’t stupid. They know when organizations present one image externally and a different one internally. And your potential customers might know too—they have more access to your processes and culture than ever thanks to the media as well as sites that allow employees to anonymously “review” their companies. If those two images contradict each other, it’s not going to bode well for your efforts at authenticity.
- Be ethical. Building on numbers 5 and 6, alignment between external and internal values and image projects ethics and integrity. Volkswagen’s brand promoted quality, great engineering, and safety, and then it was discovered that executives had inserted code into its emissions systems software to get around U.S. standards. Suddenly it was obvious that the image Volkswagen projected and its internal workings weren’t saying the same thing, throwing its commitment to safety, engineering, and quality into question.
- Open a dialogue. Brands aren’t entirely under organizational control no matter what they do—customers have a big say in what your brand is. Your brand depends on an ongoing dialogue with them. So make sure you’re listening to pick up on nuances and ideas. Mini Cooper acknowledges concerns about space inside its small cars by addressing the issue on its website with photos of customers and what they’ve managed to pack inside.
- Dump the old marketing funnel. The days of the marketing funnel are long gone. Today the marketing process is more fragmented, interactive, and winding than ever before. Today companies need to dump the simplistic model of the customer journey for a more connected and dynamic one. Organizations need to create experiences at each moment of that journey and plan for any number of touchpoints and moments—from packaging to customer service–to ensure consistency and promote engagement.
- Constantly and consistently monitor your brand identity and alignment internally and externally. You’ve established your brand, instituted an effective communications plan, and made sure your employees are on board—congratulations! But your work isn’t done. In fact, it’s never done. Monitoring your organizational identity and brand are never-ending projects. Keeping the dialogue open with all your stakeholders and in a continuous state of development is challenging—but ultimately can bring great rewards in the form of loyal customers and motivated, dedicated employees.
As a communication specialist in training, I would personally recommend a few tips I feel would help the process of communication organizational identity and brand.
- Tell you story: Everyone loves a great story because they can relate. Brands that can harness power of narrative help consumers make sense of the world around them and often more appealing.
- Make mistakes: Making mistakes will quickly teaches us NOT what to do in the future. Shake mistakes off and keep moving forward.Listen – Sit back and listen to your costumers.
- Know your audience: DON’t try to appeal to everyone. By knowing how to appeal to a targeted audience create connection and loyal customers.
- Make it personal: Own your brand by being you. Let consumers know why other organizations like working with you or purchasing from you.
- Celebrate: Remember to take time out of the grind to celebrate big and small success.