Some organisations think about their brand incessantly, some employ expensive consultants to help them conjure up new logos and define their brand values, others simply do nothing at all.
In a highly competitive marketplace, the personality of your brand is a key element in defining customer experience. It will boost your sales, and it’s a magnet for new talent. The only question is how you do it and – more importantly – whether you implement brand personality as an integral part of the business strategy, rather than merely a marketing tactic.
What I do find amazing is how often I come across business people who don’t give enough thought to the total customer experience they are providing, keeping their eyes on the product or service they sell. Do they never open the box and pretend to be a customer? Install their own product or call their own help line, to see what it’s really like?
Those of you who watched the TV show “Undercover Boss” will know exactly what I mean. The real experience your customers are getting can be rather different to what you read in marketing literature or discuss around the boardroom table.
Some years back I ran a large number of workshops (ca. 300 people in total, in groups of 15) amongst our employees right across the country, asking them, “which brands do you most admired, and why?”. I was using their input to define a ‘Primary Purpose’ for our business and an ‘Outrageous Ambition’ that the whole organisation could buy into.
The brand exercise was truly fascinating. People have a strong emotional attachment to the brands they admire and will talk way longer than you’d expect about these amazing companies. Some of the most popular choices, not surprisingly, were: Virgin, John Lewis, Amazon, Facebook, Tesco, M&S, Apple and Dyson to name just a few, but others included brands that many people have never heard of.
Many of the ones mentioned (including some banks that were surprisingly ranked very positively) had also had their fair share of turbulence but had come out the other side better than they were before. The key takeaways of this exercise were that the strong emotional pull comes from brands that consistently deliver on one or more of the following:
- Reliably deliver what they say they are going to do with outstanding service;
- Offer value for money;
- Are innovative, cool and trailblazing; and
- Are great places to work in.
The top challenge for any CEO (and the top is where it must start) is to create an enduring brand experience that hits those strong emotional chords with customers and create a culture where all your employees, when asked which is their favourite brand, rank the one they work for as Number one.
Martin Leuw is a serial entrepreneur and former CEO of IRIS, the UK’s largest private software house.