Brand Essence Is Essential To Customer Experience
Advances in technologies and unparalleled access to information have leveled the playing field. Brands must compete by delivering experiences that matter.
It’s no longer enough to make an excellent product or offer a unique service. Advances in technologies and unparalleled access to information have leveled the playing field. Laggards have been lifted and differentiation of most goods and services is limited.
For example, in the retail world, unique spices, rare fruits, and fresh-caught, sushi-grade tuna are now accessible in the smallest of towns, not just major cities, thanks to advances in shipping and new supply chain partnerships. In the manufacturing sector, emerging startups are able to accelerate time-to-market and reduce costs with advances in 3D printing and crowdsourcing of everything from ideas to distribution partners.
Brands must compete by delivering experiences that matter. Reducing friction, anticipating demand, constantly innovating to provide a lasting, differentiated interaction. Customers want a story to tell their friends to accompany their purchase. How do brands get the inspiration, organization, and staying power to orchestrate and operationalize personal experiences for customers that generate loyalty? By being authentic.
PwC’s “Bonfire of the Brands” study found that “brand leaders” that are exceptional at consistently delivering exciting experiences for customers know what they stand for. Those experiences are grounded in a unifying brand promise that serves as a purpose platform to draw power from. A company’s values act as a “true north” to guide the company in the right direction and to maintain that course.
According to the study, 55% of consumers say that the number of brands acting like true leaders has decreased. In fact, between 1999 and 2014, 47% of brands fell off the list of top 100 leader brands. (When we expanded our leader brand set to include product brands, that attrition rate jumped even higher, to 72%.) Of the top 20 leader brands in the U.S. in 1999, only seven brands remain on it today.
Facilitating a memorable, meaningful customer experience, time over time, requires an enormous amount of energy. Losing steam is a particular problem when masterminding lasting experiences. Employees feel depleted or the experience loses its novelty and revenues plunge. The name of the game is keeping the employee’s experience of the company’s purpose fresh to continue drawing customers in over time.
Marry The Art And Science Of Technology
What is the one word a customer would use to describe the experience of your brand? Delivering an authentic experience begins by focusing on the essence of what you want to showcase, not incremental feature updates. The emotional kernel of the experience will serve as the guiding force of your development and delivery process. A passionate commitment to facilitating the feeling the customer will walk away with will encourage a spirit of experimentation, collaboration, and consistency.
An adaptive culture is also essential to foster an environment that will enable the customer experience to take precedence over everything else. You want a team with diverse skills, capabilities, and mindsets. Start with small, integrated teams to ensure alignment and reduce handoffs, and empower the team by championing a testing culture. Infuse the team with a model that supports testing innovation and rewards fast failure that is part of a test-and-learn framework. It’s not enough to have different skills; you need diverse mindsets to challenge each other.
Today’s companies are competing not simply on products, but on total experiences. At stake are customer loyalty, margins, and marketshare. To deliver exciting customer experiences, employees first need to experience the essence of the brand. The brand’s essence is the essential element to making experiences authentic, meaningful, and memorable.