Brand building begins at home
How experience fundamentals can unlock true potential
VP Strategy & Content
When we think of brand building, we spend a lot of time and effort getting the marketing components right: defining the brand purpose; the essence; the reason to exist; the target market; and the what, when and why. Then, we go about creating meaningful communications to support these attributes. But in doing so, we often overlook the actual consumer experience and the ability for the brand to leverage these moments to truly deliver on its promises. Unlocking brand potential requires diligence. It’s not necessarily about dollars, but about ensuring that we understand how people engage with brands, platforms, and technology—and deliver on these basic elements brilliantly.
Get your house in order
Brands should be built from the inside out, not the other way around. Before you spend a dollar on advertising, you should make sure that you proactively understand what happens when someone responds to your messaging. Do they visit a website on a desktop or mobile device? How quickly does the site load? Do they see the relevant content that answers their potential questions? If they don’t, do you have always-on customer service or a chatbot to help? Granted, there are many different types of journeys, and some take longer than others, but by thoughtfully considering every critical step along the pathway to action, you can remove barriers to decision making and create opportunities for brand growth.
Experience is last-touch attribution
Most of us agree that a brand is only as good as its last interaction, but how often is this ignored in favour of investing in shiny gimmicks that are easier to execute? Instead, you should focus on service and connect the threads of your communications down to the finest detail. The little things matter. If your banner ad isn’t relevant, you don’t have community management on your social channels, or your supply is out of stock but you’re still promoting a sale, you risk delivering a negative experience and a missed opportunity. Whether a consumer is actively in the market for a brand like yours or passively going about their daily life, how they encounter your brand and the ecosystem around it will matter in forming positive or negative biases when it comes time to buy or act.
A consumer journey, not a paid consumer journey
We know that customer experience is not a linear process, and it is also not as dependent on paid advertising and other promotional elements as we might think. Yes, media and advertising can spark (or more likely reinforce) interest and get plenty of people to raise their heads, but then what? How we move consumers closer to action is dependent on the right types of content, service, and transactional experiences. These may seem functional, but they are also very much fueled with emotion. We have seen evidence of this in recent months as brands quickly pivot to adapt to COVID-19 conditions. As budgets are challenged, and purchasing habits shift, the brands with solid, organic e-commerce and owned property strategies in place have been less affected, continuing with a business-as-new-normal attitude and engaging more but with less.
Plan for promiscuity
Loyalty isn’t dead, but it is more of a spectrum than we, as marketers, would like to admit. Most brands and services operate in categories in which a consumer may consider several brands at any point. Understanding this preference set rather than focusing on absolute loyalty can liberate you to think about growth audiences and the type of content or experience to leverage. Your most valuable consumer may be the one who doesn’t visit your website, but can easily find you on Amazon, and chooses you once more per month than the competition.
Close the long and short loop
It’s also important to finish the job internally when it comes to setting realistic goals and expectations. Different content and contact points along the journey require unique measurement that may not always immediately connect back to sales. Regardless, you should never bring a potential consumer to a dead end. We now have the ability to execute a full funnel, awareness-to-conversion strategy in a single digital session, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily always should, or that it is a consumer’s preference. Brands must ensure that they have the tools and structure in place to be able to help manage consumers through their own unique journeys, recognizing where they are and what will motivate them to continue unimpeded and putting the consumer, not the brand, at the centre.