Your brand is not a logo
Your brand is much more than a logo, strapline or name. It is a set of associations that exist in the hearts and minds of the customer. These associations are brought to life through key touchpoints and moments of truth that span across the stages of pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase in the customer journey.
Your organisation’s customer experience is ultimately where your brand manifests itself.
The most obvious way that you can bring your brand to life is through pre-purchase elements that raise brand awareness, such as social media, PR, trade shows, events, sponsorships, and marketing campaigns. While this is important, clever organisations will know that marketing only forms part of the customer equation and that their brand must be translated beyond this, into the customer experience itself throughout the stages of purchase and post-purchase.
A word on purpose and why what you say and do matters
Now more than ever, there is a drive for brands to have a clearly articulated purpose. In fact, 56 percent of people believe they are belief-driven consumers. And 71 percent of customers say that if they think a brand is not putting people above profit, they will lose trust in that brand forever. COVID-19 has intensified this sentiment. The pandemic gave customers more time to reflect about the world and their actions – including their buying behaviours. The need for brands to stand for something beyond just profit is seen as more important for consumers than it once was.
The brand identity and purpose must be lived out in the actions of the organisation and in the customer experience itself. If not, your organisation might risk falling victim to"purpose washing". Other examples include "green-washing" - claiming your brand cares for the environment, yet the organisation's actions are having a negative effect, or "woke washing" - claiming to care about the latest socio-political subject but doing nothing in practice to further the cause. These can undermine the trust customers have in your brand.
An example might be a brand that prides itself on doing good for the environment yet uses unnecessary packaging when delivering products to customers. Or perhaps they use global distributors when local suppliers may be available which would result in a smaller carbon footprint for the company.
Customers want to see you live out your purpose in actions, not just words.
A critical moment for your brand is at the point of purchase itself
When the customer buys from you, they are hoping that they are making the right decision, especially when choosing from a selection of options. IBM’s Buck Rodgers famously said, “People buy emotionally and then justify it with logic”. This is your opportunity to ensure that your brand taps into this emotional dimension of the customer and helps drive their decision at this point of purchase.
Not only that, but you must deliver a seamless and efficient service that is tailored around your brand. Think about this stage of the customer experience and what some of the branded “moments of truth” might be for your customer.
What is the communication with the customer like at this point of purchase? If you are a brand that prides itself on being accessible, friendly and open, is your engagement with the customer reflective of that?
Apple is a brilliant example of bringing its brand to life at the point of purchase itself. In 2001 they opened their first store. It was spacious, with representatives on hand and giving customers the chance to both feel and test the devices. Since then, their stores have become part of the fabric of their fresh, innovative brand identity and has helped differentiate them against competitors. Remarkably, Google searches for “Apple store near me” outnumbers searches for “supermarket near me”. Apple stores are temples to their brand and have become a way for them to translate their brand identity into something physical.
Keep your brand alive even after the purchase
The experience doesn’t stop once the customer has bought from you. There is now the opportunity to not only build your customer relationship but also highlight your brand. Mechanisms to do this include loyalty programmes, exclusive communications and providing excellent customer support.
Maintaining your brand identity post-purchase will vary by industry. Retail is often “buy and leave” (take popping into a supermarket, for instance) meaning that maintaining your brand through loyalty schemes, points and targeted communications to customers who have bought from you is key.
Financial Services may look very different. Take the journey of opening a new online bank account, where the brand identity may then be embedded into the customer’s daily interactions with that account. Each and every time your customer logs onto their online banking is an opportunity to showcase your brand and what you stand for – be that reliability, dependability, and security (your more traditional banks) or ease, flexibility, and convenience (your challenger banks).
The bottom line
Ultimately, your customer experience should bring to life your brand identity and brand purpose. Customers will judge you not for a shiny marketing campaign but for how they perceive the brand when interacting with it across all elements of the customer experience – especially in the stages of purchase and post purchase.
Do this well and you can create advocates for the brand in the long term; customers who openly recommend or praise the experience they have gone through. This in turn creates a circular effect, creating positive brand associations, further strengthening your brand and raising its profile in the market.
For more on how KPMG can help you with brand strategy and experience design, get in touch.