At the heart of every amazing branding strategy is the customer and how they experience the brand.
The overlap of Branding and CX is not difficult to establish, especially here at Worthix where we believe that brand identification is one of the five main decision drivers that determine whether or not an experience is "worth it" to the customer.
We define Customer Experience as everything perceived, felt, and remembered by a customer before, during, and after the purchase of a product or service.
According to The Branding Journal, branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds.
If we join both concepts we can conclude that what customers remember and how they feel while interacting with the branding you created is in fact a big part of the experience itself.
The customer is your compass
It isn't a coincidence that companies with strong branding are also customer-centric. Amazon, Delta, Nike, Starbucks, and Apple are all very well-known for building processes and products around the customer.
From their inception, these companies have brought the customer into every aspect of their business, especially in their branding. The image they carefully cultivate is that of a brand built to solve the individual needs of each customer.
CEO of Tailor Brands and branding expert Yali Saar says, "While aligning your brand with your vision is important, putting it in the center of your brand building process will prevent you from looking at the most important thing: your customers. Instead of asking whether or not your brand represents you first, ask yourself whether or not it represents your clients and the reason they need your service.”
For both cases, strive for memorability
When it comes to defining the best strategy for branding, the most important thing is to generate memorability. Memorability happens when a brand creates an emotional connection with their audience. I recently wrote about Walmart's Viral campaign that drew viewers in through a nostalgic memory lane of famous cars.
A quick google for "best commerical" reveals an incredible variety of advertisements and campaigns, from heart-wrenching to LMAO, from dry sarcasm to hope...but they ALL without exception invoke emotion.
Nike's "Dream Crazy" featuring Colin Kaepernick's Believe in Something, Even if it Means Sacrificing Everything campaign certainly gave people ALL the feels, be they good or bad. Ultimately, the company's sales and shares peaked, making it one of the most successful marketing campaigns of 2018.
In Customer Experience, Daniel Kahneman's peak-end rule shows us how to stage memorable experiences by adding peaks and high endings throughout the customer journey.
Companies like DoubleTree, Zappos, Chewy, and RitzCarlton are a few examples that have become famous for consistently delivering delight.
Tokens or moments that bring joy (an emotion!) to customers have been carefully woven into customers' journeys, and not only does this enrich the experience, it strengthens the branding through spontaneous word-of-mouth advertising.
Beware of Expectation Gaps
On Season 2 of Voices of CX podcast, BrandingMag's Sidney Evans warned us of the dangers of creating expectation gaps.
Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating an image for their brand through advertisements, social media, visual identity and word-of-mouth and this generates certain expectations in the customers. There are two potential issues that can arise from this:
1) Perception is not aligned with the value proposition: What you believe you're getting across with your branding doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what the customer percieves and feels from that message. Pepsi's 2017 Superbowl ad is a great example of perception gone wrong.
2) When the brand doesn't deliver on their promises: a classic case of Expectation vs Reality. Like when you see that perfectly stacked burger, oozing melted cheese with freshly sliced tomatoes...and you get a sad soggy bun with a cold, gray patty. Painful!
The same goes for every other industry. Expectation gaps create negative memorability which is perhaps the worst possible scenario for both CX and Branding. It's better to go small and deliver than to go big and disappoint.
Branding and CX can and should walk hand-in-hand. Not only are they complimentary, they are essential to the other's survival.
Without branding, there might not be any customers to have experiences in the first place, but without compatibly good CX, your branding is merely a case of false advertising. Don't fall into that trap.