What are the brand experts saying about Brand vs Customer Experience (CX)?

Mon, 06 Aug 2018

BrandMatters’ unique brand strategy process always starts with research. Understanding your customers, culture and market is key to creating a strong brand strategy that will stand the test of time.

Uncovering powerful consumer and market insights and building your brand strategy from there means you will be one step ahead when it comes to building out customer experience and ensuring your brand remains consistent and clear. It will also mean that, through staying true to your brand throughout the customer journey, you will no doubt build confidence in your brand which will become evident through loyalty and advocacy.

So should you be thinking of brand or customer experience first?

BM believes the answer lies in how the organisation places it’s brand in relation to the wider business strategy.

Strong brands are lived from the inside out and, long gone are the days where brand was simply a function of marketing. Successful companies now place brand as second only to business strategy, and see it as a core enabler of wider business goals.

In these organisations, brand is then used to inform decision making and development across all major functions. From new product development to how you attract and retain staff.

Customer experience, whether physical or digital, should then be guided by your brand strategy ensuring efficiencies and consistency at all levels.

Here’s a deeper look into what has shaped our thinking.

The Brand Research

As part of our Brand Leaders Report we spoke to 14 senior marketing luminaries who face this conundrum on a daily basis.

Where brand can often be seen as intangible and nebulous, they were finding that their C-suite colleagues were clinging on to the customer experience as the ultimate measure of business success – in part, due to the easy tracking of this thanks to NPS scores.

As a result, our marketers had differing opinions on which should lead and which should follow, however, there was an overwhelming consensus that in today's business world, one can not survive without the other.

Some of the key insights that came from the research were centred around defining brand and CX vs UX and marketing activation.

“Brand is a promise kept, and CX is key in keeping that promise.“

“The way I look at brands, typically is that they’re built out of experiences. From a customer’s point of view, it’s the sum of the experiences and interactions they have with an organisation. And they’re quite hard to pull apart, as a result.”

“This is what we want the market to say about us; this is how we want our clients, future clients, and the future market to describe us. In order for that to happen it needs to be experienced each and every time. It needs to inform and drive the customer experience. It’s a strategic brand discussion.”

Throughout the research, opinion on the order and extent of the interaction of CX and brand varied. There was, however, an overwhelming acceptance that organisations must work hard to understand their customers better. Driving and measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty is the key to future business success.

And herein lies the role of brand. Without a strong brand strategy guiding:

  • What you stand for in relation to your competitors.
  • What you stand against.
  • How you do what you do.
  • The promise you make to your customers.

Your business is at risk of becoming a slave to whatever each differing customer set seems to need on any given day. Further to this, what your customers need, is likely no different to what your competitor’s customers need, with access to the same insights and feedback, brands then risk finding themselves in a sea of sameness with the experience designed-by-committee with no bigger ‘why’. If you design your brand with a genuine insight into your market’s needs, then your CX becomes that much more single minded.

A strong brand defines your unique point of difference and, therefore, the unique experience your customers should expect from you. If your brand successfully sets this intention through design, tonality, actions etc, then your CX reflects this and then builds trust with your customers.

So where to from here?

It is never too late to marry your brand with customer experience.

With increasing demand on businesses to put the CX front and centre of every decision, initiative and interaction, marketers are increasingly seeking out guidance and examples of organisations who have done this and succeeded.
Some hero examples of CX and brand being happily married include:

Apple

With a brand strategy centred around ‘humanising technology’ at the core, Apple’s mission was to ‘make their products simple enough for everyone’. You can see this ethos throughout the customer journey – from the actual physical products to the experience you get walking into one of their stores. Gone is the complex tech speak and in it’s place accessible geniuses that can solve your tech problems face to face. It’s this brand centred approach to designing the experience that means Apple stands apart from the likes of Dell and Samsung. If they had put CX first, odds are they would have failed to stand out from the crowd.

GoGet

GoGet’s brand strategy centres around connection, community and ease and this is evident in everything from their warm and friendly design to their human tonality across advertising. How this then filters down to the CX can be seen in their partnership with Amazon Alexa which has brought the car-sharing company to the next level of marrying their brand with customer experience.

You can now ask Alexa to show you where cars are available, but also narrow down the search with customisations such as family friendly with car seats, or pet-friendly. This will improve the customer experience in terms of making it easier to use the service and shows their deep and practical understanding of the needs of their customers to navigate family with travel.

Suncorp

Suncorp has moved its business model from an end-to end business to a platform connecting its customers to a range of services.

Their brand strategy centres around connectivity and so this expression in terms of CX has recently included a new retail design fit out which aims to make the customers feel more connected and involved in their financial decisions, with a more genuine and approachable customer service focus which differentiates them from the ‘big-banks’.

In short, a well thought through, human centric CX based on genuine insights into customer needs is critical in ensuring your customers continue to trust your offer. But, the vital tool in reaching this nirvana of CX, is a solid brand strategy that links the business’ vision for the future, with customer expectations. Only then will businesses be able to craft a CX that is distinctive and that truly brings to life their bigger ‘Why’.

BrandMatters are experts in brand strategy and have a deep understanding of the interactions between brands and CX. Paul Nelson, Founder & Managing Director at BrandMatters, is the guest speaker at an upcoming event on the subject of brand and CX.

In this event we’ll be covering, in more detail:

- Brand and customer experience, which comes first
- How to craft a UX strategy that aligns to your brand
- Key measures in determining the success of the alignment between brand and CX 

The event which is being run by Webqem is being held in Sydney on Friday 17 August at 7.30am. This is a free breakfast event for clients of BrandMatters, Webqem and partners. We would love to see you there and have you walk away with some powerful insights on the power of CX in strengthening your brand.


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