Brand Evaluation

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 11:01

It’s not uncommon for us to hear a simple lament from senior marketers and decision makers within B2B organisations: “We need to understand our clients better, but we simply can’t justify a big, expensive market research project”.

Heightened by the ongoing turbulence in markets and economic conditions, the purse strings of marketing extensions continue to be tightened and more closely monitored, meaning the function needs to do more with less and constantly justify investment to C-Suite executives.

So, what can they do to accurately understand their clients and shape their strategy going forward?

Well the good news is that, contrary to popular belief, high quality and well-articulated brand and market research doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are a multitude of techniques and methods that can be deployed to gather relevant, tangible and compelling insights into your market and clients, without requiring an extensive budget that is traditionally associated with a research program.

In order to explore these individual costs further, we have looked to break down the main elements that determine the price tag of contemporary research projects.

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If you would like more detailed breakdown of these project elements, or a deeper understanding of some of the research options available to you, feel free to download our free Guide to Brand Research: 2020 Edition.

So how can organisations apply these impact and potential savings to produce the most cost effective and high-quality outputs? We will begin by exploring what not to do, and then provide some techniques to maximise the cost efficiencies within a contemporary research project.

What to avoid when looking to save money on research

As a rule of thumb, there are two clear areas that costs need to be retained – at the beginning and at the end of a brand or market research project.

And if we were to quote the great Albert Einstein…

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes”.

Now when we apply the above quote to brand and market research, it is highly likely that by taking the time and tangibly allocating resources to planning at the start of the process, that you will gain significant savings in the overall project in the long run. By approaching your unique situation with a thorough and well-articulated brief for your research provider, you are likely to be provided with insights that are more actionable and more aligned to business strategy. This also means the recommendations have more longevity as the research is received well internally, which further binds the subsequent strategic decisions that are made in accordance with the implications.

Likewise, when clients are looking to save money by cutting the hours spent on analysis and insights distillation at the end of a project, the efficacy and quality of the findings is undermined. Given the turbulence of traditional markets and operating models, there are very few organisations that have been able to continue unaffected and are currently operating in contexts that are uncertain. So, once you have made the practical and strategic business decision to invest in research to address this uncertainty, why cut corners on the elements that will guide strategy going forward? Simone Blakers from Rapp said it best…

Data is an expense, but insight is a bargain”.

The very best data, measurement and evaluation metrics are fundamentally limited if a research partner does not have the time to apply their objective analysis to make sense of them. What does it all mean, how can the business use the information to address a problem, grow the business, change the strategy, make a difference… the list of outputs are highly variable and completely bespoke to an individual organisations circumstances, it is not a one size fits all approach and that obviously comes with some additional expenses..

The best techniques to apply when looking to save money on research costs

Beyond these two main areas to avoid, there are some clear and realistic methods that organisations can apply to save money on a research project. Once again, this comes down to the ability to plan and prioritise accurately and efficiently.

At BrandMatters, we typically consider and apply these five cost saving techniques, depending on the whether they are appropriate for the circumstances and requirements of each individual client.

1. Use existing mailing lists and data bases

Finding and accessing the most appropriate people can be one of the most challenging and expensive components of a research project. These concerns are naturally heightened in the context of B2B organisations, who operate with smaller sample sizes, unique respondents and niche audiences. This cost can be substantially reduced if you have access to your internal audience databases and mailing lists.

2.Explore online methodologies

A large volume online quantitative survey can be shared to external clients and stakeholders as a mechanism to engage multiple audiences cost effectively. Hosting platforms represent a high value for money and with increasingly tight budgets have effectively supplemented expensive online research communities for small/mid-tier organisations.

3. Be disciplined and focused

Despite the best intentions of maximising research outputs, organisations need to make sacrifices by being specific and prioritising areas/target audiences. Unless you adequately resource your marketing function, there wont necessarily be the budget available to address everything you want to cover. Questionnaires and interviews need to be focused and disciplined to get the best value out of them.

4. Minimise travel with video conferencing

In the B2B context, qualitative research costs can escalate quickly if a researcher is required to travel and be face-to-face with multiple stakeholders. Combat these costs by integrating high quality video conferencing software, where there is increasing parity in quality and levels of acceptance with senior leaders.

5. Utilise existing insights and information

Desk research remains a critical, cost effective component of a well-defined research methodology. Without properly understanding and defining the current market and status quo with existing research insights of publicly available information, questionnaire and discussion guide development can be compromised.

Partnering with the right supplier

In summary, with careful planning and prioritisation it is entirely possible to achieve a deeper understanding of your market and clients with brand and market research on a tighter budget. Partnering with an experienced and objective supplier ensure the quality of your research is not compromised by shortcuts in cost cutting measures. An expert research partner will build carefully designed qualitative and quantitative research programs that will set your organisation up for sustainable growth.

If you would like to discuss your unique circumstances, feel free to get in contact with BrandMatters.

BrandMatters' Director of Brand Strategy, Kylie McNamara, discusses the biggest challenges for B2Bs in measuring their performance.

 

While brand tracking is valuable for all organisations, business to business (B2B) organisations face unique challenges when it comes to measuring their performance. Selling to other businesses is very different than selling directly to consumers. In B2B transactions, the stakes are frequently higher, and getting the sale can be a more involved process. Traditional thinking is that B2B is more about relationships than brand, so in the past very little brand measurement has been performed. However, defining and tracking relevant metrics for a B2B organization should look at both the performance of relationships and the role of the brand. 

Increasingly brand is being understood to have an important part to play in guiding decisions. As humans our ability to process all the information available has a limit, and the majority of the time we use heuristics, often referred to as cognitive shortcuts, to help us make ‘safe’ decisions. Our professional lives are no different. Brands signify what type of employees you are likely to have within the organisation and therefore what type of relationships will occur (refer to our previous blog on employee branding). Therefore, as with any organisation, whether your clients are consumers or businesses, it is important to have well-defined brand strategies and strong, disciplined measurement through brand tracking. Brand tracking for any organisation ensures accountability and guidance moving forward.

What are the biggest challenges for B2B organisation tracking? 

Smaller, more niche target audiences

Firstly, the size of the client base is usually smaller. Instead of reaching hundreds or thousands of consumers some businesses could have handfuls of business clients and a very niche audience. So it is common for many B2B organisations to have business clients that are hard to reach and difficult to get feedback from. 

Multiple stakeholders involved in decision-making

When it comes to B2B organisations, you’re not just dealing with one person making a personal decision, you have to be able to take into account a range of stakeholders calling the shots and a lot of others influencing the purchase decisions. So, you need an approach that enables you to understand all of the diverse behaviours, needs and attitudes of your business customers. 

Brand is delivered by a broader range of vehicles, like relationships, websites, conferences and events

The way B2B organisations communicate to their clients can be more complex and often rely on a mixture of different methods targeting the same client but at different levels in the organisation. An organisation might choose to target frontline staff through training initiatives whereas c-suite decision makers could call for a more personal and direct sell. Brand tracking for B2B organisations needs to account for these different levels of activity in order to ensure efforts can be held accountable and ultimately enhanced where needed. 

What are common misconceptions about B2B tracking 

Emotional benefits and messages are only important in B2C

Some may argue that purchase decisions in businesses are commonly more rational than purchase decisions made personally. We would argue (with clear support from neurological studies on the role of emotional processing in decision making) that in either case, whether professional or personal, decisions are never devoid of some emotion and therefore brand tracking needs to look at capturing both elements as much as possible. 

Relationships are more important than brand in driving sales

While we agree that a good client relationship will usually help sales, we would argue that who your employees are and how they deal with their customers is a large part of the brand identity. For more on this topic please refer to our previous blog on employee branding.

How to approach the unique challenges of B2B brand tracking?

Challenge 1: Smaller, more niche target audiences

To reach smaller and at times very specific audiences it’s important to be flexible when it comes to research methodology. It might be more effective to try a hybrid approach to research. For instance, you could have in-depth one on one interviews with existing customers to understand your brand’s performance but also a category read of the general business population using a research panel to uncover perceptions of your brand at large. 

Use client lists. In other words, if you have an email database of existing and ex client contacts you can utilise this to collect feedback by sending out a survey. Research can be expensive if you’re trying to recruit very niche respondents so effectively using what is already at your disposal is vital. 

Accept smaller base sizes. While it may feel more comfortable to make a decision based off 5000 responses, B2B organisations need to do more with less, so accept the feedback you do receive and collect it as often as possible.

Challenge 2: Multiple stakeholders involved in decision-making

We know that there is a lot of complexity when it comes to collecting feedback from multiple stakeholders across each client. However, one of the ways we believe in to tackle this issue is about being research agnostic. By this we simply mean that we think research should look at incorporating different approaches for collecting feedback, both quantitative options (i.e. online surveys) and qualitative methodologies. It’s important to consider different ways in which your customers want to give feedback. For some a quick online survey is fine, for others who may be more senior and receive hundreds of emails a day a personal one-on-one phone call or meeting might be the better way to go. 

Challenge 3: Brand is delivered by a broader range of vehicles

It’s important to create the right questions to cover off the different ways the brand is being communicated to your clients. Whether it be delivered through a confidential survey or included in a discussion guide, knowing how to ask and what to ask shows the importance of having the right insight into the brand activities and the experience of crafting the right questions.

Given that B2B brands are also more likely to be heavily reliant on client relationships it’s also important to include questions that address these relationships, whether that be satisfaction ratings, or recommendations. Where possible it helps to link methodology to customer experience measurement. 

A final area to take into consideration is that many research companies have limited experience working with B2B brands and little understanding of how brands work in the B2B space, so insights may not be relevant or actionable. It’s important to work with an agency with deep knowledge of B2B. 

Please speak to our team at BrandMatters if you have any other questions about B2B brand tracking.

BrandMatters' Director of Brand Strategy, Kylie McNamara, discusses what simple steps businesses can take to gain understanding of their customers.

 

To say that it’s important for brands to understand their customers is stating the obvious. 

But for many brand owners the idea of “understanding customers” is daunting. It’s often associated with big, complex and expensive research projects which feel out of reach for many businesses, particularly in hard economic times when managing budgets is paramount.

So, should we file customer understanding in the too-hard basket? Perhaps put it off for another day, when conditions are less challenging and we have more time?

Or are there ways that businesses can gain valuable insights without huge budgets?

As much as I love to run large scale market research projects, I love uncovering useful insights about customers and markets even more. And I firmly believe that gathering rich, useful insights is in reach of any business with a little thought and planning.

There are two broad approaches to consider if you are looking to build your customer understanding, but the coffers are slim or even empty:

• Gathering insights about your customers without formal market research
• Looking for more cost-effective ways of conducting market research

Today I want to cover how you can gain insights without research. I’ll cover cost-effective market research in another blog.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to uncover insights about your customers without research is to make a subtle attitude shift. Take the time to slow down, absorb information and believe that insights are all around you, and you may be surprised at just how much you can find out. 

More specifically, here are some of my favourite ways of learning about customers:

1. Draw knowledge from your people

Your people can be an amazing source of knowledge. People who interact regularly with customers, those who have been in your company or industry for many years or even those who have recently come from an adjacent industry or competitor can bring valuable and diverse perspectives. 

The biggest challenge with this form of insight gathering is to remain objective and to draw out useful implications from simple observations. This is why it can be helpful to use an external person to help facilitate this process, to provide structure, objectivity and importantly to give the team confidence. 

Workshops with key members of your team can be a great way to spark off each other and share observations. A workshop facilitator will be able to design exercises and activities to make this process as easy and productive as possible.

2. Review previous research

Many companies have shelves and hard-drives full of research reports that haven’t been looked at since they were delivered. While these reports may not be able to specifically answer your current questions, they are highly likely to contain useful clues and information that can inform your thinking. So before lamenting a lack of budget to conduct new research, it is well worth looking at previous research, even if it is a few years old. You may be surprised what you can uncover!

3. Review other sources of data

Formal market research is unquestionably the best way to answer specific questions. However, like a good detective, clues about customer behaviours and attitudes can be found in a range of data sources. Some areas to think about include:

• Customer reviews, both formal and informal
• Customer satisfaction surveys
• Customer comments and communications

4. Search for publicly available information

In this data rich era, information is everywhere, and a simple google search can uncover reams of information to help you better understand your customers. Some of my favourite sources of information include Harvard Business Review, McKinsey and even LinkedIn. There is also plenty of useful syndicated research which can be purchased for considerably less than it would cost to undertake research yourself. Some great examples include IBISWorld Reports and WARC.

Of course, the trap with all this information is sifting through everything that is available and working out which information is credible and valuable. This is where working with a good consultant can help.

5. Talk to others in the industry

Experts in your field can provide informed, insightful perspectives that can be enormously helpful in understanding your customers. Consider industry leaders, journalists, academics, industry bodies, think tanks and more. A number of one-on-one interviews, facilitated by an experienced interviewer, with these types of opinion leaders can furnish you with a rich understanding of your category for a fraction of the cost of a larger study.

6. Be a good observer!

Get into the habit of keeping your eyes open whenever you are interacting with or exposed to customers. You never know when your observations will be helpful.

So, if you want to understand your customers but your budgets are limited, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways of uncovering useful information and insights without having to spend a fortune. If you’d like some advice on how to go about doing this, please contact us at BrandMatters. We’d love to help!

As the pandemic continues to transform markets and reshape the allocation of budgets, it appears that more accountable marketing is required to justify expenditure from C-Suite executives. These are audiences that are interested in heightened return on investment with decreased budgets, essentially expecting marketers to do more with less. 

But how can you drive return on investment with decreased budgets? Or generate cut through and differentiation in an overcrowded marketplace? 

This is by no means an easy task, having been made even more difficult by the competitive pressures of other organisations, who appear to be communicating more frequently, from a more defined position and with a more powerful brand to lean on.

Well, if they truly believe their organisation is adequately positioned to drive sales in the context of this turbulent market, we would put this to them:

How has your organisation sought to break through the surplus of similar companies, that employ similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, who have all recognised similar shifts in attitudes amongst their audiences, who have developed similar ideas to handle these situations, by producing similar products or services, that have similar prices and are of a similar quality?

If they could answer that succinctly and with purpose, we suspect that they would be in the minority.

In your organisation (aka the real world), although you are likely to have put in place new actions, responses and communications for both your internal and external stakeholders throughout this recent period, the influence of these factors has changed the composure of your future revenue generation, mostly by decreasing your capacity to generate interest and cut through. So how can you drive interest and sustainable differentiation in this unfolding marketplace? 

Expressing the purpose of your business through a grounded and truthful positioning statement

Defining your brand’s unique essence and positioning is the most effective way to drive differentiation and distinctiveness in your category. A brand’s positioning is the internal expression of its purpose. It is the business’ reason for being that goes beyond simply ‘making lots of money’. A positioning statement sits at the intersection of business and is used to inform sales and marketing strategy, product development, HR and hiring decisions and team culture. As a result of these components, it encompasses the experience your customer ultimately has with you.

A well-defined brand positioning represents the unique, relevant, credible and sustainable position that you own in the market. It ensures your clients and prospects can clearly tell your brand apart from your competitors. It specifies and expresses how your brand is unique and compelling, providing a reason to choose your brand over others. Brand positioning is also sometimes called brand essence, because it's the essential nature of your brand - its reason for being.

Powerful brand positioning binds the internal and external components together. It's the high-level idea that unites and guides all organisational activities, actions and behaviours, from organisational strategy, to the products you launch, the businesses you acquire, the way you communicate, how customers experience your brand and how your employees behave - it is the compass for the organisation.

But beyond this, what are some of the functional benefits of clearly articulating the essence of your organisation? How does it turn up as a advantage for the consumer, your organisation’s sales figures and your own marketing initiatives?

The tangibility of brand positioning in driving return on investment

We believe there are six key and comprehensive benefits for both the internal and external components of an organisation that can be achieved through unique, clear, relevant and sustainable brand positioning:

1. It ensures your brand stands out and generates cut-through in its category

2. It provides customers a reason to choose your brand over competitors, presenting them with a necessary validation of their choice

3. It enables your brand to charge and sustain a price premium, demonstrating both short- and long-term return on investment

4. It enables your brand to build trust with its key stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries – because you are consistently seeking to deliver on your promise

5. It helps your organisation attract and retain the best of employee talent – providing a single uniting force for all people to work towards, as well as an understanding of what is required of them to work for your organisation

6. Ultimately, strong and relevant brand positioning delivers clients who are disinterested in alternatives.

Positioning your brand for the future and driving ROI

Given the context of the pandemic, many organisations have experienced a decline in ROI due to heightened competitive pressures and a lack of differentiation in their positioning.

In an environment typified by reducing expenditure, marketing budgets are being tightened but are still expected to deliver the same (or better) return on investment. Driving this sales growth in this context is challenging, but the task is made even more daunting when organisations have not established a positioning to lean on.

If your organisation needs assistance defining the unique, clear, relevant and sustainable brand positioning that binds your strategy going forward, please feel free to get in contact with the BrandMatters team here.

Optimal brand architecture ensures that the brands that exist in an organisation’s portfolio are consistently adding value to justify the costs required to sustain them. Given the changes thrust upon us by COVID-19, many organisations and marketers are struggling with the management of their go-to-market strategy and brand portfolio to best meet the evolving interests of their shifting audiences. 

Organisations need to ask themselves one critical question: Is our current brand architecture, the way in which our products and services go to market and the inter-relationship between them, still fit for purpose, or, does it also need to evolve.

Brand architecture is always most efficient when it is aligned to and reflects your business strategy, giving relevance to how your brands can meet your objectives. This is never truer than now as we move into the post-COVID world, where the needs of the market and targets segments are swiftly evolving. Or, in the words of Simon Sinek, “It doesn't matter how much we know. What matters is how clearly others can understand what we know.” 

Ultimately, an optimised brand architecture structure is the anchor by which all brand decisions can be made. But in a world in flux, where internal business perspectives and external customer perspectives have shifted, where is the best place to start this brand architecture process?

Understand your current portfolio structure

It’s essential as a starting point to map out your existing brand architecture as it currently stands. Our publication, An Introductory Guide to Brand Architecture can help you understand the various brand architecture models that organisations adopt. 

Taking stock of your current situation is an important early step in the brand architecture review process. Many organisations grow organically over time: brands are acquired, brands extensions introduced, innovation and NPD is a constant. 

Mapping your current brand portfolio will enable you to understand the interrelationships between each of your brands, establish whether any of your brands overlap or cannibalise each other, and determine the relevance of each of your brands within the marketplace.

Since the onset of the coronavirus, many organisations have shifted their processes and sought access to new markets. Some have acquired incremental additions that over time have created complexity and confusion, where certain brands may be competing due to overlaps in service or product offering. And in a period of declining marketing expenditure, there may be increasing duplication of effort across the business that is bringing unnecessary cost and inefficiencies. 

It is only by taking an inventory audit of the existing portfolio can these factors become apparent, which is why this is such an important step in the organisation of your brand architecture.

The critical role of brand research

Brand research is also an essential step in the brand architecture review process. It not only identifies current market perceptions of your brand, but it will also inform the perceived impact of potential architecture alternatives. Researching your market can uncover the differentiating factors that can influence future decision making and de-risk the evolution of your portfolio structure.

Given the turbulence of markets recently, your existing brand research is likely outdated and not representative of the state of play through which you are likely to base your tactical and strategic considerations on.

Even short term, cost effective brand research can help measure the immediate impacts of the apprehension in the market, which will provide insights and analytics to prompt more extensive brand research to help identify and then address your unique situation post-COVID. Just last month, BrandMatters completed a quantitative research dip of over 500 SMEs across Australia for Vero’s SME Insurance Index COVID-19 Pulse Check, providing insights that helped hundreds of brokers understand the changing nature of the current climate and the impact these pressures are having on their key clients.

Turning insights into an evolved architecture

The complexity level of your brand architecture will depend on your current business model, the number of brands housed within your organisation, and the capacity to pivot and flex as required. 

In an environment where the market is evolving by the fortnight, it is important too that your architecture is built with flexibility in mind. An architecture framework that has been designed for today should include the capacity to incorporate mergers, acquisitions, brand collaborations or extensions, pivots and new target markets. 

In this COVID-19 world, if you are changing markets, channels or products your existing brand architecture is going to be implicated. Asking whether your existing brands should stretch to new markets, or could you serve the same or new markets with less brands? For businesses looking to pivot their core offer and brand away from displaced markets or towards more lucrative COVID markets, how do you inform such decisions? How do you mitigate risk and maximise opportunity?

The question we’re being asked by clients is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far? 

Future proofing your brand architecture with an inherent flexibility is crucial. It is more than likely the short-term tactical decisions you have made during COVID-19 pandemic were made to stem declining sales, as opposed to strategically reposition your entire organisation. But all organisations face different pressures, the number of changes in go-to-market strategies and brand portfolio organisation reflect this.

Where to start the brand architecture journey

In response to these challenges, BrandMatters is assisting organisations across multiple industries in re-evaluating their brand architecture to ensure they are match fit for the post-COVID context. 

We’re offering a comprehensive productised solution that enables organisations to map their suite of products and services, and inform decision making in the management of these portfolios.

If your organisation needs assistance in evaluation of your brand architecture, get in touch with the BrandMatters team here.

Right now, markets are anxious and unstable. Competitors are confused and unpredictable. It’s a COVID world and the need to cut through and have your message be heard and understood has never ever been more challenging.

In this context, the C-suite is extremely hesitant to invest in brand and marketing.

In fact, according to McKinsey in B2B, nearly 50 percent of companies have cut their short-term spending in response to the crisis and declining demand, and a similar portion expect to reduce their long-term budgets as well.

Yet marketing industry luminary Mark Ritson has gone to pains to highlight that a recession is a great opportunity for brands to grow market share, if you can make the rest of the C-suite understand that marketing is an investment and not a cost. From Ritson’s analysis of the 1920-21 recession and supported by more recent research work on the 2008-9 recession by Kantar, there is a substantial volume of data to back this up.

So how do you get the C-suite more engaged in the role of brand and marketing, so they understand the difference it can make?

Through BrandMatters’ own research we conducted a few years ago as part of our Brand Leaders report we believe we’ve got several insights that could also be applied in this context. As part of this research we unearthed a broad range of views, the Brand Attitude Spectrum. As part of the research and conversations with some of Australia’s leading CMO’s we identified that Australian organisations hold a wide spectrum of attitudes towards the role of brand and marketing, with three main groups being identified:

1. Embracers – where brand sits at the heart of the organisation.
2. Aspirers – where brand is seen as critical by some stakeholders within an organisation but other stakeholders are more circumspect.
3. Doubters – where brand is a function of the marketing department, seen as a cost and not a strategic asset.

As part of our research we unpacked the attitudes and behaviours of each of these groups and then explore the implications this has on the role of brand within organisations moving forward. By understanding where your CEO and where your organisation sits on the spectrum, you can then devise strategies to support the Embracers, inform the Aspirers and educate the Doubters on the critical role of brand and marketing especially in these times of crisis.

At BrandMatters, we believe that through a deeper understanding of the characteristics of each of the prevailing attitudes, marketers can understand the size of the task and equip themselves to educate the organisation in the benefits and returns in brand and marketing investment at this time. After all, there has never been more at stake to position your brand against an existing, new or evolved audience and communicating that accordingly.

To read the chapter on the Brand attitude Spectrum, or to download the entire report, click here.

During the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve had a number of clients and prospects seeking our assistance as they attempt to cope in these times of rapidly changing business conditions and associated uncertainty. We’ve had clients asking us to rapidly deploy right sized market research studies, assist them to pivot their brand into a different market adjacency with greater growth prospects, or to simply and rapidly activate a marketing and content plan as they seek to grow sales. We’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and requests from our e-books on our website too, which are available for free at any time here.

Given the success of the proposals we’ve created and the number of requests being received, we’ve decided to create a number of fixed price, productised solutions that address the challenges of brand right now:

1. Market research: In this post Covid world, research is critical for clients seeking to understand their market, what’s important to their customers and how they and their competitors are performing against these drivers. Asking simply, "How am I performing against what’s important to my clients?"

2. Brand Architecture: This market research often informs a key packaged solution in relation to brand architecture and brand stretch too. This relates to a business looking to pivot its business and brand towards a more lucrative Covid market. The question we’re being asked is "If I move my brand into that more lucrative market, can I do it credibly, or am I hindering my own brand as it’s simply a bridge too far?" Organisations need greater certainty around risk levels of brand stretch into new markets. "Can I take my existing brand in, or would I be better creating a sub brand or perhaps an endorsed brand?"

3. Brand Positioning: With architecture confirmed and resolved, clients are also seeking assistance on how to reposition or re-fresh their brand in this new market context as well. Asking "How can I be clear, unique, relevant and compelling?"

4. Marketing activation: This packaged solution is the most pragmatic for clients and prospects experiencing a downturn in sales demand. This marketing and activation plan is a succinct set of workshops to get their marketing activated and their content created, in an accountable way.

The benefits of each of these solutions are specifically geared to deliver answers quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. They can be executed independently or in unison. Each of the productised solutions we are developing contain a clear, simple and accountable series of benefits and deliverables, within a defined fixed cost and time frame.

Stay tuned as we communicate further on these cost effective, yet flexibly tailored productised solutions. If you are looking to move more quickly, you can reach out to us directly here or contact Paul Nelson on either 02 99547900 or 0413 028766.

See also our blog on 6-point checklist for brands in managing a crisis

In any successful relationship, trust is built up over time, and every interaction can have a positive or negative impact on the level of trust in that relationship. The relationship between customers and brands is equally built on trust and determined by every interaction a customer has with that brand. Customer loyalty is a key measurement and driver in brand building - understanding what brings the customer back is at the heart of success. Brands need to focus on their interactions with customers, throughout the customer journey, so as to ensure they build trust and loyalty.

When it comes to analysing your brand’s customer experience, it is important to first understand your brand: what you stand for, what is your offering and what sets you apart from your competitors. BrandMatters has developed a simple Brand Diagnostic Tool to help you get a clear picture of your brand and identify the areas you need to improve upon.

Simply satisfying your customers is no longer enough, brands need to create strong and long-lasting relationships with their customers. To demonstrate how brand and CX come together, BrandMatters have developed a diagnostic system to measure how these components come together.

The following 6 criteria were used to evaluate a brand:

  • Customer is in control – Customers feel that they’re in control of their journey and able to make their own decisions along the way.
  • Provides good value – Customers receive what they expect, with no hidden fees or surprises, ensuring all service goals are reached.
  • Available and accessible – Customers can reach the service/product through the channels its customers expect, as well as being available at all expected touchpoints.
  • Easy to use – Information is easy to find and where you expect it to be, ensuring the CX is as intuitive as it can be.
  • Supportive – The brand provides the right information at the right time, explaining each of the steps and helps the customer along the CX journey, making the customer feel supported.
  • Tailored – Information is relevant to the audience and its expectations - it anticipates its needs and design its interactions to meet these.

To understand how this works, the BrandMatters' team have selected some of the brands they believe succeed in creating positive customer experiences in various ways. We applied scores across each of the 6 criteria to see how each brand scored in relation to each other across the criteria.

Our team chose a cross section of brands in various sectors with a few Australian brands included.  The brands we assessed include – Airbnb, SBS, Uber, Birdsnest, Service NSW and Harris Farm were charted across a CX Circumplex Summary.

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The above circumplex depicts all of the brands we assessed and how they rated against each of the attributes.

When drilling down on each brand – there were a few highlights to be mentioned in terms of customer experience for each of the brands

Yasmin’s CX review on SBS

Compared with all of the other free to air channels, and even compared to Netflix and Foxtel, I find SBS exceeds my expectations as far as educational, inspiring programming is concerned. The fact that is free to air, as well as available on demand (with not too many commercials), means it is accessible to all Australians regardless of geography, age or cultural background. 

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ I can choose which shows to watch and how I watch them (live vs SBS On Demand)

+ Their programming is all free (compared to Foxtel, Netflix etc) there is a range of varied programming that appeals to many diverse consumer groups. It is also tailored and addresses minority groups, special interest and educational subject matter.

+ Online content (such as email, blogs etc) is also great – lots of value-added content relating to subjects of interest to their audience (eg: recipes, interviews, news articles, business articles).

Belinda’s CX review on Harris Farm Markets

There are many reasons why I love Harris Farm Markets. They have recently upgraded the store near where I live, and it has exceeded my expectations as far as a grocery shopping experience goes. Competing with Coles and Woolworths can’t be easy – especially from a purchasing power perspective.

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ The store is interactive, lots of staff roaming around allowing you to try before you buy.

+ Freshness and quality wins over price in terms of value. The Imperfect picks is also a good option for price sensitive customers.

+ The offering of extended grocery options (all environmentally friendly alternatives are great).

+ Their focus on sustainability – they were the first to ban the plastic bag.

Paul’s CX review on Uber

Slightly predictable and cliched, but I can’t go past Uber – especially in the context of their competition, traditional taxis. They do have alternative ride sharing competitors, but I haven’t found a reason to trial them yet.

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ Price estimates, wait times advised, rating system allows quality control. Conversely, with taxis, I have no idea on anything – wait time, car quality, driver quality.

+ In terms of value for money – at least it is transparent (the surge pricing can sometimes mean the value for money attribute can become an issue).

+ Easy to use, intuitive app. Automatic payment post service completion.

Mikaela’s CX review of Airbnb

I have personally used Airbnb on multiple occasions, and it has always exceeded my expectations, from the moment I start searching for my next ‘home’ to the moment I am asked to review my stay. When we break it down into the six attributes it’s easy to see why:

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ Airbnb provides an array of filters from number of rooms and price range, to whether you’d like a spa and fireplace – allowing users to feel in control of finding the exact personalised experience they are searching for.

+ Extensive range for all occasions.

+ Notifications of your up-coming trip and reminders all through the app,

+ Airbnb has recently extended their offering into experiences which is a natural extension.

Edwina’s review of Birdsnest

I have recently discovered the Australian based online clothing store, Birdsnest. I purchased my first item a few months ago and was extremely impressed with the experience - it really felt like a personalised shopping experience and even down to how the items were delivered felt tailored and exceeded my expectations. 

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ An easy to navigate website, with outfit “suggestions” linked to specific occasions, eg travel, work, weddings. Style “capsules” recommend outfits for specific looks, eg casual looks, boho looks, weekends away.

+ Clothing value is matched by the quality which is often not the case with online clothing brands. A bonus surprise was a bunch of discount vouchers that arrived with my purchase – a smart marketing initiative to encourage repeat business.

+ Stock is regularly refreshed, kept in a central location which means it is all shipped together.

+ Interactive in terms of online shopping experience – recommends clothes for your body shape as well as matching accessories.

+ Good return policy plus offers secret discounts for repeat business.

+ Showcases a variety of models wearing the clothing (rather than just size 6 catwalk models).

Purvi’s review of ServiceNSW

I normally don’t look forward to dealing with the admin work I need to do for government agencies as they tend to be unintuitive, bureaucratic and take up a lot of my time - but I was pleasantly surprised when I recently renewed my license at ServiceNSW.

Summary of positive CX attributes:

+ I could choose multiple service offerings and choose whether to do them myself or with some assistance or completely assisted and over the counter. Every point was explained, and I could opt-out at any point.

+ Allowed me to easily compare the different price options and choose the best one for me.

+ I can use the service digitally, over the phone with a translator, in a branch, in a branch – but online with someone walking me through the process. It is very accessible, and the in-store experience is designed to help me learn how to use it online.

So, what do brands need to do in order to deliver on, and exceed their customers’ expectations?

Get to know your ideal customer

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. Through brand research, you can uncover your consumer’s preferences, their habits, their emotions and their desires.

Once you have a deep understanding of your customer, you can develop customer personas. A customer or buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer – based on the facts you have gathered from research and understanding of your real customers. The development of personas helps you continue to attract and appeal to your ideal audience and build a deeper connection.

The more in-tune you are with your target audience the more likely you are to build a strong relationship with them and develop loyalty and advocacy.

Prove yourself and be consistent

A brand is a promise kept, so ensuring your brand delivers on the promises you make is critical. Developing and implementing proof points that resonate with your customers is vital. Consistently demonstrating these proof points to your customers is an important part of your brand strategy.

Measure and evaluate your success

Continual evaluation of your brand’s performance across these key customer experience drivers is essential. The best brands don’t just make good products or provide good service, they exceed expectations along the entire customer journey. 

This is not something exclusive to big budget, long standing brands - in fact many new brands such as Netflix and Spotify are really paving the way in putting CX first and considering the ease, accessibility, customer-centric drivers to propel their brands forward and win the heart of their customers.

At BrandMatters, we specialise in helping you get to know your customers. Through our proven methodology where customer, market and competitor insights are gathered, analysed and then utilised to develop winning brand strategies.

BrandMatters are experts in brand strategy and have a deep understanding of the interactions between brands and CX.  Get in touch to discuss how you can truly understand your customer and drive deep brand loyalty.