As explained elsewhere in this blog, Brands are our collected perceptions about something. These perceptions are created by a diverse array of sensory inputs, from our direct experiences, to reports from credible sources, to advertising and other paid promotions.
Some marketers focus a disproportionate amount of time and effort on the visual identity of their Brands. They agonise over the shape and placement of logos, the selection of an ‘on-Brand’ colour palette, and the rules by which Brand marks and logos can be used in advertising and communications.
These things are certainly important. But they’re not the most important aspects of Brand-building.
Direct experiences with products or companies, and word of mouth from others about their experiences, are the two most important drivers of Brand perception.
So it follows that marketers who want to build Brands need to pay their closest attention to the deep ‘extended experience’ of their products and companies…
In the case of products, they need to think about the total user experience, from the initial presentation of the product in a retail outlet, to the tactile elements of its packaging, to the experience of purchasing it, having it delivered, reading its instruction manual, having its warranty registered, etc. Beyond the utilitarian elements, they need to consider how their customers will feel through each of these stages.
In the case of companies, there are even broader and deeper considerations. What do the company’s premises say about that company? What does the tone and manner of the company’s customer communications – not just advertising and promotions, but also letters, contracts and legal statements – say about the company’s values?
Particularly important are the impressions created by direct experiences with the company’s employees, channel partners and other representatives. Those experiences occur not just during sales pitches or contact with company leaders, but also during more mundane daily interactions with phone operators, front desk staff and other ‘back office’ staff.
And they occur not just in business settings, but also in social and other informal circumstances, too.
In fact, I’d rate the task of inspiring employees to “live” the Brand they represent to be amongst the most important tasks for those who seek to build strong Brands.