The future of branding is uncertain – A guest article written by Joshua Li, Growth & Marketing Specialist at Collective Campus
Experts have argued brands are becoming more important than ever in the era of information overload, allowing people to make easy, habitual purchasing decisions by staying close to favourite brands. Others argue that the abundance of information out there, combined with speedy searching abilities, have allowed people to make more informed decisions, overriding the value of a ‘brand’. Willingness to try out alternatives and new technologies make these people less loyal to any brand. So who’s correct?
Data revealed by M&A covering 6000 mergers between 2003 – 2013 shows monetary valuations of a company’s brand has nearly halved (from 18% to 10%), even though the value of other intangible assets have remained steady. In other words, the monetary value of a brand has declined sharply.
Branding is also a very delicate thing, one that is easily swayed by the effects of time, and both internal and external forces. History itself is littered with examples of traditionally ‘strong’ brands who have fallen low after a damaging incident, or when they failed to meet customer expectations – famous victims include Nokia, Krispy Kreme & Kodak.
So does this mean branding is dead? Not necessarily. David Ansett of Truly Deeply, a prominent Australian branding agency, states in a recent interview that it “isn’t dead, but the way it continues to be approached by much of the marketing industry – it may as well be”. The companies who will win the day, he argues, are those who “continue to build brand relationships their customers care about.”
The key lies in building powerful, engaged customer relationships through designing a strong customer experience.
The Customer Experience Design Challenge
Customers are more demanding and more tech-savvy than ever. They want everything available everywhere, and yet despite the information overload, they want it all to be simple and seamless. Good Customer Experience design is a vital to this.
CX design all about designing a coherent, cogent experience across multiple touch points (website, mobile, front-line staff, in store experience etc.) Designers map a customer’s entire journey, ensuring the right environment is set-up to facilitate an experience that will be valued by customers. It is multidisciplinary, rooted in both the technical and design world, equal parts UX design and marketing strategy.
Large companies have begun to see the value behind good CX design, and as a result, there’s been a rise in positions like Chief Experience Officer, or Chief Customer Officer – a single executive that leads a business unit or even an entire company’s customer experience efforts and research. By investing good resources and talent into CX design, a company can create an experience that consistently improves, delights, expands in scope over time. Engaging customers this way will lead to stronger relationships, and these relationships trump brands.
While there a very few products out there that won’t benefit from a customer experience re-engineering, it is definitely something that’s easier said than done. As a starting point, we’ve put together a few practices that would help any company –
- Don’t focus on just optimising in-the-moment interaction. Look at the before and after moments; for example, analysing what makes a customer call your help desk, and what they do afterwards. Look at each touchpoint as an on-ramp to another interaction, and make sure each touchpoint is collaborating with the other
- Make the experience and emotionally enriching. This means recognising that good features can only take you so far, and that the ultimate goal is to create an experience that is personal, meaningful and positive.
- Make feedback part of the customer experience. Gather feedback as an integral part of the experience, and use it to drive your decisions. Don’t forget to make feedback gathering a good experience too!
- Build and iterate fast. Especially when building customer feedback into the core of your product, it’s important to not focus so much on building the ‘perfect’ product, but to collect as much feedback as fast as possible so you’re steering your product in the right direction
- Think about how you can turn negative experiences into something positive, and make your last impression/interaction count. This makes sure your customers are left with a lasting positive impression.
While ‘good customer experience’ has always been thought of as good practice, digital technology has taken this experience beyond individual interactions. The companies who see the bigger picture and make it their goal to measure and match their customer needs by engaging them with integrated touch points will be the ones who will succeed.
Collective Campus is hosting a panel talk on the 28th of October about Customer Relationships vs Branding, featuring Truly Deeply Founder and Creator of Brands; David Ansett as well as speakers from leading branding and CX agencies. Register for a FREE spot here.