Actions speak louder than words

Last Friday, as I reached into the pocket of my new pair of jeans I discovered a small slip of paper. It was a fortune, the kind that you get when you crack open a fortune cookie.

I was a little bewildered, but pleasantly surprised. Then, I made the connection. I was wearing Lucky Brand jeans and the fortune was a lucky charm with the brand’s four leaf clover insignia on it. A clever little detail that is right in line with the brand’s philosophy that jeans are “not just denim and grommets, but a piece of self-expression.” That got me thinking about the importance of a positive brand experience. While it’s vital to have consistent marketing  that support your brand message, it’s just as critical to support your brand with a product and purchase experience that evokes positive emotions.

Whether you’re a clothing manufacturer, an insurance company or a widget maker, you can benefit by creating a brand experience with integrity.

While we’ve established an entire process called Direct Branding™ that helps clients develop and sustain integrated brand experiences, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Get to the heart of the matter. Understand who your customers are and what they value. Segment your customers so you can deliver products, messages and experiences that resonate with them.
  2. Create a customer-centric experience. Always think from the customer perspective, instead of just your company’s viewpoint. While a process may be more efficient to execute in a certain way for the company, it might create challenges that lead to disappointment for your customers. Think about how you can enrich the experience for your customers.
  3. That goes for messaging too. Make sure your messaging is aligned with customer needs and wants. Don’t use jargon or company-speak. Talk to your customers using their own words.
  4. Be consistent. Identify and consider your many customer touch points and ensure that you are delivering an integrated story…and experience.
  5. Audit your customer experience frequently. Use secret shoppers and/or customer satisfaction surveys to help improve your processes.
  6. Establish and promote a guarantee. Show your customers that you stand behind your products or services.
  7. Look for ways to surprise and delight your customers. This will help evoke positive emotions that lead to loyalty and a favorable buzz. For example, in addition to buying a second pair of Lucky Brand jeans, I’m spreading the word about the company here in this blog. Zappos is another company that has been cited many times as a leader that exceeds customers’ expectations in this way. They often upgrade customers shipping from a regular four-to-five-day delivery to overnight.
  8. Consider how your company culture may impact your customer experience. Your employees are your ambassadors, so create a strong team that understands your point of differentiation and your brand promise.
  9. Track…Measure…Learn. Look for ways to incorporate metrics into your customer experience and communications so you can continually refine and improve your customer experiences.

By putting these practices into action, you’ll be creating a brand experience that leads to customer loyalty and growth. Good luck and have fun creating your own “fortune” surprises.