The consistent brand experience
Diccon Ward, partner and head of brand experience, EC Harris
Multiple brand touch points, multiple platforms, multiple sales channels – it’s all getting rather complicated. Should companies go back to basics with a more simplistic approach? Diccon Ward, from built asset consultancy EC Harris, asks how companies can successfully deliver a consistent brand experience to customers.
The question comes with a warning, however: organisational change may be required!
It is commonly accepted that marketing is more complicated now than ever before. Society is hyper-connected and Generation Z expects instantaneous two-way communication and real-time opportunities to buy. Technology is the great enabler and the impact on the way in which companies must market themselves is huge.
How can organisations ensure that they deliver their brand to their customers in a consistent manner, regardless of their location and the way in which they engage with their brand, whether it’s on the high street, through mobile commerce or online?
Brand is no longer just a ‘promise’, it is an experience and customers judge on what you do, not what you say. Research shows that ‘experiential’ brands can command premium prices, outperform their competitors and build loyal customer bases. Just look at organisations such as Burberry and Apple – companies that have built their success on a complete lifestyle choice.
You may wonder why someone at EC Harris, a company renowned for managing property worldwide, is talking in the widest sense about Brand Experience? The answer is simple, as digital and physical experiences converge, we are helping our customers to deliver a singular brand experience. It cuts across the old boundaries, integrating the high street and the online world.
Our brand experience work with BP, HSBC, Lexus, Lloyds, Microsoft, Nationwide, Specsavers, TSB and others has taught us the importance of three valuable brand roles when it comes to mapping and delivering customer journeys.
First, let’s look at brand voice. The brand vision and values must be woven into the very fabric of the organisation. It is no longer enough for the marketing department to ‘own’ the brand. Every employee is a brand advocate and engaging the entire workforce will ensure that real life customer experiences accurately reflect the brand. As digital and physical brand experiences converge, so too does the employer and customer brand – the brand is as important for internal audiences as it is for external audiences. So an overarching brand Voice that cuts across the entire organisation is essential.
Secondly, let’s consider the brand engineer. Their role is to ensure the brand strategy is taken off the page and translated into real-life experiences, delivered cost-effectively. Working at both a strategic and operational level, these engineers must also be masters of communication. They are responsible for managing a multitude of internal teams, external suppliers and agencies to deliver a singular brand experience for customers. Most marketing functions are geared towards creativity, analysis and communication. The brand engineer, on the other hand, is a far more practical creature – this is where marketing and operations meet.
Finally, no company can afford to be without a brand guardian. Any company that gets the engagement with brand voice right, will require only light-touch enforcement as the entire organisation is aligned to the brand values anyway. For others, more stringent measures must be taken. Brand guardians protect the brand, a company’s most valuable intangible asset. This includes brand audits, guidelines, training, monitoring, measuring and reinforcement.
The concept of ‘brand experience’ has developed beyond a one-off event that hooks up your target audience with your brand values. It is now an embedded long term strategy that ensures that on any customer journey, online or physical, the brand compass always point due North.
It requires dedication and change at an organisational level but the results will speak for themselves.
Diccon Ward at EC Harris is moderating a panel discussion brand experience at the Transform conference. Speakers on the discussion are: Daniel Keller, director brand strategy and experience, Orange Group, Gerald Allbury, principal, Callison and Fraser Norton, head of brand, No. 1 Traveller. To see more about the conference click here.