How Not to Break Your Brand Promise
Originally published in the CMO Club Solutions Clubhouse
“84% of CMOs do not believe that their ‘Consumer Experiences’ fulfills their brand promise.” – CMO Council”
I came across this stat last year and felt that it fully encapsulated a problem trend that I have been hearing during conversations with established marketing leaders. To me, it shows there is a major disconnect between two critical parts of an organization that aren’t working together:
Communication of the Brand Promise: This is the definition and communication of the brand that is usually lead by the advertising or communications departments, driving top-line business results; gaining awareness, buzz, or consideration.
Fulfillment of that Brand Promise: This is the actual execution of the interactions with the consumer across the digital, physical, and human elements of the organization. Each is acting completely on transactional needs leading bottom-line business results with no regard for how the brand promise is fulfilled.
While trying to pinpoint the problem, I noticed that marketers were comparing their consumer experience expectations to the new, up-and-coming startups that were disrupting their industries, causing the dissatisfaction in their own companies. These successful startups had a simple, actionable brand promise with a focused execution, where every interaction fulfilled the brand’s promise.
For example, Uber’s brand promise of “Where to?” is satisfied with every interaction between the brand and consumer, millions of times a day. It is the result of their experience which is dynamically fulfilled by a combination of data, technology, and interface.
So, why is this gap happening and persisting in established organizations? We’ve identified some of the core elements creating the disconnect between the brand promise and its fulfillment. As you’ll see, these factors are not going away, only expediting and changing our business environment day in and day out.
Truly Understanding the Evolving Consumer’s Met and Unmet Needs
This is the basic distinguishing factor for disruption and innovation in the world of continuously rising consumer expectations. The met needs will quickly become a basic factor for entry, whereas predicting the unmet needs opens the door for innovation and differentiation. Yesterday’s innovation is today’s commodity. And with the advancement of a “software mindset” in many industries (ie Tesla), the product market timelines are shortening – sometimes from 5 years to 24 hours. Accelerating consumer expectations is the new normal.
The Current State of the Brand Promise
The majority of established brand promises were developed 10+ years ago, making them completely outdated. Think of how the world has changed in the last 10 years. The iPhone was just hitting the market, only college students were on Facebook, and e-commerce was something that only “digital” companies were doing.
Now with the proliferation of these communication channels and the technology that powers them, we cannot ignore the impact that the interaction landscape has changed. Not only are there more channels across digital, social, and mobile, but also technologies like AI, AR, and VR are all changing how these channels work. Our brand promise has tremendously more heavy lifting to do than it did a decade ago.
Siloing of Organizational Functions
Organizations have been created in functional departments to drive specific business results, leading towards a segmented conversation with the consumer. Rarely is there a holistic view of the consumer or conversation.
THE SOLUTION – BRAND EXPERIENCE STRATEGY
So, what can you do about it? In order to be different, we have to think different. As we identified earlier, the main cause of this issue is the gap between what the brand promise is and what it needs to become. First and foremost, it needs to be evolved. Then you can create a playbook to fulfill that brand promise each and every chance you get across the physical, human, and – most importantly – digital elements of your brand.
Develop a “Brand Experience” Strategy
As mentioned above, today’s brand promise needs to accomplish a lot. Not only does it need to stand for something aspirational, but also needs to become an intrinsic and extrinsic personality, framework, and playbook to drive all business decisions, actions, and interactions with consumers.
“When your brand promise is truly “fulfilled” the consumer will know and feel the brand at each interaction; one that only your brand can provide.”
The evolution of where we are today versus where we’re going tomorrow is a strategically choreographed relationship with each individual consumer. Your brand differentiation is illustrated in “how” your brand comes to life at every touchpoint, building off previous interactions. With the consumer at the core, the Brand Experience strategy should be powered through a dynamic combination of tools, platforms, data, algorithms, physical locations, and people.
Drive Organizational Change – Implement and Iterate
The hardest part about making the shift for your Brand Experience strategy, is the organizational evolution. Far too long have we allowed silos to corrupt and disrupt our consumer experiences. Having the Brand Experience strategy playbook provides a holistic view of what the brand promise is and how it interacts at each moment with the consumer. Then you’ll be able to structure your organization around specialized interactions between the brand and consumer. All of which fulfills on every aspect of the holistic brand promise. This choreographed orchestration breaks down the silos and creates a seamless and progressive relationship with the consumer.
Act. Measure. Evolve.
Now that the new playbook is being implemented, there could be a sense of complacency that could set in. However, a major implication of the Brand Experience strategy is that it constantly rebalances and evolves itself. At the very essence of this strategy is the idea of evolution and growth with your consumer. By the simple act of measuring and optimizing you will not only capitalize on today’s consumer expectations, but also prepare your organization to identify and act on tomorrow’s unmet needs and opportunities.
As you can see, narrowing the gap between the promise your brand makes and the one it delivers on means providing incremental or new value for your consumer. All of which leads to incremental or new results – like customer loyalty and increased revenue for your organization. The development and implementation of a Brand Experience strategy not only gives your organization a “North Star” to follow and playbook to execute your brand promise, but also an approach to ensuring current and future success with your consumers.