Whatever happened to Brand? In the rush to embrace customer experience (CX), it’s become something of a marketing orphan. Our research shows that just 6% of companies are currently using Brand as an input for their CX strategy.
But consumers don’t make the same distinction. They associate CX with Brand and Brand with CX, and one influences the other. Consumers start on the path to purchase and make buying decisions based on both Brand and CX, emotion and experience. And while transactional CX measures last transaction and complaints, strategic CX works with Brand to harmonize the promise and the delivery. But many companies continue to measure Brand impact and CX separately, and fail to understand how to maximize the interaction between the two.
There are several reasons for this. It may simply reflect “siloing” within the organization – with different teams and different systems collecting data that supports brand and CX and then not sharing that data. It may also be a function of the different media that are targeted and how their impact is measured. Brand, for example, tends to go wider through the use of broadcast and other mass-oriented media. Its message is often emotional. CX is generally more targeted, and more oriented towards last touch and generating a short-term action. But Brand often precedes CX – for example, an emotional response generated by the Brand can start the customer on the path to purchase. Or, as Forrester puts it, Brand sets the tone and CX brings the brand to life (or should).
Where things go astray, however, is when Brand messaging and CX don’t link up. Forrester Research has stated that, “The ideal gap between the brand image (what customers are promised) and the brand reality (what customer actually experience) is zero”. But the research firm also notes that, globally, 57% of marketing decision makers say that aligning CX with brand is not a top priority. Where the values and the messaging don’t align, there is a high likelihood of creating confusion and frustration among purchasers.
So how do you bring the two into alignment? We recommend starting with a four-step process, as follows:
- Don’t do CX in a vacuum. Use the Brand to design the Customer Experience.
- Identify the most important customer journeys from the customer experience.
- Measure the emotional experiences often associated with Brand. Make sure they are consistent with CX.
- Align goals for Brand and CX across the organization. Create teams to share data and insights.
The fact is that 80% of CEOs believe that their companies deliver very good Customer Experience but only 8% of their customers agree! This is a serious challenge and it results in part from a misalignment of CX and Brand (among other factors). By better aligning Brand with CX, you establish a more consistent and emotionally appealing journey for the purchaser and create the opportunity to strengthen relationships and increase sales.