Is Customer Experience a true reflection of the Brand?

How is it that some companies are able to create truly dedicated fans of their brand whilst others fail to create any emotional connection with their customers? To understand this, you need to understand their ability to deliver experiences and interactions that are truly consistent with their brand positioning.

 

Even with an incredibly strong brand position, if it is at odds with the experiences your customers receive, you will always struggle to create passion and loyalty.

As humans our brains are wired to store emotional over non-emotional memories, and it is the emotion we recall first rather than the situation. What this means, is albeit unintentionally, our customers judge their interactions on an emotional basis and embed emotional experiences more deeply in their memory. This in turn is how they then make a judgement about our brand. If the emotional memory doesn’t fit with the brand positioning then they are likely to deem a brand as inconsistent, confusing or even untrustworthy.

The brand position is the way in which the organisation defines itself and its ambition. The customer experience is what the customer actually sees and feels. It is like the two sides of a mirror, and more often than not the reflection doesn’t match.

So how is it that so many brands get this wrong? Because they don’t recognise the link between the two. The brand position is the way in which the organisation defines itself and its ambition. The customer experience is what the customer actually sees and feels. It is like the two sides of a mirror, and more often than not the reflection doesn’t match.

Stating what your company, brand or product stands for is not enough. Shouting about it though every available marketing channel isn’t enough. Consciously creating experiences that reflect your brand values and the emotions you want your customers to feel, is the only sure way to deliver a consistent brand experience. It means customers can clearly recognise your offering and connect emotionally, which gives you a space to share your brand stories and in turn leads to customers creating brand stories of their own. This means every employee in your business needs to understand and embrace your brand and your way of doing things.

I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear the brand values of Harley Davidson are Freedom, Heritage, Community and Quality – even those that have never owned a motorbike understand the brand and the experiences it delivers. They seep through every part of the business and how it engages with its customers, existing and prospective.  However, even Harley Davidson has weathered a few storms along the way. In the past, the brand has been associated with an “outlaw” biker image and they have extended the brand too far, with seemingly unrelated products. What Harley Davidson have managed to do is recognise these mistakes and bring the brand back to its core – the emotional positioning that its fans, from all walks of life, relate to.

Lego seem to be a recent victim of extending the range too far from its brand values and forgetting about the emotional connection with its customers.

Lego seem to be a recent victim of extending the range too far from its brand values and forgetting about the emotional connection with its customers.Having announced its first drop in sales in 13 years, it seems quite apparent what the problem is from a customer point of view. Lego has always stood for creativity and play, its brand values are Creativity, Imagination, Learning, Fun and Quality. Yet, if you go into their flagship London store, it is full of Lego kits, that have lengthy step-by-step instructions on how to build specific models or designs. In fact, trying to find a set of Lego blocks that isn’t in a predetermined kit is almost impossible. These kits restrict creativity and imagination, rather than fueling it, with children building the model as instructed and then not daring to take it apart in case they can’t rebuild it again. The resulting emotional state can be one of frustration, anxiousness and apathy, albeit for a short moment of satisfaction upon completing the build.

As people, and customers, we remember those things that have a positive personal or emotional meaning. These memories are tagged in our brain, so we can recall them for future reference. This means we seek out situations and experiences that are likely to replicate those emotional states. If your customers can recall brand experiences that reflect the values and positioning you claim and associate this with a positive emotional state, then you can start to build a loyal customer base, and maybe even create a few fans.