Rethinking Brand Strategy – Designing the Brand Experience

In today’s cluttered marketplace, a powerful brand creates a clear signal that cuts through the static. This requires a new approach to business strategy, one that integrates branding as a crucial component of corporate strategy. Creating a compelling customer experience is increasingly what makes or breaks a brand. A strong brand that can forge a durable psychological bond between a company and its customers, investors, and employees, is the most effective form of strategic control available to a wide array of businesses. Such a change involves the entire organization, including the senior managers.

Many companies fail to deliver on the promise that their brand, implicitly or explicitly, makes to customers. This brand “bait and switch” – raising customer expectations that are then dashed – quickly and seriously erodes the power of a brand. It does more harm than simply delivering an unsatisfactory experience without having promised something better.

A brand promise can be unmasked as a hollow boast at any point during a customer’s experience with a company, product, or service. Each interaction represents a “moment of truth” that can enhance or erode the brand, heighten or undermine customer loyalty, and affect business results for better or worse. Especially difficult is aligning the brand promise and the human interactions between employees and customers. It is these interactions that can bring a well-designed customer experience to life.

To make employees effective brand ambassadors, executives must understand what employees value and how they experience the brand, and they need to overcome the barriers from:

Inefficient business processes and misplaced incentives that typically impede even the most capable and committed employees
Employees merely selling products instead of becoming involved in customers’ needs
Underutilizing the employees’ capability to deliver the experience customers expect

Companies seeking to align their human capital practices and investments with the brand must address six interrelated areas that together determine the customer experience that employees, from the top down, deliver:

People – the experience and competencies of employees, and specific policies aimed at selecting or developing them
Processes – how work gets done
Structure – how management assigns roles and responsibilities
Information and knowledge – the availability and timeliness of critical business information
Decision-making – how decisions get made that affect the customer
Rewards – the motivation of people through pay and other incentives

The most effective strategies employ all six simultaneously. An integrated human capital strategy, linking each area to a common and coherent purpose, creates enormous brand value among customers and employees. This creates a virtuous cycle of engaged, committed employees who deliver what customers want, leading to higher customer satisfaction, spending, and improved business results, which in turn makes

Schuyler Morgan and Karin Hollerbach bring financial and transaction expertise as well as real-world management experience to work with companies to complete successful financings, mergers & acquisitions, and strategic partnerships.

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