Brand > Consumer Relationships.
Alfredo Mancera of Lab sent me this article from CoreBrand, as an example of the basics of brand management and brand building in todays world. Problem is most of them are ignored and not measured or tracked. Failing brands (especially in service categories) are normally pretty easy to spot.
In his article Patrick Ohlin of CoreBrand (no relation to OneBrand) suggests five best practices for a better customer experience, and ten warning signs of failing brands.
(This article is copyright 2007 TheWiseMarketer.com).
Five steps for brand and customer experience improvement. To help attract and retain best customers, CoreBrand offers five key steps that lead to a better-managed brand:
1. Customers return to companies they understand and trust. Be honest, recognise past problems, and articulate what you are doing to fix them.
2. Revisit your company's core identity, values and principles
Are your people and processes supporting these? If not, find out why. Think about how you gain or lose value through different types of customer experience, and map out a picture of the current state. Identify the key behaviours that impact your brand's performance.
3. When you know where the problems are... run a cost/benefit analysis to determine the magnitude and value of the changes needed.
4. Consider how you measure satisfaction.
Fast-paced industries, such as technology, may measure satisfaction more frequently while slower, more traditional industries might use quarterly touchpoint research to remain responsive.
5. Evaluate and quantify progress against goals at planned intervals
Use tracking studies to maintain your focus on customers and provide a regular basis for realignment. Online questionnaires, direct mail surveys, and paid user research can all be effective ways to collect this kind of data.
The golden rule
Finally, CoreBrand warns, companies must remember why customers matter so much. The brand is a total reflection of not only the company but also of the experiences of its customers. Without customers, brands lose meaning.
But customer experiences are a constantly changing reflection of brand strategy and how effectively it is delivered, and this has become even more complex with the steady maturation of the internet.
Brand deterioration alert
At the same time, the problem of a deteriorating brand can be side-stepped if you know what to look for. The solution, Ohlin says, is a customer-focused approach that realigns what the company says with what it actually does. The most common warning signs of brand deterioration include:
1. Low customer satisfaction and retention, as evidenced by low repeat business and high churn rates. Consider market research to identify causal links and define the priorities for improvement.
2. Flat or falling market share. Evaluate competitors and potential substitutes against your brand criteria and market dynamics.
3. Poor internal communications. Evaluate strategy, organisational structure, bottlenecks, breakdowns and competing interests.
4. Low advertising and marketing spend compared to your competitors.
Evaluate your marketing channels and their effectiveness.
5. Inconsistent brand messages or themes in different places and channels. Evaluate your brand positioning and execution.
6. Influx of new or out-of-category competitors and messages.
Identify your top 2 or 3 points of differentiation and press them home every single day.
7. High customer service costs compared to industry standards.
8. High ratio of ad-hoc to planned communications. Evaluate your communications strategy. An audit may help you to identify opportunities to standardise and automate communications.
9. Decentralised, or non-performance based workforce and low employee morale.