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How to create a truly compelling brand

How to create a truly compelling brand

By Bob Bayman of ‘i-am’ associates
A brand is as important to a marketer as a brush to an artist, or a spade to a gardener. 
But the difficulty lies when it is seen as the same thing – a tool which helps us do our job.
No, a brand is not a trowel or fork, it’s the garden itself; it’s not the paint, the brush or the palette but the whole picture.
And, contrary to some people’s belief, a brand is not just a logo or a marque.  These may be the branding irons, but they are not the brand itself.
So, brands are wonderful things.  The best sum up the many things the ears have heard, the eyes have seen, the hands have touched and life has experienced.

They are held in the minds of the beholders – not in an ad man’s script or the brand manager’s marketing plan.  What the advertising team does is only one small component of a brand; the main part is what the customers experience themselves, what they read from objective sources or hear from friends, family or colleagues.

Yet, this is a real turnaround from traditional concepts which suggest that marketing is 90 per cent about promise (for example, the ads and other communications) and 10 per cent about the delivery.

But, I believe we’re moving to a different model, where marketing is, only say 40 per cent about the promise and 60 per cent about the reality of the experience.
So, how can we home in on this aspect and concentrate on creating great customer experience and, therefore, a compelling brand. 
Fortunately, although we are talking about concepts, impressions and other nebulous issues, we don’t have to be vague or illogical about how we achieve this.
It may help to see this customer experience in the form of a ten-rung ladder.  The better the experience you offer, the higher up the ladder you sit.
Sadly, some brands provide only a dysfunctional experience and can be found at the bottom.  Doing business or buying from these companies is a chore, to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Most hover around the mid-range moving from “functional” – which means they are only just OK, but don’t exceed expectations - to “rewarding” where things are getting better and begin to exceed expectations.
Only those offering an “enjoyable” experience or more can be placed near the top of the ladder. These are the brands that consumers are prepared to pay more for, that they advocate to their friends and that attract customer loyalty.
But, only when a brand offers a “magical” once-in-a lifetime experience do they rightfully reach the very top rung.
At ‘i-am’ associates we have develop ways to pinpoint where on this customer experience ladder our clients really sit.  We’ve found that even just by moving up one rung, they can outsmart their competitors and increase revenue.
Moving your brand up this ladder is a rich and rewarding thing to do.

We’ve discovered that a great brand experience is made up of six elements – let’s call them the ‘The Six Greats’. These comprise:
1. A great product
2. A great way of serving and selling it
3. Great people doing this
4. A great brand drawing people in
5. A great physical environment supporting the sales process
6. Great business objectives that everyone knows and understands
The more of these elements that are right, the further up the experience ladder the business goes.  It’s all so straightforward.  In theory.
In reality, it is so difficult to keep things this simple. Shops are full of clutter, banks are awash with leaflets and posters that do little to communicate their brand to customers, staff continue to give out the message that they either don’t care or know nothing about the company they are working for.
Yet, some brands do get it right.  They tick all six boxes and often do one or more aspect in a memorable way.
For example, the product knowledge of the staff at Lush, the handmade cosmetics company is exemplary; the recruitment, training and incentive scheme at Pret has ensured that its people really breathe life into their brand. 
Study the language and tone used by Innocent on cartons next time you drink a smoothie   It really chimes with their ethos and attitude.  And, if you visit the Apple store in Regent Street, London, watch out for the great staff/customer interaction. 
These brands all show their worth rather than tell.  When did you ever see a TV ad for Pret or Lush. Google, Amazon or Pizza Express?
The experience creates such a subliminal impression that the idea of spending money on anything so obvious as a TV slot just never crosses anyone’s minds.

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