Your brand image isn’t what you say it is; it’s what your customers say it is.
Let’s face it, everyone that touches your marketing is focused on supporting the brand image, but sometimes that image isn’t remotely how customers identify with the brand.
When this disconnect occurs, it likely isn’t due to failure of the marketing team. Most often, it’s because your marketing team is receiving different messages from you than your customers are receiving. Therein, lies the disconnect.
Considering that every touch point solidifies your actual brand image. Whether through interaction with your staff, website or social media team, or the product, visual merchandising, customer service, or the entire purchasing experience from need recognition to after-the-sale support, it is your customer’s experience that drives the brand image.
When your affordable trinket has a quality issue, your “smart” brand image becomes “junk.”
When you sell your “luxury” product through discounters, your brand image becomes “cheap.”
When providing “superb customer service” only exists as an automated phone service or customer forum, or the help chat isn’t so helpful, your brand image becomes “difficult.”
When your top-rated chef’s “gourmet” food is tainted by low health department ratings, your brand becomes “disgusting.”
When your “smart” brand provides real value.
When your “luxury” brand is exclusive.
When your “superb customer service” brand has a superb customer service strategy and execution.
When your “gourmet” restaurant provides an exceptional “gourmet” experience.
Before your marketing investment goes up in smoke, before any campaign launches, ensure everything – that’s everything – from a pothole-free parking lot to the product’s performance and delivery, the purchasing and refund process, and an educated and empowered sales and support personnel are all in place to support your branding, vision and mission.
If you’re unique selling proposition (USP) rests on a professional and knowledgeable sales or technical team, make sure everyone is properly trained and well groomed and everything is in place to support growth. This includes people, vehicles, marketing materials or tools, manners, ethics, knowledge, and so forth.
Ensure your marketing messages are consistent with your customers’ experiences – or rather your customers’ experiences are consistent with your marketing messages. Always plan for the experience you wish to provide, then build your brand messaging around that experience.
Finally, make an investment in surveying current customers, review your online customer ratings, dive into social media comments, set up a Google Alert, and so forth, to identify your true brand image in the marketplace. Then, implement measures to bring that image to where you want it to be.
Your brand image depends upon it.