In the past 10 years, new forms of digital media have empowered brands more than ever to build two-way relationships with their clients and fans. When people talk about their favorite brands, products and services, it can often sound like they’re reminiscing about an old friend, or describing a family member. Brands, especially those in the luxury sector, need to realize this and begin envisioning the relationships they build with their clients as social, and not only commercial. What does this mean for brands today?
First, brands need to work on the coherence of their presentation and messaging. Importance is often granted to obvious first-layer elements such as packaging, promotional communications and messaging on social media. But are you giving adequate thought to all the important, but less obvious forms of communication that are happening at multiple contact points throughout your customer journey? The most notable that come to mind are receipts, invoices and confirmations. These need to be adjusted and relevant to be coherent with your company’s visual identity and voice in order to build stable and sustainable relationships with clients. An interesting current example is how BarkBox, an upscale online-subscription pet goods supplier, uses comical names for their products and playful language throughout their website. They go on to sign their shipping confirmation emails with a friendly “Ruv ya!” from the shipping staff’s dog, reinforcing their brand image and turning a plain transactional email into an emotional interaction.
Moreover, the principle of coherence is ever so important when we consider non-sales-based activities, such as customer support. The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer claims that over 70% of Americans are willing to spend more money on a company’s goods and services if quality customer support is offered. That is a monstrous statistic! One simple way to take advantage of this opportunity is to extend service that is coherent with branding. If you work for a company that values fun and very personal customer relationships, having a macabre and overly serious tone during customer service operations can be harmful to the customer service process. Conversely, a serious and classic corporation that tries to dabble in over-simplistic humor could hamper years of compounded marketing and communication efforts. This can even go as far as to narrowing your chances of creating a loyal or even an evangelized customer who can be worth up to 10 times the price of their first purchase, as per the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
Finally, in today’s world, brand messaging and vision need to be adopted and extended to non-sales-related touch points. These can be defined as moments when your brand is interacting with buyers and interested individuals beyond the scope of promotional or transactional activities — such as surveys, events, or for recruitment purposes. For example, if your brand is built around exclusivity and secrecy, turn your market research surveys into a private club of lucky fans who gain exclusive behind-the-scenes information about how you develop products in exchange for their feedback. Your surveys, focus groups and information sessions will be more successful and attract more interest if people can clearly identify your brand’s tone and messaging that they know and love.
What does this all mean? In our increasingly digital and omni-canal marketing landscape, contact points between brands and customers are multiplying. The relationship that marketers build with fans and customers is more complex and spread out across more mediums than it has ever been. The old “carpet-bomb” marketing and communication approach is simply not effective anymore. Coherence of brand and vision should be the main priorities for brands if they are looking to build sustainable, fruitful relationships with their clients.