Commentary

Prioritizing Brand Experience In Post-COVID World

COVID-19 upended life as we knew it, altering our collective future and societal expectations. Businesses experienced something like 10 years’ worth of digital change, trust and adaptation—all compressed into one year. The rules have changed, and so has the relationship between brand equity and experience. Brand experiences have become the cornerstone of differentiation, so it’s critical to understand the value they add to your business.

We've identified four critical steps to prioritize impactful experiences for your brand.

Exercise 1: Uncover emerging needs and mindsets. One of the biggest shifts is in new daily routines and U.S. regional demographics, so your current understanding of customers may no longer be accurate. To re-identify priority customers, we recommend completing a segmentation analysis focused on need-states, rather than solely on demographics. You will find there may be new clusters within your larger audience: the pragmatists, the believers, the impatient, etc.

By viewing these segments alongside brand positioning, demographics and media, you’ll see where you stand with current and emerging customers and in the industry, ensuring that however your customers’ lives have changed in this past year, your brand’s ready.

Exercise 2: Remap the journey. Once you understand your customers, you can envision a more ideal relationship with them. What touchpoints and services are extended to people as they learn about your brand or move to purchase? What are their roles? Can you reframe specific moments to provide an even better service?

Any customer journey will have to consider:

  1. Crafting virtual brand experiences that build trust and loyalty in your organization, potentially without the human factor
  2. New competitors in your audiences’ consideration set 
  3. Increasing personalization with sophisticated digital tools

Exercise #3: Prioritize customer experiences. Now, pick the moments of impact that will differentiate your brand:

  1. Quantify what matters most across the customer experience
  2. Uncover how your brand might best deliver on those priorities
  3. Focus investment accordingly

For example, wireless providers have found the bulk of browsing tends to be on their website plan pages. Here, easy-to-use comparison tools that lead with transparent pricing win the day. Post-purchase, when customers may feel that they missed out on other offers, a warm welcome with extra outreach can go a long way.

Exercise #4: Don’t forget your employees. It’s vital to understand the emerging needs and expectations of your employees as well. Many are likely looking for competitive, thoughtful workplace benefits that exist outside the physical workplace — and could be searching already.

Ultimately, this past year changed almost everything about how we do business. Rather than try to catch up on every front, you can get to know your customers and employees better and create the best experiences for them, prioritizing what matters most: people.

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