The Evolving Brand Experience
May 5, 2007 § Leave a comment
Apathy + Creativity => Interest
Interest + Differentiation => Meaning
Meaning + Value => Purchase
Purchase + Service => Loyalty
Loyalty + Community => Fanatics
Creativity is the weapon that disrupts the state of apathy to create a
moment of interest. This moment, however is fleeting and can only be
extended by communicating difference; and effecting that communication
at light speed. When this is accomplished, meaning is created for the
brand experience. The brand means something. The brand is revealed as
a unique (i.e. differentiated) offering amongst the other brands
competing for attention. With meaning created (not just expressed,
but experienced), now is the time to “walk the talk”. Value must
exist or the chain breaks. Value must be understood or the chain
breaks. False value can be campaigned, but not sustained.
Interest, meaning and value (real value) precipitate the act of
purchase. Purchase is an expression of these first branding
milestones. If no one is buying then you haven’t done the job – go
back to square one.
Having crossed the purchase hurdle you’re in the game.
Congratulations. However, this is where many brands stall and recede
gradually back to apathy.
Purchase progresses to Loyalty through Service. Service is not just
an external act bolted on to the end of the customer experience; it is
the internalization of meaning. Oh, and by the way, it’s not your
meaning we’re talking about, it’s your customers’. They get to decide
what your brand means to them, and if it is not what you thought it
was (or what you wanted it to be) then your not delivering that “it”
that you thought you were. Go back to school. Go to school on your
brand and your service and your true value. When these factors align,
Service becomes the reinforcement of meaning. The Meaning is
reflected in customer contact, product development, communications,
corporate behavior, everything. It is holistic. It is comprehensive.
And it must be consistent and authentic to create loyalty. You serve
your brand. You serve the meaning your customers have chosen for you.
If you serve it well they will reward you with loyalty.
From a foundation of loyalty comes the next great leap. A process of
magnification and reflection that allows the loyal to differentiate
themselves through the lens of your brand difference. A creation of
self-definition through the meaning they have projected on you and
therefore in part upon themselves. This cannot be forced. This can
only be nurtured. It collapses without authenticity. It collapses
without consistency. It is an act of connection, a drawing of lines
between a certain “us” and a “them” that is, if nothing else, not us.
The fanatic is self-appointed. Feed the fanatic upon a brand that
expresses relevant meaning, and that is backed by true value and
consistent reinforcement of meaning through service, and the fanatic
will grow strong. A healthy fanatic will recruit others so disposed.
A healthy fanatic will believe in your brand and will even forgive a
stumble or two, if your stumbles are consistent with their definition
of your brand. As the fan base grows, loyalty will transcend the
individual and become communal, an act of social definition,
expression through association. The brand is no longer your identity,
it is your customer’s badge and if you listen, they’ll tell you what
you need to know.