The Business of Branding
Branding – it’s one of the most important assets of any business. It’s used in many conversations across every industry, however, it’s one of the most misunderstood terms in business today. Your brand is your company’s foundation. It is a filter defining where you can strategically take your business, the customers you choose to serve, the type of employees you hire, and the type of supplier or customer relationships you have. It’s how you compete versus your competition, and it’s ultimately how your business makes more money.
In every industry (especially the building products industry), we encounter a “sea of sameness,” meaning we see companies looking and sounding the same, acting the same, hiring the same types of people, offering the same products or services, and making the same decisions (and usually the same mistakes). Companies represent themselves so similarly, that you can often cover a company’s logo on their website or their truck and you can’t tell which company it actually is because they all look and act the same.
As you develop and fine tune your brand, it is critical to make sure it’s not just meaningful to you, it must be unique, ownable, and most important, relevant to your customers. Here are some key areas to think about as you consider where your brand is headed.
Your Brand is Your Company’s DNA
Your brand is not the name of your company or the logo on your building or shirts. A brand is much deeper than that. A brand is at the core of the company’s mission and identity, and thus helps define your core purpose — the reason you exist as a business entity. Your brand has an emotional attachment as it’s your promise (day in day out) of what the customer can expect from you.
Think of brand as human DNA. Every human in the world, all seven billion of us, share 99.9% of the same DNA. But, it’s the .1% that makes us act different, look different and think different. Our DNA coupled with life experiences help us define the path of our lives. Brand DNA for a company is very similar. Just like with human DNA, each company must find their unique .1%; what they stand for, what makes them uniquely different, and what will guide them as they grow their company or use as a compass to deal with challenges and opportunities they encounter.
Customer Expectations are Changing Fast
The speed and momentum of change are happening at a quicker pace in the last 5 years than they did in the last 50. Customer expectations are changing at this same speed. And the biggest impact is that your B2B relationships are transitioning to having the same expectations of B2C. Why? Well, because we are all consumers during the day as well and brands like Amazon, Netflix and even your neighborhood pizza joint are all changing our expectations of value, delivery speed and personalization of the experience. Think of this: a consumer today can know exactly where his $5.99 pizza is, or her $29.99 sweater…but we as an industry struggle with having our customers know where their $6,000 order of building products are, or when they will even deliver.
The momentum is happening, with or without you. The question is how far behind are you and what plans and resources you will put in place to get your organization to focus on creating a better CX for your customers. Many companies today, large and small, are putting CX strategies and dedicated resources in place to wrap their heads around how they can deliver a more meaningful CX.
Branding Helps Drive a Better Customer Experience
The expectations of the new customer experience (CX) is changing the way companies do business. A recent study showed that the most important thing customers valued (55%) was the experience a brand provides. Today, the CX a brand provides is more than the product, quality or price. Getting a quality product from spot A to B is only table stakes, it’s the entire experience your customer goes through; consideration, to selection process, to purchase, to post purchase that matters.
That same study showed that 89% of customers will walk away from a brand after just one bad brand experience. However, it also showed that 86% of customers who experience a great CX expect to pay more for the product they are purchasing — delivering up to 140% more profit. You are losing customers without knowing it, and you can leverage more profit for your business when you purposefully invest in providing a great CX.
And it’s important to realize how CX impacts the whole value chain. The CX (great or poor) you provide to your customer has direct implications on the CX they can provide to their customers.
Have you ever taken the time to truly understand and analyze the CX journey your customers (or theirs) go through with your brand? It’s worth your time given the impact it can make on your business.
First, understand how your brand is perceived in your market today. Unfortunately, less than 50% of companies actually conduct any type of customer surveys to see how their organization is performing. A recent Bain Consulting study showed that of 10,000 companies surveyed, nearly 80% of them stated their customers would score them as having a great or extraordinary customer experience with their brand. When the study surveyed their actual customers, that number was only 8% (yes, no typo here, less than 10% of their customers stated they had a great experience).
Gauging your performance takes time, but it’s very valuable. It can be done with any number of customer engagement survey approaches. One of my top choices is using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) approach, which basically tells you how many of your customers would recommend your brand to another customer. But just pick one approach and start to execute it. The longer you wait, the more you are flying blind, so get going.
Branding is a powerful business tool that will enable stronger business success by driving a great customer experience and company culture, helping you retain top customers and employees.
Content Author: Bill Rossiter is CEO of Interrupt, a strategic branding and marketing agency partnering with Fortune 500 brands in the building products, home improvement and home enjoyment industries. Interrupt works with these brands to help them define their unique brand strategy that guides their channel, sales and marketing strategy — all with the goal to help them financially outperform the market. More on Interrupt www.InterruptDelivers.com