Think for a moment about all the different types of “experiences” a typical consumer might have with your brand.
She might see a commercial on TV. She might read a press article that mentions you. She might see your product on the shelf at retail. She might read a post in her Facebook news feed from a friend. She might run across your brand while conducting an unrelated web search, or on a third-party website (such as Amazon). She might receive an electronic coupon at the point-of-sale. She might even hear your name mentioned in a news story (let’s hope it’s not for the wrong reasons). Or, she might proactively seek out what previous customers have to say about you on Yelp. Or she could do her own Google search.
Wow, that’s a ton of touchpoints.
With so many ways for consumers to get “exposed” to you (and the 5,000 other marketers they’ll run across today), does that make it more likely she’ll purchase from you? Or is it just a bunch of clutter that confuses matters, and makes it harder to break through?
The best definition of a “brand” I have heard is “the sum of everything you know, hear, believe, feel and experience about a particular product or company.” If we accept this definition, then we can see how every way your brand “touches” your consumer or prospect contributes to your “brand” in their view.
So how do you make sure that the customer hears a consistent narrative across all these possible touchpoints?
While there is no controlling everything that’s said/written/shared/experienced about you, there is one powerful tool you have at your disposal:
Walking the talk.
Find out what your most devoted fans love about you. Why they’d never leave you. Why they feel you can’t be replaced. (This is your “talk”.) Then take that one thing, and amplify it every way you can throughout your value chain. And live by it, no matter what. (This is the “walk” part.)
If you conclude your competitive difference is that you offer the best service, see what you can do to kick it up a notch. For everyone, everytime, whether they are a customer or not. No phone trees. No “let me talk to my supervisor.” No “that’s not our policy.”
Southwest AIrlines found that fans flocked to them because they were the “low fare airline.” So they found dozens of ways to amplify and demonstrate that, from offering ridiculous “super saver” fares, to not charging for bags, to not offering food service, to having the industry’s simplest frequent flyer program, to keeping their planes in the air 20% more than competing airlines (cutting downtime).
By uncompromisingly walking the talk, you are creating consistent perceptions, experiences and stories that are passed forward. These are the “tidbits” that go into formulating your “brand” in consumers’ minds. The more consistent you are, the more consistent the stories will be, and the more consistent your brand narrative will be.
And yes, the more you’ll break through the morass of clutter out there.