It’s All About the Brand, ‘Bout the Brand, No Bull$#!!

I responded to a reporter’s query recently wondering about whether companies in industries with historically “poor” reputations (e.g. airlines, cable companies, telephone providers, etc.) are hindered because they serve as a “middleman” for consumers to access their services and that they may purposefully decide to just suck it up, accept the fact that they will never be able to satisfy their customers and, therefore, cut back on the costs of providing exceptional service. My short answer: “No.”

Here’s why, and what I think is really at play here.

There are countless organizations that serve as the conduit for consumers to ultimately access the products or services they desire—retailers are a broad category that fits this criteria. While the Internet allows consumers these days to buy directly from the source, in many cases they’re still going through a third party of some sort—e.g. Amazon, Zappos, etc.

In my opinion, providing an exceptional consumer/customer experience is all about brand which is built not on the trappings of a logo, corporate colors or clever taglines, but on a well managed product/service experience which:

  • Provides a product or service that consumers value
  • Removes barriers to accessing that product/service and responding promptly and appropriately to any product/service breakdown
  • Provides that product or service at a price that is commensurate with the consumer expectation and the value placed on the experience—whether the price is high or low really doesn’t matter as long as it is aligned with the value the consumer realizes/perceives
  • Communicates accurately and consistently about its offerings across all channels—that’s “the brand promise”—importantly, no organization can/should claim to offer something that it doesn’t, whether that’s a quality product and/or service experience

This list really represents the classic “marketing mix” and it’s as relevant in this digital era as it was in the more traditional “bricks and mortar” economy. To be effective, organizations must effectively manage all of these elements of the marketing mix to deliver a consistent, positive experience for consumers.

And, it has to be real. It’s pure folly to attempt to “baffle them with b.s.” It may work once, but it’s not likely to work twice and your brand will suffer severely in the process.

Regardless of how uncluttered, or regulated, the marketing playing field will be, it is never a good idea for an organization to become complacent, or to attempt to cut corners when it comes to product or service quality. It may work in the short term; it won’t work in the long haul.

No company can afford to ignore public/customer opinion—they do so at their own peril. Even those companies in regulated industries (utilities, for instance) face sanctions from regulating agencies for not providing good service. But all companies are always at risk of some innovation making what they provide obsolete. Cable companies are a great example of this.

To play off a riff in a popular song, when it comes to building a sustainable organization:

“It’s all about the brand, ’bout the brand, no bull$^*!”  

Recommended Reading

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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