Many folks think of logos, marketing collateral, advertising, and other imagery as their brand. They lump in patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property; domain names, slogans, jingles, and other components. And they are partially correct. But a brand is so much more than that.
A brand is the promise you make to your customers. It is the experience your customers expect to take away each and every time they interact with your brand.
And your brand is an important component to a successful Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) program. According to BrandZ, “On average worldwide, only 7 percent of consumers buy on price alone, down from 20 percent ten years ago. In contrast, 81 percent regard brand as an important consideration. (“BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands”, published by Millward Brown, 2010). So it is in your best interest to build the best brand you can build to ensure CLM success.
1) Preserve your Corporate Identity
Brands build their reputations in a painstaking manner. Great brands like Starbucks have managed to construct a unique global reputation based on the provision and service of high quality products. They offer a consistent and unique experience for patrons, not replicated by competitors. And they incorporate a consistent approach to corporate social responsibility.
And that identity is permeated at every customer touch point, so entering a Starbucks in Boston feels very much like entering a Starbucks in Bloomington, MN and/or Boise. You experience that same identity online at starbucks.com or on their Facebook page. And every piece of collateral, from the cups to the napkins, to the cup holders, to the POP displays, signs, CDs, local and national ads in one store or locale looks exactly like its counterpart in another.
2) Maintain your Competitive Advantage
A top brand retains competitive advantage in the marketplace because it is easily identified and stands apart. The brand is presented in a consistent manner and the customer experiences the brand in the same way no matter where they are.
Starbucks, Apple, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, Disney and Sub-Zero are all brands with advantages over the competition in terms of unaided recall. They each own advantages in product design, ease of use, customer service, or cost (or maybe on multiple dimensions). Because they deliver a competitive advantage, they retain customers better than the competition and perform well when it comes to loyalty and referral. This makes it difficult for a competitor to come in and steal market share.
Perhaps the competition can come in and undercut your brand based on price, but they can only employ that strategy for so long before eroding margins have a long-term financial impact. And if you attract shoppers based on price today, you will likely lose them down the road when another competitor beats you on price.
3) Helps You To Grow Revenue
When you have a strong brand identity and distinct, recognized advantage, customers can more easily see the perceived value your brand brings. Your lifecycle marketing campaigns benefit too, as they will be more visible, recognizable, and more likely to be responded to. Campaigns help Marketers to grow revenue. Campaigns can drive revenue from new customer acquisition, whereby you leverage mailings or social media posting and other promotions to your prospect list. Or you can run retention campaigns to keep those at risk of attriting from leaving you. Campaigns can drive incremental purchases later in the year from your core customer base or they can increase the amount of items typically purchased in one shopping session from a particular segment.
In our businesses, regardless of our function, we want to see our customers’ needs met by our brand. We want our brand to deliver on the promise that our Sales and Marketing teams (and all of our employees) make. Accomplishing this ensures our Customer Lifecycle Marketing programs meet their objectives and enhance value to the brand.