How to leverage your brand to create an authentic and differentiated customer experience

Most businesses are allocating significant resources to understanding and optimizing their customer journey and experience. However, unless they leverage their brand as part of this process, the outcome is likely to be generic, easily copied, and will fail to provide a sustainable competitive advantage.

Today’s business leaders are convinced of the importance of a customer-centric strategy and business model. In order to develop an in-depth understanding of their customer journey, they’re investing in data, like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) measurement, a key indicator of the degree to which people would recommend your company.

Armed with data from these measurement programs, businesses are building systematic feedback loops to create ongoing change programs aimed at enhancing the customer experience over time. However, success is often variable.

Embedding the brand into these processes as a filter for decision-making is crucial. Without it, there is a significant risk that the end result will be a good, but ultimately undifferentiated, customer experience that will sooner or later be matched by the competition, eliminating any hard-fought advantage that may have been secured.

Interbrand’s definition of brand:

Interbrand Brand Definition

A brand-led customer experience strategy builds on existing NPS programs by ensuring that, as changes are made to the customer experience, key brand messages are reinforced across all aspects of the experience—at Interbrand, we call these Branded Micro-Moments.

In addition to finding ways to incorporate your brand’s story throughout the customer journey, a brand-led customer experience strategy also identifies a smaller number of opportunities to create Brand Hallmark Experiences—moments that truly typify the brand in a distinctive, memorable, and potentially iconic way.

A brand-led customer experience strategy balances Brand Hallmark Experiences with Branded Micro-Moments. For example, Nike combines the Brand Hallmark Experience of its Niketown store with Branded Micro-Moments through its Nike+ Running App. As part of its Upper Class experience, Virgin Atlantic offers both a chauffeur limo service (Brand Hallmark Experience) along with access to an on-board bar where passengers can socialize with others (Branded Micro-Moment).

A brand-led customer experience strategy is informed by Brand Experience Principles—a set of strategic rules and guidelines that demonstrate how to incorporate the brand strategy into the customer experience.

Interbrand’s Brand Experience Principles:

Brand Strategy x Experience Strategy

Here are five tips for leveraging your brand to create an authentic and differentiated customer experience that will result in a sustainable competitive advantage:

1. Revisit your brand strategy to activate it across the customer journey: Ensure that your brand’s purpose and promise are being brought to life and standing out in a relevant way when customers experience your brand—at any touchpoint.

2. Make the business case for a brand-led customer experience strategy: Be clear about how investments in a brand-led customer experience strategy will drive choice, premium, loyalty, and ultimately, economic value.

3. Create Brand Experience Principles: Define the strategic rules that will guide the organization in shaping its brand experience in a way that simultaneously enhances it and reinforces the brand promise.

4. Identify opportunities along the customer journey for Branded Micro-Moments and Brand Hallmark Experiences: Look at your existing pipeline of experience improvement initiatives, and identify opportunities to reinforce your key brand messages while making these changes. Find quick wins to gain early internal buy-in.

Bring together your analytical and creative teams to discover what matters to your customers, and identify how you can reshape the customer experience and create new value for customers in ways that become hallmark moments for your brand.

5. Engage the organization to deliver the brand: Any brand-led customer experience strategy will flounder without internal understanding and commitment. Create a dynamic employee engagement program that uses peer-to-peer and viral communication tactics—rather than old-fashioned cascade and comply techniques—to enable your people to deliver the brand experience effectively.

Leveraging your brand throughout your customer experience will result in a more ownable, authentic, and differentiated customer experience that will deliver a sustainable competitive advantage and significant ROI.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

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Global Director, Brand Valuation