In his book Laughing@Advertising Bob Hoffman sets a thought experiment of sorts for his reader, presumably someone working in advertising. The author suggests we take a look at the products in our fridge, pantry, medicine cabinet, clothes, underwear and socks in our wardrobe and all the tools, machine oils and spring-y things in our garage. Followed by the core question of the experiment:
- “Do you “share branded content" about any of this stuff?
- Do you feel "personally engaged" with these brands?
- Do you "join the conversation" about any of this stuff?
- Do you ever "co-create" with any of these brands?
- Do you feel like you are part of these brands' "tribes" or "communities?"
Now answer this: If you don't, why in the fucking world do you believe anyone else does?”
Bob Hoffman exposes a fallacy in marketing – that with the right images and call-to-action any brand can change and manipulate their consumers’ attitude. And while some consumer groups actually become brand ambassadors for dental floss (looking at you, Gen Z influencers), Hoffman’s observation states a universal truth: not every brand could and should be the main character in people’s lives.
So, how do we stay in business and stimulate our clients’ loyalty?
Through a consistent brand experience at every point of contact. Might sound easy at first, but the process of creating and shaping the consumer experience is a long and bumpy ride. Numerous of intertwined factors should be taken into account and then applied to the current market situation. Such process takes up a lot of time, certainly more than it takes to shoot a TVC, but its benefits are much more long-lasting and effective.
Here are some key territories where brands need to focus, if they wish to provide a seamless and consistent experience to and ultimately secure their customers’ loyalty :
This is a whole universe of processes and activities which every successful business should attend to. The consumer has to see each employee they encounter as an extention of the brand. And by no means this consists only of timely spoken courtesies. The result will more likely resemble a symphony orchestra – each member with their own competences and tasks, but together creating a consistent and impactful customer experience. To achieve such level of engagement a company should first reflect on its values and see what they mean at every level of its structure and processes.
Its not an easy task to build a consumer-centric culture, but in a world of mass production this is one of the main elements that will help you distinguish yourself from the competition.
The access to your products and/or services has to be flawless in every point of contact. Don’t expect happy customers if it takes too many steps to buy your product. You should also make sure that your brand is available at the places where your target audience is most active. This is not only a matter of distribution and logistics, but also of where your brand really stands in terms of values and beliefs. If you offer sustainable products, would you share a shelf with brands of questionable reputation? If your brand states that it’s highly technological, would you let your clients go through ten levels of verification that they are not robots?
Visual identity and product pragmatics
Also known as “look and feel”, it is one of the most notable aspects of your brand. It’s not about pretty packaging and logo; they are the easy part. You should, once again, turn towards your brand values and answer what is the value you bring to a person’s life. This is the basis on which a consistent visual identity is built and also a guide on how to solve more pragmatic issues like ease of usage (is it easy to unpack your product, for example), convenience (is it easy to store), aesthetics (how does your product correspond with the environment of target group X), etc.
Tracking and adapting
In the dynamics of our time, markets, consumers and companies are in constant development. Especially in highly competitive categories, clients’ expectations of brand experience are getting higher with every Q. That’s why in building a system for delivery of consistent brand experience, you should also build and follow a methodology for tracking results and adapting to new trends. It doesn’t mean that you should go “full digital”, or make a Tik-Tok account for your business, but merely listen to your customers and together find ways for your brand to enhance their life, even if just a bit.
¹ Hoffman, Bob. Laughing@Advertising, Type A Group, 2018. Full text also available here.
Should you have nay questions about the topics in the article, you can contact its author, Nadezhda Sultanova: email@example.com