Brand Consistency – Do you over-promise and under-deliver?

Brand Consistency - Do you over-promise and under-deliver?

Why a smart marketing campaign and clever graphics, won’t guarantee a loyal following

What guarantees that customers won’t desert you in favour of the competition?

Is there a secret ingredient which is frequently overlooked by many Marketing Departments?

To find out what it is, let’s step into the shoes of a consumer. Imagine you are thinking of making an important purchase or investment for your home. You’ve been persuaded by the slick TV ad backed up by the great website, stunning brochure and clever slogan. You’ve weighed everything up, you’ve checked out the competition and now you’re 100% convinced to proceed. You’re good to go.

So you decide to pay a visit to the bank, building society, car showroom or kitchen supplier you’ve chosen. You feel confident, reassured and good about your choice. Until, that is, you walk into their office, shop or showroom…!

You arrive expecting at the very least clean smart premises and a warm welcome. In fact, going by their ad campaign, the place should be spotless, with well groomed staff and perfectly colour-coordinated furniture and walls.

But no, to your dismay the paintwork is chipped, and you’re offended by the wonky dirty chairs. The staff look stressed, fed up or completely disinterested in you. You try to catch their eye, but they are too busy gossiping.

Another customer walks in through the squeaky front door which doesn’t close properly. Clanging music is playing a bit too loudly. The manager, judging by his unkempt appearance, looks like he’s been out clubbing all night. The front desk is a mess and one of the lights is on the blink.

It’s not looking good…

Where’s the magic for
that brand gone now?

It is at that point that you might decide to back slowly out of the shop, hoping that nobody will notice. That wouldn’t be difficult if the staff aren’t paying attention anyway.

You’re now feeling very disappointed. And all the investment, planning and expertise the the Marketing boys at HQ devised so that you would invest in their product, just flew out of the window, forever.

This example demonstrates that many brands fail to take into account the secret ingredient that ensures consumers choose one business over the another. The secret ingredient is the end user (customer) experience.

The naff chairs and scruffy manager aren’t the problem – you’d half expect that at the job centre, the vets or the local garage. But if your experience doesn’t match with your expectations – big mistake.

This is possibly why the Promise Index came into being. The Index measures Brands that put customer services at the heart of their strategy. It measures whether a consumer’s experience exceeds their expectations.

A big brand may well spend millions on a TV ad for example, yet overlook the tiny details that are part of the whole package. Failure to pay attention to these tiny but important details is like saying “We don’t really care about our customers, we just want your money”.

I walked into a well known car show room the other week. It was cold, there was nowhere to sit and the salesman’s appearance didn’t match with the class of vehicle he was selling. It was disappointing, it made me doubt my own judgement, it made me feel nervous about buying from them.

Your brand must be consistent in all areas – not just the marketing materials. Consistency covers the tangible elements, i.e. website, logo, colours, fonts, headed paper. It covers the environment as well. Do your premises generate a great customer experience? Branding Consistency should inform the conduct and appearance of the staff AND the man or woman in charge.

And what about products and the company ethos and values? In the Social Age, it isn’t quite so easy to side-step or ignore customer feedback. In the Top 10 Brand Disasters of 2011 there were plenty of examples of huge Brands which fell from grace. Quantas got ‘Tweet Slapped’ when they decided to ask for customers to Tweet their feedback. The only flaw in this plan was that Quantas were in the middle of a labour dispute…

If your brand doesn’t deliver on it’s promise across the whole spectrum it could tarnish your brand. If there is a yawning gap between what you promise and what you deliver, your customers might feel cheated, let down and deflated. Then they’ll get angry! TNT have sort of got round this dilemma with their slogan We Promise Not To Over-Promise. But at least their honest!

Most customers hem and haw over many large purcheses; and sometimes this process could go on for months. If a customer finally make the decision to go ahead and buy from you only to be let down at the last fence – the experience will leave them feeling they’ve made a mistake. Nobody likes to make a mistake. There usually no way back.

If you pride yourself in offering cheap and cheerful service and your customers expect naffness (because it’s part of your branding) – that’s fine, because it’s consistent. But don’t pretend to be deluxe when the customer experience is second rate. They’ll hate you for it, and tell their friends.

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