Have you ever run across someone you know, but maybe haven’t seen in a while and get the sense that something has changed in them? They may look better or happier. They might exude a renewed confidence or conviction in their voice. And you wonder what’s changed. Have they been working out? Colored their hair? Found love? Maybe won the lottery? There is just some intangible thing you can’t quite pinpoint, but you know it’s there, it’s real and they are certainly better for it.
A similar thing can happen with a brand experience when real and lasting change happens within your organization.
Most brand revitalizing efforts view the endgame as those large, tangible initiatives the whole world can see — refreshed packaging, a new identity, facility remodels, etc. Yes, these are important and powerful touch points in communicating change to your present and future client base. But unless the change those elements symbolize travels all the way through to the hearts and minds of your entire team — especially the client-facing ones — the impact of your efforts will be short-lived. It only takes one bad (misaligned) experience for a new, potentially loyal customer to write off your heralded “new and improved” offering as nothing but marketing hype and move on to greener pastures in search of an authentic experience.
So, forced to choose between aligning the experience and investing in the tangibles — choose the experience. It HAS to come first. Focus on making sure that all the hard work you’ve put into strategic planning, product improvements, enhanced capabilities and operational efficiencies is understood and embraced at every level. Work to ensure that the promise customers will soon hear through your marketing is fulfilled when it moves them one step closer to buying from you.
When you’re sure your team is onboard, then unveil the tangibles, which now serve to reflect, reinforce and celebrate the experience. Even without the store remodel, a new logo lighting up the façade or a pithy new tagline, your customers will notice a change. They’ll leave your place of business liking you a little more than when they stepped in. The fact they may not be able to pinpoint exactly why means it truly is deeper and more authentic than simple window dressing.
Joe Bergner is a brand consultant with O’Connor Connective. With a background in both design and brand development, including founder and head of creative at a local ad agency for more than 20 years, his experience in all aspects of the creative process has resulted in award-winning work for top local, regional and national brands.