In my first post of this series, I discussed the importance of a brand’s story. A story that encompasses the authenticity, promise and personality of a brand must be infused in every aspect of the business from employees to the customer’s experience. I asked readers to think of examples of brands that “own” their story and brands that do not live it like they suggest, then to decide where your brand falls on this spectrum. Consider the following scenarios of two brands I have experienced:
Brand A is a company where its founders express a simple story that doing business with them should be fun, easy and enjoyable. They emphasize integrity, and a friendly and exceptional service experience along with 100% guaranteed satisfaction or your money back.
- The initial purchase experience was reasonably fast and efficient, but when I went to return my item (a pair of shoes); I was sorely disappointed with the customer service representative and their supervisor’s behavior. Not to mention their return policy.
- I was one day past the 15-day return policy (Which I wasn’t aware of because it was in the tiniest print—hardly visible to the naked eye. The guaranteed satisfaction or your money back was in large bold print on the packaging receipt however, which seemed a bit misleading to me).
- I wrangled for 45 minutes over the phone and during that time was put on hold for several extended periods. I thought: “How difficult is it to live up to YOUR 100% satisfaction guarantee and refund MY money?”
- I must mention that the supervisor was insincere in his droning tone during most of the call—not really friendly, nor fun, easy and enjoyable—the story I was led to believe.
- But I kept at it. I think I finally wore the supervisor down to which he agreed to let me return the item, but for exchange only.
- Needless to say this brand did not live up to its story. It fell far short of inspiring and I’ll never venture back. And, yes, I’ve told several of my friends!
Brand B is a company whose story is about open and honest relationships, a family spirit, and humility. They emphasize relationships and that it’s important for their customers to feel special, a part of a community experience as they strive to deliver the best customer service possible – it’s their WOW philosophy.
- My initial purchase experience was great! I received my order the next day, not to mention I ordered the shoes on a Sunday. I didn’t expect overnight. I also didn’t expect free shipping.
- When I tried the shoes on, I found they had a flaw in the toe of the right shoe that made it impossible for a comfortable fit. And of course, I thought, “This should be an interesting return experience.”
- When I phoned, the customer service representative apologized profusely (very humble in his tone), and instructed me to give the shoes to goodwill.
- The rep explained they didn’t have another of the same shoe of my size in stock, so he offered me $15 off my next purchase. I received an email in my inbox within minutes with a confirmation of the offer and instructions on how to use it.
- He asked if he could place me on a wait list so I could be notified by email when the item would be back in stock. Of course, I said yes!
- He then offered VIP status. I said, “Absolutely!” He mentioned several things, but one thing I remembered was free overnight shipping both ways. Talk about feeling special, not to mention by this time I was truly WOWED!
- This brand truly lived up to their story in every way! I continue to venture back and have never been less than wowed.
So how do you compose a compelling story that you can live up to like Brand B? How do you know if your brand’s story is believable to employees? How do you know if it resonates with customers?
You’ll know it when it engages them and consistently guides their behaviors and actions in ways that make them continue to want to be a part of and insist on your brand.
And how do you guide their behaviors? Your brand must deliver to your employees and customers an experience that builds trust in what you stand for and creates an emotional bond that is continually reinforced. Your brand’s story and how you live it must affect the way they feel, the way they think, and the way they act…consistently! My final post will discuss some ideas for kick-starting your organization in living and breathing your brand’s authentic story.
Posted by Carol Chapman who is a Founding Principal and Chief Client Officer of Performance Inspired.