Does Your NJ Branding Agency Fully Understand Branding?
Latest Branding Concepts Your Agency Must Know and Practice
Branding is one of the most overused and least understood terms in marketing.
Classical marketers (such as those at the American Marketing Association) would tell you a brand is a name and a logo associated with an object.
A brand is a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."
—American Marketing Association
Modern branding agencies would say it’s an artificial personality with traits that match your target audience’s psychographic profile. They try to create a perception for your brand in the minds of your customers, and then, they focus on managing that perception.
The Contemporary Branding Agency
The contemporary or post-modern definition of branding goes deeper than visual design and psychological attributes. In the words of Sergio Zyman, famous marketer and author of several books on branding and marketing, a “brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.”
“A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.”
Zyman argues that customers build their perceptions through a variety of experiences they have with your brand, product, and company. For them, your brand is the sum of all these experiences.
Zyman’s definition has gained widespread recognition and acceptance because it represents the contemporary marketing landscape more accurately. In the age of inbound marketing, your audience does not depend on your advertising to learn about your brand.
They can experience your brand by visiting your website and social media pages, reading your customer reviews, or chatting online with your salespeople, among several other ways.
For example, a customer may become aware of your brand by looking at your PPC ad. The copywriting in your ad delivers a particular experience.
Next, they would click on the ad and goes to your website. The web design, navigation, visual appeal, and copywriting deliver another experience.
Subsequently, that person might watch a video of your product on YouTube or read your social media posts on Facebook before calling your office.
The channels or places where your potential customers experience your brand are called “customer touch points.”
Branding today is about streamlining and enriching the overall customer experience by optimizing all the touch points where customers interact with your brand, product, and business—ideally creating positive experiences.
Brand experiences are delivered by two sets of processes—back-office and front-office. For example, answering a phone call is a front-office process, while optimizing a website is a back-office process. Both types of processes depend on human input.
Customer Experience Management (CEM)
“The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
Therefore, you must identify the people involved in all back-office and front-office processes and train them in customer experience delivery.
Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is the new approach to branding. The famous research firm Gartner defines CEM as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”
It’s a strategy that top-of-the-line branding agencies employ to build commercial and personal brands, such as those of Presidential candidates. In business, CEM requires process changes and multiple technologies to pull off.
As a small business, you may or may not need CEM, but your agency must understand the human dimension of branding. Your brand marketers should be conversant with concepts like customer experience design and employee engagement and should be able to assist your marketing team in these critical areas of branding.
Branding Agency of the Future
As 2018 comes to an end, the “experiential model” of branding might already be getting obsolete. According to HBR (Harvard Business Review), the next wave (or the fourth generation) of branding is going to be “brand as a relationship.”
The typical relationship between a brand and its customer is that of a provider and a consumer. Relationship branding disrupts this model by defining new roles for the brand and its customers.
American Express broke new ground by redefining the traditional brand roles from card holder/card issuer to member/club. Starbucks redefined the relational role of the waiter as a barista and the coffee shop as a community club. And Uber disrupted the taxicab market by replacing the traditional driver/passenger relationship model with a friend/friend model, apart from creating a new relationship model of entrepreneur/supporter, wherein Uber encourages potential drivers to build their business.
“Working with Uber is about our drivers’ needs, whether those needs are to have a fully flexible schedule or earn extra money. Uber is a platform that fits their lifestyle, not the other way around.”
— Amy Friedlander
The relationship model of branding is still evolving and has tremendous potential for all types of industries. Redefining conventional roles like broadcaster/viewer in media, teacher/student in education, doctor/patient in healthcare, or landlord/tenant in property rental can put a brand ahead of the competitors by miles.
The first wave of branding focused on the product. Then came the second wave of branding and brand became a set of attributes. The third generation of branding defined a brand as a sum of all customer experiences. And the fourth wave is likely to usher in the era of relationship branding.
As experts, the people in your branding agency must use experiential and relationship branding concepts to build your brand. Even a child can draw a logo and come up with a creative brand name, but it takes hard-core marketing professionals and technology to create a brand that will stand the test of time.