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September 01, 2020

By Simon Fletcher, Director, Experience Strategy and Design

Successful brands are at their best when there is no disconnect or disruption between what they say they will do and the experiences they deliver. For brands to achieve this, the customer should drive how the brand translates the promise, and every employee (and affiliate) has the responsibility to bring real value to the equation. It seems super simple, but it boils down to crafting and delivering individualized, in-the-moment enjoyment in order to generate the greatest business and customer outcomes.

Emotion (brand), connection (experience), and reaction (measurement equals performance) are the ultimate imperatives to converging the brand with the customer experience.

Delivering the Magic

We all love a compelling brand proposition that resonates and connects, yet many brands consistently fall short across all aspects of their relationships with their consumers. After all, a brand proposition is more than a hook or marketing tactic to garner consideration and evoke consumption of their products or services — it’s the unifying thread to mentally and emotionally connect with a higher purpose across all aspects of how a company operates, internally and externally.

At RAPP, our brand promise is being “Fiercely Individual.” This is the same promise we deliver to our employees, our clients, and their customers. It’s our rallying cry and the filter through which we apply all aspects of our work. We add empathy to the data, as every individual is beyond a set of data attributes but a real person with whom we should build a meaningful relationship.

While individualization at scale is very much about the data and technology that powers it, the magic is the strategy and creativity that makes it personal and emotive. The 2020 Forrester CX keynote, delivered by Dipanjan Chatterjee, put the convergence of brand and customer experience front and center. The presentation served as a strong reminder to all marketers, CX practitioners, frontline employees, or anyone else with roles in designing and delivering one-to-one communications that it’s their duty to serve the brand promise with an authentic and valued customer experience. My personal interpretation goes beyond the convergence of brand and CX — it’s about how the brand is individualized through personalized connections.

Building With Intentionality

A harmonious intersection of brand and customer value is crucial to finding that connection. More times than not, however, those values are at odds; many organizations say they want to be customer-centric, but that desire doesn’t translate to reality. The biggest obstacle boils down to conflicting and siloed organization performance goals and metrics without correlations and/or attribution of various KPIs to each other. This conflict is not intentional, yet the impacts of not converging the brand and customer experiences can lead to a fragmented customer journey and experience.

At RAPP, we focus on how channel measurement, customer measurement, and brand measurement intertwine along the customer journey with micro-context. We challenge ourselves to think about the role of journey measurement, communications engagement, satisfaction, and sales working together to influence loyalty and, ultimately, brand health.

Building the customer journey can present plenty of snags along the way. We believe that journey design is a science — a discipline that should be heavily researched, quantified, and qualified. Journeys fall short when they are not collaboratively constructed in a way that can be widely adopted and actioned.

Instead, journeys need to be dimensionalized and rationalized through quantitative, qualitative, business, and cultural insights. They need to get super surgical and interpreted down to the various audience segments and product or service levels. Not all customer paths and customer interactions with products and services are the same; they need to be correlated to the value of products’ or services’ impacts to the customer.

Fulfilling the Promise

The biggest clash between brand and marketing efforts stems from failing to cultivate a unified view or understanding of the desired customer journey. Sometimes this comes down to organizational structure, the lack of a true expert and owner in journey development and upkeep. This upkeep is crucial because cultural, business, and consumerism shifts change the journey all the time; plus our understanding of our audiences is always changing as behaviors evolve and our data sophistications increase.

All facets of the organization should collectively adopt the journey and all its iterations, just as they would a brand vision statement. The journey should represent how we are delivering the brand experience through every facet of the business by getting multiple perspectives for inputs. It should ensure that how we design customer experiences, build communications, and shape interactions directly correlates to the overarching brand promise.

No successful brand ever achieved its success without a great promise and methodical approach to delivering an experience that pays off the promise. To reference Mr. Chatterjee again: “A poor experience will break a great promise, while a poor promise will starve a great experience.” This is precisely why it’s imperative that the brand and customer experiences are in true harmony.

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