Here's an unexpected brand project: I recently consulted on a job posting for a communications director position for a friend's firm because it didn't reflect their brand. Though it's a well-regarded design company of just less than 100 employees in a design neighbourhood, the posting was detail-laiden and tedious. I'd be sent it to share in my networks and it just didn't describe a job I could imagine recommending. Branding is everything and the firm's brand presence is all about elegant international design so I helped them change the job posting to elevate the opportunity and attract the best talent.
What a brand is and how it comes through in everyday communications is part of the nuanced creative space where strategy executes on the ground through everyday communications. If a company is about simplifying the complex, nothing should be long and drawn out. If your value proposition is based on 'cheaper than,' your marketing materials shouldn't feel exclusive or high end. With Veuve Cliquot, everything is beautiful, special and orange.
When brand is everything, big companies need to make sure customer care is onboard with the brand promise; if a brand is about making shopping easy, customer care has to be easy to reach, ready and friendly. I try a lot of new apps, just because, and have come to expect the best customer care from understaffed newish startups who really value their users. They want customers to be happy and actually want to know what's buggy and not working.
Contrast that with an app launched by a national retailer I used a couple of days ago in the grocery store. I sent them a note that it wasn't loading. Two days later I received an email saying I must have been doing something wrong and repeated the steps that are built into the app's interface. So much time had passed I'd forgotten and moved on but as a touchpoint, a brand experience (as I see it) – this was sort of annoying and I ignored it for a while. Then while I waiting in line at the grocery store I looked more closely and saw that I had three accounts within the app, which probably caused the confusion. Could I merge them all by hitting a button? No, but I could phone to do it.
What does this say about the grocery store? As a brand, the message is they're busy and don't care, which doesn't really surprise me. I understand how it happens but it's just disappointing. This is how startups like Airbnb and Uber got people paying attention, because the brands were paying attention to them, anticipating our needs. I'm constantly looking for opportunities to be delighted by new products and new brands. Customer care is so integral to a brand experience and too often big companies fail on creating close ties with consumers. And that's where brands live. In the hearts and minds of other people.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.