I recently interviewed Andrew Davis and we got into a discussion about brand differentiation—how does a company or organization truly stand out? And, as creative professionals trying to help a company rise above the noise, should we go beyond branding “best practices?” In other words, is helping them achieve clarity, cohesiveness, and consistency with design and messaging enough? Even if a company’s branding is clear and focused, what are they doing to go beyond that message? How are they working to stand out from their competitors by building an amazing customer experience?
Start by questioning all assumptions.
Andrew was pretty passionate describing why helping an organization question all assumptions is so vital to truly standing out. What are they currently doing different than the competition, especially with all levels of client interaction? Are they thinking about everything they can do to make their client’s experience better?
I agree and think that effective branding extends into this realm. And, if you are helping a company or organization flesh out their brand, you should initiate a process of “questioning all assumptions.” To go beyond standard branding practices and have them look at the entire cycle of customer interaction.
Work to improve your customer experience.
Start by questioning every step of customer interaction. Is the first contact with a prospect as clear, inviting, and user-friendly as it could and should be? And, once they become a client, does this model—providing them with the best possible experience—continue? Is keeping them as a long-term client as important as the acquisition process?
How do they find a potential customer? How do potential customers find them? How do they show exactly why said customer should hire them? How does the competition do this? Any company should take a close look at this first level of interaction—where they are trying to convince an ideal prospect to hire them. They should then question their standard way of doing business.
Standing out starts with questioning how you’ve been dealing with your customers at each point in the process.
And what about everything a company does when a prospect turns into a client—reports, meetings, billing? Do they charge by the hour, and if so, is it the best way to go? Are they looking for new and improved ways to keep the client updated throughout the process? Do they go beyond their expertise?
Stop telling everyone how great you are. Start showing them.
Everyone talks about brand differentiation but few companies get beyond talking points to action. To stop telling their potential customers how they are different and start showing them how they are different. And there are fewer creatives going beyond the standard practice of doing so to help them initiate this process.
Commit to doing one thing in a completely different way.
Maybe the best way to start is to have them assess how they are treating current customers and start anew. To commit to doing at least one thing in a completely different way for their most valuable asset—their customers. Andrew often talks about the Loyalty Loop, and his three secrets—1: finding the experience holes; 2: starting with existing customers; and 3: leveraging outside influences to guide the Loyalty Loop—and the examples provided, will help you understand exactly what he is talking about and what I’m trying to express here.
I help companies clarify their branding but I do so much more. I help the companies I work with have a greater understanding of the entire customer experience they create, what they can do to make it better, show the world, and have it reflected in their branding. It’s how creatives and the companies we serve can work to both help our customers and stand out in our respective industries.
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