Brand Strategy Gaps? Just Turn on CSPAN


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What is a “brand gap”? Simply stated, it’s when – as a corporation – who you say you are doesn’t connect with the reality of who you actually are. Most commonly, these brand gaps exist between an organization’s “vision” or “brand values” as articulated and promulgated by the executive suite, and the staffers who should be delivering on them. But did anyone bother to let the staff know what those promises actually meant, or how to interpret them in their daily interactions? If not, the customer experience isn’t going to match up to expectations, and dissatisfaction (if you’re lucky) occurs.

Over the last year we’ve had a front-row seat to a textbook example that leapt from the business section to the front page, and is now being splashed across televisions sets around the globe. It’s pretty widely acknowledged that Wall Street’s “Masters of the Universe” screwed up royally – after all, their greedy myopia nearly brought the global economy to its knees.

At the first public hearings on the crisis just a few short weeks ago, a Reuter’s article noted that “Wall Street’s chiefs acknowledged taking on ‘too much risk’ and having ‘choked’ on their own cooking, but stopped short of an apology….”

Do we wonder why financial services firms are held in such low esteem? While it may be a particularly low point for the industry, this isn’t a new thing. Nearly six years ago, a Forrester 2004 report What Satisfies Financial Services Consumers noted that, “Less than half of US consumers believe that their firm would do what’s right for the consumer without government regulation.”

Funny, because the taglines and ads of these same financial services firms – and many like them – drip with sincerity and concern; for our financial wellbeing and security, as well as more emotional pleas like “peace of mind.” On the one hand, they want us to “trust them.” On the other, they have done – and seemingly continue to do – everything in their power to prove that we can’t possibly.

The funny thing is, most of these banking and financial services executives seem to be thinking all this negative sentiment will just go away. And maybe it will. But hoping your screw-ups will get swept under the rug when you neglect to acknowledge them isn’t the way to build an enduring brand.

It’s a classic brand gap. And you don’t need a brand audit or customer experience research to figure it out. No matter the size of the company or the industry you’re in, if there’s a disconnect between what you say and how you behave, your customers are going to know it. Of course, most disconnects aren’t so blatant, nor so well publicized.

How is your organization doing with its brand promises and gaps? just because you don’t see your mistakes on CSPAN doesn’t mean that all’s well, or that disgruntled customers will sit idly by. To butcher the late John Irving, sorrow floats – and loyalty sinks. Glub glub glub.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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