Bridging the Brand and Customer Experience Gap


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A couple months ago, Megan Burns of Forrester interviewed me for MCorp’s inclusion in her recent research report titled “Market Overview: Enterprise Customer Experience Transformation Consultants.” In our conversation, she mentioned that MCorp was one of – if not the only – customer experience consultancies that had built our practice from a foundation as a brand strategy and research firm.

Unsurprisingly, we also spend time reviewing the customer experience consulting landscape, as well as talking with clients and potential clients about their issues around customer experience design and delivery. And there’s one subject that simply doesn’t come up as often as it should: brand.

Why this lack of connection? The relationship between brand and customer experience is not only logical, but critical. Bottom line? It’s exceedingly difficult to make systemic improvements to customer experience without a strong (well articulated, well defined, well implemented) brand.

Bruce Temkin (Temkin Group) certainly gets it; in much of his writing on customer experience, the connection between brand and experience is paramount. In his February 2010 report “The State of Customer Experience 2010,” 59 percent of companies surveyed state that the attributes of their company’s brand are well defined. Yet these same respondents state that the greatest obstacle to customer experience success (53 percent) is lack of clear customer experience strategy.

Yes, brand strategy and customer experience are strategy are different. But without the one, it’s pretty hard to define the other.

For most companies, the two most important assets are their brands and their relationships with their customers. That’s why the companies that are most successful at defining and implementing customer experience strategy are those that start with a differentiated brand, based on unique and compelling attributes. Then they build on this foundation to design experience strategy, create implementation road maps and actually deliver a transformative experience – and their customers (and shareholders) love them for it.

If your company has hopes of becoming truly customer-centric – or actually differentiating on customer experience – recognize that without a strong brand to support it, your customer experience aspirations will remain just that; aspirations.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Brilliantly stated! As a “customer experience psychologist”, I give great attention to the brand, the brand-in-action (how people live the brand message) and customer experience. In service based businesses it’s much easier to see how delivery IS the brand and operations is the care and feeding of that brand in action.

    Customer experience design is sometimes an inside-out process (service blueprinting) and sometimes an outside-in process (customer journey mapping). Truly sustainable customer-centricity requires we honor and attend to both approaches.

  2. Marvin Gaye nailed it: “Believe half of what you see, none of what you hear.” The only real definition of a brand is the one in your customers’ (and prospects’) heads.

    Some years ago I called the City of Philadelphia’s tax department to resolve a dispute. Everybody knows that means getting the runaround from bored drones, right? Guess what: I spoke with two very courteous, very human people who resolved the matter immediately. That experience nullifies decades of received wisdom about “fighting City Hall.”

    Companies spend lavishly on brainwashing — er, marketing — while failing to understand that their brand is no more and no less than the sum total of people’s experience with the product. If that experience doesn’t match the promises you spout, you’re wasting your breath.


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