Years ago, companies pushed out products, touting their goods’ features and benefits. Today, the pendulum has swung dramatically, turning the spotlight away from merchandise and towards consumers.
As Deloitte and Touche’s research shows, this movement has been profitable and practical. Organizations that place customers first bring in 60% more revenue than their counterparts. Yet even the most consumer-centric businesses can’t generate true buyer loyalty without focusing on brand culture.
Brand culture guides everything a company does, and it’s so powerful that it can supersede sales and marketing messages. Case in point: An organization can say that it puts people first, but employees who don’t experience appreciation and gratitude in the workplace will tell a different story.
For this reason, companies bent on improving customer experience need to ensure their brand personality resonates from the inside out — and the outside in. A strong culture supports a business’s competitive differentiators and strengths, ultimately promoting higher employee engagement and positive customer impressions.
Consumer habits and company branding
Although consumers form their opinions about a brand through a variety of means, all interactions they perceive to be generated by a human solidify their brand opinions. Why? Well, employees tend to treat customers the way they’re being treated by the employer.
Consumers can judge a brand’s temperament quickly based on the transactions they have with customer service experts, sales team members, and even live chat conversations. Those touchpoints might seem fleeting, but they’re the most critical to overall brand impression.
These human moments between a brand and consumers quickly lead us to this question: Is this company worth my business? One bad customer service experience can come at a high price. About two-thirds of shoppers will leave a business behind if they have a subpar interaction.
These human moments between a brand and consumers quickly lead us to this question:
“Is this company worth my business?”
Strong brands reap big rewards
Let’s face it: Humans make decisions emotionally. When consumers feel personal connections with brands, they tend to prefer buying from them. That’s why brand cultures need to be a consistent reflection of the business’s core DNA.
Many businesses realize this, of course. In our ever changing economic environment where consumer buying habits have shifted, some companies have pivoted rapidly.
CVS Pharmacy is waiving its prescriptions delivery fee so people can get the medicines they need without leaving home. Hilton and American Express are donating a million rooms to healthcare professionals. At Hallmark, we encouraged empathy, connection, and compassion in the current climate by doing what we do best: giving away 4 million free greeting cards.
Solidifying a brand culture
If your company hasn’t thought recently about your internal brand culture, now is the time to make sure you are serving your brand, protecting it, and enhancing it by embracing the good and bad of the current business environment. Here are some strategies to define, enhance, and protect your brand identity:
1. Think about the internal and external. Your branding happens holistically and from all angles. In other words, what employees believe is what consumers will believe. So when a company communicates with employees with a tone that’s respectful and fun, employees will mirror that when interacting with customers.
Employees who feel the brand ethos internally will know how to translate that energy toward enhancing consumer touchpoints. Not only will this promote short-term profitability, but it will also increase the odds of your business’s long-term success.
2. Create new value for buyers. A strong brand culture that is focused on creating value for customers naturally innovates and drives incremental growth. In rapidly changing consumer environments, empowered employees evolve more quickly to meet and exceed customer expectations. This, in turn, creates value for both customers and the brand.
3. Be your best. Just as it’s easy for people to lose sight of who they are in difficult times, companies can fall prey to the same fate. Forgetting the basics of who you are, what you do, and why you do it can lead to disastrous results for a company. Instead, keep evolving based on your brand identity and unique market position.
4. Stay responsive to shifts in consumer climate and behaviours. Nothing is set in stone right now. The strongest brands are willing to respond to changes, bending in the wind like supple branches. You might want to start your own bending by taking a responsive approach with employees and responding quickly to their concerns.
Find out what’s holding back your workers. Then, do what it takes to keep them satisfied. In turn, they’ll celebrate being a part of your brand, and their celebration will be felt by satisfied customers.
5. Live by Lush’s example. As you hone your branding efforts, look to Lush for inspiration. Lush pushes the boundaries and makes ethics, corporate responsibility, and environmental stewardship core value propositions. By offering decidedly unglamorous marketing in a glamorous category, the brand has achieved incredible success.
What’s Lush’s secret? The company lives by its principles. Lush workers have heaped accolades on their employer, complimenting the brand on training and development and noting that fellow employees feel like family. You can bet those Lush employees pass forward the kindness they feel to consumers (and that happiness is evident whenever you enter one of Lush’s brick-and-mortar stores).
Keeping your consumers’ experiences front and centre simply makes sense. Just don’t forget that holding onto consumers requires an unshakeable brand identity.
This article originally appeared in MYCustomer.