Consumer loyalty begins with trust. If you're not keeping your most important promise, your brand promise, you may run into issues with onboarding and retaining customers.
Frequent brand evaluations can help catch discrepancies in your brand promise—the value you offer your customers—before a problem arises.
A brand promise is an extension of your mission and positioning statements, and a core element of your brand. A large portion of your brand promise is how your brand is perceived by existing and potential customers. This can be hard to keep your hands on, let alone control, but it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Figure out how your brand is currently perceived...
How is your brand perceived today? If you don't know the answer, it's time to find out.
Public opinion is a key element of how customers define your brand promise, and there are a variety of factors that influence this perception.
To better understand how your brand promise is being defined, learn how existing and potential customers view your brand.
...by existing customers...
Understanding how existing customers interpret your brand can be incredibly helpful in validating your brand promise. You can use various feedback mechanisms, including online surveys, social media responses, online reviews and customer analytics solutions.
You can also simply ask. As you're going through the process, collect data from customers at all stages of your customer journey. Take into account all feedback—even if it isn't what you expect to hear. You can often find gaps in your brand promise in negative feedback.
...and by potential customers.
What experiences are prospective customers having with your brand, and do these experiences live up to your promise?
You can try a few different things to assess whether your brand promise is being portrayed appropriately to potential customers. Just as you would with existing customers, consider gaining insights from surveys, online reviews or a data analytics platform to understand their journey.
Compare your findings with your customer journey maps to identify any specific elements of your processes that are having a negative impact. If potential customers are leaving during a certain stage in your sales cycle, that may be a hint they're conflicted about your brand promise. Do you use content marketing to generate leads? You can evaluate whether a portion of your content is off-brand and therefore resulting in a drop in engagement.
Another area to evaluate is media coverage and how your brand is being discussed in public sources. This could include blogs as well as local and national publications.
2. Compare your message with your execution.
A big piece of your brand promise is consistency—that means ensuring that your products and services meet the expectations you set during the sales and marketing process.
Saying you're innovative and then using a series of manual processes to deliver a service doesn't add up. These types of gaps in messaging, positioning and sales can have a big impact on your ability to gain your customers' trust. And in the worst cases, it may leave some feeling as if they were lied to.
To ensure you're not leaving any holes in your brand promise, consider frequently doing the following.
3. Evaluate your sales and marketing materials.
It's common for departments to work independently. When this happens, your brand promise can be affected. To identify gaps and resolve them, you may want to conduct a customer journey walkthrough.
Take your customer journey maps and go through your business as each of your personas would, from marketing to support. Make sure you evaluate each interaction from your customers' perspective, not your own. If you need assistance, you can hire a consultant to do it for you.
When I worked in retail, our company hired secret shoppers to confirm we were staying true to our brand promise in stores. The results of these experiences helped our marketing team identify gaps in delivery that we would never have caught otherwise.
4. Pay attention to departmental handoffs.
The handoff between your sales and execution and support teams can test your brand promise. So, consider evaluating these handoffs frequently and, where possible, creating cross-functional teams that help ensure everyone who is affected has a say in the process. Doing so can help ensure that what is being promised can indeed be delivered.
5. Re-evaluate your business plans.
Businesses change all the time, and when that happens, your brand promise might change too.
If you've found that your business is moving in a different direction, it may be time to re-evaluate your brand promise and adjust accordingly—either through a partial or complete rebrand.
Read more articles on customer relations.