Karmarama’s Grace Francis outlines three ways in which brands can authentically close the gap between communications and experience.
Advertising continues to be an emotive and evocative tool for brands today. As many creative agencies lean toward an integrated offering, it is essential that brand communications— and specifically the brand promise—is considered alongside the holistic brand experience. If this doesn’t happen, we are faced with creating a greater dissonance between the promise and experience of a brand.
With this in mind, here are three things brands can do to authentically close the gap between communications and experience and live up to customer expectations as a result.
Turn brand purpose into action
Brand purpose has never been more important. The majority of consumers (51%) buy from brands that have strong ethical values and authenticity; as such, they will be quick to disengage with brands that aren’t meeting these standards. Brand experience should therefore always stem from overall brand purpose. Successfully integrated brands work to drive their marketing activity into tangible actions, not just ads, while ensuring they’re engaging authentically with culture.
COVID-19 was a litmus test for brands to live up to their purpose. In moments of global crisis, the public look to institutions, such as governments, organised bodies and corporations, for seismic change. Corporations became leaders on the world stage and their brand purpose was tested as the new frontiers of customer service were redefined.
Consumers witnessed how brands were engaging with the effects of the ongoing crisis, with sites such as Did They Help serving as a lasting reminder of brands’ actions at this time. The imprint of how brands have behaved during this time, positively or negatively, will be seen in the coming years.
Built around experience
Executives are increasingly recognising experience as a business priority, with 74% of organisations expecting increases in their customer experience budgets in 2020. However, many companies still take a one-size-fits-all approach to customer engagement.
It is imperative today that organisations design through experience, thereby ensuring that marketing and advertising aren’t a bolt-on sales tool that’s siloed from the rest of the business. The organisations that are serious about experience-driven practices not only understand this challenge but are actively working to dismantle the legacy infrastructure and business practices that are holding them back.
Businesses are also investing in chief experience officers (CXOs) that are challenging the company to connect the dots between experience and brand purpose. This involves championing the customer to employees, as well as bringing the perspectives of both customers and employees to the boardroom table.
The CXO can also help their business and its clients to reassess their current communications strategies by looking at the role of traditional advertising platforms, such as TV, and ensuring they work effectively as part of the broader communications ecosystem. They need to have their fingers on the pulse of changing consumer needs, too. In the current landscape, brands will need to focus on blending the digital and physical worlds and monitor campaigns in real-time to drive meaningful engagement.
A CXO can unite and lead the charge towards experience centricity, but it’s a tenet that each and every department and employee needs to embrace and fulfil eventually. As we look forward, CXOs can support marketers to build experiences that creatively engage with customers, or to ensure the business is synced up and to leverage actionable data and insights for their campaigns.
Experience is not just customer experience
As scaled businesses engage with both customers and society as a whole, organisations that are designed through experience are holding employee experience as a new benchmark of success. This is about both the day-to-day of engaging with our job roles, but also about fundamental attitudes to inclusivity, diversity, and authenticity in the workplace. I believe the next measure of successful companies will be employee experience.
Organisations like Glassdoor and benchmarks like The Sunday Times’ ‘100 Best Companies To Work For’ represent the beginning of this shift. However, as technology demands we spend more time thinking about work and engaging with our colleagues, how employees feel about the brands they build will be the emergent lens of success.