Mostly, when people talk about brands and branding they are thinking about the brand’s name, identity system, positioning, and marketing messaging. They are not thinking about its underlying order fulfillment, customer service, technical support, crisis management and other systems and policies that create the overall customer experience. And yet, a brand’s reputation can be enhanced or tarnished by these systems and policies.
Think of a surly customer service representative that you have interacted with. Or, alternatively, think about a particularly empathetic and helpful customer service representative.
Think about someone who hung up on you when you were seeking help versus one who stayed on the phone with you for hours until your problem was completely solved.
Think about an order that took dozens of screens and multiple inputs to complete versus one that was completed with one click.
Think about a hotel employee who personally saw to it that your request was fulfilled versus one who passed it on to someone else, or worse yet, one who never followed through on your request.
Think about input screens that were very confusing or that timed out versus those that were simple and intuitive.
Think about brands that create a huge series of walls so that you can never reach a live person versus those in which a real person answers the phone.
Think about systems that anticipate your needs versus those that can’t seem to to help you find what you are looking for.
Think about the FAQs that never seem to address the question you have versus those that are thorough and help you solve your problem.
Think about an order that arrived overnight versus one that took weeks and weeks to arrive.
Think about brands that surprise you by including unexpected product enhancements after your purchase versus those that surprise you by including unexpected hidden costs and surcharges.
Think about assembly instructions that were incomplete and impossible to follow versus assemblies that were so intuitively obvious that you didn’t even need instructions.
Think about retail establishments in which you were immediately greeted in a friendly but unobtrusive way versus those that didn’t even acknowledge you.
And think about warm and welcoming brand environments versus sterile or off-putting environments.
These systems, processes, policies and constructs all contribute to the brand experience. It doesn’t matter how cool the brand’s identity or marketing messages are. If your interaction with the brand frustrates you or makes you angry versus putting a smile on your face, your perception of and loyalty to the brand will suffer.