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If I asked you to think of a premium brand, what would immediately spring to mind? Harrods? Tiffany’s? The Ritz? Veuve Clicquot?
Now what about a more mid-range brand –Marks and Spencer? Sony? Coca Cola?
What about now a “cheap” brand – Poundland? Wilko? Aldi?
You probably had a few more in your head. What came to mind when you read those brands? Was it their branding? The quality of their products? The convenience or budgets they represent? Or was it the values they stood for?
All of these brands have very different business values, very different price points, and will attract very different customers, from those who want to feel that they are buying into a premium brand through to those who are shopping based more on budget. Even though these brands are all very different, they don’t seem to struggle for customers, and that’s because they all have different target markets.
Whether large or small, each business will have their own brand identity and personality and importantly, they will also have very different business values. It’s very important to portray these in every aspect of your business, especially your marketing, as your identity, personality and values are things which will attract the clients or customers who are most likely to be the best fit for you, rather than the clients and customers who may not appreciate your product or service.
Fundamental to this, is to ensure that business owners and employees live and breathe those brand values and personalities and that the customer is getting an impression which aligns with your brand values through every interaction with your business, whether that’s through a face-to-face experience, in an email, or through your website and the social media and marketing materials you are putting out. Everything you put out should be staying true to the values and personality of your business.
If you went to the Ritz and were met with plastic tables and chairs and a self-service café for lunch, you would be horrified, similarly if you went to Poundland and everything was behind glass counters with a shop assistant waiting to serve you, you might feel uncomfortable too. Your brand values and how you project it sets the tone for the experience that your clients and customers are expecting to have.
I recently visited a food establishment with my husband which sells gourmet food and which also has a café. This establishment prides themselves on being a premier offering, in fact they actually have a word cloud on the wall in the café which include the words which they think epitomise their brand such as premium, premier, gourmet, speciality, and exclusive.
Well, maybe we just caught them on a bad day, because it was the weekend, but from a customer experience of simply wanting to enjoy Tea and Cake as a treat in a premium establishment, the experience was anything but!
The café was a mess, with dirty tables full of dirty crockery and chairs strewn everywhere, the staff were sloppily dressed in messy unbranded clothing, the place was freezing cold. There were staff around but they were chatting, unaware that we were waiting to be served. When we were finally served, the staff member acted like we were an inconvenience and was surly. He then forgot a milk jug and in front of me, grabbed some supermarket milk and splashed it in a jug, making a mess everywhere, and ironically, two minutes later, one of the business owners came and stood right next to the word cloud which cited the brand as a premium and premier establishment and chatted loudly about how she was off out drinking that evening and what she would be up to for the rest of the week. Not exactly a premium or exclusive experience for us as customers… but yet it came at a premium price… Viewing their social media channels and marketing materials, it was clear that the business’s current customer service & marketing messaging are grossly misaligned. Their social media hadn’t been updated and their leaflets in store also didn’t scream premium or premier… The values and personality they think they are projecting, or want to be projecting, vs the impression they are actually giving their customers was very different. Needless to say, we ate and left asap, and we wouldn’t be in a hurry to return, and from the brand’s perspective, we are likely within their target market!
Had we been greeted by clean café and a friendly happy staff member, with a branded, smart T-shirt/Apron on who took care over our order and was happy to serve us, we probably would have felt very differently about our experience, and may then have picked up a targeted leaflet or visited social media channels and seen that they were full of lots of great interesting content then again it would have left us feeling differently about the business.
It’s important that a Business presents a consistent and authentic personality to their clients as people don’t want to think when they deal with you they are dealing with one kind of brand, but find out that they are ending up with another!
My aim as a marketer is to ensure that we help business present the best version of themselves to their target audiences. We want all of the marketing messages sent out through marketing activities to be consistent and aligned with the real values and personality of your business.
So what is your clients experience of your business brand and identity vs what you think it is? What messages are you sending out through your marketing and interactions, and are they the right messages you want to be sending out? Do you even have a brand identity? Have you considered what your own brand values are for your individual business, even if you are aligned with a franchise brand! Are those values being threaded through your marketing and is it speaking to your target audience?
We love to help businesses to align their marketing messages with their true brand identity so if you need some help, please do feel free to get in touch!