Some of the world’s most valuable brands are rarely found on billboards. This does not mean that they don’t spend money on branding and advertising. It usually means they decided to invest in integrating their brands into their service experience. The service is the brand.
Embedding the brand into service breeds customer loyalty
It takes strategic commitment to embed the brand into the service experience. When businesses do, it embeds the brand deeply in the culture of the organisation. The result is that every customer interaction builds trust in the brand. The payoff is brand loyalty beyond the ordinary.
Build clear expectations
Great service brands don’t necessarily depend on premium service. Consider a low-fares airline. They will not offer business class service, and you may even have to pay to use the call center. However, customers understand why – the airline works hard to keep the fares low. The service meets the expectations set by marketing.
Consistent service builds brand equity
As long as the service experience delivers on the brand promise, it will help build brand equity. In fact, some companies set modest expectations about service levels in their marketing campaigns. Why? This way they can exceed expectations when customers actually experience the service in use.
Consistency between the brand promise and the [good] service experience results in a positive impression of the company as a whole.
Connect to what customers do, not what they think
A brand can only deliver a meaningful experience when it really understands what customers do. Provide a good service when customers do things they find valuable, and the brand will gain value. The trick is to find specific points in the customer lifecycle where customers need support. Once points for improvement are identified, you can design interventions that make the brand tangible to customers.
Build services to grow the brand
Services define the brand experience. Businesses can make a deliberate effort to build this experience into every service interaction. As an example, call center staff working for an ‘effective’ brand should be trained to treat customers differently than those who represent a ‘caring’ brand. When people inside service organisations understand the brand and know how to act on it – the power of branding becomes tangible, and valuable.
Invest in services, not in billboards
Branding through mass communication requires little effort from the organisation. Investing in services requires an effort from the entire business. Ultimately the latter approach builds brands that are deeply embedded in the culture of the organisation. When people in a business live and breathe their brand, customers will have a more authentic experience. A good experience and excellent service will make customers come back for more, and usually, make them spend more.