If everyone in your organization understands your brand strategy and delivers on it at every customer touch point, that alone will be enough to differentiate your company and keep customers coming back time after time.
For marketing companies, responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) from prospective new clients is an ongoing exercise. A learning exercise. It forces us to develop new thinking, to apply our knowledge and to be the best at solving business problems in a competitive environment. One particular exercise posed an interesting question that required a very specific definition.
The potential client was a Hampton Roads health care provider. The question was simple enough; “How does the branding of professional services differ from branding product services?”
- At its very core, a brand is defined by the expectation that exists in the consumer for a product to consistently deliver to a certain value, performance, service and quality level.
- Brands are differentiated by the degree and consistency to which they deliver on these expectations.
- A successful brand strategy is grounded in a keen understanding of consumer needs and expectations and defines sustainable key differentiating elements that the product delivers consistently and over time to meet those needs.
Maintaining brand quality is more easily accomplished with product services that have replicable, consistent and measurable processes. Production and distribution quality can usually be controlled for, pricing strategies can be made to be consistent from point to point and the consumer can expect each product to perform as the other would.
You expect every Pepsi to taste like the last and every Titleist golf ball to fly as far as the last (golfer not withstanding).
Sales and customer service practices can be key brand attributes, but most often it is the product itself that forms the emotional bond with the consumer.
Branding professional services presents a more complex challenge. For a healthcare provider, its brand promise must consist of delivering professional services to the same level of quality and consistency over time. Successful implementation means not only that the brand strategy and promise be clearly articulated, but that those professionals delivering the service understand it, subscribe to it and strive for relentless execution of the strategy on a daily basis. To be successful, the group of providers needs to create successful internal as well as external brand communication strategies to create buy-in and consistent brand delivery.
If the product your company provides is primarily a service, the degree of understanding, buy-in and agreement throughout your organization is critical to your ability to consistently deliver on a solid brand experience for your customers. Your brand is your service, your service is the way you touch your customers, each day and in every way.
The death of brand loyalty, even in tough times like we are facing today, has been greatly exaggerated.
Use every tool and every opportunity to communicate your personal vision, and to reinforce the critical elements of your brand with each employee. As a leader you can never be too consistent, you can never be too clear if you are to successfully differentiate your brand.