Brand experience has become more of a focus for businesses in recent years. No longer are consumers content with picking up a product and taking it home. A purchase now goes beyond that.
Shoppers want to understand the story, to experience it.
For several years’ companies could share how an item was manufactured or sourced but the landscape has changed. This is no longer detail enough. For organisations that want lasting loyalty from customers, they need to do more. They need to use talk triggers.
It’s no longer just about food miles, CSR or green credentials. This is part but not the sum of what is expected. Shoppers want to have an affinity with a brand. They want an experience.
Using talk triggers
I have worked with branding agencies and colleagues to discuss ‘talk triggers’ and know how they can resonate with shoppers. It makes sense when you consider that we live in an increasingly competitive world.
Updating a website with commitments is one step to gaining interest from a particular consumer group but having a consistent ‘gesture’ or approach is a better way of creating a community. Once a business can build this, they are well on the way to gaining a more loyal following of repeat purchasers and willing advocates.
Talk triggers could be something as simple as how a product is packaged or – as is the case with Hilton Double Tree – a warmed cookie on arrival. Whatever sets a business apart, it is important that this ‘trigger’ is used consistently.
What every organisation should be hoping for is that this positive experience becomes synonymous with the brand. It also becomes a trigger to talk and share a positive experience within the community.
Since working in PR, I have become more aware of the small yet important gestures that make my shopping experience with brands above average. It may be the newsletter, email prompts about new products or free gifts that come after placing an order.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gesture and that is what makes this approach so interesting to me.
Just a few weeks ago I have signed up to a newsletter from a brand that manufactures baby foods. I have always found their choice of visuals, language, tone and approach appealing and so took the next step in the journey.
As well as receiving a code, which gave me ‘exclusive’ access to recipe ideas, I was also sent a free wall chart with stickers. While this isn’t a huge gesture, it was enough to make me want to explore the product range and gave me a great talk trigger for others.
The next parcel I took receipt of was a gift from a friend. Two pairs of baby leggings. They arrived in a beautiful box. When I opened it, the garments were carefully wrapped with branded tissue paper and sealed with an embossed sticker.
The care and attention that had been taken to make the opening of this product special really was something else. Not only are the garments next in line for an outing, the company is on my list for friends who are awaiting an imminent arrival of their own.
Both of these examples, and others, have got me thinking about how we take the lessons learnt to benefit business. Although we work across a range of sectors, it doesn’t mean that the same principles used with these talk triggers couldn’t apply.
We already implement some of this without even thinking. As an example, when we package products for our clients, we always make an extra special effort. Not only does it reflect our own values as a business and the quality of our service, but it sends a subtle message to the recipient about the brand we are working for too.
If someone takes extra care and attention then it is more likely to resonate with the customer, perhaps even leading to a repeat purchase or engagement.
I’m sure if we thought slightly differently, we could apply even more ideas and suggestions to benefit our own business, as well as our clients.
Every day is a school day
I’m a big believer in the phrase that every day is a school day. If you are open-minded then you can learn from others; good or bad.
Not every experience we have is going to be positive. However, what we take from that could benefit our own business too.
In the same way that we can make a note of positive talk triggers, we can do the same with those that are less impressive. At least this way we could avoid making the same mistakes.
What I’ve recognised is that my expectations of brand experience are far higher than they used to be. This hasn’t been a conscious decision but is certainly the case. That’s not to say that I complain a lot or am difficult to please, but there are certain levels of service that I expect.
Making a note
I’m a real fan of notebooks. I like to be prepared for meetings, personal and professionals, and am known to write everything down. I’ve decided to take this habit and to use it to the benefit of the business.
At Open Comms we make it our mission to share examples of best practice. Often, the challenge is remembering the things that impressed us most. There is so much going on in our industry that one great example is soon forgotten in place of another.
Taking the time to write down the talk triggers that impress me will make sure I keep them to share. It will also be a positive reminder that there are businesses that are doing things that set them out from the crowd.
Back to basics
As well as being more mindful of what others are doing, I’m also going to go back to basics. I think there are times we can tie ourselves in knots. The truth is that our clients choose to work with us because we deliver a great service and consistent results.
It goes back to our values and the thought we put into the business before we launched. More than 11 years later that hasn’t changed. We get the job done and we do it well.
Moving forward I’m going to make sure that we remember this and take the time to look back on our journey and celebrate our success. Perhaps I will have an example of how a company manages to put this into practice and I can take more lessons learnt to benefit our business.