What is a branding experience? Until a few years ago, when someone talked about “branding” they usually referred to a company’s name, logo, colour palette and perhaps the slogan that made the business identifiable by the customer. Things have changed radically over the course of the past decade thanks to the introduction of digital technologies, and the term “branding” has come to include a much broader set of meanings.
In short, branding is the set of operational and strategic activities related to the consolidation of a brand in the market, and that contribute to the differentiation of a product from that of competitors. Differentiation occurs through the content presented to the customers on all available channels, from a website all the way to a physical store.
Branding activities create a link between a product or service and assets that are tangible or intangible. Tangible assets are the name, symbols or product packaging, for example. On the other hand, intangible assets can include the company’s mission, values and corporate reputation. Each one of these assets should be considered when creating and promoting branded content, in order to ensure that the brand’s perception stays consistent every time a potential customer comes across the product.
In recent years, the channels where people can interact with brands have multiplied. Different devices, social media platforms, and offline advertising all contribute to delivering a message. This is why omnichannel branding was born.
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What is an omni-channel customer experience?
Omni-channel branding is the type of strategy that provides customers with a seamless experience across all touchpoints. To understand the impact of an omni-channel strategy, it’s important to consider how a customer’s experience develops. The perception of a brand arises from a whole set of interactions that occur between the consumer and a product, a brand, or a company. Controlling how customers react to those interactions, both in terms of actions taken and in terms of emotional response, is essential to building a solid brand.
Whether they make their purchases from a smartphone, a laptop, on the phone or at a physical shop, customers should experience the brand in the same way. A good omni-channel strategy, therefore, enables companies to engage the customer anytime, anywhere and on any platform, by using clear communication, consistent design, and transparency. The classic example of an omni-channel process is that of a person who goes to a store to test a product after reading about it on the company’s website, and then completes the purchase on an app using a discount code sent via a newsletter.
For the customer to enjoy a seamless experience, data analysis is key. It is possible, for example, to integrate information from the company’s CRM software and personalize each interaction based on the target’s personal taste. Another common strategy is to personalize ads based on geolocation, for example by using the IP address of a user to track their location when they enter a website and then retarget them with an ad that references promotions in their city’s store.
Experience marketing: get the consumer to experience your branding
Customer experience has now become a priority for every business. Consumers tend to show loyalty to brands that offer them a special experience. According to research done by PWC, 43% of buyers are willing to pay more for the best customer experience. Additionally, as many as 49% of users have made impulse purchases under the influence of a more personalized experience based on their past tastes, needs and preferences.
Customers expect an omni-channel approach. Today, consumers interact with a company four to six times before making a purchase, a number that has increased greatly from just fifteen years ago. But what is an omnichannel customer experience? Take customer service, for example: a person with a question should expect the same answer whether they call on the phone, chat via Messenger, send a DM on Instagram, or walk into a store. This means equal message, but also the tone of voice, level of friendliness, and response time. Consistency creates smooth experiences that make a brand memorable.
Expectations are changing also depending on age groups. While older customers tend to be more patient, younger customers are more likely to use all available means to obtain answers to their queries. Clear messaging, a trained customer care staff and straightforward answers all play a part in meeting younger consumers’ expectations.
The customers-brands relationship is increasingly taking place in a multiplicity of channels. According to American Express, 33% of Americans will switch companies after just a single instance of poor service. For a brand, adopting an omnichannel strategy means on the one hand, being reachable everywhere, from any device, and on the other offering a consistent image and without gaps in the user experience.
How to create an omni-channel strategy? By coordinating the marketing, sales and customer service operations. We’ll dive into it in the next section.
How to create a omni-channel strategy for brand experience
There is a difference between multi-channel and omni-channel that needs to be addressed. When adopting a multichannel strategy, a company develops a series of different touchpoints – let’s say landing pages, social media ads, and podcast ads – but engages with each channel individually. An omni-channel strategy takes this approach a step further. It views the data gathered by each channel as interconnected and develops a better brand experience through cross-analysis and communication.
By using a coordinated content strategy, customers and prospects are more likely to interact with the company on multiple platforms, but also experience the product or service in the same way on all the touchpoints, without interruptions as they cross over from one channel to the other. An omni-channel branding strategy allows the user to start an activity on one channel and continue it on another, without having to start all over again. Let’s look into the three steps to design an omni-channel strategy for brand experience.
1. Gathering data from individual channels
In the first stage of the process, you will set up systems to gather all the data necessary to implement your strategy. As we’ve already explained in our article on conversion rate optimization implementing data tracking processes is at the core of any growth strategy. It will help you understand what users are looking for and how to address issues on the customer’s journey.
During this step, data coming for all the different channels is collected and organised based on its origin-for example, a shop, a distributor, or online advertising- or user actions such as first encounter, purchase, or subscription. It is important to manage and store the data correctly for smooth integration and the analysis stage that follows.
2. Data Analysis
The second step is to analyse and process the data gathered. This will help you create a view of the customer’s path and better understand who your audience is and how it behaves. Many different types of analysis can be performed – from the response to design variations to more descriptive depictions of the user base – and each type should be done recurrently to address any changes that may occur over time. We have talked about big data analysis tools in our previous blog post.
By putting all channels side by side, you will be able to identify your customer persona and adapt your branding to their specific needs, based on their behaviour. The individual touch points will work as a map, showing frequent connections and common features in users’ reactions.
3. Strategy execution
This is where you improve your branding by addressing the points that the data analysis revealed. For an omni-channel strategy to work, the marketing, sales, and customer service departments need to work together to create an experience that is coherent throughout the whole customers’ journey.
Once collected and analyzed, customer data can be used to define rules that trigger specific actions on certain targets. There are many examples of how a data-driven approach can be implemented. From sending a notification on someone’s birthday, to determining when a subscription-based product should be reordered, data can greatly improve the way you communicate with your customers, offering them a flawless experience every time they come across your brand.
Omni-channel branding: it’s all about putting the customer at the centre
In this article, we have seen why it has become crucial for a company to provide an omni-channel branding experience to their customer. Especially among younger audiences, there is an increasing expectation to receive fast, consistent communication from companies and addressing this issue is exactly what a good branding strategy is about. Offering coordinated design and messaging on all the touchpoints a potential customer comes across, will make you stand out from a competition that is yet to fully embrace omni-channel branding.
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