Your Brand Promise

Happy Holidays!

Today and tomorrow mark very important holidays.  May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo.  We will use these days to celebrate the great victories achieved by the rebellion over the Dark Side and overcoming the French forces of Napoleon III.  As you probably can guess, I’m just having a little fun.  However, there is a reality that many companies will jump on a marketing campaign to take advantage of any little holiday – or non-holiday – to push sales just a little bit.  

In my retail days, it was often said that between rent, cost of goods and services and payroll, most companies did not make a profit until the day after Thanksgiving – which came to be known as black Friday because – in accounting parlance – it was when the books went from the red (negative profit) and into the black (positive profit).  

Of course reality is very different than that.  For example, many automotive retailers see a big boost during tax return season and I’d venture a guess that ice cream shops don’t make a bulk of their profit in November.  I’m also fairly certain that the companies that sell halloween costumes don’t count on Christmas shopping to bail them out.

Can Holidays Hurt Your Sales?

This really is an interesting question.  Clearly if a store is closed down for a holiday, they are losing money. They will be paying rent, probably holiday pay and depreciation on equipment that day – without any income at the physical location.  Look at the day before, there could be a rush knowing that people will need to visit – for example – a grocery store the day before the closure.  But these types of holidays only come a few times a year.  

One of the ways that brands can oversell themselves is by celebrating every holiday – breaking that brand promise with the customers.  Imagine an Italian restaurant chain celebrating Cinco de Mayo by changing their menu on that day.  It may drive some customers in for an impromptu celebration that day, but it will also alienate loyal customers that go there for the Italian food only to find it might not be available.  

My daughter and I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago about Earth Day.  Her comment to me, one that is hard to disagree with, is that every day should be Earth Day.  However, I discussed the implications of finding a way to raise awareness through marketing.  While some companies use the day to announce their commitment to sustainability, there are others that basically make a mockery of it and are called out for it, as in this example.  Sometimes, it would benefit a company to just be quiet on that day rather than present an image which can be quickly called out – by industry analysts and customers alike.  


What Is A Brand Promise

The idea that we can alter the image with a marketing campaign is a fallacy in my view.  Ultimately, each consumer will have their impressions of a brand in their own mind.  The two things that a company can do to change that impression is to 1) first understand that impression and how it relates to the customer experience and then 2) innovate based on that feedback.  However, one should recognize that there is risk in innovation.  Your innovation today, could drive out another set of customers tomorrow.  

I frequently speak about the customer experience strategy and how it should impact a way a company conducts business.  It was traditionally the way to simply understand that brand promise, just a standard customer satisfaction survey to diagnose.  There was another process to look at improving customer experience and innovation.  Too often that innovation looks within a firm and the minds there instead of using that same measurement  approach to ask customers to support that in real-time.  It is the reason we built NPS+ as we give firms a way to look at the future today.  Not only do we reduce the time commitment from your customers to take the survey while enhancing analytics, we have also asked them to participate in bridging that gap with us.  The opportunity may only happen once with each customer.  Like me, ideas come up while working on something specific, then go away just as quickly, never to be brought back at the right time again.  

Yes, the gap between brand promise and customer experience is measurable and it should be at the forefront of every CX touchpoint that is evaluated.  Remember, no company has a Jedi Master on their staff, minds cannot be read, instead the questions must be asked.  So ask the questions, and May the Fourth be with you. 

Parting thought:  Next Tuesday, May 11th, we will be hosting our user conference called XDay North America.  We have a great lineup of panelists and speaking, hope you’ll be joining us.  Similarly, you can read the minds of some of the top experts in the field, but you can hear what Kellog’s, Amazon and the NBA do to deliver on great experiences.