Customer Experience Is the Brand
Customer Experience Is the Brand
Pillar One: Brand Purpose
Marketers who have the ambition to create meaningful brand/customer connections need look no further than the master of 'why a brand exists', Simon Sinek. Described as a leading visionary thinker, Sinek has written and spoken extensively about 'why we do what we do'. His 'why' concept is the central tenet for defining brand purpose. 'How Leaders Inspire Great Action' 29 explains the reason that just a handful of brands are able to inspire where others are failing. These organisations know why they exist, their purpose has been weaved into the central fabric of their culture, and they think, act and communicate not from what they do, but why they do it.
The power of why is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires an organisation to do what it does. Sinek uses the example of the technology brand Apple, an organisation with the same access to the same resources, talent, agencies and media as their competitors and yet, year after year, Apple's innovation in technology drives extraordinary financial success. Loyalty to the Apple brand isn't because the business makes great technologies, it's because people believe in what the brand does; it is why Apple fans are happy to queue for hours - or even overnight - for the latest iPhone.
Today, people are increasingly smarter and better informed in their purchasing decisions; it would seem that yesterday's mindless consumption is a thing of the past. In its place, a post-recession customer who's evolved and now has an increasing interest in brands that are delivering value and providing a positive and fundamental impact in and on their lives. These are brands that know their purpose and have an authentic narrative that people believe in. A brand that comes to mind is TOMS Shoes - a business that creates both social and commercial value and that's built on the buy-one-give-one model.
Purpose before profit
The founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, was inspired to start the company after a visit to Argentina where he met children so poor they couldn't afford to buy shoes. His pledge was TOMS would donate one pair of shoes (in developing countries) for every pair sold. Since founding the business in 1996, 'TOMS has donated more than two million pairs of shoes, with approximately one million of those pairs donated in the past two years alone'.
Analysis of the buy-one-give-one model by Stanford Social Innovation Review concludes 'that the buy-one give-one model is not only a viable way to create both commercial and social value but also a model of social entrepreneurship that is likely to increase in prevalence and power. Trends in consumer behaviour, particularly in the Millennial generation, which puts a high value on social issues, along with the model's simple yet effective marketing message, provide a way for companies to leverage their core competencies for a social cause'. 30
Much more than a marketing lever, 'purpose' is at the core of long-term brand strategy, representing a shift in thinking and a transformation in how a business operates and creates sustainable business growth. When we understand the customer truth we can unlock the brand's purpose; that is, we know what the brand stands for in people's lives. Purpose defines the brand behaviour both internally and through every customer interaction, including its people and culture, product and services, customer service and communications. Purpose provides meaning and focus within an organisation, it defines the brand's role in culture, its reason for being and how people will connect with it. Importantly, purpose provides an authentic narrative.
Higher brand purpose or social purpose is built on an organisation's moral conviction and obligation to do the right thing for business, society and the planet. Jim Stengel, author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies