Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Experience makes a brand

Let’s face it in most industries the differentiator is not the quality of the product anymore. Most quality is “good enough”.
Take Nespresso, we (mostly the Alpha-male I live with) drink a lot of Nespresso coffee – much more than when we made percolated coffee.  And yes it is easy – you just make the one cup you need and it is very quick. But if you, like Alpha-male, drinks 5 cups in the space of 20 min you could probably get away with percolated coffee.
The point is that it is not better coffee, and there are other less expensive brands of (one –cup-at –a –time) coffees. In our house we like it because it “feels” good.
If I go to the Nespresso shop it feels good – the shop is luxurious  a life-style shop, the décor, the way you have a “membership”, the packing of the beautiful colored capsules in very nice looking boxes and the paper bags of small boutique quality. I know it is wrong on many levels:
  • The, very tiny, eco-warrior in me hates that packaging wise there is a box for every 10 capsules when everybody buys 100 -300 capsules.
  • The fact that even though they have tried to “sex” it up the recycling is pants.
  • The fact the shop is on 4 levels of prime real-estate location – and through my capsules I am paying for that.
Despite my observant self knows all of this it still feels nice…..
If I am honest, I do not really enjoy spending my Saturdays waiting in my life-style shop – with the frequency we need the coffee, so I mostly order on-line. The webpage is easy to use – the delivery is quick and on the very few occasions I have had to contact Nespresso they have been super helpful (both verbal in their call center, but also in email). That makes me happy!
It is the entire experience that makes a brand: The shop – the website – the call center- the packaging – the delivery. At any of these points of contact you can meet my expectations, delight or disappoint me, at any point! And if your service faults I will go to an alternative (other differentiator – but the quality is still “good enough”).
All companies should keep this in mind; make sure that not only at the point of contact, but everybody in the company should know the value of the offering. Think of the cleaner at NASA who when asked did NOT answer “I am a cleaner” instead saw his job as “part of a team, that will send a man to the moon”.
For social media make a plan for what you want to achieve with the use of social media. If you have a FB page or Twitter account give some serious thoughts to what you want the customers to experience – have a plan with measurable goals and have “toll-gate” reviews to measure your progress but also to ensure you are going down the right path.
It is vital you have the right people who write on behalf of the brand (and the policies to back them up), you do not want to make a “Kenneth Cole” and alienate your “fans”. Ensure you monitor the “noise” about your brand and evaluate the impact. Every brand will be talked about – You need and want to be able to influence the talk about yours!

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