Many people focus on the visual aspects of a brand to the detriment of other important areas. While branding your business through logo design and marketing are both important—for many customers, they are your business’s first impression—it is important to brand through your customer experience as well. Here are the five major areas of customer experience along with ways you can use them to extend your brand.
1. Image. This is often your customer’s first interaction with your business. How is your business viewed in the community? If you make the attempt to reach out to the media and to tell others about your business, you can take control over your public image, even without an expensive and time consuming marketing campaign. Your visual materials used in marketing will also contribute to this image. If your business is more established, your image will also be shaped by the reports of people who have been customers in the past.
2. First Impression. Your customers’ first impression will certainly be dominated by your brand, especially visual aspects of your brand. Therefore, having a professional brand complete with a professional logo design is crucial to this step. Another part of your business’s first impression is the physical appearance of your location prior to the moment the customer steps through the door. If you have an e-business, this first impression is instead your landing page. This is a crucial juncture, because the customer at this point has very little investment in doing business with your company. Your brand and your location’s appearance must engage the customer in such a way that they are encouraged to take the next step—through your door. Take a look this client of ours, who understood this concept and invested creating a brand image that creates the right kind of first impression.
3. Interaction. Once the customer has walked into your location or entered your website, they begin interacting with your brand. Every interaction from browsing through the moment they walk out the door will be a brand interaction. At this point, it is important that your employees and all media offer an experience that is pleasing to the customer and congruent with the branding that led them to interact with you in the first place.
4. Emotional Product. Your customer’s emotions at this point are very important. Are they feeling relieved? Healthy? Philanthropic? Smarter? Annoyed? It’s important to identify the emotion that you want to convey in the very earliest stages of branding, then set up the customer experience so it invokes that feeling.
5. Buzz. After a customer interacts with your business and receives the emotional product, they will be likely to discuss this experience with others, to the benefit or detriment of your business. Generally, the more emotional the experience, the more likely a person is to share it with others. For this reason, your brand and your business in general should invoke strong positive feelings and avoid creating negative ones at all costs. If many customers are having strongly positive experiences with your company, the talk will become a force of its own. This positive buzz will contribute to someone else’s image of your business, beginning the cycle of customer experience once again.