As a result of the fundamental shift from static copy and images to experiences, today, a brand’s success is defined by the sum of all its touchpoints across a broad spectrum of stakeholders. On May 26th, I welcomed five global CMOs representing B2B and iconic consumer brands to explore the importance of crafting meaningful brand experiences.
Throughout the spirited discussion, we analyzed balancing consistency with authenticity, evading the pitfalls of jargon and the latest technology, focusing on business-to-human interactions and why simplicity is the secret to elevating brand experience.
In closing, I asked the panelists, what is your commitment to taking your brand’s customer experience to the next level? And how do you know that you are succeeding? Here’s what they had to say.
I think each one of us has seen hundreds of touchpoints that start with the words, “In these challenging times…,” and it’s not our role as marketers to hold up mirrors; it’s our role to hold up pathways to joy and ways out. The commitment for us is to truly interrogate everything that we do, to ensure that it is at that elite level and that it is an unrepeatable experience and not an everyday experience. Even if it’s an ordinary moment, it is delivered in a way that exceeds your expectations. Whether it’s the cloakroom, the beer, the email, that everything we do goes back to commanding that premium positioning.
I think it’s essential to commit to making things super clear. What are you actually saying to the people? What does it mean? We have all of this jargon and all of this nonsense in the discipline. Let’s help people understand what we are saying in a way that allows them to latch onto really amazing experiences.
I believe you know you’re succeeding because of the unsolicited feedback you get from consumers. You get that really authentic feedback loop where somebody takes the effort to say, “You know what? You make Tuesday a bit better.” They’re the ones we look for. Those intangible moments, above and beyond the ecosystem and infrastructure of formalized market testing. Sometimes you just know because people are smiling.
—Jonnie Cahill, CMO, Heineken USA
We have been in the business for the last 30 years, and we have been delivering innovation in excellence. Within the customer experience journey, we have successfully engaged our customers thoughtfully. But we need to advance to the next level and start to inspire them imaginatively. How do we merge and hyper-personalize a human experience by leveraging technology to deliver consistent, authentic, simple experiences?
Consistency is such an underrated quality, and it is so difficult to achieve. It’s good to be thoughtful but sometimes thoughtfulness needs to be designed, practiced, implemented and trained and ingrained in the organization’s culture and mindset. That’s the commitment that we are trying to bring.
When you’re a company with 12,000 people globally, you’ve got to keep listening to your stakeholders. I think it’s that that keeps us grounded; that keeps us real.
—Meenu Bagla, CMO, Cyient
For me, it’s about experiencing the pain barrier so our customers don’t have to—having the difficult conversations, challenging the organization, playing the devil’s advocate and asking the awkward questions. Sometimes it’s being brutally honest and saying, “We cannot support this for XYZ reasons.” And I think that’s all in service, that we don’t push out anything substandard because sometimes large organizations can deliver mediocracy unless you challenge people. As Meenu said, consistency is such an underrated quality.
Like all organizations, we have huge management dashboards, but there’s one chart from our NPS, which depicts all of our journeys; the variance is tremendous. I would love us for one day to be consistent right across the patch. To know that we’re treating our highest value customers who are buying mortgages all the way down to our daily transactional customers the same. That’s the journey we’re on, and that’s when I know that, yes, we’re getting it right.
—Mark Brennan, Head of Marketing, AIB
I continue to commit to the humanization of our brand experience in a way that earns trust, earns engagement, and, hopefully, translates to earning their preference. No one wakes up thinking, “I wonder where my energy solutions and services come from?” Therefore many of our branded experiences are trying to bring the conversations of energy to the fore.
I will know that we’re successful and heading in the right direction through quantitative measures. But more importantly, the qualitative aspects where you know that not only are you able to convince intellectually, but you’re also able to convict emotionally. And when you have been able to constantly present reasons for people to buy your products, for their form and function, but equally to buy into your brand, you know that you have a brilliant combination to keep on taking it forward.
Buying a product is short-term. If you want a repeatedly successful model, you want to make sure that there are enduring reasons for people to buy into what your brand stands for. And nothing is more human than our need to connect with things because we’re not looking for just transactions. The best of your friends are not transactional beings. They are people with whom you have deep connections. Brands are no different.
—Dean Aragon, CEO & Vice Chairman, Shell Brands International, Shell
My commitment is to make the narrative and the stories we tell much simpler. It’s so hard to explain to people what we actually do because we used to be a very product-oriented company. Now we are very focused on enabling the green transition of the world. But what does that mean? And that is what I would like us to show; not necessarily tell or explain in datasheets. I want to commit us to be relevant to our audience, tell the untold stories of a great company, with so much potential, in so many areas of the world, in a simple way so that everyone understands. We can take the grandmother test. It’s always good to test off a concept on your grandmother. If she’s able to retell it and say what it’s all about, then you have hit the nail on the head.
—Mette Munk, Head of Group Branding, Digital & Design Communication, Danfoss