This article originally appeared in The Drum.
Brands today are dynamic. They no longer shout from the rooftops in a one-way conversation. They shift and morph and are felt by different audiences – customers, employees, partners and investors alike. How brands show up today is scrutinised by these diverse groups, where the touch point with the weakest experience is remembered twice as much as the positive one.
Delivering meaningful experiences makes your brand memorable to your audiences, helping you deliver on your values, purpose and commitment. When well thought through, experience helps you deliver on those values and purpose statements in a way that’s tangible, personal and engaging.
CVS Health demonstrated the intersection between brand and experience through the brand’s purpose helping people on their path to better health, when tobacco products were removed from more than 7800 retail stores. More recently, Bayer’s commitment to providing access to innovations for 100 million smallholder farmers in low and middle-income countries, and the experiences shaped around that goal, stemmed from a clear purpose of science for a better life.
Although the physical and digital world offers an abundance of opportunities to create best-in-class experiences, delivering on those experiences is complex. As 2020 has shown, unexpected changes can still upheave industries and shake up how brands do business these days. At Siegel+Gale, we help brands stay close to their audiences and keep delivering experiences that are relevant, timely and surprising.
Below are three key steps brands can take to deliver an experience that’s authentic, intuitive and timely.
Listen to your audiences, authentically
There’s a clear commonality between innovative products, services and experiences. All are based on deep insight and knowledge of their end-user’s lives and needs. Adopting a design-led approach is proven to be more valuable to brands. Personalised experiences based on deep insight provide a solid foundation for a best-in-class experience. When coupled with a brand that lives by its aspirations and remains loyal to its values, it provides audiences with a brand they can develop a long-lasting relationship with.
Financial Services provides a clear example of this. TransferWise started to solve the problem of expensive international money transfers. Revolut wanted to simplify holding and using different currencies at home and abroad. Monzo crowdsources its next features from their pool of customers on an open blog. This deep connection with their customers has enabled these brands to build a strong relationship with its audiences who have become their biggest advocates.
Simplify and focus on key signature moments
Many organisations make the mistake of trying to do too much at once. When we look at the most effective disruptors, they have generally focused on doing on one thing really well. Any additional offerings or features were added after the fact. In the B2B tech space, Calendly is laser focussed on solving the problem of scheduling meetings. Their approach to solving that common problem with a very intuitive experience has led to a $3bn valuation recently.
With a simplified, human-centric approach, you can focus on the key interactions that have the highest emotional and functional resonance with your audiences. Your audiences’ expectations are high and only getting higher. But focusing on the key points of the journey first will have a significant impact and provide you an effective launchpad to improve the experience incrementally.
Prepare to pivot to stay ahead
Things change, and a brand that doesn’t evolve in tandem will inevitably be left behind. We only have to look to the high street to see how much. Once a beacon of economic strength, the physical retail sector looks weak, with Covid-19 only adding to dire straits. But as our high streets suffer, online sales are soaring. It’s no surprise that Jeff Bezos, soon to be former founder and CEO of Amazon, added over $70bn to his net worth in 2020 alone. As people have increasingly relied on the platform for home deliveries and Amazon Prime for entertainment, the brand’s importance in our everyday lives has increased accordingly.
Amazon is a brand long known for putting the customer first. Famous for leaving an empty chair in meetings to represent the voice of the customer in decision-making, it’s this people-centric approach that allows the brand to adapt to change quickly and stay ahead of the curve. Being able to shift at speed is key to survival. Utilising a feedback loop to constantly monitor and understand change within the industry and your audience will ensure you’re best placed to be agile and pivot quickly.
Connecting the dots
The common denominator of the most successful brands that offer best-in-class experiences is their obsession with listening to their different audiences. They remain relevant by maintaining an understanding of needs and expectations and take every opportunity to build seamless experiences and become a holistic part of their customers’ lives. As we look to the future, beyond Covid-19, the only thing that is certain is customer expectations will continue to increase, and market shifts will only become harder to predict.