Dean Demellweek is a Branding and Digital Strategist with 20 years of FTSE 100 company experience on both corporate and agency sides and specializes in B2B Integrated Brand Marketing Communications. Dean blogs and tweets about brand experience, brand communities, social brands and personal branding. You can follow Dean on Twitter: @Branding_Guy
On a recent Sunday, I woke up early, before the alarm. It was sunny. I jumped out of bed, put on my running gear and headed to Battersea Park for a morning run.
There are not many things that compare to the crispness of a bright, sunny morning and the tapping sound of running shoes against the pavement — as the runners among you would probably confirm.
I usually do not carry a water bottle with me. Instead, I simply plan to finish my run at a kiosk where I can buy a bottle of water.
Running felt great. The sun was rising higher and higher. I monitored my distance and speed on my Nike+ app. I am not a marathon runner though. After the 4th kilometre, I started to feel the distance.
But then, at the perfect time, I unexpectedly bumped into a ‘hydration station’ for runners in Battersea Park.
It was just what I needed, when I needed it! A guy was standing next to an ocean-blue container giving away bottles of cold coconut water to runners passing by.
The few sips I had were so refreshing that I decided to increase my running distance. As I continued the run, all of a sudden I started noticing ocean-blue bottles all around me. The Reticular Activating System in my brain was obviously at work filtering the ocean-blue bottles into my awareness. Out of the corner of my eye I also saw two runners standing off the path drinking the coconut water and talking animatedly about the experience.
According to Christine Cea, Brand PR Director for Unilever, talkable brands are the ones that penetrate the culture.
And, from this touchpoint, I started my customer journey. A quick Google search brought me to Zico’s website where I found out more about the coconut water brand aimed at sports enthusiasts and yoga lovers. As a runner, I instantly connected emotionally with the founder’s story and signed up to follow the brand. I went from one touchpoint to another, and by that afternoon I turned into a Zico ‘brand ambassador’: I bought a bottle of Zico coconut water for my yogi wife, and tweeted the following thank you message, attaching my mapped run, to Zico and my network…”6.37km in 35:30 minutes, not bad for a recreational runner, eh?”
But, why am I sharing this story with you?
I think that it clearly shows how important it is for any brand nowadays to focus on the customer experience through different touchpoints, both physical and digital. This focus can bring enormous value to businesses in today’s increasingly competitive world.
Zico used a creative idea and relevant context (i.e. time and place) to engage me. Zico also provided a smooth transition from one touchpoint to another on my customer journey.
In his blog post ‘Five Steps to Getting Brand Touchpoints Right’, David Aaker points out the significance of simplicity and relevance of the customer experience at every touchpoint. Aaker believes that improvement of that experience would enhance the brand, the value proposition as well as customer loyalty.
In my opinion, there are three main goals of touchpoints:
1. The most important one is to tell the brand story through which a clear understanding of the brand values, value proposition and positioning would be transferred to consumers in order to enable and guide them in co-creating and co-branding. Customer participation in brand messaging is powerful!
2. Help them understand the benefits the brand offers by linking the benefits to important needs in their lives. Zico did this brilliantly well by hydrating the runners.
3. Provide customers with relevant information about the brand to help them differentiate between your brand and competitors’ brands.
Another crucial point is to constantly strive to expand the positive brand experience through costumer touchpoints. Below, I am offering my take on how to do it:
1. Continuously analyse consumers’ needs and expectations from the touchpoint experience (i.e. how they interact with your brand, how they consume your product, how they behave, how they feel and think about you). Listen to Social Media! Invest in a CRM tool that provides a holistic view of the customer and includes all customer service interactions!
2. Embed Social Media across all customer touchpoints and use it to ask them to describe the touchpoint experience. Valuable data can be gathered via pictures, links and videos they upload.
3. Invent new types of touchpoints!
The steps I use to brainstorm new touchpoints are based on Landor’s model. In short, before beginning the process one should identify customer personas. Then, start with a customer journey model that reflects both, customers’ emotional and rational brand experience. Assign touchpoints to each stage. Brainstorm new ways to interact with customers (ask the following questions: how, when and where to engage?). Finally, select the ones that can best identify with your brand’s promise.
So, get into your customers’ shoes and follow your customers’ journey!
And, do not forget that we are social creatures hungry for experience!