Match your marketing line with the brand experience

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 18, 2002

TIME was when marketing people relied too heavily on their advertising agencies to produce glitzy copy that can attract the customers to the retail shelves. Never mind if consumers eventually found the product less exciting in reality than on television and print.

But technology and globalization changed the face of doing business and consumers have become exacting and resourceful.

Today, consumers demand the brand’s promise to be carried out to the last detail by manufacturers and service providers. Likewise, marketers have learned to break new ground by letting consumers live the brand. Nonetheless, enabling customers to live the brand can only happen when the following elements are present and drive the marketing process.

1. Provide for a differentiating experience with the brand. Marketers must give consumers a reason to prefer their brand over others.

While a unique and compelling advertising copy can tweak the consumer’s attention to try the product nevertheless, a unique, differentiating experience can encourage the customer to keep coming for more.

Starbucks has gone beyond selling its brand of coffee. It thrives profitably on the unique experience that loyal patrons enjoy while drinking Starbucks coffee with friends and business clients at its coffee shop.

Not to be outdone, Nescafé anchors on the same successful formula of brand experience with its Café Nescafé outlets worldwide. It recently opened in Metro Manila.

It is no surprise, therefore, if Unilever, makers of Lipton Ice Tea, introduces locally its Chà tea shops serving a range of beverages from fruit teas to chilled frappes.

Hospital experience need not be stereotyped as dreary and boring. While it may never be exciting nor elating, it can absolutely be differentiating and nondreadful. The newly opened Asian Hospital and Medical Center is designed to provide patient centered care in a total healing environment. The brand’s promise is delivered real time through the hospital design and patient care processes that aim to provide patient comfort, convenience, care and speedy recuperation. A hotel-like lobby, comfortable waiting areas, subdued lighting, warm and nice touches like complimentary send-off chrysanthemum flowers and congratulatory bouquets for first time mothers are but some of the things that add to the hospital’s unique, differentiating experience.

The Body Shop does not merely sell natural-based body care products that include lotions and creams, shampoos and conditioners, shower gels, foot scrubs, masks and face scrubs, eye gels, etc. It also sells its advocacy of antianimal testing as well as fair trading relationships, environmental awareness and care and community involvement.

2. Know who you are and what you stand for when you create the realm of brand experience. Great brands recognize that they cannot be everything to everybody. Successful marketers have long realized it is more profitable to be the best in serving customer’s needs and wants in a particular segment of the market. Valuable brands know their limits. Phil Knight, founding Chief Executive Officer of Nike knew only too well not to enter the casual shoe market with the brand name Nike when the brand’s values are associated with competitiveness, athletics and fitness. After all, what is competitive about a casual, leisurely walk on a Sunday afternoon?

3. Create a brand personality that you can sustain with brand experience. Your brand’s position and statement of identity must be translated into symbols, visuals and copy that your target market can relate to, have emotional affinity with or aspire to become.

When the computer was first introduced, it sounded, felt and looked too cold and was alienating to many. Not until the Apple Computer Co. came up with the Apple Macintosh, a very user friendly computer. The Apple symbol of a rainbow colored apple with a bite became associated with an easy-to-use gadget and has gained international recognition. The symbol has helped trigger consumers’ acceptance of computer technology and reinforce experience with the brand as friendly and easy to use.

Providing for a consistent brand experience can only reinforce the consumers awareness of what the brand truly represents. Having a delightful experience with the brand can only encourage the customer to keep coming back for more of these happy encounters.