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Industry Contributor 17 Feb 2021 - 3 min read

2021: Stop talking about brand purpose and start delivering better CX

By Stephen Barber, Brand Experience Director - FutureBrand Australia

Brand marketers creating purposeful brands need to venture beyond aspirational words and PowerPoint charts to prove that their brands live up to their worthy promises. They need to align brand and CX – because a brand can only be what customers experience, not how purposeful you tell them it is.

What you need to know:

  • Forrester suggests that most people don't see a difference between 'brand' and 'customer experience'.
  • Marketers should think like that too and bring brand and CX work together.
  • Find and focus on the easy wins that customers are talking about on social and direct channels – positive and negative – and go from there.

Forrester’s recent report on harmonising brand and customer experience points to the fact that – for most customers – there is no difference in their minds between the two domains, and the boundaries between them are increasingly cloudy. Marketers now need to bring their work on brand and CX together in order to create meaningful relationships with their customers.

While brands can be created with purpose, they only truly come to life in the experiences you give to your customers – and that’s where hearts and minds are won and lost. 

It’s hard to know where to start when you have a complex, multi-faceted relationship with your customer – and when your customers are all individuals with differing needs, personal preferences and pet peeves. Many experiences feel one-size-fits-all and too cookie-cutter. And it’s hard to love anything when it doesn’t feel personal.

Lululemon’s take on making things personal is to create flagship retail spaces that double as physical workout classes, giving its customers a way to experience first-hand the lifestyle that it champions. There’s a clear synergy between the product and the experience, and it’s hard to see many other brands doing this as effectively, and in such a brand-connected way: it truly is ‘born from a love of sweat’.

Maybe it’s counter-intuitive, but when you remove all the ‘pain’ and ‘friction’ from a customer journey, you also get rid of those little moments of personality and distinction that connect with your emotions and help make meaningful memories. Those experiences that stick in the mind, in other words – and memorability is critical for driving customer loyalty and even advocacy.

Fortunately, by mobilising your brand strategy, it is possible to connect your brand’s distinctiveness and purpose to those key ‘heartbeat’ moments in the customer experience where you can make the difference. Prioritising these key moments – and diving into customer motivations and needs at these points – can help you design impactful and meaningful customer experiences, and without having to boil the ocean. 

After the year many of us have just lived through, spending some time looking for those memorable opportunities in 2021 for brands to make their actions speak louder than words, will surely resonate with customers. Brands that want to do this can start by listening to the stories that their customers are telling about them on social media or their direct channels, and really honing in on those moments that offer the most potential impact relative to the investment required.

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Stephen Barber, Brand Experience Director

FutureBrand Australia

Stephen is a brand-focused customer experience designer with a 20-year career in helping brands understand how to transform their businesses. After leadership roles at PwC and FutureBrand London, Stephen followed his family down-under and he is now focused on working with Aussie businesses to strengthen the connection between brand purpose and everyday experience in the moments that matter.

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