“Brand experience” has always been a debated concept. We all personally know when we see and feel a brand experience. Our reactive emotions can run the gamut from positive, to negative or to neutral. Basically, the brand experience is the result of any of the interactions a customer has at any of the touch points of the brand. Most think of B2C when discussing the concept of brand experience, but this concept applies liberally to B2B as well.

In a recent article in Marketing Management, the possible touch points of a brand are many and varied — marketing communications (of course), the website (design and navigation), social media presence, the receptionist, publicity (good and bad) customer service personnel, the appearance and cleanliness of the office/store, the answering machine message, the workings of the automated phone system, etc. Every touch point evokes an emotion that will directly influence the customer’s approach or avoidance tendencies with respect to a brand.

Consumers use rational motivation, emotional motivation or a combination of the two when evaluating a brand. Many contend that the pendulum has swung to the “emotional” side with consumers attaching personal and symbolic reasons for being loyal to a brand — basically, studies have shown that people can’t make decisions without emotions being involved.

The Brand Loyalty Survey by Market Brief was conducted between March 7 and March 19, 2012 to discover which brands consumers are most loyal to, why and how they show their loyalty. The findings underscore the critical role of reliable products, superior customer service and rewards programs on consumer perceptions, buying habits and advocacy.

According to survey respondents, the two biggest drivers of loyalty are quality (88%) and customer service (72%), above price (50%) and convenience (45%). When consumers were asked about the best ways companies can gain their loyalty, the top choice for respondents was providing exceptional 24/7 service (34%), followed by reward programs, providing personalized products/services and sending exclusive, relevant offers. Bottom line — consumers not only want companies to delight them from a customer service standpoint, but they also want companies to better understand their needs and preferences on an individual basis.

The worst possible scenario is for the brand’s marketing efforts to set an expectation that the organization (be it a B2B company, retail chain, individual store or an individual) can’t deliver. Not only will that evoke negative emotional linkage from the brand experience — you’ll also get a lot of negative word-of-mouth and/or publicity.

Many times, the different parts of an organization are not working in unison to deliver a consistent brand experience to the customer resulting in a dangerous gap between brand promise and brand performance. A holistic organizational approach is necessary to build a positive brand experience.

What are your thoughts on improving a brand experience? Contact us if you need some help with yours!