Creative Corner: The Brand Promise
That was sane compared to what happened when brand guys controlled communications for the new dot-com companies a few years ago. Remember the marketer whose idea of a creative concept was shooting gerbils out of a cannon?
I thought it was a waste of money. It’s not, of course, but I was thinking as a traditional direct marketer.
When non-traditional direct marketers like the dot-coms leaped into the fray, boundaries faded, control of communications shifted from seller to buyer, old channels started dying—or at least blending—and we began to worry about market share instead of share of customer. All of this makes brand much more important than it used to be.
Now, customers shop in a virtual environment and leap from Web to retail to catalog ... to wherever they feel they’re going to get the best value. We want them to stay with us as they hop merrily from one channel to another. How do we do that? Make the customer experience important. Sometimes it can be the whole ball game.
The April issue of Harvard Business Review published a great article about Progressive, an auto insurance firm that basically did nothing but improve its customer experience, and in so doing, won big time. By concentrating on improving the way it processed claims, Progressive (which sells a commodity product) picked up huge market share.
I’ve always thought that one of the best ways to build a brand is to improve the product and service, then let word of mouth work its magic. That seems to be what happened at Progressive.
Living Up to Your Promise
Some of the most memorable brand lines I’ve ever read appeared in a book called “Brand Warfare” by David F. D’Allessandro, CEO of John Hancock. He wrote: “A brand is a promise.” It’s a promise of a certain quality, a certain experience, and everything we do has to live up to the promise of the brand.