Brand Matters: Brand Bookends
Have you ever thought about where and how your brand story begins and ends? What emotional feelings are being conveyed as your customers enter and exit your brand experience? These beginnings and endings are important impression makers. It pays to take some "stop and think" time to evaluate how graciously and memorably you are saying hello and goodbye to your customers.
In working with one of my client's customer care teams recently, I borrowed customer service pioneer Jeanne Bliss' metaphor and question: "What are your customer experience bookends?"
I love the visual metaphor Bliss uses, as it resonates with my feeling that brands are stories, with real introductions, conclusions, themes, chapters and mini-vignettes in between the covers. I brought in heart-shaped bookends for my meeting and then left them with my client as a perpetual reminder to think about how they are "bookending" their brand on a daily basis.
Brand Welcome Mats
Many of my clients are surprised when I tell them what an important role their front desks, front doors, homepages and/or receptionists play in creating an inviting brand welcome mat. Bliss takes it a step further in her book, "I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad" and shares an example from Conn.-based Griffin Hospital: "Griffin had to stop executing required tasks and determine what experience [it] would deliver, what patient and family emotions were involved. What [it] found was that the emotional journey of going to the hospital begins in the parking lot. So Griffin provides free valet parking and concierge services. Music in the parking lots and lobby welcomes visitors and takes away the 'sterile' hospital feeling."
Seeker-friendly churches such as Willow Creek Community Church of Barrington, Ill. and Saddleback Church of Lake Forest, Calif. also subscribe to this "parking-lot-as-brand-touchpoint" philosophy and have greeters in their parking lots waving to folks as they drive in each Sunday morning. This "live" welcome mat is an unexpected touch, and first-time visitors comment on how surprised they were to be acknowledged so cordially. It made them feel that their presence mattered; this brand hello set the tone for the rest of their church experience.
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.