Brand Matters: Are You Listening?
What do Charles Schwab Corp., JC Penney, Netflix and The Vermont Country Store all have in common? Great branding conversations with their customers.
What does your brand say to customers? Is it a lot of meaningless yada yada yada, or is it a truly productive conversation with your valued customers? Is it a monologue or a dialogue? What’s the flavor of the conversation: lighthearted and playful, serious and informative, whimsical and humorous? More importantly, does the tone and voice match your brand positioning?
Your brand is a series of intimate and not-so-intimate conversations with customers. These conversations occur through your printed word, online presence, the customer service experience you offer and word-of-mouth among customers. Are these conversations compelling? Do they entice your customers to want to pay attention to what you have to say?
If you haven’t done so already, conduct a thorough analysis of your brand conversations during the past six months. Try to remain unbiased about the results. Evaluate your message pattern from both your own perspective and that of your customers’.
Here are some branding strategies used by those who excel at the task.
Right on the Money
Financial services firm Charles Schwab Corp. took the idea of brand conversations literally. Its award-winning and long-running “Talk to Chuck” ad campaign is a series of talk bubbles that mirror real customer conversations.
According to Becky Saeger, Schwab’s chief marketing officer, “‘Talk to Chuck’ is the invitation to a dialogue—our call to investors to bring us the very real issues they face in their financial lives. Our promise is that we’ll listen and respond to their individual needs.”
On its “Talk to Chuck” Web pages, Schwab offers dozens of questions that investors should ask brokerage firms. The questions are written in a down-to-earth fashion, such as, “If my account grows or contracts, how will your fees change?”. All are important questions written in a real-life dialogue.
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.