missed opportunities

The adage “god is in the details” is usually offered in reference to a small mistake with big consequences. And when it comes to brand touchpoints, it’s commonly known how a screw-up here or a snafu there can cause significant damage to a brand’s image and equity.

But often the most important details are ones that most companies overlook.

They’re not mistakes so much as they are simply missed opportunities.  It’s easy to miss or miscalculate the value of some brand touchpoints. They’re unused branding real estate that people wouldn’t give a second thought to, unless someone else did first.

Here are three details I noticed recently:

reloadable charge card from Caribou Coffee – The card conveys simple, uplifting messages like “Yes, It is possible” and “Hold hands, not grudges” in a well designed layout. How fun!

water decanter at Ciao Bella restaurant (in Richfield, MN) – A glass bottle is labeled, “Fresh water compliments of the house. This double filtered water is free of impurities, free of wasteful packaging, and free of charge.”  How refreshing!

stamp on letter from Plant with Purpose (a non-profit working against deforestation) – A Forever postage stamp features the exhortation “use efficient light bulbs” accompanied by a cute drawing of such a light bulb. How appropriate!

What’s significant about all three of these examples is that the companies didn’t just slap their logos in these spaces. They used the real-estate to convey messages – and meaningful messages at that. The messages reflect the core values of the brands and convey a sense of the brands’ personalities.

These details weren’t necessary – we’ve all used charge cards featuring logos or fanciful designs, been served water from unlabeled decanters, and received letters with regular stamps. I probably wouldn’t even have noticed their absence if they hadn’t been there. But I did notice them, and they did have an impact on me. Each was a positive brand impression. And that’s the point.

Conventional wisdom says that there are only a few ways that customers get exposed to your brand – advertising, packaging, websites, and social media. But the reality is, there are hundreds of touchpoints between your brand and the outside world.

Below is a template of a Brand Touchpoint Wheel which shows all the possible touchpoints through which people experience a brand.

When we created one of these at Sony, the brand wheel identified over 240 touchpoints — not including all of its products. Fewer than 40 of them were advertising or marketing touchpoints. A wheel like this shows that the big things you say are greatly outnumbered by the little things you do.

So if you’re looking to make a bigger impact with your brand, pay attention to the smaller opportunities. By conducting a simple customer experience audit, you’re likely to discover a whole host of brand touchpoints you never thought of before. And by thinking about the best ways bring your brand values and attributes to life, you might identify opportunities to create new brand touchpoints. (Also you can always contact me to learn more about how a Brand Touchpoint Wheel might be a helpful tool for your organization.)

When it comes to your brand, no touchpoint is too small to make a big impression.

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  • This works for spontaneous messages too, Denise. Last weekend I was in the Barnes & Noble cafe reading and sipping on some green tea. As I put the glass down, I noticed a personal note written from the barista: “You are awesome!”

    While the message wasn’t specific or similar to those you shared above, it made me smile, and I shared it with my friends on Facebook, sparking a fun conversation. That little note changed the nature of my experience from something passive to active.
    You are Awesome! Photo