design your brand touchpoints
A brand touchpoint is any way a person in the marketplace interacts with your brand — so practically every brand has hundreds of touchpoints and each plays a role in shaping brand perceptions. So we must consider brand touchpoint design and management critical to building a strong, valuable brand. This month’s roundup of content I’ve read covers different brand touchpoints and how to ensure your brand touchpoints so they are on-brand, distinctive, and memorable.
In The Four Most Powerful Brand Codes, Mark Di Somma provides an overarching way of thinking about your touchpoints. He writes, “What consumers should see are signature ideas that confirm a brand is who it says it is. I distinguish these from the brand DNA by referring to them as the brand codes. While these traits are, of course, expressions of the ‘invisible’ strategy, they need to be powerful and attractive to those who buy. They are what bring a brand to life for shoppers and help put daylight between that brand and all the other brands competing in the same arena. The most powerful brand codes seem to take four forms: 1. Design, 2. Tone, 3. Celebrity, 4. Stance.” Mark goes on to explain this last one, saying, “Brands like Patagonia, Greenpeace, Red Cross, Body Shop and Red Bull are immediately recognizable for what they advocate for and/or what they seek to change.”
In You Had Me At Hello: 5 Tips to Start New Customer Relationships Off Right, Seamas Egan emphasizes the importance of the first email a customer receives from a company. He advises, “First impressions count, especially in email marketing, so steadily build mutually beneficial relationships starting with the very first interaction. Start new subscriber relationships off right by engaging immediately, referencing a referral source, setting expectations, using personalization, and building an onboarding campaign.”
Mark Schaefer takes on touchpoints that deliver content in his latest HBR article. “Today a brand goal on social media is mass relevance. In this current “mass relevance” model, content is at the center of the experience. We want that cat photo (or white paper) to get as many likes, clicks, and shares as we can muster,” observes Mark. “But in this new world, the goal is engagement through private, meaningful, conversational moments. In the future, content will still be important, but the individual will be the focus of the experience. Brand communications will have to be more immediate, expressive, and intimate.”
Customer testimonials are a very influential brand touchpoint, as research shows people trust reviews about a company from other people more than advertising and other information from that company. Brian Hughes lays out 3 Tips for Using Customer Testimonials to Sell More Online. He gives this advice for getting a good customer testimonial:
Ask for structured feedback, turn it into a testimony. The best testimonials are structured in the BDA story format (“before, during, after”). But getting customers to leave organic feedback in this format can be tough. Instead, ask customers specific questions to get the feedback you need. I like to ask the following four questions:
What were your biggest hesitations or concerns before making the purchase?
Why did you ultimately decide to make the purchase?
What was your experience like using this product?
What are the results of your purchase? How is business/life different?
With the customer’s permission, you can then take the answers to these questions and turn them into a structured testimonial.
Drawing attention to touchpoints that companies might not pay all that much attention to, Adrian Swinscoe’s Forbes post starts talking about how customers use the cleanliness of a restaurant’s bathroom to judge the restaurant as a whole. We all know this, he says, “But, how many organisations are looking at their businesses in such a holistic way and how many are trying to find and eliminate their own ‘messy bathrooms’? How many are looking beyond the core activities that they associate with the customer experience to areas like how they bill their customers or their contracts or their terms and conditions or their data and privacy policies or other areas of the business and the impact these areas are having on their customers’ experience?” We all need to identify and attend to our “messy bathrooms.”
Writing in the HBR, Amit Sharma says that many online retailers are missing a critical touchpoint. In Online Retailers Should Care More About the Post-Purchase Experience,” Amit explains, “When a customer makes a purchase online, there’s an ‘experience gap’ from the time the customer checks out to when the product arrives. This is the new moment of truth for online shoppers. Providing a positive experience at this time of anticipation is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to deepen their relationships with customers and build loyalty for their brands.”
Finally, John Jantsch explains that you yourself are a brand touchpoint when you meet people in person. He observes, “You’re always marketing…It is important to keep in mind that everything you do is a form of offline marketing. You are constantly out there representing yourself, your business and your authority.” He says that we should pay more attention to how we answer the question “What do you do?” “If you think of the person you’re talking to less as a stranger and more as a potential friend, customer or business partner, you can turn this simple question into an opportunity.” John explains, “You can craft your answer into what I call your ‘Talking Logo.’ Explain what your business does from the eyes of a potential customer. Think about what problems your business solves for them, and compel the person with whom you are meeting to ask you how.”
If you are challenged and inspired by these insights, as I was, you’ll want to design and deliver your brand touchpoints with more detail and discipline. A Brand Touchpoint Wheel is a tool I use with my clients to identify, assess, prioritize, align, optimize, and integrate their touchpoints. Learn more about this tool here.