The way a brand presents itself to its customers has undeniably transformed during the past decade. As shoppers, we have become increasingly aware of how brands use marketing to incentivise us to purchase their latest soft drink, car or mobile phone. Whilst campaigns have become more elaborate, we, the shopper, have become savvier to the process. Just because we’re told it’s the “best” or the latest “must have”, doesn’t mean it is. As a result, brands are judged more now on what they do, rather than what they say.
The “brand promise” is a commitment to deliver a particular product or level of service. This promise must therefore be believable and embody a brand’s core message, properties and target market’s characteristics, it needs to create a feeling of desirability, capture the shopper’s imagination and ultimately propel them along the path to purchase. Making a promise is easy, but it can only be proven with actions.
The moment the shopper comes in to contact with the product or service, promise gives way to proof as fantasy meets reality. If the brand experience is not consistent the shopper will likely be disappointed and potentially feel confused, let down and distanced from the brand. The delivery of your brand promise through experience is crucial, as this moment is often the defining element in the engagement process, when the shopper interacts with the brand in the real world. But in order to get to that point you have to take into account every stage before and after that specific moment. That journey needs to establish an emotional connection between the customer and the product/service being sold. You have to make sure your consumers/shoppers feel they are part of an achievable aspiration and ultimately rewarded. Campaigns therefore have to be built with room to accommodate the journey between promise and proof, the transition from consumer to shopper and reflect the variables in between.
In the past, the need for the brand to communicate and behave in a consistent way was somewhat ignored, which by default created a brand experience gap. But that was the old style of transactional retail. We now have a new definition of creativity and what makes a great brand is where the transition from promise to proof is seamless. Apple, for instance, promises to deliver essential everyday technology, which is both highly functional and super-stylish and they deliver exactly this at every touch point along the path to purchase. Burberry’s premier approach also delivers – its promise of being an aspirational luxury brand as seen in the advertising is felt at every interaction the shopper has with the brand. From the product and its packaging, store windows and environments and its exclusivity to a limited number of retail outlets.
As brands continue to evaluate how they communicate with their customers and look for new ways to engage, so must the creative. It’s all about finding a common goal or scenario, which provokes the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) factor, whilst retaining a firm connection between the brand promise and the brand proof.
Coke is a great example, they understand the huge value of engagement as an integral part of the mix and the power of connecting with people in the real world in a meaningful way, better than most. They embody open happiness not by telling people they ‘open happiness’ but by making it felt, making it a reality in every idea.
Whilst each of these brands is targeted at a particular audience, with a specific need or requirement, they position themselves around the concept of fulfilment. That balance is often hard to achieve, but it is integral to achieving brand credibility, rather than the conclusion of brand disengagement.