Build a strong brand and let it speak for itself

Xerox is synonymous with photocopying, so much so that we have coined the term Xeroxing. In a similar fashion, we use the term googling. Band-aid, Frisbee, Post-it and Scotch tape are just some of the other brand names that are used as generic terms. These are just a few of the names that popped in my head, this list is actually much longer. I believe the new one to make it to this list, is WhatsApp. How often have you said or heard whatsapp the number to me?! Okay, it is not grammatically correct, but it is well accepted and is definitely here to stay. These terms have been used so extensively that it has become the norm to google it, or whatsapp it or xerox it. In such instances comes the term verbification where brand names are used as verbs.

It really makes me wonder how we have so comfortably and conveniently used these brand names as generic terms. I believe these brands very successfully nailed some core aspects – first-to-market, convenience and customer support. And till these brands were introduced, we didn’t even realize the dire need for it. WhatsApp is a classic case in point. It is only 7 years since whatsapp has launched. 7 years. That is all!! It has seemed forever that we have been relying on this one app for most of our communication requirements.

All these brands ventured into the market at a time when there was no other brand offering these solutions. These brands introduced products/ solutions and filled the gap in the market. While the company has certainly dominated the marketplace by being first-to-market, it is certainly not this reason alone for the brand to enjoy greater loyalty. Consumers across the globe want products that offer an ease of use along with a great customer service experience. Amazon is regarded as the benchmark for delivering a great customer service experience*.

Every one of these organizations have built a strong brand and a loyal customer base. ­The power of brand is not only measured when it is verbified, but also when it has a tremendous brand recall. There are brands like Apple, Tiffany, Reebok, Audi, Coca Cola and many more that do not fall in the former category but have immense brand recall and a dedicated follower base.

I would like to mention a particular brand that has caught my interest – Wendy’s.

A little more than a month back, a high school student asked Wendy’s on Twitter, “how many retweets for a year’s supply of chicken nuggets”. 18 million is the reply he got. With more than 3.42 million retweets (as of May 9), his tweet is the most retweeted post on Twitter according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Not only did he get his year’s supply of chicken nuggets, but the brand visibility that Wendy’s received is unfathomable. Who would have thought a simple tweet will pave the way to the most retweeted post of all time?! I believe Wendy’s taught us a very simple lesson in brand recall – customer engagement in an unconventional manner.

With the popularity of social media platforms, there is more than one way to connect and engage with your audience. One size does not fit all. Every platform requires a different engagement technique. What truly matters at the end of the day is building a brand identity that resonates with your target audience. In the words of Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.com, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

* https://www.cuinsight.com/new-member-service-benchmark-4-ways-like-amazon.html

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

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Customer Service Wins Every Time – Price Cannot Compete

As I write this, I am reminded of an incident that happened a week back – the United Airlines episode where a hapless passenger was gravely mistreated. Since enough and more has been written about this, I don’t intend to delve deep into this topic, apart from pointing out one thing, that an organization as large as theirs forgot the mantra ‘it takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one’. In a matter of few hours the company was embroiled in a PR crisis and in a couple of days their share prices crashed and they faced negative backlash and criticism, that is much deserved, if I may say so.

Focus on the basics

Now-a-days, it is not only a company’s pricing strategy that wins customers. To attain your set targets, you may reduce your pricing and win clients, but would that assure your clients remain loyal to you? Is price THE only deciding factor for a customer to not look at your competitors’ offerings? While winning customers may not seem as challenging, retaining the existing ones sure isn’t as easy as it seems. The cost advantage is no longer the only parameter for customers. You must look beyond this and develop an alternate strategy that focuses on quality and brand experience.

Gone are the days when there were limited players that reigned the market and price was not a deterrent. We live in a world where there is a market for everything and this is not just the virtual world that I am talking about. With multiple crowdfunding platforms available for entrepreneurs and innovators, companies are launching faster than ever before. (Companies large and small tapping into crowdfunding)

Go the extra mile. It is never crowded.

In the face of cut-throat competition, when companies are looking at gaining market share and rapidly increase their customer base, it is important to deliver on all fronts and not just offer the lowest price. You win customers when you offer more value. Remember all the instances when you have taken a liking to a company or its products because of the service received and the price wasn’t the deciding factor. Have your customers at the center of your business strategy and you are sure to stand apart from your competition. Provide extra services/ benefits. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must remind you that no brand has a monopoly in the marketplace anymore, so if you don’t keep your customers happy, some other company will.

Deliver an experience

With the dominance of social media in our lives, we have become extremely vocal – be it raving about our local restaurant or ranting about X brand’s customer service. On any given day, Twitter and Facebook is abuzz with happy and unhappy customers, recommending as well as criticizing services/ products. Those are your customers talking, are you really listening? More often than not, organizations stick to a set of standard replies when replying to aggrieved customers. That really doesn’t help in addressing your consumer’s concerns – there must be more personal involvement. Excellent customer service is the deciding factor for consumers to place their trust in a brand. While it certainly isn’t possible to keep all your customers happy, but the majority should be. Consumers stay loyal to a brand when they know they are heard and their grievances are addressed.

As an organization, your sole aim should be to provide an exceptional customer experience. Just to drive this point home, I’d like to mention a study that states by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. When we speak of customer experience, think Apple. All Apple users are brand loyalists and evangelists. They love the brand to the point where they are willing to wait in queues hours together to own the product on the day of its launch. The products are not loved because of its pricing. The thrill of owning an Apple product and the sheer experience it offers is incomparable. You need to strive to deliver an experience that is unmatched.

And as I sign off I’d like to leave you with this thought – The customer’s perception is your reality: Kate Zabriskie

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn