Giving customers what they ask for
It has been a while since the last article we wrote about branding. Many good things are happening in Anagrama and we are publishing new projects to our online portfolio.

This time, we thought we should publish something from our experience with our client’s customers and how we help our clients into making the right decisions. We go by the flag of “Not everything that is good for your business is good for your brand and not everything good for your brand is good for your business.”

It is not very uncommon for us to visit clients to say hello and see how things are going with their companies. Sometimes, we exchange some feedback that can help us and our clients see the results for the work done in the short, medium and long term.

Once or twice, when visiting a client, we give advice that, after a happy discussion, goes in the opposite direction of what their customers had asked for in the first place which got us into the discussion. To be more precise, I’ll give an example.

Imagine a department store that goes to a branding agency to obtain tools and a branding strategy consultancy (by tools I mean maybe a logo, stationery, catalog, website, interior design, process consulting, etc.) that will allow them to communicate consistently a way of doing things that will be different to what the competition already does. Imagine that the resulting project involves a place that changes the way people experience a department store including the way things are displayed, selected & packaged.

In the case of packaging, imagine boxes that astonish customers by their looks and definitely do not include a big colorful ribbon on top like any other typical gift wrapped in a department store.

At the end of the project, everybody ends up very happy with the results, which are consistent with the business strategy. Now, picture this new incredible store operating for a couple of months with their new strategy and their managers naturally trying to do everything possible to increase profits (which are already above great). Through time, customers start asking for a big red ribbon on their gift boxes because they feel they must look like the present they have known for most of their lives. For obvious business development reasons, our client agrees entirely (following the mantra “The customer is always right.”) and adds this element that at the beginning of the project was determined should not be included in order to become unique & differentiate from the competition and their value.

We have talked about this before, and we all know that the branding process consists in conveying and providing a consistent experience and value to your customers. Providing a consistent experience translates into adding elements that do not break or play with the brand’s strategy main objective. When achieving it, the brand becomes powerful and competitive, and thus, more profitable.
In any way, we show a negative attitude into customer insight or feedback. Customer feedback is great and it should be promoted. It is just that we must be more proactive and define what is the real need they are trying to communicate, which maybe the actual gift packaging does not help to fulfill.

Instead of literally doing what the customer asks for, we recommend going back to a design phase where we take into account the feedback and project objectives in order to end up with something that still makes the experience a unique one, maintaining the brand promise and still differentiating.

Being more specific into why adding a ribbon is not the best idea for this specific example we want to add: Ribbons have been known for a long time to represent gifts. People ask for them because they are the “standard” for gifts, they do not know any better. They are included on birthdays, holidays and special events. In the department store example, the ribbon places the gift packaging at the same level of other substitutes and competitors breaking the golden rule of differentiation and brand promise, as simple as that.

Let’s please NEVER forget that brand development is a process that takes some time and one that can be achieved not only with a logo or new brochure. Even though these tools contribute to the experience, the most tangible results are achieved maintaining that consistency throughout time.

A brand development strategy is achieved with a consistent experience and value. If clients experiment that same level of quality, emotions and values again and again, your product, service and company will naturally stand out for it.
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