Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Excellent customer experience is the cornerstone of branding

There's a very interesting post discussing the attributes of global brands in Harvard Business Online. The author identifies common aspects to global branding and his claim that there is considerably lesser need for adapting to local markets is one that surprises me. Indeed, when considering new marketing practices most of which are based on the premise of customer participation, it does seem quite challenging for a company to force the same perception of a brand all over the globe. Furthermore, although the points identified are interesting, there is something missing: excellent customer experience, which in essence is based on consistency between what is promised and what is delivered. Toyota, Nokia or Intel, all mentioned in the post, have been able to deliver outstanding products delivering a customer experience in line with what was promised:

  • Toyota made cars with the best price-to-quality ratio making a total commitment to continuous improvement,

  • Nokia made it easy to connect people (most notably with a user interface now adopted even by competitors)

  • Intel brought processing power to the masses and beyond

So the market ends up giving its preference (and thus building brand value for those companies) first and foremost because the customer experience is excellent. That of course does not mean perfection: some Nokia phones are not that great and Intel had its share of failed releases. However, it does mean that if you don't have the excellent customer experience, no effort at branding will ever yield results worth mentioning. Perhaps this is the main issue facing Ford (another company mentioned in the post) these days. And excellent customer experience is also what drives buzz, viral and guerrilla marketing phenomena in today's connected world.

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