As competition + saturation in the market increases, brands find themselves in a place where they need to distinguish from the rest of the crowd. Businesses search for ways to increase engagement with their customers, build trust and ultimately loyalty in their brand. The question is, how can a brand achieve those desires?
There are a million different methods of building trust, but today I wanted to dive into the significance of details, and the various touchpoints of a brand. I absolutely love this quote from Marty Neumeier of the Brand Gap, “Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” I love how simply, yet profoundly, put this definition is! It emphasizes that your brand is an experience with consumers, and each detail + touchpoint helps clarify your vision, and build customer loyalty.
There are numerous touchpoints for a business, whether that is through conventional means such as a website, logo, direct mail, or word of mouth. There are also small details that are opportunities to increase awareness. This could include: how you answer the telephone, email signature, tweets, etc. This may seem overwhelming at first, but once you have a vision for your brand, the touchpoints become creative opportunities, or no longer challenges.
Stay tuned for the end of this post to download a free bonus brand touchpoint checklist PDF!
Have you ever had an experience with a company or brand, and left feeling inspired by their unconventional tactic? Maybe I’m alone on this since I get a kick out of creative branding! However, I am betting you have experienced this as well, though might not have connected the dots why your loyalty for that brand just grew. One of the best examples I can think of is for a local Texas movie theater chain called, Alamo Drafthouse. Since most of you are probably not from Texas, let me introduce you to this edgy, quirky and fun movie theater. As the name implies, they serve an array of beers on draft. The seating in the theater has a table in front of you, with menus to order dinner or drinks. Basically, it makes going to the movies more fun + convenient for a night out with friends.
Aside from the innovative movie experience they have created, their marketing is what has won customer loyalty over from the very beginning. They embrace the opportunity to get creative, and stand out from other movie theaters. Instead of showing ads before the previews, you are excited to get to the movie early so you can watch short skits/videos relating to the movie you are about to watch. They often show full Saved by the Bell episodes if the movie is set in the 80’s. They have taken this annoying + boring aspect of going to the movies out of the equation, and instead heightened the experience.
You know the part prior to the start of the movie, where the theater asks you a bajillion times to silence your cell phones? Sometimes accompanied with a generic animation? Well Alamo Drafthouse, true to their brand, does this a bit differently. Instead, they have played this hilarious recorded voicemail from an angry customer who was kicked out because she was on her phone. Seriously… hop on over and give that voicemail a listen (warning: some language is bleeped out), its worth it! Through paying attention to small details such a as a “silence your cell phones” warning, and considering their brand with ever decision, they have increased brand loyalty and trust that reaffirms their vision.
It is these minor details that quickly stand out to consumers, and can turn them into loyal fans.
Create Your Own Strategy
As emphasized in the previous example, details are the queen of marketing. When considering a touchpoint, businesses often turn to their competitors to dictate their own marketing strategy. The logic makes sense — their competitors are successful, so you want to mimic their strategy for your own success. Sometimes this works, however more often than not it feels unauthentic and not genuine to your brand.
I experienced this reality the most when I worked as an in-house designer for a university. My “clients” (different departments within the same university), would often approach me with marketing materials from our competition, and inform me that they wanted something similar. This story was all too common across the entire university. You can see why this is a problem: Not only did it not represent our unique brand in its best light, it could potentially cross over into the gray area of ethics. Thankfully, I was on a great marketing team that had a strong vision of our brand, and we were often able to convince the client to go a different direction that was more fitting.
The bottom line is that when you see something creative that is working for a competitor, instead of mimicking their tactics, develop your own strategies. This can be very challenging when you are first starting out, and trying to gain business, yet differentiate yourself. I have found that through my Lunch + Learn series, I have differentiated my brand from other fellow designer/bloggers through providing monthly practical webinar tutorials with a live Q+A. This touchpoint of my brand came from my personal experience, and not from copying another brand’s success. Think out of the box, and consumers will engage more with your brand.
Details are Everything
As mentioned in the Alamo Drafthouse example, details in your brand are everything to the consumer. They reassure the quality of your brand + that the consumer has made the right choice. One business that does a superb job at these details is Mailchimp. If you aren’t familiar with this email software, they make email marketing a breeze, and their branding always puts a smile on your face. I use them for my weekly newsletter, and highly recommend it!
Their chimp illustration takes many forms throughout their website, providing fun illustration to lighten the stress of setting up an email campaign. For instance, when you are almost ready to hit “schedule” your campaign, the graphic below pops up showing a sweating chimp hand about to push a button. Once you have scheduled your email, the chimp hand turns into a rock on hand sign celebrating your finished task! I love how these quirky illustrations + copywriting reinforce their light-hearted brand in the details.
Even when I have contacted the Mailchimp support, their chat window sounds are similar to early 90’s nintendo sounds. Typically message alerts annoy me, but I couldn’t help but leave them on and grin at yet another successful Mailchimp touchpoint.
Your brand touchpoint details don’t have to be quirky like Alamo Drafthouse or Mailchimp, that might not fit your brand. Kate Spade, for instance, has completely different yet effective branding in the details. They are a luxury women’s apparel + accessory store with impeccable branding. I was in their store one time with my mom, and noticed beautiful wallpaper that was different in each dressing room. This detail completely matched their feminine luxury brand, and made their store unique. Their branding is so good, I even kept a gold foil stamped, cotton paper perfume sample from their store and pinned it to my wall. That is ridiculous, and further illustrates how the minute details of a brand build loyalty.
Take some time to consider your brand, and how you can be creative + consistent with various touchpoints. Maybe this is through copywriting in the footer of your website, a clever business card, or simply how you answer your phone. Have fun with your branding, and dreaming up creative solutions!