Branding has grown into far more than a marketing buzzword, as an increasing number of organizations recognize and value their brands as strategic assets that are built through deeds, not merely words or images.
While there has been a noticeable increase in more traditional marketing and communications among product and service companies, the right starting point is a thorough examination of how the brand is being built today. It begins with identifying each point of interaction, or brand “touchpoint,” between the company and its constituents, where the “deeds” of brand building are actually carried out. Here, a company can uncover the various opportunities for its brand to be positively upheld or negatively represented.
Each activity falls within the three touchpoint experience categories: pre-purchase, purchase (or usage), and post-purchase.
Pre-purchase experience touchpoints represent the various ways potential customers interact with a brand prior to deciding to do business with a company. Some typical pre-purchase touchpoints include Web sites, word-of-mouth, direct mail, research, sponsorships, public relations and advertising.
Each pre-purchase touchpoint interaction should be designed to shape perceptions and expectations of the brand as well as heighten brand awareness and drive its relevance, while also helping prospects understand its benefits over competing brands and the value it brings in fulfilling their wants and needs. As the pre-purchase experience for prospective customers is examined, the focus should be on refining those touchpoints that most effectively will drive customers to put the brand into their consideration set.
Purchase (or usage) experience touchpoints are those that move a customer from considering a company's brand to purchasing a product or service and initiating a brand relationship. Examples of purchase touchpoints include direct field sales, physical stores and contact with customer representatives.
The main objective of these points of interaction is to maximize the value that prospects see in offerings and instill confidence that they have made the right decision in choosing the brand. During these interactions, it's critical to instill trust in the minds of prospects by demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that a company's product or service offerings are better than those of the competition.
Post-purchase experience touchpoints come into play after the “sale” and maximize the customer experience. These can include loyalty programs, customer satisfaction surveys and warranty and rebate activities. These touchpoints are frequently under-leveraged or ignored as brand-development opportunities, even though they offer the potential for businesses to drive sustainable and profitable growth. Three goals of post-purchase experience touchpoints are to deliver on the brand promise, meet or exceed customer performance and usage expectations and increase brand loyalty and advocacy.
Ray George Ray George is a Director in the New York office of Prophet, a management consultancy that helps clients achieve competitive advantage by creating and implementing integrated business, brand and marketing strategies. Ray can be reached at email@example.com