When we think of branding genius, it's Corporate America that comes to mind....

All those award-winning TV spots and ads over the years have helped create some incredibly strong brands. Yet no matter how much is invested in those brands, it isn't always enough. Unless companies "live" their brands at all touch points, what is their true worth?
I've had so many poor customer service experiences in the past 18 months - I could write a book but I'd be afraid of being sued. It constantly amazes me that huge corporations provide such awful back-end customer service. It begins with waiting incessantly on a toll-free telephone line, playing hopscotch with the variety of recorded messages, only to have some inexperienced low-level individual take down our entire complaint. But, in the end, it's usually the same response. "We're sorry."
Supervisors are non-existent in some companies, or the reps offer to have someone call you back and never do. In my most recent experience at a big box electronics store, I purchased a laptop AND a sevice plan two years ago, and now that it requires service, it turns out there are exceptions to the service plan that aren't included in the tri-fold contract. Oh, but there's a 20-page service contract document that's too large to fit into a tri-fold, but alas, no reference to a PDF document you can download on the company's Web site either.
So, it's buyer beware. There's always the small print.
Was it a frustrating experience? You bet. Will I purchase another product from that store? Probably not. Will I tell a few people about my experience? You bet. Where does that leave the company with word-of-mouth marketing?
Maybe the customer attrition rate just can't keep up with the acquisition rate of new customers. But in an economic downturn, and there have been some in the past 25 years, these companies have the most to lose. How much brand loyalty can they expect to build when they hide their policies, they don't practice being forthright and honest with their customers, and they apologize and try to throw a $25 gift card your way to make up for their ineptitude and dishonest methods. I just don't understand it.
A brand has value. So much so, that it can often be given a dollar value when companies are bought and sold. So, how come it's some of the largest corporations that are missing the boat on the fundamental marketing principle of living the brand in every area, every department, and every touch point?

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel