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Senior decision-makers and business owners are used to working with quantitative data and making judgements about improving efficiencies, driving greater sales revenues or cutting back on operating costs. However, where those decisions are made in a silo, without considering the impact on customer experiences, they can be disastrous.

Much of corporate decision-making remains focused on supply chain management, resource allocation, and profitability, but it might disregard customer perceptions.

For example, if you outsource logistical services to a new provider you might make a saving – but will you lose customer loyalty if deliveries take longer, or don’t have real-time tracking? If you decide to select a new overseas vendor, your cost of sales may fall – but will customers assume you’re sacrificing quality or manufacturing in a location with poor workforce welfare standards?

We’re talking about brand strategy consulting and why this doesn’t just consider consumer experiences as an add-on but is built with the customer at the heart of your brand identity.

What Do Brand Strategy Consultants Do?

Flintlock Marketing brand strategists work with businesses of every size, whether long-established entities in need of a brand audit or new brands that want expert insights to ensure they have a strong foundational brand to build upon.

The gap between business-led decisions and customer satisfaction exists primarily because a conventional corporate structure means that customer service teams work independently of marketing departments. Therefore, the latter may not have access to the qualitative information customer experience professionals can share.

Regardless of your trading sector or the age of your business, a branding consultant works with you, your leadership team, and other stakeholders, including those outside the business itself. For instance, we might research the broader market, analyse customer perceptions of the company’s brand, speak to employees and partners, and gather a diverse array of views and opinions to dig down into those unique elements that your business stands for.

All this underlying work contributes to strong brand architecture because, ultimately, the only person who can influence the success of a brand is your customer – and all the decisions you make internally will impact how they feel about your organisation.

Brand consultants develop effective strategies by determining where you have opportunities for growth or rebranding, drilling down into issues or elements that work against the brand, and understanding which customer-facing deliverables will give your business a competitive advantage.

Why Are Consumer Experiences and Perceptions Pivotal to Brand Success?

We’ll take insurance as an easy example of a sector where brands often start on the back foot. Consumers might perceive that a provider has an unappealing corporate identity due to past experiences, where premiums rise unexpectedly, claims are rejected out of hand, and it feels impossible to speak to a real person on the end of the phone.

Flintlock Marketing’s brand strategy consultancy teams might look at how those pain points limit brand success and what a provider might do to stand apart, differentiate themselves from competitors, and actively engage with consumers.

There are all sorts of theoretical approaches, including:

  • Offering training for all in-house staff, ensuring that every customer call is handled by someone with the experience and knowledge to manage their query or problem there and then.
  • Implementing approaches that ensure claims calls are directed to a team member who can respond with empathy, appreciating the stress a claimant will often be experiencing.
  • Publishing transparent fee schedules and pricing – consumers will know when, why and how their premiums might increase, and their options if they need to keep their insurance costs within budget.

Of course, the brand strategy we suggest might differ considerably for another business, but we can already see why these decisions, while largely unrelated to sales, costs, overheads or marketing, can be transformative, and drive growth.

Today’s consumers are also considerably more focused on values and ethics than ever before, with younger generations keenly aware of environmental issues and problems linked to low-paid labour overseas, especially prevalent in fast fashion.

Brands that concentrate all of their content, communications, messaging, marketing and real-world customer support on values, and how they want consumers to feel about them easily outperform the competition. The reason is simple – they benefit from customer engagement and trust, where consumers can see that the brand purpose isn’t performative but authentic.

How Can Businesses Link Corporate Decision-Making With Customer Satisfaction?

The cornerstone of amazing branding is to ensure that every decision made by you, your board or shareholders is consistent with your KPIs and big-picture targets, but never side-steps the question of customer needs.

An even better approach is to rethink your KPIs and ensure you identify consumer perceptions and satisfaction metrics rather than making decisions based only on those hard data points we mentioned earlier – think sales revenue, cost per unit, operating expenses and profit margins.

Designing Customer-Focused Brand Strategies

Dove, a brand owned by Unilever, is a fantastic illustration of what that might look like in practice. On the face of it, Dove produces beauty and skincare products, from bath creams to baby care ranges, deodorants to soaps and similar products.

What makes Dove’s brand strategy so remarkable is that a huge proportion of its target demographic – adult women – immediately think of its marketing efforts that appear unrelated to value propositions and don’t include a sales pitch.

Instead, the brand concentrates on themes like self-esteem and real beauty, hiring models from diverse backgrounds and body types and producing content to raise awareness about issues, like how social media can affect body confidence in young girls.

The results speak for themselves. The original Real Beauty campaign in 2004 produced 10% year-on-year sales growth and cross-platform shares with exposure over 30 times the initial investment. Another campaign, the Reverse Selfie, drove a 21% increase in brand affinity and a growth in sales across all product categories of 11.9%.

All this tells us that brand strategy formulated around consumer experiences, perceptions and emotional responses to branding is a key growth driver – and incorporating these factors into your strategy from day one can deliver phenomenal brand performance.