Thursday, March 1, 2012

call for reinforcements

A recent post at Nex Level Advisors, LLC has a headline that reads, “It’s important that you do everything possible to establish and reinforce a positive brand.” The article goes on to list several good suggestions for brands, such as basic (but, often forgotten) fundamentals like positioning and consistency. However, the headline itself drives home an important concept for brands: reinforcement.
The vast availability of knowledge now available at the fingertips of any one on the Internet has made for incredibly intelligent consumers. This has completely changed the game for branding, as not only are consumers demanding more from brands, but brands are also held to a higher standard.
Delivering a wanted product is no longer enough. Not only must brands deliver on their promised value, but they must also do it in satisfactory ways, and provide excellent customer service in the process. Oh, and brands should seek to create an exceptional “brand experience” for their consumers. A flat model for branding doesn't work when consumers expect brands to be three-dimensional. 
This wealth of information in today’s consumer environment means brands are no longer shaped by the messaging of their 30-second ad spots, or an endcap display at a grocery store. Brands are now defined by every thing they do — from production, to the actual product, to delivery, to answering the phones on the help line.
This is why brands should always “call for reinforcements” when taking an analysis of their branding strategy. Is there some process, or facet, of your organization that doesn’t enhance or help define the brand? More importantly, is there anything that underminesthe brand?
Chipotle’s emphasis on “food with integrity” digs out a brand position that their food is ethical to eat. You better believe they are constantly monitoring the sources of their food. With the speed at which information travels, a single chink in their armor — say, a source for their chickens that keeps them frozen in microscopic crates — could end up on a YouTube video exposing this hypocrisy, which would create a PR nightmare for Chipotle.
This situation is a bit more extreme, but the general principle of reinforcements for any brand is ensuring the branding signals all are aligned to promote, enhance, and reinforce your brand strategy.

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