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Power of brands

“With great power, comes great responsibility”

When we think about building a brand, we can use the Brand Resonance Model. This model is a pyramid that consists of 6 areas: brand salience (awareness), performance, imagery, judgments, feelings, and on the top of the pyramid lies Brand Resonance.

Brand resonance is the ultimate relationship level customers can have with a brand because they feel a deep connection to it. This is what all (or at least most) brands should aspire to because it generates loyalty and a high level of engagement. But in the words of Peter Parker’s uncle “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Just like with human relationships not everyone reaches this level, and maintaining it requires a lot of work, but the difference is that in human relationships both parties are equally responsible, here is the brand’s job to keep up with expectations and don’t fail their loyal customers, and when customers think very highly of a brand it is very easy to disappoint.

Here I talk from experience, I have been very lucky to work for a brand that has generated this resonance with its customers. It is a brand that has been on the market for over 40 years, so it is great to see how the brand has become something loved and appreciated from one generation to the other. I have experienced how this resonance, although is great and generates a loyal customer base, it also is very demanding, given that the customers think very highly of your brand, and when something doesn’t go the way they expect, even the CEO might hear the complaints. As the HBR article The One Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand says “It has always been risky for companies to disappoint customers, at least over the long term. But today the scale and speed of social media can make falling short instantly painful.” When customers are loyal, they might not even notice small mistakes, but when a brand falls short on its promise to a customer who loves the brand, it can go viral in seconds thanks to social media.

Some of the key areas I have found are the most important to focus on when working on keeping and growing brand resonance are:

Consistency. You have earned at this point your customer’s trust, and the way to keep that trust is to be consistent with the quality of the products or services you offer. Meet your customer’s expectations with each transaction and at every touchpoint. Try to mimic the experience in every channel you sell. This way customers know they can keep on

Look for innovation. Companies and brands that have earned resonance can have a hard time innovating because customers want to experience the same product or service every time, they trust that consistency, even if the thing or process you want to innovate makes the experience easier for them. It is very likely they will complain, just because it is different. In my experience, it helps to explain very clearly what is changing with your brand and why, and that will cut down on misunderstandings with customers, and keep positioning your brand as one that is always evolving to its customer needs.

Get the entire company involved, especially the employees facing the customers directly. Make sure the employees at the company become “brand ambassadors” and understand the different perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors customers associate with the brand. Like the HBR article by Kevin Lane Keller The Brand Report Card mentions, this helps empower managers and employees to “make decisions regarding the brand with confidence. If it’s clear what customers like and don’t like about a brand, and what core associations are linked to the brand, then it should also be clear whether any given action will dovetail nicely with the brand or create friction.”

So, in conclusion, achieving resonance is a brand’s ultimate goal. This means your customers are very identified with your brand and like being associated with you. You have achieved the best relationship to have. But like every relationship the big responsibility of the entire company is going to be to fulfill your customer’s expectations every time they interact with you in any channel. Having this consistency will help you keep earning your customer’s trust every time.

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