This is a guest post by Lexie Lue of Design Roast.
When customers think about your brand, they should think about their overall experience with your company as a whole. Strong branding likely brings a logo or tagline to mind, but it also plays into emotions and memories of past experiences with your business.
If your brand image and the actual experience the customer has aren’t aligned, then customers may walk away with a negative impression of you. There are about 2.1 million negative things posted about brands on social media every day. Many of these negative mentions are due to customer disappointment and when a brand doesn’t align with its stated values.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can ensure your customer’s experience and your brand are aligned. Here are 10 key ways to accomplish brand and UX alignment:
1. Make Sure Employees Are Engaged
When you think of branding, your immediate thought might not go to your employees, but employee engagement gathers everyone on the same page and makes sure the customer experience is the absolute best it can be. Every employee on your team should understand your brand message and be excited about what you’re doing for customers.
2. Plan Ahead for Problems
When it comes to making sure customer experience is the best it can be, you need to look ahead and try to foresee any problems that might arise. This requires everyone on the team communicating and brainstorming about potential problems and solutions before they occur.
Recently, Build-a-Bear Workshop offered a pay your age day for their bear workshops. Unfortunately, they didn’t look ahead and foresee the insanity that would ensue as people lined up for the discounted bears. They are now back to offering a Pay Your Age promotion for birthdays only, and they also issued vouchers for those who were unable to get their bears on the allotted day. Your company can do better by planning for issues before they happen rather than after they happen.
3. Use the Same Colors
Once you’ve chosen a couple of colors for your logo and your branding, use these colors everywhere your customer comes in contact with your brand. Brand recognition is increased by about 80 percent by using specific colors. If they go to your website, those colors should be used. If they order something, the logo on the box and the paperwork inside should feature your brand colors. Consumers should know it’s your brand from a quick glance at any communication from you.
4. Make Things Easy
When consumers visit your site, they should know instinctively where to go. If you advertise quick and easy shopping, then you’d better deliver on that promise. Otherwise, you risk your reputation for whatever elements you’ve tried to build over time.
Sweet Frog is known for delicious, customizable yogurt. Note how they stick with this theme by showing one of their most recent flavors and berries surrounding it, which indicates you can add fresh berries if you’d like. The site is simple and easy to use and matches their sweet theme with the pinks and bright colors.
5. Under Promise and Over Delivery
If you make a promise, don’t promise things you can’t follow through on. Instead, promise something basic and then deliver more than you promised. This might look like offering a buy two, get one free sale and then sending the customer a bonus item for their first order. It could also translate to delivery time or any number of other scenarios.
6. Keep Your Focus
If you have a goal in mind for your brand, stick with that focus and don’t chase down rabbit trails after anything and everything. Your customers come to expect a specific purpose from your brand, and the best way to meet customer expectations is to keep your own focus on that purpose.
Bandcamp raises awareness and funds for artists. They promise users that they will discover music they love. With that in mind, their website features various types of music and up and coming artists for site visitors to discover.
7. Add Appealing Signage
Building your brand is an expensive endeavor and an ongoing effort. Adding the appropriate signage, particularly for a brick-and-mortar business, is essential to your overall messaging efforts. Over a third of consumers in the United States say they decide whether a company has good quality or not based on the signage.
8. Poll Your Customers
Take the time to ask your customers how the process of ordering went. This is your chance to identify any problem areas and fix them before future customers experience those same problems. Your goal as a business should be to continually improve the overall experience for your customers and become a brand that customers know they can count on.
9. Be Authentic
Don’t try to be something you aren’t or fool consumers. The average shopper is highly perceptive and knows when a company is blowing smoke and trying to fool them into making a purchase. Eighty percent of people say that “authenticity of content” is very important to them.
10. Show Your Personality
Don’t be afraid to show off your personality as a brand and as the owner of the company. Some brands are known for a quirky sense of humor, and some brands are known for reliability. Figure out what your personality is and then consistently present that persona. If you are funny on social media, don’t suddenly grow serious on your website or in your stores and vice versa.
Do your best to meet the expectation customers have for your brand. Then, figure out ways to go a step beyond that and make customers so happy that they just have to run out and tell their family and friends about your amazing company. Making sure that customer experience and brand perception match isn’t an easy endeavor, but it’s worth the extra effort in the loyalty and engagement you’ll build.
Lexie is a UX designer and software prototyping enthusiast. Most of her mornings are spent writing HTML code with a large cup of coffee in close proximity. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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