How To Bridge The Gap Between Your Brand And The Customer’s Experience

What is a brand?

Marty Neumeier is a ‘heavyweight title holder’ within the branding world, and the author of the famous book, The Brand Gap — How to bridge the distance between business strategy and design. He’s received praises from elite creatives, directors and design entrepreneurs on how this book ‘cuts to the heart of what branding is all about’.

“A lot of people talk about it. Yet very few people understand it. Even fewer know how to manage it. Still, everyone wants it. What is it? Branding, of course — arguably the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet.”

Marty’s teachings tackles the conundrum of building a successful brand by giving the least amount of necessary information and timeless principles.

First, a question: 
What is a brand?
 1) A logo
 2) A corporate identity system
 3) A product
 4) All the above
Hold the thought for a moment. Before we get to the answer, let’s find out why branding is on the top of the radar nowadays.

What’s all the hype about?

As Seth Godin continually points out, we’ve moved on from the 80-year-old industrial age…it’s the beginning of a new digital era. No longer do we live in a one-size-fits-all economy. The latest mass-customisation economy means that marketing is making huge shifts; from fighting with their competition on features and prices, to playing the ‘depth’ game by building relationships with the audience before having the audacity to ask for a sale aka Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!

According to Marty, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”…because us humans are emotional, intuitive beings — although we would like to think we’re rational creatures.

So no, a brand is not 1, 2, or 3.

Everyone is time sensitive, yet we have an abundance of choices when it comes to buying. Most will have similar quality and features, but what separates the chosen option from the rest of the pack is, TRUST.

“Trust is the ultimate shortcut to a buying decision, and the bedrock of modern branding.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and internet personality, was one of the early birds who believed (and still do) that everybody should be a media company first, and then their profession/business second. He preaches the importance of the consistency to provide valuable content — within the right context — is the best way to market a service/product today.

Here are a few things that show Mr Vaynerchuk is interested in the ‘depth’ game:

1) Jumped on YouTube back in 2007 to launch WineLibraryTV — did over 100 episodes before anyone took notice.

- Built a $60 million wine company from $3 million 
- Disrupted the Wine industry and got a tonne of media coverage 
- Became an internet authority
- Started an agency in 2009 with no background or experience

2) The #AskGaryVee show was created in mid-2014 for the purpose of answering questions from his social media fans

- Leveraged his social media presence (backs ups what he preaches)
- Gained 10x more followers
- Asked to speak at influential gigs
- Wrote his 4th book (will definitely be more successful that the previous ones)

He calls it “scaling the unscalable.

To start in the right footsteps, you’ll have to take a 30,000 foot view from the outside of the company’s culture, to identify the core values and make sure everyone on the team is clear and congruent. The CEO should acknowledge each individual’s strengths and work with it to create a unity. Leadership and communication is key because ultimately, “a brand is not what YOU say it is, it’s what THEY (the public) say it is.”

Kayako is an exciting software company to watch out for this summer. Their whole ethos is helping their customers to get better at customer service. Jamie Edwards, one of the co-founders, wrote a brilliant piece on the company’s ups and downs on cultivating a culture. The experiences have allowed Kayako to thrive as a company. They have nailed down their values that will adapt over time, and will allow them to reach new levels of growth. What they have realised is the importance of finding ways to provide value to people — this is the way to build a successful brand.

Gary Vaynerchuk can change the colour of his website tomorrow, and although it may get a surprise for readers, they know he’s still the same charismatic, wine-tasting, Jets addict, 365 hustler.

So goes with Kayako. If the company decides to introduce another product to their target audience, there shouldn’t be any major concerns unless the people can smell greed. As long as the product is relevant to their brand extension (not a quick buck creation) then it will get a warm welcome, and most likely gain an up-rise momentum in the business.

As a founding team, we are going to put a lot of effort into coaching others about these values: getting them in to every day vocabulary, getting them into our goal setting and feedback processes. Bringing everyone back onto the same page, and ensuring our values are being consistently lived and breathed. — Jamie Edward, Co-founder of Kayako

Now your turn, how will you bridge the gap?

I highly recommend you read the book. For a book that’s 10 years old (that feels like a long time ago), Marty lived up to his words: the principles are timeless.