Your Most Unhappy Customers

You’ve likely heard some variation of the saying, “You can’t read the label from inside the bottle.” It means there are two points of view. The one from inside the bottle is limited. The one from outside the bottle is completely different.

Branding builds a platform from strategy, a leader’s intentions and vision, to experience – what a customer FEELS. For your brand to truly connect with your customers, and to make sure those feelings are the correct feelings, you have to put all your senses to work. Start by seeing your brand through their eyes.

As a CEO, you may know your company, your organization, product or service like the back of your hand. At the same time, the rest of your organization may be losing touch with your customers, their needs and expectations. Do you sense something isn’t right? You want an honest opinion? Look outside the bottle. Honesty comes from your customers – but you have to be willing to listen. Good or bad, you need to know exactly how your customers feel, and to be willing to act on those feelings. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Once you begin to see your brand through the eyes of your audience, you will gain a greater understanding of who you are and what you stand for. You can start with a creative audit. Polling your audience through such an audit will provide the kind of deeper, truer understanding that will help bring clarity and enlightenment to your brand.

Can You Hear Us Now?

Do you really know how your audience feels about your organization, your intentions, and your vision? Is your impression clear or clouded? Spreadsheets and emails may present facts, but they don’t tell a story. Not until you put the pieces together. You can’t know what your audience is thinking without getting inside their minds. What are they commenting about? Does it parallel your suspicions about your brand’s weaknesses? If so, that isn’t hearsay. It is hard evidence.

Here’s one example: Clarkson College. Founded in 1888 as Nebraska’s first school of nursing, Clarkson College had evolved into a leading coeducational institution preparing individuals for various roles in a growing array of healthcare disciplines. Although the school had progressed, its brand wasn’t keeping up. Respondents in a creative audit described the brand and its imagery as unsophisticated, immature, and lacking the prestige of a well-established educational institution. How they felt had a definite impact. Clarkson’s leadership listened, and called upon Daake to create a clear, concise image to underscore the fundamental elements and prominent reputation that set the institution apart.

We put our experience to work to renew the perception of a successful, first-rate, highly-respected healthcare education program. The revised look featured a modern tagline and a shield emblem in a more appropriate and elegant size, accompanied by typography that puts emphasis on the name “Clarkson.” From that foundation, we supported the updated identity with print and marketing collateral, fresh advertising, environmental media, and a new website. The rebrand gives clarity to the Clarkson vision. It elevates the college in the minds of its students and the community. And, it offers the institution an identity with enough strength to stand the test of time.

Rebranding is a process, and it begins with discovery. Some CEOs sense it is time for a change, but they lack the conviction to make a decision. Discovering what your customers truly feel about your brand can provide all the courage and justification you need.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

The best way to show your customers you care is to act upon their feelings. Harley-Davidson was nearing bankruptcy when it finally decided to listen to its customers and improve both its product and its image. Print and video advertisements presented a tone of strength and independence coupled with a refreshing sensitive side. In the fabulous “No Cages” commercial, the company combined motorcycles and adorable dogs outside a pet shop. Tear open the cages and the message is clear: Let a Harley set you free. Middle of the road? Not Harley.

Sometimes the worst feeling is no feeling at all. Indifference can kill a brand where it sits. Does anyone conjure up the mental image of the Old Spice guy on a horse without smiling? It didn’t used to be that way. Not sure if Old Spice ever was the choice of fishing boat captains everywhere, but the tongue-in-cheek marketing of the “Smell like a man” campaign, paired with the introduction of the bold, daring “spokesman,” and that old image of your great-grandfather’s cologne went out with the tide. Today, even teenagers use it. That is about as significant a change for the better that a public image can take. Old Spice heard what its customers were and weren’t saying, and decided to act on both.

Big or small, customer-inspired change reaffirms their role as your primary stakeholders.

Change Doesn’t Have to Hurt

A primary goal of a rebrand is to ensure that every change is for the better.

A rebrand emphasizes that you are listening. You hear what your customers are saying, you see what they mean, you understand how they feel, and you care. By responding, you are communicating. Connecting. Growing.

Ultimately, a strategic rebrand allows a strong leader to make certain that how your customers feel about your brand is precisely how you want them to feel.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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