Brand and Customer Experience – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience design to brand identity.
T5 is an expression of the JetBlue brand. When customers enter the space, they feel and know that they are flying JetBlue and not another airline. How can you make customers know, without a doubt, that they are experiencing your brand?
Know your brand!
At first pass, the direction to know your brand is self-explanatory, but you would be surprised by how many CX professionals believe that only the marketing department needs to know brand identity.
In today’s digital and mobile world, every member of a company must know the brand. Without a deep understanding of the brand you represent, you are a blind painter. How can you even begin to express brand values and beliefs that you do not know and understand? Know your brand. If you don’t, find a way to learn it! Now.
Convince your CFO that brand equity funding is a long term investment
If many people do not know the brands they work for, even fewer fail to understand the fragile nature of brand equity. If you go to your CFO tomorrow and ask for funding to “infuse the brand” in whatever physical or digital experience you are building, you will be asked for the ROI on this undertaking. You will also be told that it feels like this “brand stuff” is a “nice to have,” not a “must have” feature.
If there is one moment when you can self-destruct the business case of Customer Experience, it is the moment you agree with this statement. The right answer is “Investment in the brand side of customer experience is a must-have feature because without reinvestment in the brand equity, the customer will not connect the experience you have built with the brand you represent.”
Treat your brand with the same empathy you treat your employees and customers
If your brand is strong, it has personality. If it has personality, you can treat your brand as a person – with empathy and care. JetBlue’s persona is smart, fresh and stylish. As the CX designer, I translate this to edgy and innovative, taking a modern view – chic and modern, regardless of time. What does that mean during the design phase? Obsession over every detail.
Details make the experience design memorable and unique. Nothing is too small for the CX designer to touch. The kiosks in T5 are slim, white and without the “catcher” boarding passes. Brand-driven decisions and compromises made this happen. Crewmembers would have preferred wider kiosks to lay down their cups of coffee. They also would have preferred another color that does not require as much cleaning. Customers would have preferred the metal, functional and protruding catcher for the boarding passes. The brand persona did not fit with any of those functional needs, so they are not in the lobby today.
Without attention to details, the look and feel of the T5 lobby would not have screamed JetBlue the way it does now. By respecting the brand identity, the design came out sleek. Customers tweeted praise for the design, comparing it to Apple.
Location, location, location
How the customer experience touch points are sequenced can also express brand identity. JetBlue is “nice.” Flying with JetBlue is a “nice experience.” The airline is “human and comfortable.” So when the decision was made to invest in custom-made repack stations with integrated scales, we took brand identity into consideration. The table could have been made more cheaply out of metal. But that would not have made the experience “nice.”
Instead, customers would have felt like they were in a factory, or like they were in surgery. The tables also were conveniently built in close proximity to the new real “Bag Drop” in order to make it more comfortable for customers to move between the two touch points.
Customer experience professionals must be the loudest brand ambassadors and brand managers. CX professionals deliver on the promises brand marketers communicate in their campaigns. Without this link, and without that collaboration, the experience design feels disconnected, at best.
As a customer experience professional, you must own the brand equally to the marketers and serve the brand’s values. If you fail to do that, you are delivering a customer experience that has no soul, and you are missing the opportunity to build a deep, meaningful, memorable connection with the customer – the ultimate goal of every brand.
Image courtesy as featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine
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