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Broken Promises

If employees don’t buy into the brand promise, consumers definitely won’t. And here are the figures to prove it.

July 14, 2012 11:45 by

NO MATTER where you turn these days there seems to be yet another new article on just how bad people are at decision-making.

People or, as we marketers prefer, consumers, are vulnerable to all kinds of decision-making errors and biases. They overestimate the likelihood that others will see things and behave in the same way they do.

They also overestimate their individual contributions to joint tasks and underes­timate how long tasks will take.

And, importantly, they perceive the exact same things – objects, institutions, situations, and people – differently from others. One thing, however, is certain. Our emotional, cognitive, and perceptual apparatus limits our ability to rationally (or accurately) view the world around us.

These limitations have a profound effect on the decision-making which, in turn, has enormous implications for understanding the ways employees, consumers and even your prospects understand – or misun­derstand – your brand’s identity.

What if your consumers don’t understand who you are? What happens if employees and consumers disagree over the core brand identity?

The main attribute that distinguishes good companies from great companies is a strong brand promise. No surprises there. Many companies, however, still over­look the alignment of perception between internal and external stakeholders?

Perhaps, most important of all is the need to ensure employees deliver the brand in a way that chimes with expectations. All of these issues fall under Identity Alignment.

Research suggests that the “new normal” for brand development will not rest on how aware consumers are of any particu­lar brand, but rather how aligned each company is with its identity and promise among all stakeholders.

Consumer alignment

Our research suggests that the more consum­ers can accurately verbalize the principal characteristics of the brand promise, the more they support the brand. In short, with greater alignment comes greater success.

In one Gallup panel study (in the US), we assessed the alignment of consumers familiar with one of six different brands in the airline, hospitality, F&B, financial services, auto, and retail industries.

Responding to the question: “How would you describe what brand X repre­sents, and what makes it different from its competitors?”alignment was deter­mined on whether or not the consumers’ responses matched the core elements of each brand’s ID.

The results were startling.

Some had high levels of alignment, others did not. For the major retailer and airline brand alignment was at, or above, 90 per cent, representing high levels of top-of-mind, conscious assimilation among consumers already familiar with the brands.

For others, however, the degree of align­ment left much to be desired; the auto brand exhibited just 35 per cent alignment.

The study also proved that higher levels of alignment led to a greater share of wallet.

Without exception market share corre­lated to the degree of consumer alignment.

When the shares of all six were com­bined, consumers familiar with each brand and who were successfully aligned with its ID, reward those brands with double the share-of-wallet than equally familiar but misaligned.

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