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Has Your Brand Reached Its Debt Ceiling?
By: Ted Curtin
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Is your marketing department writing checks your brand can’t cash? Marketing creates expectations. Your brand story should convey a clear and meaningful value proposition that your customers can connect with and relate to. Your advertising should convey that promise across all channels to successfully differentiate your offering from your competitors’.

When a customer first steps foot into your store, your branch, or your hotel lobby, is there a sense of validation or disconnect? Are you expecting your three-star staff to deliver five-star service? Is your website a helpful source of relevant and contextual information or is it a complicated and cluttered bundle of over-information? When a prospective customer asks a technical question to one of the “friendly, knowledgeable sales staff” your ads tout, are they greeted with a smile and a helpful answer or a curt, jargon-filled response, or even worse, a dumbfounded stare? No last-minute act of Congress can get you out of that debacle.

What are your options? You first need to reassess your brand promise, identify shortcomings and commit to the appropriate improvements to ensure compatibility with your promise. If necessary, reel in your marketing message. If you’re making promises on which you can’t deliver, your customers’ experience won’t meet expectations.  As Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh professes in his bestselling book Delivering Happiness, it’s always better to over-deliver than over-promise.

It all comes down to the importance of alignment (something we haven’t seen in congress for years).  Alignment affects all aspects of your company from the inside out. It starts with your company culture and hopefully flows freely through your organization, resulting in clarity of purpose that translates into the very promise you present to your customers. (Related: "5 Key Steps to Brand Alignment")
In the end, you can raise the debt limit and keep borrowing against your promises, but consumers won’t continue to invest in your brand, and that’s the only vote that counts!

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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