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Save the Bells and Whistles
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Everyone loves bells and whistles. It’s like a little more “pep in your step” for a product or service. And what customer doesn’t want more, doesn’t want to feel the love from a brand? But bells and whistles don’t cure all; these aren’t the ultimate brand winner unless some specifics have already been put in place. A bell or a whistle is only appreciated and accepted when the product or service is delivering the base as best it can. It’s almost like a mathematical equation that doesn’t work unless the standard is producing solid results each time. So bring the bells and whistles, but don’t forget to deliver the core brand promise.

Customers love more. Especially more for less — what could be better? But there is a method to what type of “more” actually helps brands win. Case in point: CVS. This brand is all about adding new bells and whistles to stay relevant and keep customers. It’s a great strategy, but there’s more to the picture that needs to be discussed. CVS has added a new loyalty program (yes another one) that takes place only in the pharmacy. The brand has also added customer courtesy calls for prescriptions that are running out and of course there is also the rapid-refill program. All good things — all of these should be brand wins. But they aren’t, because there is a shadow that is preventing overall brand success.

No brand can simply add bells and whistles and automatically win the brand war. The brand must have its core concept working like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, CVS doesn’t. The pharmacy boasts long wait times (when it shouldn’t), the original loyalty program still uses paper and a kiosk to redeem rewards, and there still seems to be a product variety issue. So adding bells and whistles to a brand that is already struggling with its core service doesn’t really add a whole lot of brand wow.

Customers always want brands to evolve and offer more to stay competitive. But they don’t want this to come at the expense of making the core concept stronger and better. Bells and whistles only become “oohs” and “aahs” when the brand is consistently delivering the day-to-day and meeting customer expectations. Because no brand would want the bells and whistles to go unnoticed as a result of forgetting to deliver what it originally set out to do. So save the bells and whistles until the brand is ready and customers are needing something just a little more.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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