Do You Have Brand Dissonance?
“Dissonance” is what happens when two elements that are butted up against each other have a lack of harmony.
In the case of an American Idol reject, it be a dissonance of notes that results off-key singing. For brands, dissonance happens when a brand’s marketing promises one kind of experience to customers, but delivers a completely different one.
Sometimes brand dissonance is simple matter of poor management or leadership. The owner(s) of the company an ad campaign that touts their product or service as “the best” because they perceive a “We’re number one” messaging platform to be standard marketing operation procedure. However, when it comes to delivering that product or service, they invest little or no effort into making sure that they’re really are offering something that’s superior to the competition.
These businesses may get a lot of first-time customers as a result of an aggressive “We’re the best!” marketing campaign. But they’ll struggle to retain them if the customers are disappointed by a mediocre brand experience that falls far short of the promise the company made on it’s website, direct mail, radio spots, and so forth.
The data disconnect
In other instances, brand dissonance happens because of a disconnect between a company’s marketing team and the actual operations of the company. Many factors contribute to this lack of connection (and poor leadership can be one of them, by the way), but in many cases the problem usually comes down in one way or another to a lack of data.
Let’s say that your company is a small chain of regional healthcare clinics. You’ve got a very slick-looking marketing campaign that includes a platinum website, radio spots, digital advertising, social media, the whole nine. The theme of your campaign, “We go the distance”, is beautifully branded and features helpful clinic staff who unravel patient insurance issues, help elderly patients to the car, or stay late when the little boy with the broken arm can’t quite make it by closing time.
It sounds great, right? But there’s a problem, because none of that is actually happening at the point of service delivery. Your clinic may be known for some positive assets, like convenient locations and short waiting times, but it’s also known for less-than-friendly staff and examinations that feel rushed or incomplete from a patient’s perspective. At the end of your day, your slick campaign is doing nothing but creating brand dissonance.
Scenarios like these can be avoided by a campaign strategy that begins with data. In this case, the marketing team may have researched healthcare messages that generally resonate with consumers to land on the “We go the distance” theme.
But did they also find out if that message resonated specifically with their best customers? Did they examine data, like customer surveys and social media comments, that helped them understand their customers’ current perception of their brand? Did they get with the operations team to find out if the key messages they intended to feature in the campaign were in synch with the metrics used to evaluate the clinic’s providers, which may be far more focused on efficiency and volume than they are on relationship building? Given the amount of brand dissonance at play in this scenario, the answer is probably no.
The bottom line: Branding is about more than your logo, your website, and your TV spots. It’s also about the experience you promise and provide your customers. Data can play a critical role when it comes to lining up your brand’s marketing image and your brand’s customer experience.
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