...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Does "brand" need more syllables

A co-worker tells me that brand may be getting overexposed in the marketplace, that clients are bored with it. He may be right, or maybe clients are being wooed by sexier concepts, like CEM.

Marketing Profs.com includes a new article about "customer experience management" Author Leigh Duncan writes "While there's a clear reason to become a staunch supporter of CEM, there's a great deal of confusion over what it really is. As more individuals get on board the CEM bandwagon and build services, confusion seems to be increasing. It's time to demystify the hype."

In my humble opinion, the problem is the hype: CEM sounds like another example of agencies trying to reinvent themselves into something different, something new, something else.

I saw it 20 years ago with IMC (integrated marketing communications). I went back to school to study IMC and, fortunately, the degree was paid for largely by my employers, because when I finished, all I could say was "duh!" I'd been thinking integrated marketing communications without even knowing I was doing it. I was integrated before integration was even cool!

Duncan added to Bernd Schmitt's definition of CEM ("the process of strategically managing a customer's entire experience with a product or company)" by writing CEM "represents the discipline, methodology and/or process used to comprehensively manage a customer's cross-channel exposure, interaction and transaction with a company, product, brand or service."

In another post today, Tom Whelan, seems to put customer experience management as the end-all, be-all, with brand as but one component. (Then again, he's a "customer experience management" expert and I'm a "brand" warrior so we're wearing out biases on our sleeve.) I humbly submit that his definition is correct only if you define brand as the brochure, ad or other purposeful event or activity to "brand" (used as a verb) yourself or your organization.

Unfortunately, many in our business, and the clients we serve, think that brand is a new logo, a tagline or an ad. And, thus, they are giving the concept less and less credibility. I guess it doesn't have enough syllables to be of value.

I believe the customer experience is but one component of brand, with the brand being defined as "a person or organization's reputation based on the experience with it." Unlike CEM, brand doesn't ignore employees, suppliers, the general public, media, competitors and other influencers. Don't we want to manage the brand there too? And shouldn't it be consistent?

I'll admit that I'm a simple person, and I need a simple framework for my ideas. Brand is that framework. I don't like big, complicated ideas that are hard to explain, hard to implement and hard to get paid for. I believe that if we first understand the brand - aka the reputation - and then use it to make every other decision - including how we manage the customer experience - we can't go wrong?

Sometimes, it's still hard to get paid for that realization so maybe I need to add a few more syllables to the definition.

2 Comments:

Blogger Olivier Blanchard said...

The mere fact that there's an acronym for it now... scares me.

11:50 PM

 
Blogger Tim Whelan said...

Your perception of agency hype over CEM is true. They have taken the same ideology and tried to associate it with different buzz words to retain or gain greater market share for their services. Unfortunately they do miss the boat.

CEM has no direct relationship to branding. However, the brand can be influenced by it. CEM has everything to do with customer relationships and loyalty development beyond the initial delivery of the brand promise and often extends or changes the promise as the customer experience re defines it.

Brand firms dictate brand while CEM manages the associated customer experiences and proactively changes it to meet customer expectations.

Branding associates a promise associated with the sales cycle in order to complete closure of the sales process. CEM is centered in the long term acquisition process and on going customer value through loyalty development. Branding has nothing to do with loyalty generation.

There is a big difference between the two.

http://customerdevelopmentcenter.com

11:14 PM

 

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