Building a good brand, takes a genius. And a lot of common sense.
For this blog and topic, we will use as our reference point, one of the most popular brand management framework that has ever existed "Keller's brand equity Model".
Keller’s Brand Equity Pyramid is not a marketing tool. It is a tool for an organization to measure customer-based brand equity (CBBE). It is a crucial tool in strategic brand management, and it helps an organization take a critical look at how customers perceive the brand and build more loyalty through various schemes.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Equity pyramid, here is a quick overview of each phase. Let us, for now, call each of these levels Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Brand Identity: Identifies the unique proposition of your brand and how you position it for a specific market segment. It tells the customer Who you are. (Level 1)
Brand Meaning: What does your brand mean to the customer? Does it meet the performance expectations set in brand identity? Does it deliver on its brand promise? And what about imagery - how does the customer think of your public presence? Does it appeal to them? The messaging and ad campaigns etc.? Are they connecting and engaging?
At this level, the customer clearly understands what you are as a Brand.(Level 2)
Note that they know who you are and what you do at this level.
What do customers think about you? What are they judging about your brand? What comparisons are they making? How do they feel about your brand? Do they feel happy, proud, or accomplished? What is the feeling your brand evokes?
What about you that the customer feels/thinks. This is Level 3.
In this stage, the customer has started having feelings about you. They either hate you or like you.
Does your brand resonate with your customers so that they become your strongest advocates? The customer can relate their identity or values with that of your brand. This is Level 4.
At this level, the customer has started associating with your brand closely. They identify themselves with your brand and are more than just a buyer. They have risen to be your greatest brand advocate.
Brand resonance is how a customer identifies themselves with the brand. This is the robust and lasting relationship your brand hopes to build with every customer you gain along your business journey. The idea is that your brand resonates with customers so much that not only do they keep coming back, but they become your brand’s advocates.
A successful brand has a shocking number of brand ambassadors in comparison to an average brand.
Hence, successful brand building = creation of brand ambassadors at scale.
How do you convert customers into brand ambassadors? Enter customer success, and we will see why shortly.
A great brand identity and brand meaning (Level 1 and Level 2) are the outcomes of successful marketing.
What about response and resonance? Oh, they are the job of customer success.
Customer success can help transform the customer with a generally positive experience about your brand into an exhilarating personal experience.
How do you accomplish that? By adopting a process-oriented approach and by evaluating the customer at each step. This will also require tools and automation to sample the data over an extended period.
Analyze customer sentiment
Come up with a contextual/actionable customer success plan
Create a personalized marketing strategy
Build stronger ties using customer advocacy
STEP 1: Analyze customer sentiment.
This is not a one-time C-SAT exercise but requires the conscious use of tools & data samples collected over a minimum of one quarter to analyze the customer sentiment via various social media channels and metrics.
The customer sentiment is usually a mood reflection or a brand resonance feedback tool, and it can directly impact customer success metrics - CSAT and renewal, NRR being the most affected.
For instance, the following dashboard from Monkeylearn is a typical example:
Look at the sentiment analysis presented here. The sentiment is presented for a period. It analyzes intent, sentiment by category and has a clear classification of what categories sentiments are measured against.
We strongly recommend adopting a model as represented by Monkeylearn to do the following:
Pick categories where sentiment analysis is required. (Service/Product/Response times)
Analyze sentiment over a weekly cadence for a minimum 3-4 weeks. This could be from social media, voice analysis in meetings, sentiment analysis in email responses etc (most tools such as involve.ai/Totango/GainSight) provide this.
And then derive a customer sentiment score (Skip to step 4 if they are delighted).
STEP 2: Put together a Customer success Plan
This plan aims to bring customers into a positive, happy zone - this, again, is not an overnight event. It requires contextual analysis of customer sentiment and doing what it takes to get them to invest more into the product.
Tools such as DNA-CX from Totango provide methods to analyze data intelligently and derive a customer success plan. Or start with this simple template provided by SuccessHacker, where you get to see what customer success looks like given the challenges and insights you have derived from STEP 1.
It might be a little expensive to buy licensed software tools such as Totango or Gainsight, but we can start with this simple template and then proceed to licensed software.
The sentiment analysis result must be captured in Key Challenges, actions to alleviate those challenges and define what is Success at the end of that exercise.
This needs to be measured every week as well. If the existing strategies are not working, revise.
The best strategies that work are designed with the most compelling challenge, fixing that one screw to tighten and everything else falls in place.
STEP 3: Raise the game on your customer marketing
Once your success plan yields results, it is essential to create the perception that the relationship is starting to go well. This is what we call Customer Success marketing Vs regular customer marketing.
Remember you are dealing with a slightly mature customer who is very familiar with your brand. The strategies used to market to an existing customer need to treat them at a different level of engagement—no promotional offers, discounts, etc.
Instead, as we have always observed, Gamification strategies are excellent tools to apply here, just like a B2C model works. Simplified in one sentence, Gamification is the technique of having the customer understand that they are winning continuously - through rewards, up leveling, badges, free consulting hours, value creation - whatever it could be for your customer segment.
A customer that is brought back or retained is an excellent candidate for
The above chart indicates how brands must interact as customers go up the value chain, drop off, etc.
Notice how Loyalty offers are at the top end of the growth curve. Follow a similar approach.
STEP 4: Get the customer to be your brand ambassador
We refer to this step as where the customer is so aligned with your brand that they speak of your brand as their personal Success and carry it as a badge of honor to be associated with it.
At this stage, customers are invested in your brand.
The most natural way to gauge the customer's arrival to this stage is to go back to STEP 1, and analyze customer sentiment again. They should be heavily trending in the Green Zone. They are very involved and openly recommend your brand.
Once this stage is on the anvil, take the customer advocacy to an elevated level.
Our favorite method of getting the customer to speak loudly has been joint webinars, Linkedin Live sessions, training courses that liberally use the customer reference, building joint communities together and jointly speaking about the value proposition etc.
We are betting high on building communities together as a novel yet "non-sales"ey way of building customer advocacy.
Summarizing our favorite tools for each category here:
Customer sentiment analysis
Brandwatch, hubspot, MAXG, monkeylearn
Contextual Analysis of Customer success
Hubspot, Churnzero, Totango
Personalization & Marketing
Hubspot, Gainsight, Planhat
Brand Resonance & Customer Advocacy