I have read some articles and blogs recently about an issue for all brands. A brand gap could be a disastrous problem. It may not sink you, but, if left unattended, it will be a hole below the water line and needs to be in the list of important things to monitor about your brand. And measure, if you can.
There are several brand gaps that require inspection.
MARKETING AND SERVICE/SALES GAP
It happens that the point of contact that deals directly with a customer, whether in a sales or service position, describes the brand in a way that is inconsistent or worse, contrary to the brand platform. This leads to, at the minimum, inconsistent messaging that in turn, leads to confusion. Confusion in this day and age is not some Pollyanna idea or a turf fight between the line and staff divisions. Clarity about your brand helps you compete against the real enemies…the clutter created by bottomless choices and the ease at which your customer can find a choice. Blame the Internet, but it is extremely easy for your customer to find alternatives and research them by searching.
So if you want your customers and prospects to start romancing somebody else then don’t find the reasons and fix this gap. It is one gap that is in your control to fix.
MARKETING AND CEO GAP
There are instances where the CMO and the CEO are not in synch on the definition of the brand. I conducted a brand workshop for a tech company that had gone to market, but was still an infant. The fissure between what the CEO and the CMO believed about the brand became painfully clear. We finished the workshop with the CEO’s version, but there was huge drama all the way through. The irony…they were married. The CEO wife moved her CMO husband into another position. Glad I wasn’t at their Thanksgiving table.
Again, this one is within your control, but it may not be a very pleasant solution.
MARKETING AND CUSTOMER PERCEPTION GAP
Here’s one that will sink the ship. If your customer has a different perception of your brand than you intend and are executing against, sales and traffic or, as a not-for-profit, the money you raise or supporters you can attract will do one of two things. They will fall, as customers are confused about how to fit you into their lives. Of course, that is equals failure. The other bad outcome is that you will not achieve what you could and that is also a failure as it creates a domino effect of weak remedies. Not achieving the best you can is a failure because you could have done it different and didn’t.
I conducted a brand assessment for a client who was experiencing weakening customer counts. After extensive research, we discovered that the positioning was valid at the launch, but advertised pricing had created a different perception and that perception moved them into a choice set in which they were not competitive. As a note, the advertising wasn’t driving sales so the investment wasn’t on point. Fortunately, they swallowed hard, corrected things, made some logical improvements consistent with their original brand platform and guess what, they rebuilt their traffic and sales volume.
Recognizing and fixing these gaps and becoming the relevant brand you stated out to be gives you the best chance of success and, in some cases, a happier marriage.
Remember,branding is about what the market thinks of you, not what you think of you.