Hard times create amazing successes.
Despite all the talk today of an oversupply of goods and services, industry consolidation, menacing imports, stalled prices, and shrinking margins, a few remarkable businesses have discovered how to make their brands irresistible to more and more customers. And they have done it in remarkably speedy fashion, seemingly coming out of nowhere to virtually own their markets. Consider, for example, Google, which went from being a nonsense word to a global verb and supernova of the Internet in only three years, which then led to its becoming a publicly traded company with an $80 billion market cap.
Or how about the gizmo named TiVo, which changed television viewing forever for millions of American families by creating buzz outside the typical sales and marketing channels.
Dozens of similarly surprising brands - names like American Girl, Best Buy, Chico's, Hardiplank, and Washington Mutual - are thriving in all sorts of sectors, from manufacturing to wholesale to retail, and they have been built far more quickly and inexpensively than brands that rely solely on traditional approaches, most notably advertising. How do these luminaries do it? They overpromise and they overdeliver.
It's a new, faster, and less-expensive approach to beating the competition that I call TouchPoint Branding. Simply put, they have made big promises to their customers, and they are delivering on them in big ways at three important points of interaction.
TouchPoint Branding begins with a unique, attention-grabbing brand promise that radically differentiates a company from its competitors. Google, for instance, vows to lead you to virtually anything you want to know, in 0.2 seconds. TiVo's pledge is: TV - your way! American Girl promises dolls that enchant girls and teach them how to live a life of substance. And in a glutted business environment in which everyone seems to be shouting the same message simultaneously and at peak volume, exciting, breakthrough brand promises are the best way to stand out from the crowd. New companies must develop unique brand promises just to battle their way into the marketplace.
Established businesses, faced with fighting off upstarts and differentiating themselves from their rivals, have to periodically overhaul their brand promises to adjust to changes in their environments, their competitors, and their customers. But simply coming up with a unique brand promise, or overpromise, isn't enough. When you overpromise, you will be saying that you are confident your brand will perform. You will be putting your whole reputation for honesty on the line, making a solemn contract with hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of customers. And, as wise managers know, trust is the hard currency of business success. The price for squandering it - sabotaging a brand's promise - is always too high to pay, because, at the end of the day, the priceless intangible called integrity is the richest asset on any company's balance sheet.
After a brand promise has been clearly established, you must also overdeliver by keeping your promises in imaginative, dynamic, and unique ways. And to do that, managers will need to get their entire organizations aligned to execute that big promise flawlessly and, above all, consistently every day with every sale or interaction. You must give your customers more than they ever expected from you at each of three critical moments of interaction - the Product TouchPoint, the Human TouchPoint, and the System TouchPoint. That's where your advantage over competitors will emerge.
When properly executed, TouchPoint Branding enables managers at every level to inspire their employees to overdeliver on the company's brand promise. This is the breakthrough that can revitalize your company, just as it has propelled the trailblazers I've written about here.
Copyright 2005 Rick Barrera
Create breakthrough brands and deliver extraordinary customer experiences with tips from Rick Barrera's new book, Overpromise and Overdeliver; The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty. Free excerpt available at Rick's Overpromise Website