I want to hug the brand, not the campaign or the experience

If you’ve been listening over the last few months/years, you’ll likely have noticed my increasing frustration at the state of marketing and influencers trying to carve their niche. I don’t understand why people keep battling brand vs CX (customer experience) when CX is part of brand; why marketing has swayed back to being about a good ad or campaign or digital vs developing a compelling brand promise that is communicated and delivered against across every touch point (7Ps+ = product/service, price, place, promotion, people, process, physical evidence).

A great example is Westpac’s “help when it matters”. As a consumer I am drawn towards this emotive advertising, their website looks as though the brand has the tools to deliver against this promise, but ultimately that’s what it comes down to. If you draw me in with the compelling brand promise that you will be there to help me in the moments that matter, you’d better bloody deliver against it. I’m yet to tell.

Here’s a story I can tell. I have recently been on an emotional rollercoaster with my doggo, my furkid, my best fur friend, being diagnosed with cancer. Add to that the financial challenges of two surgeries, blood and lymph tests, X-ray, ultrasound, CT Scan and 2 x Immunotherapy treatments within 5 weeks, and the knowledge that treatment and monitoring is on-going. I kept handing over my credit card, keeping eye on the limit, not knowing how I was going to pay it off, how much and even if my pet insurance company would process the claim. I figured I’d work it out, one way or another. The first claim was processed within 4 days, the second two within 3 days and the latest one, not even 48 hours. When the money appeared in my bank this morning, I sent a thank you note to Bupa and sat down and cried tears of relief.

Having been a Health Insurance customer with Bupa for the last 13-14 years overseas and here, I can’t say I’ve felt particularly close to them, but they haven’t done anything to make me want to leave them. Premiums get paid, I huff a little when they increase every year but I know it’s no different to any other brand, and continue to claim my quota full of extras year in, year out. Neither here, nor there. I trust they’ll do the right thing when it comes to my health. Which is why I chose Bupa for my Pet Insurance. I’m ever so grateful I did.

Now there’s a moment that matters and a brand that delivers on their promise. I can honestly say if Bupa was a person I would hug them right now. Through a seamless, quick claims process, they demonstrated that they care about the health and wellbeing of my Bella and me. In an emotionally and financially painful situation, my experience with the brand was pain free.

Does this mean experience wins over brand? No. The brand promised they’d look after me and my doggo, and the brand delivered. There’s no “customer experience” isolated from the brand, it was my experience with the brand. I feel greater connection to the brand, I want to talk about the brand, I feel more loyal towards the brand. Is it unique to Bupa? Probably not but I don’t really care as they are the brand that delivered, not anyone else. I wouldn’t even bother looking elsewhere.

What about advertising? Whilst I wasn’t drawn into the brand via compelling advertising, I know what they stand for through their communications – longer, healthier, happier lives. Sure, you could do a Westpac, turn the raw emotional human truth into a compelling ad to attract more customers, you could put my story on the website to convince and convert the cynics because I’d willingly oblige. But until you deliver, again and again and again, you don’t have a brand, you have an ad.

Building brand value needs a unique and compelling brand promise that is relevant to existing and new customers; a distinctive identity that reflects the brand and is consistently used across every touch-point so customers can easily recognise the brand; and consistent delivery of experiences against the brand promise across the 7Ps+, over time.