Creating a Great Customer Experience with Branding and Storytelling

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John: Hey everybody. Welcome back to The Life is Digital Podcast where we discuss digital marketing, content and branding, storytelling, messaging. We are back again today and we have been having an ongoing conversation about content and storytelling. I asked, Jenn, our Chief Operating Officer on our team to join us for today as we kind of delve more into these topics about content and messaging.

Before we get started, don’t forget to click subscribe, down below and check out the comments below for some more details and information for our chat today. But Jenn, welcome on board. It’s so nice to see you and hear from you today.

Jenn: Good morning, great be here.

John: Wonderful and Jon, thank you so much for joining us as well. Jon and I have been having this conversation, Jenn, about numerous topics. We’ve gone through things like the importance of your basic digital assets, how paid media can impact the growth and reach of your business. Naturally, I think it’s transitioned to how do you actually provide these delivery channels with the right content to really get your message across? And this is why I thought, it would be great for you to join us today to talk a little bit more and educate our audience on what it really means to produce great content. Before we jump in, do you have any quick industry updates or what’s working, what’s not working today when it comes to how you produce great content as a brand?

Industry updates on Content Marketing

Jenn: Well, I think obviously well perhaps unfortunately the main topic of relevance right now is COVID and I think in terms of how that’s relevant to the digital experience, I think things were already shifting to a digital platform for most brands, but if they weren’t there yet, they should be there now. You know, where we’re all at home and this is the primary way that we’re engaging with brands and with companies. The importance of making sure that you have a digital presence is more important than ever. And, I think to the extent that that ties into your branding and your content messaging, really it is more important than ever. And, hopefully, the COVID situation resolves as quickly as possible for all of us but I think even when that happens, that shift to digital is going to be permanent and isn’t going anywhere.

John: No, that makes absolute sense and Jon and I have been talking about that for a couple of weeks, that if you weren’t engaged in delivering your message online that shift has now become permanent. And, I think we’re seeing that across the board. And, Jon, wouldn’t you agree with that?

Jon: Oh absolutely, I think we’ve reflected over the last few weeks just about how quickly transition some businesses made to going 100% online or the cases with restaurants where they adapted to curbside delivery and home delivery just very, very swiftly. And, I agree with you Jenn. I think that these trends they’ve been coming for a while. They’ve really accelerated here through March and April, and we’re probably not going back at this point. You mentioned, I think it was in the last episode that some people have just gotten very comfortable. That’s just what they want to do now. They’ve found that new way of doing things and that’s what they’re going to stick with.

Where does content start?

John: For sure. And, I think this leads in right into the conversation that we’ll have today. So Jenn, as we were preparing for the show, I was really thinking, where does content start, right?

We’re humans, we interact, we’re telling stories. So, something that I think came to my mind is that it really starts with people. Can you explain more about that? Where does the story really begin? How do you begin to tell that story of your brand?

Jenn: Right, right, well I think you’re exactly right, that it is about people. And, I think over the past 10 years, we’ve probably seen a shift from companies being more information-based where they felt like the most important thing was letting everyone know about their product and what it was that they were delivering, and I think what they’ve seen is that now there’s so much content. There is so much information out there that what people really want is some type of authentic experience where they’re able to actually engage with a brand. And, to that extent that is what these stories are about and I think that we’ve all seen a shift, right? With even major corporations trying to make it feel like it’s a personal story. They’re a lot more focused on that relationship, that human element where people are able to relate to the brand. How does this affect my life? How do I engage with this? And, it’s less about the actual specific technology behind a device, or deliverables of a particular service. It’s more about how does this help me, how does it affect my life, my family, my friends, and what is that story? And I think really good brands are telling those stories that are compelling and are really relevant to people.

Grand brands have the whole package

John: You make an excellent point. And, actually, two things came to my mind. The first was when Apple first really launched I think in the early 2000s. They had those commercials that… “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC.” Literally, humanizing the technological experience for people that this was a new operating system that nobody had ever heard of with Microsoft so dominant. But, they kind of gave it that feel. And Apple has always had that vibe to the product, the packaging, the messaging, etc. And one thing comes to mind. I received a bunch of packages from Amazon, and I’m starting to know that they’ve even updated their packaging with the little arrow. And, I saw another commercial of there’s “We’re the smile-company” or “the happy company” and I thought to myself… that, that to me is brilliant. Where they’re really a transportation delivery company that competes with UPS and other big box retailers for delivering products but they’ve tried to humanize it even from showing commercials about their warehouses to being the happy company and then that little animation on the side of the box.

So I completely agree, Jon. How does the humanization and the personal side from what we’ve been talking about paid… does that factor into your targeting and your audience, how does that kind of connect with what Jenn’s saying?

Jon: Well, I think a good way to think about this and Jenn… I’d be curious about your thoughts on the matter, too, is we talked a little bit about the importance of a funnel or a journey that a customer moves through. But they’re going to have that first point of interaction and maybe have an awareness stage and then ultimately, reaching a decision. And, one of the things we see on the paid side for sure, is that, if someone’s just starting the exploration. They’re not really at the point of making a decision and yet we’re hitting them with a message of “Buy Now,” or “Sign Up Now,” or “Download Now” or “Take Action Now”, we miss them. We lose them and they go on and they find something somewhere else that’s going probably better fit their specific needs.

Well, I think that what we’re saying here when it comes to branding and that brand interaction is those stages are still very much applicable and the types of messaging that you’re delivering are very relevant. And, they really do need to match up with what we’re doing. Say like on a paid or even an organic search side of the house. we just want to make sure that we’ve got the right message at the right time.

Jenn: Absolutely, I think a lot of it honestly comes down to consistency. When we’re talking about great brands, it’s actually about a lot more than just, what does the brand look like? Or, even, what does the brand sound like? And, it’s more about this package. You know, John, when you were talking about Apple and Mac. They have always done this well from the very beginning, from their very core. And, that is one of those things that really differentiate brands or makes them really great is that they have that full package, They have the messaging. They have the branding. They have a visual. They have a great leadership team, a great product and an amazing employee team. I think really you’ve got to have all of it and it needs to be consistent. And, that’s what really resonates with people. I think when people see messaging… In my mind, the analogy that comes to mind is when you’re interviewing someone and they come in. It’s about the full package, right? What are they wearing? What’s their body language? What do they look like? And then also, yes, what are they saying and what’s on their resume?

But it’s the whole package because you can look at a really great resume, and if someone walks in and they don’t look like they’re going to fit with the culture of the company. They don’t look like they put any care into what they look like when they show up. All of those things go into making a decision about someone. And I would say that the same extends to brands that you really have to make sure that all of those things feel consistent to the particular audience that you’re trying to get in front of.

And, you know… audiences are different. And, so you need to make sure that whatever package you put together for your brand or your company is consistent in terms of resonating with that specific target audience.

John: That’s an absolutely fantastic point. I think when you talk about building companies, right, that there’s a great line, “If you don’t intentionally build a culture, you’ll end up with one anyhow.”

Getting in front of the right audience

So, from being intentional about your messaging and your content factors, how does storytelling and messaging factor into what you do and how you present yourself? What are some of the key ways that a brand or a company with a great story can use the tools we have to actually deliver that more effectively and then, even maybe include some of that culture into how they deliver their message. Whether they decide to do, let’s say radio or television, do even the channels sometimes affect how people perceive your brand and your message?

Jenn: Absolutely, I think it, again, gets back to your target market. All of the platforms that are out there appeal on some level, more strongly to some demographic than others. And, I think, Jon, you can probably speak to this even better than I can, but making sure that whatever platforms you are using to get in front of people are where those people are engaging online. Instagram has a very different population and demographic-base than LinkedIn which appeals to professional people.

So just making sure that you’re getting in front of those people. But Jon, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on getting in front of that right audience.

Jon: Well, yeah, we’ve definitely talked a lot about the importance of finding the right audience, but I think we’re in dovetails with what you’re saying is that even down to the language, the things that you say as a part of that messaging. And, sometimes it’s the little stuff… if the ads are going to show on a mobile device, then put Call Now, right? Because, there is click-to-call technology, and it can activate the handset and allow you to be talking to that company right away. Whereas if it’s going to be on a desktop, maybe that’s not the case, but maybe it’s some kind of different experience.

There’s a world of difference between Pinterest and on the other end LinkedIn. So as you pointed out, LinkedIn decidedly more of a professional type of audience, and Pinterest decidedly more visual… may be a little more fun, right? A little more, exploratory.

So just the way you approach those platforms and the way that people are using those platforms when they’re on them can really grab completely different results.

Jenn: Absolutely.

How does branding and digital marketing affect your bottom line?

John: And, that makes a lot of sense to me. And, the way I’m kind of seeing how we’re presenting the conversation is you have really two sides. You have the ideation side, the production of your brand as it pertains to the assets – the field of culture and messaging.

And, then we take this great package. We take this great story and then we want to deliver it to people who want to hear it too. And, maybe even some of those individuals who didn’t know that but the way that we presented to them on that channel, or in that space, they become interested and then they begin their cycle from understanding about your brand, to learning about it, to engaging, to eventually becoming brand ambassadors where they champion it for themselves, right?

So, I think it comes down to, at the end of the day, for a business, a business owner, for a corporation, it’s going to come down to performance and results, right?

So, how do these two areas affect, ultimately, the bottom line and the revenue for a company? I’m sure we’ve all heard and seen examples where “Oh, that was just a completely terrible advertisement” or “that was a huge mistake for a company to make.”

What are some of the upsides to getting this process right from the beginning for a company so that they can actually win or get ahead or deliver. Even if it’s not beating out the competition, it might be delivering something that people didn’t even know they needed. What’s the upside of that?

Jenn: I think the upside of that obviously is… Well, I think you need to consider a couple of things when you look at the success of something. There’s the old outage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? So even if you’re running a bad ad, at least it leads the people to remember that it’s a bad ad, they’re remembering it. And, I think this gets back to, there being multiple components, in terms of deciding whether or not something was successful. And, one is just… is it getting in front of people? And, are they remembering it? And, there are multiple levels to why people remember things. There’s the subconscious, which we kind of tie to visual branding. There are visuals that make us feel something and we can’t really put our finger on it. And, getting back to your example of the Amazon logo… brands are shifting to much friendlier brands, especially from a visual perspective, than they have in the past. It used to be a very corporate feel. They wanted to look professional and buttoned-up and they wanted you to know that they were the best, the most capable. And again, I think this gets back to the shift that happened in the industry where we are moving towards… There’s so much out there. There’s so much information that we really need to feel like it affects us personally.

And so, on that level, making sure that you have that feeling attached to it, and then what’s being said. And so this is where I think in terms of what the results are that you’re driving, are people feeling something about your brand? That’s hard to measure, right?

That doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate sales. Not all the time. But, maybe over time, it means that they’re engaged with your brand, and they’re participating online, that they’re having conversations with people in your target market, whether they would fall into that demographic, if you are checking all of those boxes or not. But, then there are obviously also ways to track whether it’s being successful, and I think having some flexibility in your strategies and being willing to admit when you are wrong. We’re not always right every time. We come up with something and it’s not working. Having the ability to both be flexible and willing to admit that you need to make a change, I think, are really important. And, I’ll let Jon talk a little bit more about this in terms of tracking the success of marketing campaigns, but I think some of it is just trial and error. Truthfully to some degree, we know what works. We know what doesn’t. Do you know what’s working on the branding side? Is it friendly? Is it resonating with people? From a messaging perspective, are you saying things in a way that people are going to listen? Especially, in front of your specific target market. But, Jon, you can certainly speak more to tracking the success online in this new digital world.

Jon: Yeah, as you were talking… One of the things I was thinking of is if messaging and if branding are on point, recall is very high for that searcher or buyer, potential buyer or even customer, right? They know that they’re looking for the smile company. They know they’re looking for the company that does this or they know the name of the company. And, we will actually see that show up in a lot of the inbound traffic. We can look at and we can analyze a lot of the organic search terms that are driving the traffic to the site through a tool like Search Console. And, if we see a lot of those high brand terms, while it’s not a perfect tie to say, “Oh everybody heard this, and then they took this specific action,” it’s enough of a bridge where we can say, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that, we’re getting good brand lift right now, or we’re getting a lift off of this part of the messaging and that’s really very, very important. But, we can also see that show up in other areas as well, like with Google Ads or some of the other search platforms.

But, you mentioned specifically about how we track that. John and I’ve talked a little bit here lately, about just how deeply you can go, especially when you add in a tool like Google Tag Manager. When you mix that into the equation, all of a sudden you’re able to track a lot more detail about what’s happening with those customer interactions on your site. Where I think this really comes alive, is when you can track something like a video.

So, if there’s something that drives a user to the site and the engagement piece is a video, we can get very, very specific in how far into and what they do with that video as a part of our analytics tracking. And, that kind of opens up the door to be able to reverse that flow and go back up to… what you’re talking about which is saying, “Hey this actually works. This is a good thing.” or “This produced strong fruit for us.”

John: I think everything you both are saying makes absolute sense. And, one thing I wanted to distill out of what you both said, is the willingness to invest and ideate and develop that consistent tone, that consists in brand, that consistency, which eventually will lead to those results and the iterations off of that.

I think one thing that I notice is that because digital is available to everyone. Fast is not even the word. It’s instant, right?

And that’s kind of how our general overall culture has shifted, both in how we want to consume our media. Amazon two-day shipping now seems like it takes forever to get here when we maybe have a hub that’s an hour or two hours that can get you the package. So, as we continuously move towards this instantaneous delivery shift in how we consume our media the timeless tradition of letting things grow and ideate and develop is still important, I believe, and I’ll ask you guys this… As we begin to close here… that this has to be seen as an investment.

We’re not just going to throw some ads up there or we’re not just going to create a brand in two or three days. This is something that’s going to take time. You know, it doesn’t have to take four years, but we do have to be methodical in our approach and not rush to make mistakes. We have to test things. We have to make sure that it’s headed down the right path and some of those things we’ll learn along the way.

Key Takeaways

John: I think as we close today, I’d like to ask… Maybe you both give us one or two key pointers in what someone should expect when they’re building a brand, when they’re delivering digitals and or any other types of marketing? What are some key takeaways that they can really learn in this process to help them understand: this is where you start, this is where you’re going to be headed, this is how we’re going to help you get there.

Jenn: I think, to your point, John, about it being an investment. You know, when we were talking earlier about it being the whole package. People invest in their leadership teams. People invest in their employees. People invest in their products, and I think sometimes the messaging and the branding get left out a little bit, in part, because obviously, everyone has budgets and they have to work within those. Those are certainly important, in terms of, especially now, right? Where we’ve been talking about how so much of your brand is online, but the only way for people to know about your amazing leadership team, you’re amazing employees and your amazing product, is to have the branding and messaging online that go along with it. And, so I think understanding what makes a good brand and for companies that want to have one, figuring out how to make that investment and figuring out those priorities. Even Apple, even these huge companies have budgets. And, so figuring out what those priorities are – maybe you start with your website. Maybe you need a rebrand. Maybe you need some help with your communication strategies. Whatever it is, finding some resources and some experts to help you to make sure that you’re putting as much time and effort into presenting all of the amazing things that you have going on behind the scenes, I think is a really critical part of continuing to be successful in this new digital shift.

John: Absolutely, makes perfect sense. Jon, do you have one or two takeaways for the audience?

Jon: The first thing that I would offer up and I think Jenn might agree with this, is your brand is not your logo. Don’t make a mistake. So many people get caught up and thinking, “Oh we’ve got a new brand”, and they’re pointing to the mark or the logo and they think “that’s it”, and “we’ve done everything we need to do. No. That is an outward reflection of a lot of things that happen under the surface that Jenn can talk circles around. Probably me, for sure, but about how you actually get there. But I know enough to know that that is not the be-all, end-all, but the other thing that I would offer up and this is a little closer to my particular space is don’t be afraid to test. Some of the best campaigns that I’ve worked on in my career are the ones where we were testing out different messaging and what we would actually do is set up different versions of landing pages and different ads to put out into the live environment and to drive traffic back to you just to find out, what was the reaction? Did we get a better connection? Did we get better results?

That’s very achievable and very easy to do. We have the technology to make that happen for clients. We do that now, where we can direct traffic, we can divide it up into three or four equal parts and test out three or four different messages or logos, or whatever else it is, that we are testing at the same time. And, we’re getting real data back on that, so don’t be afraid to test and be patient while doing the testing, the data that you’re going get is going to be worth it.

John: That makes absolute sense.

I want to thank you both for obviously joining me today and Jon, thank you for helping me host this. Jenn, this was a great conversation. Three words come to mind, the last one, you can catch me it might not be a word but I’m going to make it up.

It’s humanization, personalization and digitization. If I can kind of encapsulate our conversation. Those are some key pillars to think about when we’re producing what brands 40 years ago, you might have seen it come out in, let’s say the design of a car or like you said Jon, the mark.

But, really today I think it’s expanded to where this is now a personalized experience for a lot of people. When I open a box and I see amazing packaging, that makes me feel something or see that logo on the side of a box. That’s an extension of that brand that humanizes it so it’s personal to me. And, I think that’s really something that’s important. Ultimately, delivering is extremely important in how you talk to the right people. But, I think if I can take anything away from what we’ve talked about today, it’s make sure that you start and you start at the beginning and do the right steps. You take the time to invest in building your brand and your messaging as you’ve said, Jenn, and then, Jon, building off of that, that’s where you take it and you test. You ideate and you measure and you come back to build a full experience to ultimately not just talk about products, benefits and services but you’re actually delivering an experience for your customers and bringing them into your ecosystem.

Thank you again both for joining me today, don’t forget to subscribe in the comment section in the link below. We’ll be back and maybe we’ll even expand on this conversation because now we’ve kind of opened this treasure box and there’s so much more we can go into. So thank you so much for coming on board today to The Life is Digital podcast. Have a great week and we’ll see you soon.

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