Recently, I’ve been working with a group of entrepreneurs to help them drive a branded customer experience at each of their businesses. In prior working sessions, those leaders and I defined the optimal customer experience in the context of their respective mission, vision, and values. We also clarified brand personality, looked at core customer segments, and examined each company’s customer journey through the lens of their key customer groups.
During my last interaction with these business executives, I asked each of them to bring ten recent emails they had written, ten emails written by their team members for customer consumption, company blogs, and social media posts. We also pulled up their websites and the websites of their direct competitors as additional input for our consideration.
The point of collecting and examining varied brand communications is to look at the concept of brand voice and whether each brand differentiated itself in the way it communicates.
Let me give you a couple of examples of brand voice from brands with whom I’ve worked and written books about, such as The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and Wow. Alex Dent, a team member at Zappos (a brand that has a bit of the jester brand archetype in it), writes the following in a recent blog post:
Even for true romantics, it can all feel a bit cliché. But you know what relationship is never cringe-worthy on the ‘gram? The relationship between you and your pup.
Here are some totally swoon-worthy ideas for taking your doggo/human relationship to the next level.
As I like to say when it comes to branded customer experiences – that is soooooo Zappos.
Let’s contrast that post with a blog from the team at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s Leadership Center (a brand with elements of a magician archetype). That post reads as follows:
A busy executive decided she was going to invest some of her precious leisure time (and a sizable financial investment) in a lovely new French designer purse. As she was looking forward to enjoying the thrill of the shopping experience, she decided to head to her favorite designer’s retail boutique.
Not only does the content of the Zappos and the Ritz-Carlton posts differentiate based on target audience but the voice used in each post is completely congruent with the branded customer experience designed into every communication contact.
In my book, The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, I go into detail with regard to the Ritz-Carlton’s optimal guest experience. That desired experience is reflected in the brand’s credo – a portion of which reads:
We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance.
Early in the brand’s history, leaders at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel company provided behavioral guidance to team members so that they can communicate with the Ritz-Carlton brand voice. That guidance was captured in a culture tool referred to as the service basics. One of those basics read:
Use the proper vocabulary with our guests. (Use words like – “Good Morning,” “Certainly,” “I’ll be happy to,” and “My pleasure.”
Over time leaders at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company became less prescriptive and changed their service basics into service values. One value that relates most to brand voice reads:
I am proud of my professional appearance, language, and behavior.
Professional appearance, language, and behavior are necessary to deliver a refined guest experience. At Zappos, the brand voice, by contrast, supports a playful wow experience where the end result is a happy as opposed to a refined experience.
Why don’t you gather-up your brand documents, your core cultural elements, and a variety of communications flowing through your channels? In the process, put yourself in the position of your key stakeholders (team members, customers, vendors, etc.). Ask yourself, is what I share with my team members on-brand communication? Does our communication have a consistent voice? Does our voice differentiate us from our competitors and does it support our brand personality and optimal customer experience?
Should you need a little help developing or assessing your brand voice or optimal customer experience, we’re here for you! Simply reach out to set up a time for us to listen for your brand voice.