Marketers aim to manage brands effectively, but what exactly does that mean? Surely successful brands manage themselves? Do customers not decide the terms of a relationship with specific brands? In answer to these two questions: yes and yes. At least that is how successful marketers make it appear. This is all achieved by excelling at brand engagement.
Encouraging repeat or new customers to engage with a brand is not as straightforward as it may seem, but there are a number of techniques marketers can employ to stir interest in a service or product. Some methods are extremely obvious and others take are more subtle approach. The idea is to find what works best for a particular brand and continue with that method.
Brand engagement describes how a relationship begins, continues to grow and how it keeps the relationship going between an individual and a brand. Though different in a number of ways, engagement can occur through advertising directly, such as when marketers make a conscious effort to repeat a message to consumers. That message could be designed to administer a certain thought or discussion among your target market, such that a shared perception of the brand takes shape.
When a company, product, service or brand has had a strong image established, sentiment can be manipulated with a great deal of ease in a specific direction; for example, Sainsbury’s has established itself as the UK’s premium supermarket, when compared with ASDA, Tesco and other budget-driven stores. But Sainsbury’s is in fact no different from any other supermarket in the UK; it sells pretty much the same goods, but the environment given off in the shop whilst customers are shopping gives a completely different experience compared to he other supermarkets. There is a perception of the quality of goods among customers being better. Sales can then become driven by choice, not price. Meaning customers are not thinking about the Value but more the quality. Sainsbury’s is a typical supermarket where customers interact in a way with the stores brand in which the store is perceived to be of better quality than it competitors, therefore allowing Sainsbury’s to sell the same goods as it competitors at higher prices, although it may no do on every product.
Engagement with brands can generate and emphasise awareness. And awareness is what governs exactly what a brand is able to achieve and what is not possible. Again using Sainsbury’s as an example, in the late 1990’s Sainsbury’s entered a price war with Tesco’s meaning it tried to convince its customers it had become a value driven supermarket, hey even enlisted the help of John Cleese in a failed attempt to convince its customers. Of course, they hadn’t Sainsbury’s made the mistake of trying to advertise its brand in a completely different direction to how its customers perceived it. A lesson Sainsbury’s quickly learnt.
Going by Sainsbury’s example, brand engagement can not only act as a catalyst for success it can also be a restraint to businesses. Peoples perceptions and attitudes are at times impossible to control, however they can be manipulated for example, an online business could attempt to offer a more relaxed and welcoming environment for its customers by doing something as simple as offering games, competitions and engaging content. Providing the changes are not only subtle but also relevant over time the way people view that company is likely to have improved.
The service-profit chain is another aspect of engagement that should not be overlooked, it governs the relationship between satisfaction and profitability (customers) and loyalty and productivity (employees). Basically meaning the better treatment your staff receive the better experience you customer will receive which will mean an increase in the input and output of a company.