Driving into work the other day we read a statement signwritten on the rear of a courtesy car. Nothing new about that yet the words used pin-pointed precisely the importance of understanding your business brand.
Enjoy the Jaguar experience even if you don't drive one
To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what the Jaguar experience is as I've never owned one and, come to think of it, I'm not even sure I've ever sat in one. But never mind, I have a fair idea of what the Jaguar brand is and, if I do want the Jaguar experience, all I need to do is call the Jaguar dealership or go visit their website and I'll immediately be treated with the Jaguar experience, right? No, wrong :-(
Jaguars were once the blaggers' getaway car of choice, they look sleek, employ engines that are built to deliver power first and economy second. My unshakeable perception of the Jaguar driver, however, is that of a company director wanting a car that looks equally good in the car park of the company or the golf club; a car with a large boot in which to carry a set of golf clubs or a few suitcases for a family weekend away in the country. Jaguar has a racing heritage and still participate in endurance races such as Le Mans so the touring car and/or getaway car image remains stuck with me.
Rightly or wrongly, that's what I understand the Jaguar brand to be yet, whatever my perception is, I'll never actually be wrong because this is what a brand ultimately is; the sum total of my experiences of the company, their reputation, their products, their services and their people.
The sign-written Ford Focus had done its job; I really wanted to know what the Jaguar experience was so, after parking at Old Batford Mill, I unplugged my iPhone to go browse the car dealer's website. To its credit, the car dealer's website recognised I was using a mobile device; the website asked me if I'd like to download their iPhone app, I chose not to and so the website chose to show me a company logo and an online form that allowed me to choose a used car. That was all. So this is the Jaguar experience. Nothing to do with sleek getaways but merely a used car sales pitch.
Tim Gosling, our landlord at Old Batford Mill, has a belief that a brand is best described as the show, tell and do; a brand is not only how a business presents itself visually but also everything the business and its people say and do. Therefore, the website of the car dealership in question told me that the Jaguar experience is merely about selling cars. My Jaguar experience didn't underpin the prestigious getaway car heritage. This Jaguar experience wasn't about knowingly rewarding myself with a car that is a step-up from the family hatchback or people carrier. My Jaguar experience wasn't about receiving a level of customer service fitting of a prestige marque. The Jaguar experience failed to make me want to feel part of a premium brand, it didn't allow me to look at photos and specifications of the Jaguar I should want to own next. The website I viewed didn't give me the Jaguar experience that I was expecting and, therefore, the brand is now all the worse for it. The website defined for me in just one word what the Jaguar brand is all about: sales.
As a premium quality brand, the Jaguar experience has to be so much better than the rest of the pack. Had the website in question been that of a Ford dealership then this blog post would never have been written because: 1) I would never have felt compelled to go visit the website of a Ford dealership; 2) even if I had visited the website of a Ford dealer it wouldn't have bothered me if I'd have only seen a used car selection form because my expectations wouldn't have been particularly high in the first place.
In marketing businesses, how often do we set out to suggest the kind of customer experience that clients will receive? How often do we not live up to our own billing? More to the point, what kind of experience do our Customers expect to receive?
Building a brand isn't simply about paying out for a fancy logo or brand identity; building a brand is understanding what the market expects then positioning and acting accordingly. Regardless of whether your business is positioned at the high end or the low end of the market if you understand your Customers' expectations then you'll know exactly how much or how little you have to do in order to exceed their expectations, secure their business and communicate your own brand experience.