Customer Experience & Brand

Customer experience and brand – how do these two things relate to each other? And why is this seemingly straightforward question so hard to answer? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

Brand and Customer Experience have a rocky history that even includes a few coup attempts. It’s all very Game Of Thrones. And even when they’re not at each other’s throats, they’re barely talking to each other. And yet, these two things are intimately connected. And—this is the crucial bit—better together than apart. Kind of like Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham.

So where does all this confusion and conflict come from? The root cause is a combination of org charts and competing points-of-view. From a strategic perspective, things are pretty clear. The brand lives upstream from the customer experience and gives it direction: “Brand is a promise kept, and CX is key in keeping that promise.”

Here’s where the org chart enters the picture. Historically, the brand has lived within a single department: marketing. But the customer experience is a much bigger, broader thing. It encompasses every interaction with customers, across many departments —marketing, sales, product service, etc.

Customer experience professionals typically don’t have a background in (or a real understanding of) brand. And are often very quick to point out that what they do isn’t marketing. Thus the divide. 

Brand sits upstream of CX, but the brand’s owners are unable to reinforce its translation into the customer experience. And those in charge of the CX see marketing—and, by extension, brand—as a smaller, downstream thing.

Thankfully there are signs that the two sides are finding their way back to each other. This recent HBR piece reminds us that CX isn’t just about removing friction–it’s also about creating something distinctive and unique. Side note: To be clear, getting rid of friction remains a most noble mission.

Also, Forrester created a maturity model for creating harmony between brand and CX (though we wish they hadn’t coined a new acronym in the process). It gives us hope to see these two domains transcending petty differences and coming together for the greater good. Who knows, maybe a Fleetwood Mac reunion is next?

Issue #124
Aug 8, 2021

Further Reading