We Are Co-Producers, You and I.
In the book, Creating Powerful Brands, Chernatony, McDonald and Wallace do a lot to resolve the lack of cohesion often present between marketing and brand(ing). They then expound on the various types of brands and how marketing ought to be pursued within each for the achieving of a powerful brand worthy of garnering customer loyalty and charging a premium for its product or service.
The chapter on Service Brands is of particular interest to me, given that I work within a service brand, though many could argue that we have clearly defined products as well. I won’t split those hairs in this discussion, and will just say that I would agree with you if you argue for that. Whiteboard very much could be a service or a product brand, and either direction you take it the point to be made here is that there are many similarities.
The similarity that is particularly interesting to me is that within both a product and service brand, the consumer and the producer are both co-producers. If you are familiar with Lean Startup or Sprint methodology and product development, then you probably understand where we are going already. I needed a bit more convincing after I read this:
While goods are generally produced, then sold and finally consumed, most services are sold first, then simultaneously produced and consumed. The consumer is present while the service is being produced and needs to participate in the production process.
Because this is the case the authors explain that consumers need to be assured of their role and directed clearly throughout the process. The significance of this is the very perception of your brand. Because there are so many touch points within a service industry and often with many different employees, it is important to cultivate (customer) or user perception throughout the entire experience. As Chernatony puts it, “the sales person is often the brand personified”. The last perception of the brand (or the employee) is often the one that sticks.
Because of this, in the book the authors cite various examples of brands working to affect and even coerce the customers mood throughout their interaction with the brand so that they are left with a pleasant taste when they leave. This ranges as anything from giving employees perfumes and colognes, snappy outfits, or even training them on how to affectively manage body language and facial expressions, which they found “were strongly linked to the consumer’s eventual assessment of the service encounter and the organization in general”.
At Whiteboard, we are learning that in many ways at the onset of a new client relationship we have to be groomed into a “good firm/ agency” and they have to be groomed into a “good client”. Many times neither of our teams are completely prepared after having only met in person once or over a few of Google hangouts to launch into a project that will become an expression of your brand to thousands and thousands of individuals.
The relationships between our teams require grooming and the expectations between us require clarifying, and for this reason we try our best to lead with questions, rather than answers. We are learning that the question, “What do you want?” is often the most helpful one to have answered. One of the things that differentiates Whiteboard is our belief and partnership that with our clients and their vision. We partner with their dreams, making them our own, and for this reason we take great efforts to partner with individuals and organizations that we believe in.
When someone works with Whiteboard, they are a co-producer with our designers, our developers, our copywriters, and our brand and marketing strategists. We don’t seek to point a place off in the distance and say, “That is where you (we) are going.” instead, we seek to ask, “What do you want?”, as they bat an eye and look sheepish we say again, “No, really. What do you want?”
Dream with us.