by Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) Words which rhyme, pictures which please the eye and stories which capture the heart are what grab our attention and help us make an action decision, whether it’s to visit the physical store or go online. But building a brand takes more — the real job is in everything that the company does.

Therefore, brand-building is more what you do than what you say or what you say you’ll do. So where should companies really focus? The detail is in the customer experience.

Brand messages are essentially promises, and experiences are what we measure those promises against. Bad brand experiences contradict the brand promise (messaging in the form of a campaign), and the opposite — positive brand experiences — reaffirm and strengthen a brand promise.

What should brands, brand managers and brand stakeholder do?

Brands and brand managers should hold all partners accountable. If the real job is in everything that the company or brand does, this means that the lines of accountability (if they aren’t already) need to be blurred between partner agencies. While the lead advertising agency is responsible for the brand positioning, messaging and the overall campaigns, the PR agency for creating traction for those campaigns, and the digital agency for all things digital, everyone needs to be accountable for brand success.

While partners are responsible for certain or specific functions of brand marketing and building, everyone should be concerned about the overall effort, and not compartmentalise success. A greatly communicated campaign (brand promise) that is compromised by a bad customer experience, which could be a PR disaster (brand contradiction), should be everyone’s concern. This calls for consistent collaboration among different agency partners.

Brand-building doesn’t start with a brief and end with a launch; once a campaign has begun everyone needs to ensure that all customer touchpoints that have been identified are consistent in delivering the message ie brand promise.

We don’t say brands into success; we do brands into success

Campaigns that capture our hearts and imagination are great, as they should, but if the actions contradict the promise, you know what is said love: it’s all in what you do. FNB can talk ‘help’ all it wants, but if customer feel that they haven’t been helped, this may prove to be more detrimental to the brand.

Think carefully about brand promises as this will need to be carried out across all customer touchpoints. A brand that has no ATL messaging (promise) yet delivers exceptional experiences in-store or online may achieve more success than a brand that has contradicting messages spread across all channels. In fact, having messages all over the place with contradicting experiences may create compounded problems as the consumer takeout about the bad experience may be exacerbated by the brand being perceived as a liar.

The formula for how to build or kill a brand quickly

  • Brand promise + bad brand experience = brand that lies = a quick way to kill a brand
  • Brand promise + good brand experience = truthful brand = a quick way to build a brand

As marketers, brand custodians and brand managers, we tend to think that consumers are stupid; they’re not. They never forget. An entrenched bad experience will always be mirrored with all new communication, with the result being that, whatever the company says, it won’t hold any value as the experience will outweigh and overshadow any future promises (messaging).

Do the right thing.


Bogosi MotshegwaBogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) truly believes that advertising can really change the world. Every single day he tries to prove this. He shares his thoughts on the industry and sometimes has unconventional views. Bogosi is the co-founder of Melanoid Éclat (for finding black entrepreneurs), a committee member of AMASA, an Advisory Council member and guest speaker at Vega, and also does speaker management at TEDxJohannesburg. He is currently a strategic planner at Net#work BBDO. He contributes the monthly column, “Adnalysis”, which analyses adland from a strategist’s point of view, to

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