To really stand out and make your mark as a service-based entrepreneur, you absolutely need to be focusing on designing a great brand experience that delights your clients. Better yet, create an experience around your brand that turns your audience into loyal fans before they’ve even hired you so you can start client relationships from a really strong place.
To create brand loyalty, build long-term connections, and earn a solid reputation, you need to do more than just deliver great results to your clients. You also need to take care of them throughout the entire process of them working with you.
What is a brand experience?
A brand experience is the journey that a person takes from the moment they first come into contact with your business and brand, through to the process of working with you as they use your services. It’s marked by every touchpoint between you and your clients — your marketing, your website, your on-boarding process, delivery of your services and more.
People like to feel a connection to the businesses they work with. They want to feel listened to and cared for. This is why consciously designing your brand experience is so important for your business. By doing so, you can make sure that the journey your clients are taking with you aligns with your values and the way you want your clients to feel.
If you’re not carefully considering the steps your clients take during the process of working with you, you may not realise that there are moments where the experience they’re having is inconsistent, confusing or letting them down in some way.
More than a “client” experience
I prefer the term brand experience over the similar client/customer experience because I don’t think you should focus on how people connect with your brand only after they start paying you money. The lead-up is also a critical part of building that connection that wins you clients in the first place.
Those early moments when someone first learns about your business by seeing content you’ve posted or landing on your website are important parts of their journey that influences the way they’ll feel about your brand. It’s in these initial stages when they’re still coming to know what you’re all about that set the tone for any future relationship.
You’ve got to deliver on your promises
Each time you attract the attention of a potential client, they’ve been drawn by some sort of promise that you’ve made. For example, you may have communicated promises regarding:
- the results you can deliver
- the way you’re different than your competitors
- how they (your clients) will be treated
Every new prospective client brings a level of expectation build on their experience of your brand so far. In order to build and maintain a good relationship with that prospect and gain them as a (hopefully long-term) client, you need to deliver on those expectations. You need to fulfil the promises you’ve made.
Now, a promise you’ve made might not be something you’ve said in words. It may be something as simple as the type of images you’ve used on your website, or a case study you’ve shown. The promises you make in your business are themselves coming from the brand experience you’re building. It becomes a matter or making sure the experience remains consistent throughout the client’s journey.
Your brand experience IS your brand
Designing your brand experience is a key part of establishing your brand in general. It’s through their experiences that your audience build an impression of what your business is about and how they feel about it (and remember, their impression of you IS your brand — for more, check out my post “What is branding and why is it important?”).
All the internal branding you do in your business (like choosing your core brand values, defining your purpose and developing your message) is shared with your audience through the way they experience your brand. Every bit of contact they have with your business — by browsing your website, reading your marketing emails, receiving a proposal, etc. — is colouring their impression of your business and expanding their understanding of what your brand is all about.
And this is why consistency is so important. At every point along your client’s journey, you want to make sure you’re setting the right tone and sharing the right message. If you’re creating a luxury brand, for example, every touchpoint needs to feel luxurious. In fact, it’s more than that — it needs to feel like YOUR luxury brand. You do this through your visuals and the language you use. Take ownership of how people experience your brand and you can influence the way they feel about you.
Improving brand experience improves brand loyalty
It makes sense, right? The better their experience, the more likely your clients are to stick around. Again, it’s simply not enough to be able to deliver good results. You want to make the entire process of working with you enjoyable for your clients so that they remember you, they recommend you and they come back again and again.
There’s a lot of power in repeat clients — you don’t have to start from scratch when building a relationship with them, which takes time and money. If someone knows, likes, and trusts your brand, chances are good that they’ll become loyal clients who couldn’t imagine working with anyone else. You do this by making sure their brand experience is a high quality one that matches their expectations.
Better still, aim to exceed their expectations and delight your clients. It’s best to under-promise and over-deliver in your brand experience and really tap into the emotional side of the client relationships you foster. People won’t necessarily remember the exact steps of your process or the things you say — but they will remember how they felt and it’s those positive feelings that will encourage them to come back.
How to improve your brand experience
If clients tend not to return to you for your services after working with you once (i.e. you don’t have great brand loyalty with your audience) then improving your brand experience is something you should certainly look into. In fact, every business owner should be continually improving their services, regardless of how much their clients like their work.
Collect feedback from clients and use it to pinpoint the parts of your brand experience that need some work. Ask if there are any parts of your process that left your clients feeling confused or even irritated. Perhaps your on-boarding process needs some finessing. Or the way you communicate with clients is letting you down.
Ultimately, every part of your brand experience should be purpose-driven. There should be a clear reason why you do something or why you send clients along a certain path in their journey. And support everything you do with your brand message. There should be meaning behind each action and it comes back to what your brand stands for and the way you want your clients to feel.
Show that you care and be empathetic. This doesn’t have to be super intensive either. It can be as simple as saying thanks or asking a client if there’s anything more they need from you. Show your clients that you genuinely want to help and serve them.
You want your brand experience to be a defining part of what sets your brand apart. After all, it’s how you communicate your message, values and personality to your audience. Build consistency through a strong design language that establishes the tone you’re aiming for and let’s your clients know they’re in the right place.
The look of your brand plays a big role in the experience of your clients. You should have a strong visual identity that portrays the kind of personality you want to develop and attracts the kind of clients you’re aiming for. If you’d like help creating your brand identity, click here to learn about working with me.
Looking for more content? Try these!
- How to build brand awareness organically in 4 steps
- Is a lack of brand strategy holding your business back
- Is your website welcoming new leads to your brand?
- Why brand identity is important for your business
- How to develop a brand voice that sells your services
- Discovering your “why” and how it drives your business to success