Humanity is the new premium

Over this festive period, I’ve been contemplating what my response will be to a premium brand not living up to its brand promises.

The situation looks like this. A few weeks before Christmas I came across a company that sold very premium adventure gear for those who were into the ‘extreme outdoors’. The brand looked amazing, the products too, and because of its association with the special forces, I knew it would be a brand my son would love.

Despite the high price tag, I decided to buy one of the products for him as a Christmas present (one of the smaller items in the range). With an estimated delivery date of between 3-5 working days, I was well in time to receive it before Christmas, having placed the order on the 13th December.

However, to date, it still has not arrived. And the response from them to all the customers who are experiencing the same issue came in the form of this automated message:

We’re a small team dealing with a large volume of queries and are currently battling a host of internal and external snags that are slowing our usual processes – think software, hardware, courier strikes etc. It’s that crazy time of year!

Yeah ok I get it. But I don’t think it appeased customer frustrations as the 25th December was looming ever closer.

After a week, I emailed them again and got the same automated response. A few days later, yep, the same scenario! …

And then, why oh why was I still receiving messages inviting me to: hurry and complete your Christmas shopping mission before midnight tonight (19th December) to receive your order before Christmas … when my current order was far from fulfilled??

Now, despite what it may seem, this is not a blog to just rant, but to look at the consequences for a young brand who’s trying to build it’s reputation on an ethos of – Honesty. Integrity. Loyalty.

A brand promise is nothing if it’s not followed through with action. Today’s consumers build their understanding of brands from each interaction with that organisation. When a brand breaks its promise, it also shatters customer trust which can lead to plenty of dangerous negative reviews, damaged reputation and even a loss in revenue.

If you are a company that is building a brand, having outstanding products with a great story and a sexy website alone won’t cut it!

In today’s fast paced, over-automated and digitally-driven society, Humanity is the new premium. Internet businesses cannot afford to be faceless entities. They need to connect with audiences on a much greater level.

Trust is the foundation and prerequisite for obtaining deeper engagement with customers who want brands to do what they promise, and actually deliver on the fundamental brand promise, consistently, over time.

For this particular company, I believe this will probably just be a blip that they will recover from. And for their sake – I do hope so. But it’s worth them remembering that promises that are kept, strengthen a brand, but broken promises diminish and set the stage for a long or even impossible come-back.

Other thoughts.

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