So you want to build a brand.
Creating a slew of items to represent your brand can become an inconsistent mess if the brand isn’t defined on the front end. Even if a visual identity is beautifully created and looks really great, there still needs to be a foundational structure that holds everything together when it comes to messaging and the reason that a brand’s identity looks the way it does. Read more on brand identity here if you’re unclear on why it’s the only place to start. If you are confident that your brand position is truthful and differentiating, then bringing it to life is where touchpoints come into play.
Defining and Mapping Touchpoints
A touchpoint, by industry definition, is any interaction between a brand and its audience. This can be an interaction between the organization and an internal team member or most commonly with a potential or current customer. They can range from items that are tactile such as a brochure or billboard to items within the digital sphere like your website or a digital ad that’s served to your ideal customer. Most professionals will list these items first when asked to define their branded touchpoints. More often than not, there are crucial touchpoints with the audience that aren’t attended to from a brand perspective.
Touchpoints that can often fall by the wayside are interactions such as customer service, showcasing charitable contributions, or even tailoring the way that employees interact with customers. As a result, a potential customer could be exposed to a brand through a piece of promotional content and then progress forward in their buying journey just to be confronted with the succeeding touch that doesn’t align with their preconceived perception. In simple language, they filled in the gaps on the personality of the brand and then were proved wrong. Obviously this would be considered a missed opportunity or dropped ball.
With that being said, we recommend that all touchpoints or interactions be thought about critically to ensure alignment with the core essence of a brand. Choosing which touchpoints to create and implement stems from marketing, business development, and brand-building objectives but a good rule of thumb is to realize that less is more. If you simply don’t have the bandwidth to oversee a few dozen moving pieces for your brand then we recommend being decisive and only addressing those touches that will provide the highest impact.
A tool that’s used by branding and marketing professionals is called a touchpoint matrix. An example of this matrix is shown below with examples of various opportunities mapped on an axis from shallow to deep and public to personal. The mix should always be tailored to meet objectives, and by doing so, no two matrices should be identical even from companies who are similar in service offerings or are speaking to similar customers.
If you were to spread out every touchpoint that your organization has across a matrix such as this or more importantly, across a conference table, would the voice or message be consistent? Does every piece of the puzzle seem to belong in the same box? Take a look… trust your gut and eyes. If the answer isn’t a definitive yes, then opening a conversation with a branding agency such as Quill Creative would be a great place to start. Always remember that differentiating your brand from other options in the market and then maintaining consistency will provide a step in the right direction.