“Surprise & Delight” vs. “Tried & True” Branding

All the emphasis on having consumer-facing brands “surprise and delight” their customers isn’t what many people are looking for at all.

surprise surpriseIn the interactive age, what we hear often is that companies and brands need to go beyond simply offering a high-quality product.

Many companies and brands have the notion that they should strive to engender a kind of “personal” relationship with customers – so that consumers will develop the same kinds of feelings for brands as they have with their close friends.

How true is this?

One marketing company decided to find out.  Toronto-based virtual agent technology firm IntelliResponse surveyed ~1,000 online consumers in the United States earlier this year.

When asked what sort of relationship they would prefer to have with the companies whose products and services they purchase, here’s how the percentages broke for these respondents:

  • Prefer a “friendship” where they get personalized service:  ~24% 
  • Prefer a “transactional” relationship where they receive efficient service and that’s all:  ~59% 
  • Prefer both equally:  ~17% 

Evidently, “boringly consistently good” beats “surprisingly delightful” far more often – assuming the company is minding its Ps and Qs when it comes to product quality.

Here’s what else consumers are seeking:  They want to be able to get the same information and answers from a company’s desktop or mobile website … online portal … or social media sites as they do from speaking with company representatives over the phone.

The IntelliResponse survey found that two-thirds of the respondents will go to a company’s website first when seeking out information regarding a product or service – so the answers better be there or the brand risks consumer disappointment.

The takeaway is this:  No matter how much breathless reporting there is about this “surprising” social media campaign or that “delightful” interactive contest … the majority of consumers continue to view companies and brands the way they have for 100 years:  Companies are merely the vehicle by which they can acquire the goods they need.

Puzzle piecesRather than spending undue energy trying to make the interactive world “fun” or “sticky” for customers, companies should focus on the basic work of delivering products, information and answers that are easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to act on.

And related to that — make sure support systems (and support people) are in place so that customers can get any problems or issues solved with a minimum of time or hassle.

Do those things well, and companies will naturally please the vast majority of their current and future customers.

Everything else is just window-dressing.

2 thoughts on ““Surprise & Delight” vs. “Tried & True” Branding

  1. I wish the tried and trusted were what the name promises.

    In an increasing number of case, unfortunately, this is marketing fiction. Especially household-name companies, which work ever harder at making their products . . . ever cheaper. Not only to save fractions of pennies a pop, but also to make the products serve us less well and gradually lower customer expectations.

    At times it seems that the R&D millions to make things bad can’t possibly pay off … but then there is the perverse purchasing incentive factor of frustration. Happy people buy less junk, while frustrated people will keep barking louder and louder — up the wrong tree.

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