Mind the Gap
Assessing What’s Missing on the Brand
WE’ VE WALKED THROUGH all the essential building blocks of the
experience effect and we’ve even described how we can make
sure we own it. It’s time to get to work.
Those who are launching a brand for the first time will be fac-
ing very different challenges than those with an established brand.
For a new brand that is just about to hit the marketplace, in some
ways it is easier to build the experience effect than for an estab-
lished brand, and in some ways it is much harder.
For new brands, the best part is starting from scratch. There
are no preconceived notions about what’s right and what’s wrong,
or at least not as many. And there are not as many voices point-
ing out what’s already been done and what can’t possibly work.
This makes a marketer’s job much easier in some ways. When
starting from scratch, there’s a clean slate. No baggage, less
drama, and fewer arbitrary rules. A marketer’s dream, some might
say. For a new brand, simply start from the beginning of the
process and step through it as we’ve been outlining, beginning
with defining the brand.
While I won’t pretend that this book is the be-all and end-all
for marketers, the experience effect process that we’ve been dis-
cussing will get a new brand to a pretty good place. At least that’s
the goal—whether the brand is a new consumer packaged good,
retail store, clothing line, restaurant, or even a small business.
Keep in mind that starting fresh
means that everything must be done
for the first time, and that’s no small
task. Nothing exists, so everything has
to be created, along every single
touchpoint. And there might not be
much existing research to help skip a
step or two. When everything is new,
we have to define the brand, understand the consumer, and map
out the touchpoints. We need to unfold the entire process, which is
a lot of work.
When managing an existing brand, however, at least some of
that work is done or is in progress. Depending on how long the
brand has been around, there may be years of consumer research
studies, brand tracking results, and marketing analyses that can
provide a brand manager with a huge head start. There’s no ben-
efit of a clean slate, of course, but a history of market results can
certainly advance the process.
Having said all this, beginning the process is more or less the
same regardless of the brand’s tenure. We need to outline our
goals in either scenario. What are we trying to accomplish? We
192 The Experience Effect
When everything is
new, we have to define
the brand, understand
the consumer, and map
out the touchpoints.
need to create a quick list of what we want the experience effect
to do. This is the best way to start.
For a new brand, are you trying to innovate and steal market
share from a vulnerable leader within your category? For an estab-
lished brand, are you trying to update the offerings and keep the
brand contemporary? Or does the brand need a wholesale rein-
vention to stay current? I’ve learned that the best way to start any-
thing is to outline the goals. We can’t get started unless we know
what we are trying to do.
Keep the goals simple so we’ll know when we’ve reached
them. If it is overly complicated, we’ll spend all our time writing
goals and no time actually attaining them! Commit the goals to
paper and make them real for greater clarity.
We often forget to state our goals up front, which I believe is
half the battle. We dive right in and start solving, before we even
know what we are solving for. We start acting before we know
why. I’ve seen it all too often. Even in business meetings, I find
that team members often forget to communicate up front the
goals of the meeting. To be efficient and productive, in meetings
or in developing marketing programs, start everything with the
goals. Then everyone involved will know where the process
should end up, and they will know why they are working so hard.
Once we outline the goals, it’s time for an assessment of the
brand and its touchpoints. How far from the goals is the brand
right now? Are we talking little tweaks or are we heading toward
a whole new approach?
Goals must be clear and simple if we want to accomplish
them. Some examples could include:
• Be the market leader in the segment
• Attract a new consumer target market
• Stem share losses
193CHAPTER 14 Mind the Gap