home Marketing Brand Experience vs Customer Experience: What’s the difference?

Brand Experience vs Customer Experience: What’s the difference?

The difference between Brand Experience (BX) and Customer Experience (CX) is often unclear and confusing. Each has a role to play in the reputation and success of your business. They are closely connected, where the success of one is very much dependent on the other. They are, however, two distinct functions.  

A brand is a name, image or symbol that identifies an organisation or its products and services, distinguishing it from its competitors.

BX is the totality of all sensations, emotions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions and actions people associate, overtime, with a brand.  BX is about making promises. According Dipanjan Chatterjee, Vice President and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, the brand owns the essence of the company and sets the tone of the  promise  it makes to consumers.

Customer experience refers to the perception of specific interactions a customer has with a brand in the use of its products and services.  BX caters to a broader audience than just customers. It’s inclusive of all stakeholders in the business; partners, employees, shareholders as well as the general public and the broader community.

Making and keeping promises

If BX is about making promises, CX is about keeping them. Chatterjee states, “A poor promise will starve a great experience. A poor experience will break a great promise. And either will render the brand unfit to compete”.

While the brand team delivers promises to the market to acquire new customers, the CX team carries the responsibility of delivering that value and the experience the customer was promised. “Whether it’s signing up for a service such as a mobile phone contract or buying a new BMW, the relationship between the brand and the customer becomes binding”, asserts Chatterjee.

BX is long term, CX is immediate

Brand experience is a long-term strategy that evolves overtime, where consumers continuously engage with the brand experience. The brand experience encourages consumers to see the business in a certain way.

The customer experience is much more immediate. If a customer can’t navigate a ecommerce website because the customer journey is complicated and bulky, that creates an immediate reaction. The result is a lost customer, or at the very least, a frustrated customer.

Aligning BX with CX

In making a purchasing decision about a brand, customers will combine and connect every relevant interaction, bit of information or message, to inform their decision. In a customer’s mind everything has been woven together. But when organisations, as Chatterjee highlights, design their marketing and CX strategies, they often lose site of this connection.

In a recent article Amanda Forshew explains how marketing is focused on delivering messages about the brand proposition and employing marketing and communication strategies to build consumer expectations around the brand. CX is focused on delivering the customer experience, primarily through service. Unfortunately, the two strategies have been developed in isolation and are frequently siloed.

These silos need to be removed and greater collaboration fostered between the teams working on the brand experience and those working on the customer experience.

Crucial to aligning brand and CX is having a clear understanding of what the brand stands for and its purpose. “Every brand ought to have a core belief system that translates into personality attributes and emotional benefits. These are the starting blocks for experience design”, says Chatterjee. This purpose needs to be felt and lived by everyone within the organisation and aligned with the customer segment the organisation is targetting. For example, the brand experience of discount airlines is specifically targeted at a particular customer segment and delivers an experience that differentiates them from full service airlines. When the experience clearly validates the promise, the expectations of customers should align.

Problems occur if marketing has created a brand identity which might look fabulous, but it doesn’t actually reflect the organisation.  If reality of the experience customers have with the organisation does not live up to the promise made by the brand, then the reputation connected to the brand will be damaged. BX and CX are linked and play equally important roles for companies. A company’s brand and its relationship to its customers are two of the most valuable assets it can own. Brands need to make a coherent and sincere promise; and customer experience needs to adhere to that brand story, consistently across all touch points.

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.