The 2011 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index underscores the role of "authentic innovation" in delighting customers.
It also underscores several themes I hold near and dear to my thinking when designing brand strategies.
First, it's not about the product or service per se. It's about the total experience. Every interaction defines the brand. The packaging. How the phone is answered. The quality of the customer service people (are they brand ambassadors or employees?). The website. Events. You name it, the list goes on. Why? Because experiences turn perceptions into deeply-held beliefs. (At BD'M, our approach to Persuasion Planning demands that we think through the types of experiences – not just messages – we want to create. After all, brands are judged on what they do, not just on what they say.)
Second, it's about "authentic innovation." I've written before about innovation that solves real customers needs, not just gadgets and gizmos for the sake of gadgets and gizmos. Innovation is not the domain of the lone genius, it is a highly collaborative process that starts and ends with customer empathy.
Check out Andy Lark's post on this topic, through the lens of Net Promoter Score – the metric that leaves uninspiring brands no room to hide.