When appealing to everybody, you appeal to nobody

Nothing ruins a dining experience for me quite like receiving this dreaded response to my drink order: “We only have Pepsi. Is that ok, instead?” I will vehemently insist on water if I can’t have a Diet Coke. Perhaps I get this from my grandmother, who collects vintage Coke paraphernalia and has it ubiquitously displayed throughout her house. Anyone reading this article should know the importance of consistent and reinforced branding. As a brand begins to personify a company or its products, the aim is to recreate that fierce loyalty inspired by a brand such as Coca Cola.

Today’s market introduces the added element and new challenge of customization. Customers now prefer a personalized product and user experience; they dictate what channels of communication are utilized and what platforms they want to make purchases from. The opened lines of communication allow customers to tell tell you (and everybody else) what they want, how they want it, and most importantly, when you’ve messed up. Essentially, the collective voice is saying ‘Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all.’

This fundamental shift in power from business to consumer has created a unique problem: finding the balance between consistency and personalization. Customization and the allure of being everything to everybody can lead to a chaotic, incompatible brand, confusing and alienating consumers.  As business begin to shift to a customer-centric model, it is imperative that one stays identifiably adherent to their own brands while still catering to individuals’ needs. The results may be targeted Facebook ads, cross platform accessibility and remembrance of customer preferences through advanced CRM systems and big data. However, the companies that succeed will be those who master these customization techniques while maintaining the personality, voice and image of the overarching brand.

Kathy Eckel