Service companies, commercial organizations that do not sell CPG retail products, are the least likely to have a brand strategy, yet are the most likely to need one. I worked at ad agencies for many years and as my dad used to say about the business “the overhead went up and down in the elevator every day,” meaning it’s a people business. When you’re selling people and their output, it’s hard to differentiate one company from another.
A brand strategy (an organizing framework for product, experience and messaging) helps service company owners and chiefs put into place a codified service delivery that elevates customer experience. One that is replicable.
The conundrum occurs when the brand planner discovers that the customer care-abouts don’t align with the brand good-ats. If the brand is really good at say “expensive food” and the local customers want “inexpensive food,” something has to give. Either with the targeting or the cost of goods.
Problem is, most service economy brands just focus on with good-ats, not particularly caring about the care-abouts. And service companies can’t easily reformulate, not the way a packaged goods company might.
Understanding good-ats and care-abouts in the service industry is sometimes more akin to anthropological field work than business planning. Certainly pairing the findings down to brand strategy size (one claim, three proof planks) is.
Service company brand strategy is the future of brand planning and the field is wide open.