In 1989 Wally Olins published his book Corporate Identity, which quickly became the seminal work in the world of branding. It can be argued that Wally Olins, who founded the world’s first design agency in 1965, changed the way organisations actually thought about themselves.
Olins’ pioneering work in Corporate Identity challenged traditional ideas on branding, which had been controlled by the advertising industry. Advertising communicated a manipulated image of organisations but did not reflect who they really were or what they stood for. It was all about selling a product and not about creating long-term loyalty and advocacy.
The 80’s saw the advent of many design consultancies providing newly merged corporations or large manufacturing groups with organisational structures for branding using visual design and physical environment to communicate values and promote brand loyalty. Another key factor to emerge at this stage was the influence of behaviours and actions in the communication of brand values.
Much of this identity consultancy shares synergies with the work we are doing today with CX as a way to promote brand values, yet there is a fundamental difference. Even though identity projects would begin with carefully executed stakeholder perceptions studies, including select customer interviews, the net results centred on the opinions of a team of experts. At the end of the day the customer’s opinion was secondary. Customer opinion was valued in terms of how they viewed the organisation but not what the customer expected, wanted or needed from the organisation. In other words the focus was 100% Inside-out. In recent years, marketing communication has made a 360º turn, where measuring, interpreting and acting on customers’ emotions can prove to be a very successful business strategy.
Technology has a large part to play in this change with the advent of Social Media, data analytics, smart phones etc. However technology will not produce results without the input of human feedback. Voice of Customer is an incredible resource. Customers will tell you what they want, what they like, what they don’t like. Never before have organisations had access to such direct and focused data. The challenge now is to embrace that resource and apply it to the daily routine where discussions on customers, their opinions, needs and wants become fully incorporated into regular business practice. This Outside-in approach is the way forward where customer opinion becomes the heart of the organisation.