Five Steps to Enhancing Your Brand Experience with Brand Touchpoints
written by Susannah Carpenter of Hello Ginger Creative
One of the questions that I ask at the beginning of every branding project is, “What are some of your favorite brands and why?” And time and time again, Kate Spade is near the top of that list. It’s no surprise really, because Kate Spade has created one of the most iconic and recognizable brand experiences in the retail industry. And even if Kate Spade isn’t necessarily my clients’ personal style or taste, it’s easy to recognize and respect how the brand is delivering a consistent client experience, time and time again.
We know that the Kate Spade girl is “quick and curious and playful and strong,” and not just because we’ve seen the quote all over Pinterest. We know that because in everything from their products to their website to their emails to their storefronts to their packaging to their messaging, we see and hear that girl time and time again.
She is colorful and adventurous and she loves to travel and eat cake for breakfast. She wears red and pink and stripes and polka dots, and of course she wears that glorious shade of Kate Spade green. She loves color and sans serif type in all caps and she leaves a little bit of sparkle wherever she goes. By consistently maintaining their visual aesthetics and brand identity in every single consumer interaction, Kate Spade has created one of the most recognizable and consistent brand experiences of our time.
So what can we, as creative business owners, learn from iconic brands like Kate Spade, Apple, and Starbucks? And how can we apply these lessons to our own businesses? Let’s start with the big picture.
How do iconic brands develop a recognizable brand experience?
Once your foundation is defined, you can build a visual brand identity with your logo, alternate logo, submark, color palette, typography and patterns/textures.
But the secret that every iconic brand knows is this: Your brand identity is just the beginning of your overall brand experience.
Your brand experience is everything, from the language you use in your emails and instagram posts, to your perfectly packaged products complete with a ribbon and tissue paper in your brand colors and patterns. It is how you as the business owner presents yourself in public, and how your employees respond to customer emails. It is the scent of the candle that you burn in your store and the fragrance you spritz into your packaging. It is the fonts you use consistently in every single piece of collateral and the ideal customer you are speaking to from your sales page.
“Define what your brand stands for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.” -Simon Mainwaring
The key to an effective brand experience is communicating consistently, over and over again.
This is where Kate Spade has succeeded in achieving one of the most recognizable brands in the world. In addition to creating and defining a unique, colorful, adventurous brand persona, the brand consistently delivers their unique voice, messaging, visual identity and aesthetic across every single brand touchpoint they produce.
What is a brand touchpoint?
A brand touchpoint is any bit of interaction or communication made between a brand and its customers— essentially, all of the places the brand touches the consumer.
Brand touchpoints shape a customer’s perception of a brand. And these perceptions shape brand identity as much as the work of any designer or brand strategist.
Like it or not, brand identity is all about what the customer thinks—not what you think, and not what your designer created for you. So even if you have delved deep and sculpted out a meaningful brand message, and paid money for a beautiful visual brand identity, all of that is essentially meaningless if you are not consistently communicating that message and identity over and over again. Every single form of contact a customer has with your brand needs to be on-point, intentional and effective at communicating your brand message.
Brand touchpoints are the key to a successful brand. When used effectively, they can elevate your brand and generate the brand experience and recognition that you’ve been dreaming of.
How can I use touchpoints to build a recognizable brand experience for my own business?
Take a moment to think about how your customers and potential customers experience your brand. Are you taking advantage of each and every moment that you connect with your customers?
Let’s break it down with five easy steps that will elevate your brand identity and make sure that you are utilizing each of your touchpoints to your advantage.
To make it even easier, we put together a handy PDF of various touchpoints you could be utilizing in your business and your marketing. This is just a small snippet of possibilities — find what applies to your business, as each business is unique.
Download and keep this list in a handy place that you can easily refer back to as you work through updating and developing your brand touchpoints.
1. Identify brand elements that you can infuse into your touchpoints.
Start out by making a list of all brand elements that you currently have in place. This includes tangible, visible elements like your logo, submark, color palette, typography, patterns, textures, icons and graphics, as well as your core brand elements like your mission statement, values, brand voice, persona and story.
2. Identify and improve all existing touchpoints.
Make a list of each and every instance where your brand is interacting with your customers and potential customers. This could be everything from the copy on your website to your instagram bio to the thank you message that is sent automatically after every order. Refer back to our PDF as it may help you trigger something that you currently have in place and forgot about.
Once you have a comprehensive list, go through the following questions for each touchpoint:
Is this effective in conveying your brand message? Does your brand persona and voice come through?
Does it effectively illustrate your visual brand identity? Is there any opportunity to add more of your visual branding elements like brand colors, fonts, patterns or photography?
Does it enhance your brand?
Is it user-friendly?
Does it accurately and easily illustrate what my business provides?
What is my first impression when I come across this touchpoint?
Does this stand out from my competitor’s touchpoints?
Will this attract new customers?
Will this move my existing customers to act?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, ask yourself this: How can each touchpoint be improved? How does it need to be revamped? What can I add to more accurately convey my brand message and identity?
3. Develop new brand touchpoints.
Identify touchpoints you don’t currently have, but that you need, or that you think could be beneficial for your business. Refer to our Brand Touchpoints PDF for ideas.
Make a comprehensive list of new touchpoints that you would like to implement in your brand experience, and refer to the questions from #1 to think about how you can best convey your brand message through each of these new touchpoints.
4. Get feedback from your customers.
Reach out to past, current, and future customers to determine which touchpoints have the greatest impact on their decisions, and to find out what they truly think about your brand. This sounds scary, but the feedback will help you better understand your customers, their brand perception, and how you can craft touchpoints with your customer in mind.
This could be in the form of a quick survey to your email list via Jotform or SurveyMonkey (add in an incentive for a $15 gift card to Starbucks!), or in quick polls on your instagram stories. (don’t forget — that survey is a touchpoint, too!)
Helpful questions might be:
Checklist questions: (These will help you see where to concentrate your efforts.)
In which of the following mediums have you interacted with [your brand]?
Which social media platforms do you use the most?
Open-ended questions: (Leaving these open-ended will ensure that you are getting a true picture of your customer’s perception of your brand and how it stacks up against competitive brands.)
What words would you use to describe [your brand]?
When you think of [your brand], what comes to mind first?
What kind of feelings do you experience when you think about [your brand]?
How would you describe [your brand] to a friend?
What did you like most about working with us?
What could we have done to make your experience even better?
What is the first brand you think of when thinking of [insert product here]?
What are some traits you look for when purchasing [product]?
Use these responses to understand how you can better shape your brand perception and create better experiences for your customer through each touchpoint. Revisit questions #1-3 and see how you can better improve each touchpoint based upon your survey responses.
5. Develop a touchpoint action plan.
Once you have analyzed which touchpoints you have in place, which touchpoints you need, and how each one can be improved or implemented, develop an action plan from highest priority (your most visible touchpoints) to lowest priority (your least visible touchpoints).
Set reasonable goals for yourself on how you can work through these touchpoints. Branded tissue paper and gorgeous branded boxes might sound like a dream come true, but if it’s not in the budget right now, set a reasonable timeline and savings plan for how you can make that happen. Focus on quick, easy fixes that you can update for free like your lead inquiry auto response or your email signature. Piece by piece, your brand experience will start to come together.
6. Be authentic.
Through it all, remember this: Be authentic and intentional in your branding. Yes, Kate Spade has generated brand recognition by communicating consistently, but not by consistently communicating a generic brand identity. You can take the logo off of a Kate Spade storefront, but look at the window displays and walk in that store, and you are still going to know you are in Kate Spade and nowhere else.
Make your brand that kind of unique, then communicate it well.
Hi, I’m Susannah! I am a brand and web designer on a mission to elevate women-owned businesses with powerful branding and websites that convert. With over a decade of professional design and marketing experience, I know what truly drives customers to connect with and invest in a brand — and it’s not just a pretty design. It’s how well you understand the people you’re trying to help.
I began my entrepreneur journey as a side hustle over 6 years ago, selling invitations and stationery before opening Hello Ginger Creative in 2015 as a product and gift boutique. After my son was born, I left my corporate job in design and marketing to stay home with him, and turned the direction of my business to branding and web design, where I had spent the majority of my corporate career.
I attended the Creative Founders Conference (then Stationery Academy) in the summer of 2015, and it was a total game changer for me. I truly believe that my business would not be where it is today if it were not for the Society for Creative Founders. Being a part of this community has not only empowered me to embrace my strengths and provided me with a wealth of resources to propel my business forward, but it has allowed me to do so with a network of women offering unparalleled support along the way.
If I could offer one piece of advice to a creative entrepreneur focusing in on branding for their business, it would be to know who you are and who you aren’t. Do not succumb to trends or ideas about what you think your business should be. Find what is unique about your business, or the value that only you can bring to the table, and embrace that. Your authenticity will set you apart and give your brand character that people can connect to.