Being distinctive with “defining gestures”

Guest post from Anna Eggleton, Managing Partner and head of Service Branding.

One of the ways service companies can be distinctive is to build in ‘defining gestures’.  This is the opposite of the much talked about "random acts of kindness", which rely heavily on individual employee engagement, empathy, empowerment and ingenuity.  Service companies who focus on random acts of kindness continually struggle to differentiate and replicate their service, the larger and more complex the organisation and the services offered, the more difficult it is to deliver. 

Defining gestures are codified demonstrations of the brand's distinctiveness that are hard wired into the service experience. Strong defining gestures remind the customer of what the brand stands for and why they should choose to use it. 

At the brandgym we believe that defining gestures are an additional brand property that service brands can utilise to build distinctiveness and memory structure into the brand.

So what are some of the rules for defining gestures?

1. Consistency over time – Doubletree Hilton give you a homemade chocolate chip cookie kept warm in a specially built warming tray under the desk.  The warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie is their way of demonstrating they care. As with all strong brand properties it has longevity and has been used for over 25 years. Creating 28 million consistent touch points each year across the globe.

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2. Build your brand
– Starbucks writing your name on the cup, a physical demonstration of their mission of inspiring and nurturing the human spirit – one person, one cup at a time.

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3. Customer involvement – Waitrose (a premium British supermarket chain) – At the end of your shop, you are handed a green plastic token to place in a box of the good cause you’d most like to support. The more tokens a cause gets, the bigger the donation they receive.  A physical demonstration the ‘Waitrose way’.


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In conclusion, defining gestures that are on brand and executed consistently over many years are a great way to build distinctiveness into your brand.