Ask your customers – they know your brand better than you do

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Guillaume de Villiers
13 Aug 2018 Clock 4 min

Joining a business as its first official brand communicator, is a bit like staring at an open canvass with creative block. The possibilities are overwhelmingly infinite, so where do you make your first mark?

Shaping a brand is a curious journey of discovery, paradoxically layered by excitement and anxiety. Somehow, it takes me back to those awkward teen years. Navigating through a minefield of insecurities, yet ruthlessly fuelled by a perpetual dose of starry-eyed optimism.

Like using theories on branding, to cure teenage angst. One starts delving deep into those all too familiar existential riddles. Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?

Having joined the Voys SA team recently, I found myself in this precarious position. I’ve become part of an exciting and steadily growing business, proposing an infinite array of brand building possibilities, but where do I begin? It was while cognitive dissonance started unveiling its dreary head when the words of Marty Neumeier popped into mind: “It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is”.

“It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is”

A good place to start discovering your brand is by asking your customers how THEY perceive you. After all, someone who walks around saying they are “smart”, might not actually be smart. An objective perception of one’s traits can only come from those who engage with you. Fortunately for me, Voys has some more than obliging customers, willing to share their experience with me. One such customer is Louis van der Merwe, whom I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing during my second week at Voys.

Louis is the co-founder of Wealthup, a progressive and contemporary financial services provider in Cape Town. Being Voys SA’s second ever customer, Louis has been with Voys from its earliest days, so who better to act as a witness.

Louis’ relationship with Voys starts much the same as many do in business today, through a less than glamorous Google search. Needing a telephone solution with remote capabilities, Louis recognised that a VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone line would serve this purpose. For many professionals, leaving the office to consult proposes a tad of a conundrum. After all, the office is where the phone rings. In Louis’ industry, trust is everything and part of earning trust comes from being consistently reachable during office hours.

While Louis shared his story, I couldn’t help but wonder. Why not simply use a mobile number for Wealthup? He started explaining that the financial industry is still somewhat conservative. Having a landline number is perceived as a symbol of stability, as it resembles an office with a physical address. In an industry where people trust you with their finances, it’s easy to imagine that stability is of vital importance. Besides the number itself, a great competitive advantage is the ability to promptly respond to calls while out of the office. In fact, this is how Louis landed Wealthup’s first multi-million-rand account, he says.

Wealthup’s first client was not particular about which financial planner they wished to use. Instead, they simply called multiple advisors listed in a local directory. But, due to calling outside of office hours, no-one picked up the call. As details of the call were delivered directly to Louis’ mobile phone, he was the first to respond, thereby landing the account for Wealthup. If it wasn’t for Voys delivering the goods to Louis’ pocket, he says he might have missed this opportunity.

That’s when it hit me like the final tequila on a big night out. Voys is not just offering an affordable phone solution, it’s offering freedom. Freedom to move around, but be stable. Freedom to choose when, where and how you serve your clients. Freedom from contracts and bureaucratic red tape. But most importantly, freedom from monopolistic service providers, who make it near impossible for smaller businesses to compete with the big spenders. This is why Voys matters!

Voys resembles a slither of hope, in an otherwise uncompromising telecoms industry. An industry, which has far too long kept its dependents incarcerated by poor support at high costs. Voys challenges this status quo, proposing independence as an alternative to dependence. Voys is a Telephonic Freedom Fighter, bringing Radical Telephonic Transformation to South Africa.

Voys is a Telephonic Freedom Fighter, bringing Radical Telephonic Transformation to South Africa.

Thanks to Louis’ insight, I have found where to make my first mark at Voys. Today’s hypercritical consumers have an abundance of choice. They are no longer just buying products, they are buying personal connection. Much like navigating through our teen years, brands need to align themselves with those who share their values, building trust and loyalty to survive an unforgiving playground. Alliances are a game of give and take. Brands who embrace a logic of listening to their customers, will seamlessly build mutually beneficial and long lasting relationships. After all, your brand “is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is”.

As for Voys, that means we are selling Freedom, quite literally.