I like the occasional beer, and I like brands that position themselves as something a bit different, so it was disappointing to read of the contortions that self-styled punk brewers Brewdog went through when their solicitors asked Birmingham pub The Wolf to change its original name – The Lone Wolf – as it conflicted with the brewer’s new spirits brand of the same name.
Brewdog’s actions sit uncomfortably with their anti-establishment ethos – they referred to an earlier attempt by Elvis Presley’s estate to stop them using the name Elvis Juice as ‘petty pen pushers attempting to make a fast buck by discrediting our good name under the guise of copyright infringement’ – and so they were forced into a retraction, criticising their solicitors and allowing the pub to use its original name and offering supplies of free hooch in compensation. However it seems to be a case of too little too late as the owners are continuing with their new name and declined the offer of placatory vodka.
In this sorry tale Brewdog are very much the loser, although whether the damage to their brand will impact sales remains to be seen. Having not visited the pub in question nor any of Brewdog’s own-brand establishments (note to self: must get out more), I can’t comment on the impact on customer service but it does underline a point often overlooked in talking about customer experience: that the brand position will significantly impact a customer’s overall perception and their likely ability to recommend.
In my work with UK banks it’s clear that they struggle to get a great net promoter score (NPS) because, whilst a customer’s individual experience may be excellent, their overall perception of banks is not likely to be great – so asking them to recommend is a bit of waste of time. There would have to be a really sustained effort to delight their customers to shift that view.
Companies can work on this by taking more of an end-to-end approach to customer experience, designing journeys that ensure the customer’s overall desired outcome is achieved rather than focusing on improving contact points. And if your brand (or industry) is not well-loved, then you just need to try even harder.
It also shows that responsibility for the customer and their perception of the brand is not just the concern of the front line: corporate pen-pushers – even the more punk ones – must act in line with the brand values as well.