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Micro-Pulse: How Small Touches Impact the Heartbeat of Your Brand


How is the pulse of your brand?

Think about all the brands you interacted with today. Nearly everything you have done so far today involved a brand, was enabled by a brand or was accompanied by a brand. These interactions are just one of many touchpoints with a specific brand.

Touchpoints, or touches for short, work in a way similar to that of how blood flows through our bodies. Your heart pumps blood through your body, providing it with the oxygen and nutrients it needs, but the heart alone isnโ€™t solely responsible for enabling a steady, healthy heartbeat. Every vein, artery and vessel has an impact on your heartbeat. No matter how small a constricted vein may be, it has an impact on the flow of blood.

The same true for brand touches. There are probably some big touchpoints that your organization tends to focus on, like advertising and other outward facing communications. But while the focus is being put on these areas that tend to be seen as more important, the small touches are ignored and are chipping away at the heartbeat of your brand.

Because of the abundance of times that brands touch our lives in a given day, and the fact that we now have access to brands wherever and whenever we want to, every touchpoint has become a crucial interaction.

The Micro-Pulse is an idea that I introduced a few weeks ago at OpenBeta. On Wednesday at the InnoTech conference in Oklahoma City, I was given the opportunity to give a talk that expanded on the idea even further. I focused more on touches in social media with this presentation, since I was speaking to at a technology conference, but I plan on applying this concept to both the online and offline brand worlds.

Iโ€™ve posted the deck below. I welcome your comments and suggestions on this. It is an idea that I plan on developing further.

Feedreaders click here to view the presentation.


What do you think?

Do you have an example of a time when a small touchpoint mattered to you?

  1. 1day1brand says:


    Very impressive. Visually, verbally, conceptually.

    I know that as branding people we are consumed with branding our own ideas, and I'm impressed and grateful that you use no jargon in your preso, but I would ask if you need to create a new buzz word “micro-pulse” or if you can't come up with something more straight-forward. Ironically, the term “micro-branding” would seem apt, but that term has already been confused enough. It seems to mean small brands, which makes no sense to me.

    The reason I mention this is because your examples, while very social media, really point to a seismic shift in advertising and communications, one where it is less and less about the big idea and more and more about lots of little ideas. You touch on this yourself re viral videos.

    Thanks again for a great presentation.

    — Axle Davids

  2. Thanks for your comment Axle.

    Actually, micro-pulse was a phrase I came up with to use as an analogy. I hadn't even thought of it as a buzz word, but I guess that is how buzzwords are started. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My real purpose with the term micro-pulse was to allude to the fact that small touchpoints impact the overall health of any brand.

  3. servantofchaos says:

    Great presentation, Chris. I particularly like the way you bring social media under the larger strategy umbrella. That's the way I work too. Social media in isolation makes you and your programs into a silo. That's the last thing you want.

  4. Great post Chris!

    I deal with small touches everyday. I think we should attempt to define this as a new way of redefining what it means to create a customer relationship. Relationships are DEFINED by small CONSISTENT touch points. Consistency is key in any brand strategy. But please don't mistake uniformity with consistency. I think a common mistake is thinking just because you have CTA's and creative on multiple touch points in a uniform way, you've created a consistent user experience. And as we always discover, this is just noise ans more clutter. What makes them consistent, in my opinion, is message. Do brands have the same consistent tone across all fronts of interaction? If so, this creates reliability and increases credibility (somewhat).

    I think the main point I would like to make here (besides all the rambling I just did ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) is that small touches are what they are…small. That means they take time to develop into an everyday life style. So consistency and relevancy is key.

    I do however like @1day1brand's suggestion of the term “micro-branding”. It makes me think of a slower more precise method of branding.

  5. Thanks Gavin. I think you're exactly right. That's the approach I use with the Touch Cycle. It's not just a way to analyze and improve upon what you're doing in social media or marketing. It's something that should be used to evaluate every interaction that an organization has with people.

    Before we even touch social media or any outward facing components of the organization, we must have complete understanding of the brand, where it's going and what it stands for and make sure this ties in well with communications.

  6. Thanks for the comment Kevin!

    There is a big difference between a consistent brand voice and being boringly repetitive. You're on target to point this out.

    And this is something I see, especially large brands struggling with sometimes as they try to be in as many places as they can and are expected to be, but have trouble finding the right balance of voice and personality. This is especially tough in social media when a brand can potentially have multiple people representing the brand in different properties online.

    You're right about small touches taking time to develop. We have to be able to see past our shortsighted results to reveal the powerful impact that these small interactions can have over time. This is another struggle some big brands have with social media. The benefits in social take time to develop.

    Again, micro-pulse was just an analogy that I am using here to illustrate my point, but maybe micro-branding is a good term for this approach as an industry term. Right now the only use I can find with the phrase micro-branding is tied to personal branding materials.

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