The other day, I was talking with a colleague about branding and how it seems that even smart brand* people forget about the little things. Little things that, left unchecked, can move an established brand backward or hinder a brand from reaching its full potential.
A brand is not a logo or a tagline. It is not a color. A brand is all encompassing and is defined by what you do, what you stand for and what you believe, not just what you say.
So when you think of your brand, think about your business at every touch point. Does company culture and management style foster happy, enthusiastic, passionate employees who will transfer that same feeling when interacting with customers and others outside of the company? Having supportive focused employees all on the same page will make your success journey unstoppable. What is your brand image as perceived by customers? Is it what you want it to be?
Think about every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you — whether it’s the way your receptionist greets customers, how internal phones are answered and how problems are resolved. How about the ease of navigation on your website, the effectiveness, and consistency of your advertising, sales materials and presentations or customer follow-up. What about pricing tables and contracts? Are they as user-friendly and complete as they can be? What about your physical office space– is clean and inviting? When packages are shipped to customers, are labels placed straight or crooked? Is packing tape flat or wrinkled? These little things matter.
Don’t forget the human resources aspect. How are new recruits and job applicants treated? Are they made to feel special, like guests during the interview process? Or, are they treated like they’re a “necessary evil”? Even a rejection letter is a reflection on your brand, so be professional and try to add a personal touch–a phone call maybe. It shows that you care about people on a personal level. The extraordinary companies find a way to connect and the positive word of mouth that comes with it is a valuable prize.
Think of branding as the soul of your product or company. It is not a project with a beginning and an end. It is fluid and ever changing based on day-to-day interaction. Branding is a cumulative story or experience. Tell your story.
Make every touch point memorable and watch customers and employees move from relationships that are distant and transactional to ones that are committed and enthusiastic.
Early on, Facebook® created the “Like” feature as a way for viewers to show support and connect with topics and content about which they care. While every strategy should include a social component, it seems too often that a tepid “Like” becomes the prize. To me, “Like” is ok, like is safe, but isn’t it better to be “Loved”? If we’re loved, it conveys passion and commitment.
Do your customers see your business the way you intend them to see it? If not, it may be time to take a closer look at your brand. Just don’t start with your logo. The best brands set a clear expectation or promise with their customers and deliver on it consistently through every interaction. Think of it as a reflection of your company’s culture today or how you’d like it to become as it nurtures and infuses every interaction and expectation.
In the end, passionate, happy customers become the most powerful influencers for a brand. Their word of mouth promotion is power. More power than any advertising budget could deliver.
Remember– It’s the little things (done well) that help big things happen.
* Note: When referencing “brand”, we often forget that every company is a brand. In this article, referencing the term “brand” leans toward the company as the over-arching brand. That’s because a company is at the root of all product or service brands. It is also believed that every employee no matter their position within the company is a brand ambassador for the company. They represent a vital touchpoint internally and externally and an essential component of its brand essence.