By Ken Gasque
Your brand is their experience. It exists in the mind of your customer. When the experience is good, they may tell a friend, but they won’t tell you. When things go wrong and you deliver a subpar experience, your customers are not likely to tell you unless it is a real problem. Otherwise it is just easier to say nothing, they don’t want to seem petty, and they don’t want to argue with you about service. The delivery does not make it on time, employees with attitudes or a bad experience trying to navigate on your website are minor experiences, but they still make an impression. Your customer probably won’t tell you, but they will file it in their memory.
So, what do you do if you don’t even know these things are happening?
• What do your customers perceive your brand to be?
• Review the brand development processes. What fits you?
The consumer will never tell you what your brand is unless you ask. Is there a brand issue? Do you need to refurbish your brand? The answer can be found in a survey of a few of your employees and customers. If the responses are consistent, you have a brand. If the responses are not consistent and there isn’t a clear image emerging, you need to refurbish your brand. If you want to impact your business, grow sales and market share, or if you’re going through an acquisition, pivot, or any other major business change. It’s time to review your branding.
What is a brand? The simplest definition of a brand is a promise. A brand delivers consistently on its promise. A brand has many facets—it is visual, it has a logo, corporate colors and uses distinct type styles. It has a consistent style of graphics for its signs, ads, website, packaging, etc. A brand’s name is easy to say, it can be fun, pleasing to hear, Coca-Cola, Zappos, Chick-fil-A, and my favorite (which FedEx deleted) is Kinkos. A brand has a brand statement or tagline. A brand exists in the mind of the consumer. A brand is what the customer thinks it is.
Why is a brand important? A brand is important first and foremost because we like brands. We identity with brands. Ownership of a brand says something about our identity. We are emotionally attached to “our” brands. Apple iPhone users pay a premium to have the latest model. Ben & Jerry’s loyalists will go miles out of their way for their favorite flavor. Brands seek brand attachment because it goes far beyond brand loyalty. A brand is an experience. Create or look for experiences that will produce emotions and brand attachment. BMW’s tagline speaks to that, “Sheer Driving Pleasure.”
There are a number of ways to go about branding your company:
• Discover your brand. What do you do that is unique? What is that one thing only your company can provide? After interviewing customers we discovered that Hawthorne Pharmacy provided faster service, so there is less time standing in line to get prescriptions. Their branding statement evolved, “Get well quicker!”™
• Create your brand. Amazon created a brand to take advantage of the Internet. Their mission statement is “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.” Their tagline, “Spend less. Smile more.”
• Use your culture to build your brand. Chick-fil-A has a courageous corporate culture. Their work place culture is to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect. It shows in their service. Their tagline, “Eat Mor Chikin.”
• Design the brand you wish to have. Starbucks was designed from inspirations from the coffee houses in Italy. The logo is a symbol of a muse and the coffee house atmosphere lends itself to creativity. Their mission statement is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
• Refurbish you brand. McWaters Office Furniture wanted to expand and increase sales and market share. They needed a fresher look and a new logo. Their customers told them they offered design and office furniture to make work easier. Their branding statement says it all… “We make work easier.”™
• Brand by accident. Every business has a brand. It is either planned or it occurs because a brand is an experience, and it is in the mind of the consumer. A brand by accident competes on price. It has nowhere to go but down.
They will never tell you unless you ask. And it has been our experience the owner never really knows what the customer appreciates most about the business.
About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer who believes if you help people get what they want you will get what you want. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad).