I just finished what I think is one of the best books written on Branding I’ve ever read. It’s called Brand Delusions. It teaches you what branding is by telling a story of company in trouble and how they saved their brand. It’s an entertaining way to learn about branding and the counter-arguments you’re going to get when you try to adapt a new culture in your company.
Your Brand is a widely held set of beliefs and expectations about what you deliver and how you deliver it, validated by customers’ experiences.
The book made me really think about what a brand is in 2013, here are my three points on the state of branding.
1. There’s no such thing as a neutral brand impression.
Every time someone comes in contact with your brand they either like your brand a little bit more or a little bit less. There is no such thing as a neutral brand impression. Every e-mail, every sponsorship, every ad, every time someone walks through your door , every time you answer the phone. People are making judgements on everything you do. Are you giving them enough reasons to like you?
The internet has a phenomenal memory. If you’re rude to even one person that person can tell literally millions of people. On the flip side, if you’re incredibly nice to people and you inspire others in some way, people won’t forget that and over time you’ll grow a tribe of people who love what you do. Every person in your company contributes something to your brand. If even one employee doesn’t believe in your brand your customers will find out eventually and it’ll cost you in the long run.
2. Your brand is much more influenced by what you do not what you say you do. (the fall of advertising, the rise of customer centric service)
Advertising used to be able to influence the masses. A billboard would tell people that Camels were the best cigarettes out there, and people would listen. Today we rarely believe advertising. We don’t have to anymore. We’ve been lied to so much over the years we just assume companies lie to us in their ads. And to the companies that still do lie in their ads, anyone with a smartphone in their pocket can look up said claim in their ad and see if it’s the truth.
No one just believes advertising anymore, we’ve been trained to assume we’re being lied to.
You’re much better off actually making a great product or providing unbelievable service in hopes that people talk about and share their experience with others. Websites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, and Google Reviews are all dedicated to allowing people to tell others about the experience they had at your restaurant. These websites are heavily used for the food, airline and hotel industry but can you imagine what the future holds for review websites? Will you want to hire an electrician, plumber, or dare I say marketing consultant without checking out what other people have rated and said about them?
You need to answer: Why are we in business? Why is our company going to succeed? Would our customers miss us if we were gone tomorrow?
3. You never get more out of something than what you put into it.
There’s no short cut. There’s no easy way. You can’t pay someone to infuse your organization with passion, that’s impossible. You have to work hard every single day to infuse your “brand” into every thing you do. It starts with the culture of your employees. If your staff aren’t excited about your company brand, it’s going to be difficult to show potential customers why they should be.
It takes an immense amount of time and effort but getting your entire organization centred around one philosophy at the core will pay off in the future. It simplifies decision making. It gives the staff something to believe in. It could be the smartest thing you decide to do as a company.
Many people think they can just “advertise” and people will come. Don’t forget that everything in our world is a commodity now; you can buy pretty much everything you buy now for a cheaper price somewhere else. So why would someone shop at your store? Why would someone become a loyal customer and return every single week? You must work hard on finding out why your customers like you and
What do you think is changing about how organizations “brand” themselves?