Brand – It’s more than just a pretty logo
So what is a Brand?
In its simplest term a brand identified a product or animal that someone owns or manufactures. For example cattle were given a brand to identify who owned them.
Today a ‘brand’ is more than simply an identifying mark or label. A brand has grown to mean much more.
More than a Logo
A company often thinks that once they have a logo created they have their brand. This is the start of building or developing their brand, but in itself it not your brand. Again, this harkens back to a brand being literally that – an identifying mark. A graphic artist can create you a logo. They may be able to even create a website for you.
A ‘branding company’ traditionally strives to create a specific logo that embodies your vision and mission, along with other literature that will help define your brand identity to your customers. However no matter how cool or fantastic your ‘logo, website and print materials are’ today that is only a part of your brand.
A Brand embodies the company it represents
Your brand exemplifies your company. It is your vision and mission. It is how you treat your employees. It’s how you treat your suppliers and especially how you treat your customers.
Branding is the embodiment of everything that makes a company.
Branding starts with top. How you lead is a determining factor of your brand, because it impacts your business, and ergo impacts your brand identity.
Brand = the company’s products and services
At some point, everyone has purchased a product, that has failed at some point. However when this has occurred the customer service side fails? Your perception of that company is impacted and hence their reputation and brand is damaged. We see this across all industries – from banks, cars, clothes, technology – you name it – if the company fails in some way the brand is impacted.
Improving your company’s performance is more important than your logo. Please don’t misunderstand, a good logo is very important, but often this is the focus instead of fixing the underlying reasons that the company is failing to provide the quality products and services it should, in order to grow.
So outside of working on creating a new logo and website how does one build a great brand?
Your Product & Service
Review your product and services that you supply currently.
What quality control measures do you have in place to ensure that the product or service meets or succeeds your standards?
Do you have a set of standards that must be met? Many companies have no standards set for their product or level of service. This is a big turnoff to a client – and results in them looking somewhere else.
When something goes wrong (no one is perfect), what are your processes to resolve the situation? Do they work? Is the experience a pleasant one or is it fraught with difficulty to resolve? If the experience is difficult, for example a customer has to call 20 times, and then write a letter to the CEO, is generally a bad experience, and one a customer does not want to repeat – EVER!
Great Customer service and problem resolution always builds strong client relationships. The customer will learn that if something has gone wrong you will fix it and do it quickly. They’ll keep coming back and your reputation will grow positively. Remember reputation equals brand identity.
Review anything that is outward facing – even accounting, how does this look and feel to the customer? How easy is it to invoice? Do the invoices – the way they look – reflect your image? Are they easy to read – including contracts?
Your backend systems/processes all impact your customers’ experience. Utilize tools and services that enhance this necessary part of your business, such as online or cloud based systems that provide these functions in a customer focused approach that provide ways to enhance your business and your brand. There are a number of these systems available including QuickBooks to emerging ones such as FreshBooks.com that are customizable to help in this area.
Companies, especially small businesses, struggle with keeping their appearance consistent. While they try with their marketing materials, their overall customer experience will ‘drop the ball’.
Inconsistency across your all of your materials negatively impacts a potential customer’s purchase. A company will appear less professional, and generate doubt.
The Customer Experience is King! ‘Perception equals reality’. I cannot stress enough that how you treat a potential customer all the way through to purchase and post sale support is truly what your brand is.
In Conclusion – Continually Critique your Brand
If you’re product or service fails to deliver, then no matter how great and cool a logo or website appears, it will begin to be identified negatively.
Your brand is everything! From your logo, colors, website etc all the way to your product and service performance, including post sale.
Take care of these and your brand will become the brand you dreamed it would be.