Wednesday, 26 February 2014 09:56

Branding: It's Deeper Than You Think

When it comes to branding, many business leaders think only of the visibly tangible - how the logo, website, and collateral pieces look. Branding, however, is far more broad and goes much deeper. It's a combination of internal and external reputation management, purpose and expectations.

Reputation Management Along with all the visuals that make a company recognizable, there are deeper internal pieces that are often overlooked while the focus remains external. It is everything from how a company handles consumer feedback (positive and negative) and how they talk about their business to the ambiance of the office and whether employees dress up or dress down. So much of this comes from simple reputation management. Consider yourself your personal brand. Do you show up everyday in a suit and tie or are you laid back? What kind of voice do you take when using social media? When in person? Are there things others expect or assume of you because you have set those expectations?

Just as we manage how we look, speak and act, the same goes for a company’s brand. No brand wants to receive poor customer feedback, or have a negative article written and the same should go for all aspects of the brand. Consumers leave negative comments when they have a negative experience, so don’t let that happen. If a consumer engages with you about their experience, it is a good idea to engage back. Better yet, engage first. By managing the brand both internally, externally, and keeping it consistent throughout, the entire dynamic of the organization can improve.

Managing Brand Reputation

So how do you begin managing your brand reputation? Make sure you know your purpose.

Purpose Why does your brand exist? Who do you as a brand aspire to be? These should not be difficult questions if your brand is living it’s purpose everyday. If they are hard, it may be time to refocus on your purpose. In the era of having almost all the information you could want at your fingertips, 80% of consumers are making purchase decisions before ever contacting a company. People’s internal motivations have changed and it is important your purpose goes beyond the what of the business or product, instead delivering on the 'why.'

Understanding who your customer is, what channels they are using, and what ‘why’ they are trying to fill is crucial.  Your purpose is what gives your brand focus, so make sure that is aligned with what your target audience is expecting or looking for. In many ways your brand is what sets consumer expectations, so make sure you follow through on that promise.

Take Nordstrom for example. The company is all about delivering exceptional customer service. That is their purpose and that is what the department store strives to do. They do not pretend to have lower prices because they don’t have to. Shoppers are not looking for lower prices, they are however looking to return that perfume they bought, opened and already used 3 times but decided they didn't like it. That is the expectation that has been set and the 'why' they fill for their customers.

FedEx is another good example of filling the 'why.' The founders saw a need to fill, promising “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” That promise has shifted to "The World on Time" but the 'why' mains the same, as does their purpose as they continue to life up to expectations. While these are just a few instances of how branding goes far beyond just the look and feel of a company's logo, website, etcetera, it is clear there is much more to branding, and successful branding at that, than most can see. Think about your favorite brands and why you choose them. You may be able to notice how much deeper they're brand goes than you could before. Does your company's purpose? Does it fill a 'why' for your customers and is it consistent throughout your organization both internally and externally? Leave a comment or contact us if you'd like to discuss!