Your company brand is much more than your logo and tagline.
A brand is an identifier. It is what and who you say you are… and what people believe as a result. Branding is what your company represents to stakeholders. It’s a promise to your customers that tells them how they should view your service or product. Your brand comes from who and what you actually are as a company—and what you desire to become.
Building a Brand
You determine your brand strategy through the creation of branding messages in ads, commercials, taglines and social media outlets. Your customers—both internal and external—determine whether your brand is truly valuable.
From an internal perspective: What would your employees say about the sincerity of your services or the quality of your products if provided an opportunity without retribution?
From an external perspective: What messages do your customers read when they see your brochure or advertisements? What messages do they “live” when they walk through the doors of your company? Are you truly providing compassionate care? Are you really providing a quality product? Or are you just the only game in town?
Your brand is intangible. It is about the reputation behind your mission statement, logo, tagline, commercial and physical building. Understanding how people perceive the business is one of the key components in developing a sustainable, well-crafted brand. How are brands built?
- Great teams. If one person determines the brand without the input and implementation of ideas from each area of the business, your brand is probably not as strong as it could be.
- Customer service. If the employees who answer your phones or see your customers do not understand what your company is really about, you are not providing optimal customer service. Don’t forget: The customer who is mistreated shares that experience with others.
- Commitment. Company leaders and employees must be committed to making a difference in how services or products are provided to and perceived by customers.
The Impact of Branding
Your organization needs to inspire loyalty in those whom you serve. The clients who seek your services and products look to find a mental connection—a connection to those services and products—but also to you and your team. Remember: Your brand is not what you say it is; it is what others say it is when you are not present. It is what some may write in a blog about their experience. It is what some will say to a potential customer who asks for their opinion. It is what your clients say when the only one listening is the person who could use your service or product—and who could ultimately choose your competitor.
These potential customers don’t care about your logo or tagline. They don’t care about commercials featuring satisfied customers or employees touting the “comprehensive care” or “quality products” your company provides. They care about what those who have actually experienced it say about what you provide and how well you provided it.
Will the people and organizations you serve recommend your company? You must look internally at your processes to determine how you and your employees address customer concerns. Are issues resolved to their satisfaction? If not, do they understand why the decision was rendered? Was compassion shown? How effective was the feedback? Was it timely?
Connect to Your Mission
The integrity behind any actions to address an issue impacts how the brand is perceived. It impacts reputation and company culture, customer and employee retention, potential growth, referrals, offers to potential employees and overall credibility. Successful branding shows how your company is different, better or worthy—all while connecting the story of your company to its mission. Remember to:
- Live your brand based on what you say in your mission statement, your value proposition and your actions.
- Deliver the values your customers value—which may expand beyond products or basic services.
- Demand a caring culture that is demonstrated in every member of the organization. If you as an owner, officer or manager do not practice compassion daily—both internally and externally—your employees won’t consistently provide it internally, and that could extend externally as well.
Lastly, make sure each touchpoint with those you serve involves a concerted effort by the members of your organization to “live” your brand. iBi
Bridgette Heard, DBA is founder and CEO of Williams-Heard & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in strategy development, staff and leadership training, and company branding. For more information, visit williamsheardassociates.com.