Business and marketing people talk about brands and
branding a lot. Most such talk leaves me empty though. It does little to shed
light on what branding is, why it matters and how you can use it to grow your
So, today, I’ll talk about branding in a way that (I hope) is
useful to people who manage and want to grow businesses.
First, your brand is nothing more than your customer’s experience. That’s it.
You don’t have to worry about logos, taglines, slogans, ads and other marketing
stuff. Sure, those things can be useful but only in the right context. They are
not your brand.
Every contact a person has with your company determines your brand. This
means direct contact with your company’s employees. It also means contact with
your company’s marketing such as advertising, publicity, web site and others. It
can mean contact people have with others who talk about your business. Every
time one person says something about your company to another person, your brand
is being created.
Your brand is your image. It’s your reputation. It’s the grand total of
everything everyone thinks about your organization, your products and your
When I think of branding this way, the first thing I think of is we can never
know 100% what our brand is. And that’s true because our brand is walking around
inside the heads of thousands (or even millions) of people.
But that’s okay. It’s called life. And, it’s not important to know everything
everyone is thinking about us.
What’s more important is to understand how likely our customers are to keep
doing business with us and to refer others to us. This tells us how loyal they
are. How loyal they are tells us about their experience with our company.
Consistently good experiences that exceed their expectations will generally
produce more repeat business and referrals from customers. The opposite is also
A strong brand will bring customers back to your business. And it will bring
referrals. It will make it easier and more cost effective to convert new leads
and retain existing customers. We all know this.
You build a strong brand by delivering the best customer experience you can
to the people you want to serve – your target market. You help them get what
they want, in the context of your business. You help them trust and believe in
your business. You show them they can rely on your company to help them
accomplish their goals.
Your customers will judge your company by how they experience it. Their
experience is based on how your employees do their jobs. Everything your
employees do reflect on your company and deliver a certain experience to your
customers. Every action counts. Every word counts.
If you want to build a brand that draws people to your business, start with
your employees. Make sure your company works well from the inside out. Do
everything you can to ensure your employees are acting consistently with your
company’s values and purpose.
Your customers experience what your company does. What your company does is
the sum total of all your employees actions. To create a great brand, help your
employees be the best they can.