Branding – The Devil Is In The Detail

Brand Building|Thought Leadership|

What constitutes a quality brand? The attention paid to detail and if managed properly, a brand will never depreciate. In fact, it can increase in value year after year. Although it can’t be measured like sales, market share or stock price, it can be a victim of semantics and be referred to as reputation. Most companies would avoid doing anything that harms their reputations, but often companies forget about managing their brand.

Branding does not just live in the “marketing department.” Branding includes everything a company does, from the design of the corporate identity logo on its letterhead, to the way it handles customer service complaints and how employees interact with customers. Essentially, there isn’t anything that anybody within your organization does (or fails to do) that doesn’t affect how your brand is perceived.

Not long ago, I purchased a pair of jeans from a well-known upscale specialty store that I am a “club” member of. The store was out of my size but kindly called another nearby store and placed my order with them. The jeans were to be delivered directly to my home. I left the store feeling appreciative for their help, but after a week went by (the store was less than 10 miles from my home) and I did not receive my jeans, I called the store to check on the delivery. I was told by the sales associate after being on hold for over five minutes that delivery’s can take up to 10-days. I quickly told the sales associate that had I known that, I would have just driven to the other store and picked them up. With no apology, she responded by saying if I did not have them within the next week to call her again and she would see what was up. I suggested she call me to check.

A week later and still no jeans, I placed the call. Again, after trying to find my paperwork and information about the delay, I was told that the store had lost the order and was reassured they would send the jeans out within the week. Two weeks later my jeans finally arrived. The moral of this story, no matter how great your product is and brand, if personnel representing it are not properly trained in customer service and procedures (including autonomy to think outside the box), then you are missing a big component to customer retention.

Perhaps the manager of the store could have apologized for not informing me of the 10-day delivery policy as well as not following up with me, and ultimately could have taken the bull by the horns and considered driving to the store herself and hand delivering the jeans to my home with an additional 10% off coupon for my next store visit. Asking too much? Maybe, but I have not been back in that store since this incident.

Effective branding enhances margins and keeps long-term customers who are willing to pay more for products and services with companies they know and trust. Branding can also improve the internal dynamics of an organization and influence both recruiting and employee turnover. Ever heard of the Glass Door website? Look it up if you want to find out what employees are saying about companies.

It’s easy to think about branding just in terms of the latest-and-greatest social media marketing, viral video, or smartphone app. Doing so means missing the fundamental, timeless principles that go well beyond the trendy and transient. The totality of the details means you have to think about how the sales force and support team treats customers. These details may even be transmitted subconsciously. Expertly executed details may be imperceptible to most but they should create a sense of magic and wonder. Advertising and branding should be thought of in the same way. Yes, the big idea is important, but success hinges on execution, consistency, and attention to each and every word. Define the brand with succinct messaging, but also trust that consumers will recognize the collective positive attributes of the brand rather than just its tagline. Make sure your communications are well crafted and recognizable for all touch points.

And don’t ever forget that understanding how real humans interact in the real world can make the most significant impact on your business.


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