Someone in your organization has probably spent a lot of time thinking about the company brand. Perhaps there has also been a very large financial investment made to develop just the right look, feel and message. This is good, and every company should go through a brand definition process that involves all of these things and many more. But ultimately, your company brand is not what you create on paper or online.
Let’s be clear about this:
- Your brand is not your logo
- Your brand is not your website
- Your brand is not your marketing
Your true brand starts with defining, embracing, and living your core company values and beliefs.
Brand definition is about why you do what you do, how you go about it, and what it is that you provide. In that order. And these things need to be deeply embedded into every single aspect of your business. From the first draft of your business plan to the hiring, training and management of employees to your customer service strategy, all of these things must center around your core beliefs. If you aren’t injecting your core beliefs into every single thing you do, your brand will ring hollow.
Who really determines your brand?
Ultimately, your brand is determined by your customers. It’s formed by the feelings, experiences and expectations each person has when they interact with your company— on any level. Often, that interaction comes down to one or two people within your organization. And it may not be who you think.
Who has more power over your brand: The CEO or the receptionist? If your CEO talks to 30 people a day and your receptionist talks to 300, that person working the phones could actually be affecting your brand more than you think.
Anyone from your company who interacts with a client or potential customer IS your business in their eyes, regardless of intent, position or pay grade. Every individual in your organization represents your brand, and everything they do reflects it back out to your customers and the universe.
Everyone can have amazing
Is your staff amazing? Are you treating them in a way that makes them excited to represent your company in a positive light? If you don't have staff members who are actively making believers out of your clients every day, it’s time to figure out why.
Start with your company culture and expectations. Are you living your own core values each and every day? What atmosphere have you created that guides people in their behaviors? Is there great customer service at every level of the company? Are you treating your staff the way you’d treat your customers?
If your culture matches your values and you still have staff members who aren’t excited about conveying the company mission and spirit to colleagues and customers alike, you may need to do a little housecleaning. These can be tough choices to make, but you can’t afford not to. Every person and every interaction matters. Every one of them needs to be amazing.
Building a brand reputation is a slow process of one person, one phone call, one tweet, one transaction at a time. Damaging that reputation can happen with a single incident and at the speed of light. Reversing a tarnished reputation might be downright impossible, no matter how good your marketing department is.
Want a strong brand? Stop worrying about your logo and pay attention to your people. They’re the best brand ambassadors you’ve got.
Photo by Nichole Burrows