Signs that You’re Off Brand

by Halisi

Before you can figure out if you’re off-brGood Brandingand; we need to make sure that you know what branding is.  Often times in our efforts to put forth a “good image” we put time and resources into making sure that all of our print materials look good or that our website and business cards look good…and that’s great.  It’s very easy to know whether menus, mailers, e-newsletters, etc are not reflecting your brand but is that all there is to it?

No!  Branding is much more than a logo or tag line.  Branding is a promise to the consumer of a certain experience.  The symbol/logo, print materials, etc simply remind the patron of that experience; which hopefully is a good one.  What does your brand represent?  Excellence should not be one of the adjectives; excellence is always expected.  Apple enthusiasts, for instance, expect innovation and ease of use…and of course excellence.   24-hour Fitness customers expect convenience, the most popular exercise machines and plenty of them, clean locker rooms, and of course…excellence.

Whether we’re talking about a tangible item – an Apple product or a service or 24-hour Fitness; there is an experience that comes from using the product or service.  So the brand includes all of the feelings that are conjured when thinking about the product or service.  “But everyone’s feelings are different”, you say.  Correct, but the feelings are still derived from the one set of attributes…innovation, ease of use, etc – in the case of Apple.

With this new understanding of what branding truly is – the signs for being off-brand should be obvious.

1.  Customer complaints

Customers complain because they have certain expectations based upon prior experience (interface with your brand) or universal expectations…e.g. hot food is served hot and cold food is served cold.

Bad Branding2.  Lack of repeat business

At any given time I have had at least three to six Apple products in use from laptops to iPods.  The Apple brand goes beyond innovation and ease of use for me.  It means dependability, fun, cool, cutting edge, and great customer service!  Apple was the introduction to computer for my toddler son, the way we made music, the thing that made daily exercise bearable,  the computer that never got a virus.  They have yet to disappoint me on any of these attributes.  As long as Apple continues to live up to the Apple promise, I will be a devout Apple patron.

3.  Downturn in sales

Duh, right?  Yes the economy, however – let’s not blame everything on the economy.  Usually the first two signs were evident and this is the final warning.  Depending on the type of business you have; you might have gotten the hint long before this.  For instance if most of your business comes from a 2-4 mile radius – the first two signs will be much more evident.  If you have a bigger pool to pull from than you might not realize that customers aren’t coming back and the complaints won’t necessarily spread as quickly.  (the internet is changing this dynamic exponentially as I write)

4.  Anything else that indicates you’re not doing your job!

Everything that you do and everything you decide not to do affects the brand and creates the brand.  How often you receive shipments, how often you take inventory, to how you greet guests or how many newsletters you send out – EVERYTHING affects the brand.  So make wise choices with the understanding of what you have promised and what is expected.

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