In today’s business world, advertising plays an important role in an organization’s success by increasing its brand visibility and generating a stream of potential customers or clients. And there’s no doubt that a creative logo or gorgeous product packaging influence consumers’ purchase decisions. But the focus on traditional advertising is often the root of many common mistakes businesses are still making in 2016.
The problem isn’t with branding itself, because companies do need a great brand to back their products and services, and it’s difficult to sell anything that hasn’t been extensively marketed. Issues arise when organizations focus all their brand and marketing efforts on making, not keeping, their brand promises. It’s this imbalance that causes many customers to feel companies overpromise and underdeliver.
Ask yourself one question: is there more to your brand than great advertising? If you answered no, then your organization could be making some big mistakes.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t judge each other based only on physical appearance or what we say about ourselves. A person’s facial features don’t define who they are any more than a self-proclamation like, “I’m really nice.” It’s the cumulative actions of an individual – essentially, the way they choose to live their life – that most accurately defines who they are.
It’s the same with organizations. We don’t judge an organization only by their branding or marketing messages. Yet this is where many organizations choose to focus their money and time. Brand can and should be bigger than logos and marketing. Here are some of the biggest mistakes organizations are making:
They Make It About Their Logo and Advertising
Don’t get me wrong, a sleek and clever logo is a great thing to have. We are extremely proud of our logo and believe it represents us well. And of course, we’re all aware of the power of iconic logos – Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks – that seemingly pull us in whenever we see them. But what we don’t realize is it isn’t the logos that ensnare us, it’s what we associate the logos with: quality products, great service and memorable customer experiences.
Unfortunately, many organizations put all their energy into creating a memorable logo and fancy ad campaigns, and then are disappointed when these efforts don’t bring people flocking to buy their product or service.
What these organizations fail to understand is it isn’t about the logo or advertising; it’s about the hard work that goes into consistently delivering experiences that align with the brand to both customers and employees. Only when organizations do that does their brand become more than just a logo.
They Don’t Keep Their Promises
The most frustrating aspect of a poor customer experience is that it doesn’t need to happen. Companies, through their branding and marketing efforts, spend millions of dollars to send customers messages that set expectations about the experience they intend to deliver. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers get upset when companies don’t deliver the promised experience. And yet the end result of a poor customer experience is often hand-wringing and finger-pointing by both customers and employees.
Bad customer experiences and poor customer service is the result of a breakdown between an organization’s brand promise and the delivery of that experience. In short, a broken promise. To ensure your organization keeps its brand promise, everyone in the organization needs to understand the promise and expectations you are setting. And you need to design both your employee and customer experience to align with your brand and deliver on those promises.
They Don’t Live Their Brand
There is more to keeping a brand promise than simply telling employees about the brand and the promises you are making. To fulfilling your brand promise, you need employees to not only understand it, but also believe in it and commit action toward delivering it. And it requires a wholesale, organizational commitment by everyone to live your brand with both employees and customers everyday.
“Living the brand” means having everyone – executives, front line, and supporting roles – in your organization understand, believe in and commit to living your brand promise and creating and delivering your promised brand experience. Every employee – even those who aren’t on the customer facing frontline – needs to understand the influence their thoughts and actions have on customer experiences. The decisions that “behind the scenes” employees make about operational policies and procedures have a significant impact on the customer experience.
Rather than focusing all your efforts on the pixels of your company’s logo and latest marketing campaigns, shift some of that focus onto the aspects of the brand you might be overlooking – the role your people are playing in delivering the promise. It’s only when you have your entire organization living your brand that you’ll begin to consistently deliver customer experiences that meet the expectations of your brand promise. And that’s when you’ll discover the true meaning of brand.