OOPS! Your Brand is Showing

OOPS! Your Brand is Showing

Many business owners I’ve met think their brand is represented by a logo, a mission statement and a few advertisements, maybe even a website. But to a consumer, your brand is on display in so many more unexpected ways. Like ‘visible panty lines’, ‘strap issues’, ‘bed hair’, or poppy seeds in your teeth, a quick look in your brand mirror can help you avoid an unflattering view of your brand. A five pack on where to look:

1) Customer service signs

You know the signs that get posted next to cash registers, on the door, in the washrooms. NSF fees, no loitering, no change for the bus, washrooms for employees only. No bicycle parking by order of “the management”. Those shout volumes about your attitude to customers. Take them down, hide them, revise them to include some levity, but make sure customers don’t feel like an intrusion you’d rather live without.

2) Form letters

My favourite: “Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 2011 because we received notice that you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.” –Department of Social Services, Greenville , South Carolina. What more needs to be said? A review of every form letter in your repertoire should be reviewed each year to make sure it says something positive about your brand.

3) Your outdoor signage

If you’ve lost a letter or burned out a bulb, it should be treated as quickly as if you’ve discovered that your fly is unzipped. Weeks and months of inattention shout volumes about your brand.

4) Your employees

When your employees make plans to socialize after work, make sure they’re doing it when there are no customers within earshot. The last thing you want your customers to hear is about last night’s party and how hard it was to come to work today. Sounds like common sense. But of course, common sense isn’t that common.

5) Outdated websites

When your website features your April specials (in November) your customers will get the very quick feeling that you can’t keep up with your website, or that you’ve simply forgotten about it. Again, it speaks volumes about your attention to details and to the brand you’re working so hard to create. If you can’t update your website regularly, scale it back to something static.

A brand is the simple sum of all of its parts. No more. No less. But the parts go far beyond what typically is considered to be “marketing”. Take a quick look around today and make sure that your brand delivery matches your brand strategy.

And just for fun, let me know what customer-phobic signs you’ve seen at the businesses around you!

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