There’s a lot of talk about branding. How to brand your business so you can attract the right customers (and a lot of them) is an important topic. But many people get it all wrong.
Too many people think branding is all about telling. They create ads and brochures and websites and a million other ways to tell people all about their brand. And this sort of telling typically talks about how wonderful the company is, how many awards they’ve won or great their product or service is.
But the most effective way to build a brand is to show not tell.
Remember, your brand is much more than your visual identity, your taglines, your slogans or your trademarks. Your brand is your reputation. It’s what people think about you based on their experience. Your brand is actually walking around in the heads of every person who has ever had an interaction with your company.
Show people your brand by letting them experience it. Remember every point of contact your customers (past, present or future) have with your company will create an experience. That experience will be good, bad or neutral.
A good experience is one filled with PEC: Positive Emotional Content. Because it’s emotional it will stay in their memories. Because it’s positive, they’ll want to repeat it. One way to repeat is by coming back. Another way is by sharing their experience with others. Good means they like doing business with you so they’ll probably continue.
A bad experience is also filled with emotional content but not the kind most people want. It’s full of NEC: Negative Emotional Content. Like the good experience, it will stay in their memories. And they will repeat it but not in person (by coming back to your business). They’ll repeat it to their friends, neighbors, co-workers and anyone else who will listen. In this case, sharing their bad experience is a way of getting rid of it. Bad means they dislike doing business with you so they probably will not continue.
A neutral experience is almost as bad as a bad experience. The difference is, it has no emotional content. Therefore it’s neitheir surprising nor memorable. There is nothing to burn it into the customer’s memory. With nothing to remember about the experience, the customer has no reason to come back or to tell others anything about your company.
Clearly the best way to deliver a brand-building experience is by making sure your customers have good experiences with your company. Give them experiences filled with positive emotional content. And you need to do this every time with every customer or you’ll risk poisoning your brand.
Next time someone says you need to spend money on advertising or a new logo or promotional items to “build your brand” remember this article. Then think about all the ways you can give your customers a good experience every time they have contact with your company. Build your brand by showing your customers how good you are, not by telling them.