The Company Brand

When we think of brands, we reflexively think of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, BMW.  But all businesses, even small ones, have brands.  That is, they have reputations with their customers, their employees,  their suppliers, and the community in which they operate.  But sometimes owners are not specifically aware of what they are.  Or they don’t intentionally communicate them.

Let me give you an example.  We have a general contractor – I’ll call him Wally – whom we’ve used for several home renovation projects.  We found out about Wally from a friend.  Wally doesn’t serve the high  end market but he’ll design a renovation project, recommend the right materials suppliers, employ the right sub-contractors – plumbers, electricians, flooring specialists – and the work is completed when he promised and within the original budget estimates.  He is unfailingly polite, listens carefully, he’s scrupulously neat and unquestioningly prompt with any requested touch-ups or repairs.    Wally is not aware he has a brand – he’s just Wally after all – but he does.

So what is a brand?  It’s not just a logo or a slogan.  It’s any way that touches the customer:  the pre-sales process, the product, the work, the employees, the billing.  And if you plan to communicate the brand message, all of those ways to touching the customer must be functioning as promised.  If there’s dissonance between the brand message and the customer experience or if employees are not aware of what the brand means, customers will conclude that your product or service is not to be trusted.  And then it’s significantly harder to convince the customer about the brand’s validity.

If you’re not sure if your customers have the same reaction to the brand as you do, ask them.  You might be surprised what you learn.  You might find that your brand wheels are not yet off the road but may require fixes to ensure that doesn’t happen or you should be doing a better communications job.

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