An appalling customer service experience recently prompted me to think about basic business protocols. Ever since the beginning of humanity, business transactions have taken place with the equivalent of a handshake and an individual's word of honor.
Even today, with litigation fears and obsession for legal contracts, it is often our verbal agreements and discussions that precede any signed deals. And, yes, even in the 21st century, many business arrangements are decided at kitchen tables, coffee shops, restaurants, clubs, golf courses, and office bathrooms.
After all, as human beings, we have a need to relate to one another.
My definition of a brand is simple. It's a promise waiting to be fulfilled. Of course, there's more to it, but if we examine its raw essence, it's something derived from a transaction or experience with an individual, company, group, product, or service.
Many times, a brand experience is intangible and subconscious. People can feel good about a company or product without truly knowing why. Their experiences were positive in some way and often repeated and consistent, with the end result being some degree of brand loyalty.
Yet, confusion about branding still permeates executive offices in the business, public, and third sectors. No, Virginia, a logo alone is not a brand.
Marketers have spent gazillions on branding efforts. Some succeed, others fail. What is often missing in these campaigns is a major focus on the men and women who must carry the brand around every day: The frontline people who answer phones, the sales reps who follow marketing leads, the caretakers cleaning up as you walk by, and the technical support staff. Every word that is uttered from these brand ambassadors to each other and to their external audiences is part of their organization's brand. Yet, how many of them are aware of that?
What you say is equivalent to an ad
Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.
LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel