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Your Brand Is More Than a Logo; It's an Experience

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When we talk about a company’s brand, people’s minds usually jump immediately to that company's logo. No argument there: A logo is a vital element of how you communicate your brand. A logo is the visual representation of who and what you are. But your logo is just the beginning of your brand.

Others might point to your tagline and suggest that’s where your brand lives. Again, it’s an important communication tool for telling people what your company is all about. But where both your logo and your tagline fall short is that they’re one-way communications. You are showing or telling, but your audience is not actually experiencing your brand.

Brands really come to life when an experience confirms or amplifies the promise that your logo or tagline might offer.

Here are some key spots that you might not think about from a brand point of view. But there are places where you can truly bring your brand to life for your employees, customers, and vendors.

Your office/work space. You know what they say about first impressions. One spot where many first impressions are created is when someone comes to see you for the first time. Whether you have a retail space, office space or work virtually through an extranet---how it first appears to your audience will stick for a long time.



  • Does it feel very corporate and official?


  • Is it welcoming and kind of funky?


  • Could it be called cluttered or does everything have its own place?


  • Is it filled with interesting items?


All of that speaks to your brand and what matters to you.

Your first-day-at-work experience. Never forget, your most active and important brand advocates are your employees. And for them, few days are more memorable than their first day at work. What is that day like for them?


  • Are they assigned a buddy who helps them get oriented to your workplace, the people, and the procedures?


  • Is there a small gift (maybe a hat with your company logo on it) waiting for them at their new desk?


  • Do some of their teammates take them out to lunch?


  • Are they given training or is it a baptism by fire?


  • Is everything ready for their arrival or are you scrambling to get paperwork and supplies to them?


Think how many people are going to ask them, “How was your first day?” From a brand perspective, what do you want their answer to be?

Your “return” policy. Even if you are a corporate lawyer, you have your own version of a return policy. How do you handle an unhappy client? What do you have in place to avoid making them unhappy in the first place?


  • Do you have a guarantee tied to your pricing or billing?


  • Do you have a confidential way for them to register a complaint?


  • Do you offer refunds without restrictions, boundaries, or tiny type?


  • Do you have an apology gift or letter that is ready to go in the case of a hiccup?


Remember that an unhappy customer is likely to tell more than 20 people why they’re unhappy. Do you have policies and procedures in place so that your brand comes out smelling like a rose when those stories get told?

We can talk all we want, but it is our actions that really tell the story. 

How you wrap your brand around key experiences like those first impressions, the first day of work, and when things go wrong will go much further in terms of creating a lasting brand.





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Drew McLellan's a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating "a ha" moments for his clients, clients' customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.

Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.

Drew writes at his own blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute and several other hot spots.

He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books with Gavin Heaton and he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Shoot Drew an e-mail.

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  • by Liam Shanon Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    Drew,

    As the Senior Creative Director driving the Vistaprint global brand, I could not agree with you more. One tiny addition I might add is that a brand is "the promise of an experience." While a subtle difference, the inclusion of "the promise of" I find helpful in clarifying to people that a brand is an intangible thing that exists in only one place - the minds of the people who interact with your company. Put another way, a brand is nothing more than the set of preconceptions that a person brings to any interaction with a business. What's more, as you so clearly point out, a brand, like a bird's nest is actually built up out of the many scraps and straws of experience one has had interacting with the brand.

  • by Samantha Boyd Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    Great examples of companies using their brand voice EVERYWHERE. We blogged last week on your brand voice carrying, www.zao525.com/your-brand-voice-carries/, and I would venture to say that 20 people hearing about a bad experience is an underestimate now that social media channels are where customers vocalize their opinions.

    As you mentioned, having a policy in place for taking care of a bad experience is KEY. If it takes a brand a week to figure out how to make it right, the damage is already done.

  • by Drew McLellan Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    Liam,

    I could not agree more - and the promise is a little different for each person. A brand is the compilation of the expectations on both sides of e equation. That's what makes the relationship so valuable, when a brand delights their customer and when a customer rewards that brand with their loyalty and word of mouth buzz.

    Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    Samantha,

    I've always believed that a Brandt's best opportunity to truly cement their brand promise is when something goes wrong. When you can not only turn an unhappy customer back into a satisfied customer but can go beyond that and actually delight them and show them how much their business means to you - that locks in their loyalty for a very long time.

    Drew

  • by Danielle MacInnis Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    It is how you live your brand promise. It is very obvious when a company has it right or wrong. An now it is more visible than ever. Great article Drew and something I am passionate about. The customer and employee touch points that bring a brand to life so it is "felt".

  • by mathew Wed Oct 17, 2012 via blog

    love it

  • by Elaine Fogel Thu Oct 18, 2012 via blog

    Love the bit about the first day at work, Drew. Great ideas.

    In preparation for my MP seminar, I've been updating my research. It's amazing that over 70% of workers are disengaged from their jobs. A poor corporate culture that doesn't honor employees makes it challenging for marketers to enlist staff as brand ambassadors.

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Oct 18, 2012 via blog

    Danielle,

    And of course the trick to whether or not you live is it based on if you have seeded your brand into your organization's DNA. Do you live/breathe it internally? Is it part of your regular discussion? Reviews? Bonus structure?

    Where most brands fail is that the brand is born in the C-Suite and never brought to life for the very people who are expected to deliver it every day.

    Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Oct 18, 2012 via blog

    Elaine,

    Brand begins at home, right? You can't promise something to the outside world and then deliver something very different internally and hope that it won't show. Walking your talk starts on the inside. And then, when done well, it radiates out to the outside.

    It's not a coat that can be put on and taken off -- it has to come from within.

    Drew

  • by ryan Joseph Sat Oct 20, 2012 via blog

    Both are important. Brand is famous for marketing view. logo has another importance.

  • by Brandon Cox Sun Oct 21, 2012 via blog

    My favorite definition of a "brand" comes from Phil Cooke: "A brand is the story people tell about a person, product or organization." In which case "branding" is framing the story well.

  • by Drew McLellan Sun Oct 21, 2012 via blog

    Brandon,

    And that frame is built from a million tiny little details that shape every interaction. As you say -- we can't write the story but we can have incredible influence over how it gets told.

    Drew

  • by Alex Fri May 3, 2013 via blog

    Branding is always good. It's easier for customers to find you in search engines. So your brand name should be memorable as your logo.

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