I’m really tired of people thinking that their logo is their brand. No…that’s your brand image. Your brand is also not your tagline or your style or anything else that has to do with how you look. The best definition of a brand these days is that it’s your customer’s perception of your product, service, company or person.
If you’re General Mills, you can spend millions on focus groups, research and test messaging to figure out the perception YOU want to create in your customer’s mind. But for most of us, it’s factored into everything we do on a daily basis. We can save it – or wreck it – within a moment. And even General Mills or other big corporations can’t avoid this fact. Huggies found this out with their recent “Even Dad’s can do Diapers” pitch that probably reversed the results of years of advertising impressions. The same could have happened for Nike and their Black and Tan shoe launch debacle. Except that Nike apologized immediately in a very public way, and pretty much the same time the controversy happened. Nike good, Huggies bad. That’s MY consumer perception, and therefore, their brand, in my mind.
People spend WAY too much time working on their websites and logos and other “stuff” and not enough time on their customer service, their messaging, their attitude. And that’s what really creates a brand in the mind of the customer.
Hospitals and medical clinics are another great example of this problem with the definition of brand. Most clinics and hospitals know they are in a competitive environment these days and many have upped their advertising, lowered their waiting times and done other things to try to get and retain patients. But one thing they don’t seem to realize is that on the backend, their nasty billing people often ruin the entire experience. I have a great sports medical doctor. I rarely wait for him to see me, and he’s kind and informative. Not at all the stereotypical bone surgeon. But his billing is done by a parent company that is probably the meanest group of people I’ve ever met. I shudder when I have to deal with them and I suspect that if there were a large problem, I would likely switch doctors. Great care, great concern for my health but from an administrative perspective, I get no respect. This is an issue I believe hospitals and medical clinics are going to have to address if they want to sustain their caring brand.
I know I’m ranting here. But I’m so tired of clients spending so much time on marketing and PR, and then not having a nice person that answers the phone. We won’t get longterm results from marketing until clients realize the ENTIRE operation has to be in alignment with the brand. Or their customers are going to get a very different feel than what their ads say.