I’ve blogged previously about how some so-called experts are committed to making concepts more difficult to grasp than need be. Most of the time it’s about making the person in the know look and sound smarter than perhaps he/she actually is. This is a pet peeve of mine because not only is it pretentious, it creates unnecessary confusion among those who could really use the information in question.
After all, isn’t life confusing enough all on its own? Who needs self-important pontificators muddying the waters?
A particular mud swirl exists around the marketing term “branding.” Perhaps because of its connection to objects similar to the one at the top of this post, businesses and organizations are misled into thinking branding is about logos and graphic design. Make no mistake, those are part of the equation, but only part.
Dale Partridge posted this great piece on The Daily Positive about what branding is and is not. It is razor sharp, a quick read and well worth sharing, printing and posting (digitally and physically).
The most “revolutionary” insight in the piece may be this: Branding is what your customers/donors/staff say your business or organization is, not what you say it is.
If that statement makes you swallow hard or feel queasy, read on, you’re in good company.
Recently the PBS show American Experience re-ran its documentary on Walt Disney. Without argument, Disney was an innovator and an enormous change maker in U.S. and world entertainment. He also had a big blind spot regarding his staff. The film pointed out that, while Disney paid his top animators very well and gave them some sweet perks, the hundreds of staff who made the magic possible often were paid very low wages without benefits.
When overlooked artists and others went on strike, Disney was blindsided and dumbfounded.
He was Uncle Walt, the guy who never insisted that his staff call him “Mr. Disney.” As far as he was concerned, the company was a family for crying out loud, how could they turn on him like that?
As the empire grew, Walt had become ensconced, as it were, in the highest tower of the Magic Kingdom. He’d lost touch with his staff. So many years had passed since Disney had sat at a drawing table or recorded dialog, he’d forgotten how much time and effort was involved in creating the films. The vast majority of his employees felt as though they didn’t matter. Disney lost several of his mid-level artists to competitors.
The culture Disney thought he’d created was an illusion. It took some time but the negative consequences trickled down to the films themselves. Customers responded in kind and stayed away from the theaters.
Of course, Disney’s is eventually a grand success story, but you can bet the Disney brand is closely guarded by an army taking the pulse of every aspect of the Magic Kingdom every day.
You can discover what your brand really is by asking probing questions of your staff, donors and customers. Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable tools in this process. You could also put together a customer/donor survey using a free or low-cost service such as Survey Monkey.
Another trendy term tossed around marketing circles is “touch point” which Partridge mentions in his column. Simply put, a touch point is every point in the customer/donor/employee process where those individuals interact with the company or organization. For example: Touch points for a small business could be a newspaper/TV/radio or online ad. A catalog, printed or digital, is another touch point. The process of making a donation and receiving an acknowledgement letter are a couple of touch points for non-profits. For your employees, touch points are the interview, hiring, training, performance evaluation, payroll and benefits processes.
No matter how small your business or organization is, it is a system that needs to be analyzed and reviewed frequently. You may find that your advertising and social media presence are effective, but customers are frustrated by the lack of parking near your store, or the online catalog that frequently times out before a sale is completed. Maybe your non-profit does a great job of quickly processing financial gifts, but it takes too long for acknowledgement letters to go out for in-kind donations. For your staff, maybe a failing touch point is in training or performance evaluations.
It’s easy to see that there are dozens of touch points that can impact your business/organization’s brand. As you gather data and feedback from customers/donors and staff, and make improvements, your brand will begin to stand out among your competitors.
If you need some assistance on finding out what your brand really is, give me a call. I’d love to help.
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