Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
August 27th, 2014

What Do People Say About You When You Leave The Room?

If I eavesdropped on the conversation of one of your customers talking about your business, what would they say? Would their comments match the flowery wording on the framed mission statement behind the counter? As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, says, “A brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”

If the mission talks about providing superior products and service, do your customers rave about your great work and outstanding customer service?

What we are really discussing is what your company’s “brand” or reputation is in the marketplace. Every company has a brand whether they are conscious of it or not. In addition, and this might come as a shock to some of you, a company doesn’t completely control its brand. Ultimately, your brand is what the market believes about you. The question is whether the flowery wording in your mission statement matches the brand perception others have of you.

Ideally, your brand should represent the vision, missionand core values of your company. Who you are. What you represent. What you believe in. What matters to you as a company. It’s important to note that your represented brand must also match the actions of the company.

If you want to project a brand of an active, sports-related business and everyone at the company is out of shape, your actions do not match your stated brand. If you name your company “Service First” and you have lousy customer service, there is a disconnect. Your ultimate brand will be based on your actions and what people observe, not on what you claim your brand to be.

So, where does that leave us on the topic of branding? Since we cannot completely control it, what can we do to try and ensure that we have a positive brand in the marketplace? What can be done to enable the desired brand to match the market’s perceived brand?

  • First, you have to truly believe in the mission statement. It cannot be something that just looks good hanging on the wall. If you say that you are a customer service-driven company, do you really care about your customers? You have to walk the talk, as they say.
  • Second, make sure that your staff knows and understands the company vision, values and mission and conducts themselves in a way that accurately represents that brand. Drill these things into each employee’s head so that they become second nature. From the top down, the employees need to live the brand.
  • Use marketing to tell the brand story. Whether it is a business card, company vehicle, staff uniform or advertisement, all consumer facing marketing efforts need to be in alignment with the desired brand.
  • Listen to what the market is saying about you and make adjustments based on the feedback received. Your goal is to bring the market perception into alignment with the desired brand. If there is a disconnect, either you or the staff are not living the brand and changes need to be made.

I hope this week’s blog helped you understand the topic of branding a little bit better and gave you some ideas on how to make sure that your business is projecting the desired brand to the marketplace. While you cannot completely control your brand, you can take steps to make sure what comes after, “That company is___” would be something that makes you proud.

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