It’s said by so many people, including me, that knowledge is power. So if you have an idea about how your customers and acquaintances think about you, then you have a starting point for knowing what to fix and why (or to know what isn’t broken!). Your brand is the experience others have with your business, product, service, or relationship. As Jeff Bezos is widely quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your personal brand can and should be both passive and active. It’s how people know you and what you know about yourself and want to refine. A recent article at Fast Company made some interesting claims about the concept of brand.
Brands shape themselves to what others want to hear. A brand is a politician in a cheap suit with over-whitened teeth that calculates relationships in ROI. A personal brand lives in constant fear of discovery, that others will see them for who they aren’t or what they don’t know.
Whatever the answer is to the question, “How do you want to be known?”, the answer is a goal which may or may not be actually achievable. That I might want to be known as a recording artist with at least one top 40 hit is totally not achievable….it’s an unrealistic fantasy. But that I want to be known as a marketing and leadership coach is not outside the bounds of my skills and experience. Brands can always start off as a lie, but brands that attempt to perpetuate that lie have a high mortality rate.
Where a ‘brand is artificial and phony, ethos is an authentic expression of your values and identity as a leader. Ethos includes your accomplishments, mastery, reputation, knowledge, and credibility. A professional ethos is an incomplete expression of your entire self.
Though I love the fact that a leader in the marketing arena is espousing the teachings of Aristotle in their work, I think the logical fallacy here is that brand and ethos must be contradictory terms. I would suggest that a “brand” is incredibly difficult to fake because you can’t alter a person’s experience with your product or service. You can’t lie to consumers and suggest that they can “have it your way” and not let them have it their way. The market doesn’t allow for false advertising for very long or with brands that don’t deliver the experience they’re attempting to convey through their marketing strategy. Of course, ethos is a great way to understand the depths of an individual or business culture, but a brand is simply reminiscent of the experience a customer has with your product or service—and your logo and entire brand identity serves as a reminder of that experience.
Probably the best marketing device at your disposal is the
ability to create an amazing experience for your customers. When they leave
your business establishment, what they are motivated to speak about—positive or
negative—has great power to influence. Word of mouth is a form of influencer marketing and is growing
exponentially in the virtual world. But
the product promos by reality stars and sports figures on Instagram don’t carry
the weight of the customer who just left your store with the memorable
experience they will share with their friends and family—online and off. Let’s give your customers something to talk about:
One chance to make a
first impression. The old adage is true, and if you fail to make a
positive, memorable connection you may never have the chance again to convert
them from browser to buyer. The days of “how may I help you” need to be
replaced with “welcome” and an attitude of “how can I make this a great
experience”…and then actually creating an experience that they will want to
repeat over and over again. They may have walked in to simply find something
they need, but make sure they get what they want, too.
Value. It goes without saying, if your product or service isn’t worth what the customer paid for it, whether an issue of quality or price, they will share their product experience with others. Customers want to feel as if they got a great deal for a great product, which is why businesses like Kohls are so successful with their discount programs. Kohls has figured out how to make the customer feel taken care of in an area of high priority—the wallet—and they know their customers talk about it to their friends and family. Those last few minutes in Kohls is what causes them to return again—when they receive their Kohl’s Cash and receipt showing how much they saved which makes them feel happy. Make your customers feel happy by creating a sense of value in your product or service.
Respectful. People have come to accept all the buzz words and jargon when they
enter a business establishment. But when a server effectively communicates that
they care that you enjoy your drink, or the cycle shop talks through your uses
of a new bike and doesn’t try to close the deal on the most expensive bike in
the shop, you feel respected and taken care of. As a business owner, you’ve been
in the shoes of your customer too, so don’t try to sell them a product or story
that you wouldn’t buy yourself.
The experience people are looking for when shopping online
is both the quality of the product and the convenience of shopping. In your
local business, people are wanting more. Enjoy having the opportunity for the
face-to-face exchange and make the most of their experience. They will tell
others about it and so will you. Give people something to talk about that is
beneficial to you and continue to find ways to create a memorable experience
for your customers every time they visit.