“Nothing seems more obvious to me than a product or service that only becomes a brand when it is imbued with profound values that translate into fact and feeling that employees can project and customers can embrace.” –Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Airways
The typical business too often succumbs to the idea that its brand starts and ends with a logo and a few coordinating marketing materials. Sure, a creative logo can grab the attention of a customer, however, it doesn’t make the brand positively memorable nor can it carry the brand to success.
Consider the following. Think of your favorite and least favorite brands. Now swap the logos. Do you suddenly love your least favorite and vice versa? No. You don’t love Nike for its “swoosh,” you don’t love Chick-fil-A for its cows, and you don’t love your Mac because of its apple. Why? Because these brands don’t rely on images alone to connect with their customer. They have built an emotional connection that extends from all the internal aspects of business to the customer.
And by the way, all three companies have made our 2012 Most Inspiring Companies™ List. They didn’t make the list because consumers reported they had clever marketing campaigns or creative logos, they made the list because of what they stand for as companies – brought to life through their values and behaviors, and how they want their customers to feel when doing business with them. The experiences they deliver make life better and more meaningful for their customers.
My recent book, Brand DNA, explores this idea of creating an emotional connection to customers in greater detail. When you think of Starbucks, what comes to mind? Typically, the great atmosphere, the happy baristas, rich well-made coffee products, and a sense of the next best thing to being at home while you are there. You don’t pay a premium for the green, black and white mermaid on the cup. You choose Starbucks because they have created an emotional bond with you through the experience they consistently deliver. The mermaid logo representing Starbucks all over the world, is merely the symbol that evokes your memories of the experience as distinct from other coffee shops.
How can you transform your brand to become one that customers relate to on an emotional level? Here are a couple questions to get you started:
1. What are the values you built your company on, that you want your employees to share, and customers to feel when they walk in the door?
2. What do you have in mind when you think of the personality behind your brand?
3. What are the differentiators that set you apart from your competitors?
4. To what standard do you hold your employees, and how do you expect them to relate to your customers?
5. What is the “one” word you want to own in the minds of your customers and employees?
Once you have answered these and have a clearer picture of what your brand stands for, shift focus to the internal factors that influence customer perception through the experience you deliver. Our consumer research on inspiration identifies 7 Key Drivers that impact perception, loyalty and advocacy of customers. They are Authenticity, Affirmation, Vision, Progress, Story, Credibility and Servant Leadership.
Start with just three that are essential to showing up more according to what you stand for beyond just the symbol of your logo.
1. Authenticity – How can you be more consistent and transparent in how you live up to your core values?
2. Credibility – What can you do more of to generate and sustain a high level of trust and goodwill with all your customers?
3. Servant Leadership – How can you better serve your customers so they feel you really care and are committed to serving them in the most inspiring way possible?
As a business, are you focusing solely on the external—advertisements, logos and marketing materials? Ask yourself, “If I were a customer of my business, would I come back?” If the answer is no, find out why. A great company starts and ends with the people. Take the time to ensure they understand what it means to be authentic, credible and in service to others.
Carol Chapman is a co-founder and principal of Performance Inspired