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The Pragmatist’s Guide to Small Business Marketing

Executing the Brand

We’ve come a long way from the days when a brand was perceived as simply a company logo. Today most business owners understand that their brand goes way beyond just the visual representation of their company. It’s more than logos, brochures and business cards, or promotional items.

Brand is an experience. It’s all about feelings and what a customer thinks of when seeing or hearing the company name. It’s based on repeated experiences. Think K-Mart. Think Target. Think Macys. Each probably gives you very clear images, even sounds and smells. Each probably also gives you an idea of how you receive service when inside those stores. And you probably speak very differently about each retailer when talking with friends and family. That’s the brand. It’s a visceral end-to-end experience, from seeing a logo for the first time, to walking into a store or researching a product, to closing the deal, and beyond.

It starts with Positioning. This is the foundation of the brand. It lays out your differentiation, the experience you want to deliver, the desired outcome of all customer interactions. You’ve got to understand what that end experience is that you want every customer to have, including when things go bad. Inevitably they will. In fact, how you handle things when they go off the rails can create a stronger brand impression than when it’s all going well.

When you and your team know what your Positioning is, it empowers you to know what your brand is all about. When that happens you’ve got something you can replicate to create a consistent experience. Customers come back because they have a positive experience and know what to expect… even if things go wrong.

So, yes, logo is the visual queue that initiates a brand experience. But it’s not the brand by itself. Define the experience you want everyone who comes in contact with your company to have and you’ll be well on the way to executing your brand.