Your Brand Is the Sum of the User’s Entire Experience
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” - Scott Cook
In the old days, branding was a means of telling one owner’s cattle from another. Today, branding is a way of telling one organization from another.
Many organizations spend a lot of time carefully honing the “brand” they want to present. Problem is: Brand isn’t what you want people to think about your organization, it’s what people actually think about your organization. So what can you do to create a positive perception? Short answer: Everything. All your efforts should work to provide a positive brand experience. Your brand is the sum of the user’s entire experience.
How You Can Influence Brand Perception
Whether you know it or not, you have a brand. It’s what people think about you and how they perceive you. Ultimately, your brand lies in the minds of others. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any control over your brand. You may not be able to open people’s heads and toss in the ideal version of your brand, but you can influence how they think about you. That’s what branding is. It’s effectively communicating what you are all about and why you are beneficial to your audience.
Make All Your Efforts Reflect Your Brand
Brand is not just an ad or a logo or a mission statement or a website. It’s the culmination of all those things. It’s how people decide to perceive you because of your ad, logo, mission statement, website, services, products, customer service, PR, communications, etc. Add everything you do together from top to bottom and you have your brand. It’s the sum of the user’s entire experience. That’s why your ability to make every interaction a positive one is essential to building a strong brand.
Here are five proven traits of a positive brand experience:
#1 – Clear communication
Be honest. Be straightforward. Be transparent. Don’t lie. Don’t sugarcoat. Don’t paint an inaccurate portrait of your organization. Communicate clearly with your audience. Lay out in clear and simple terms who you are, what you do, and why you are valuable. Make it easy for them to get a true sense of your organization and what makes you unique.
#2 – Trusting relationships
Work to develop mutual trust with your audience. Make them believe in your organization and what you do. Let them know you’re there to help; to make their lives better, easier and more meaningful. Don’t try to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Be sincere and show your audience that you have their best interests at heart.
#3 – Meaningful experiences
When your audience engages with you in any way, make the experience meaningful for them. Don’t waste their time. Give them something valuable. If it’s a customer service experience, ensure they leave the exchange satisfied. If they visit your website, make it easy for them to find the information they need. Make every interaction a positive one.
#4 – Enthusiastic vision
People can spot a fake from a mile away. That’s why you need to be sincere and authentic. If you’re not truly excited about the mission and vision of your organization, it will show. People want organizations that are enthusiastic about what they are trying to achieve. They want organizations that inspire; that can’t wait to explain the great benefits and advantages they offer.
#5 – Effective decision making
Every decision your organization makes should reflect your brand. If you ever make a decision and think “that’s not us”, it’s the wrong decision. When organizations act in conflict with brand, they do a great deal of damage (see Netflix and Bank of America for two recent examples). Think about how each decision will impact your audience. Make decisions with your brand in mind.
People own your brand. To create positive brand perception, you have to provide positive interactions. Any and every interaction your organization has shapes and influences how your brand is perceived. Ensure your interactions always reflect the heart and integrity of your organization. The best way to harness the power of your brand is by protecting it.