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Your Brand is everything!
From Becoming A Category Of One - How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity And Defy Comparison

by Joe Calloway

Your brand is not your advertising. Your brand is not your logo. Your brand is not your company name. Your brand is not your product. Your brand may not be at all what you think it is. Your brand may not be what you intend for it to be. You do not own your brand.

Your brand is owned by your customers and anyone else who has an impression of your company. Your brand resides in the minds of your customers, not in your newspaper ads. Your brand is whoever customers think you are, whatever they think is your promise to them, and whether or not they believe that you keep that promise. .

Nothing is more important than your brand, because it's what defines you in the marketplace. It should be the top priority of every employee, from the president of the company to the guys and gals in the warehouse to the receptionist and every other employee, to build, protect, and represent your brand to the best of their ability. If your idea of who you are, what you promise the marketplace, and whether or not you keep that promise matches up with the market's perception of those same factors, then you have a strong brand. A strong brand is what makes you a Category of One company. Your brand is everything. .

Never forget that it's your customers who decide what your brand really is. If your idea of the brand is different than their idea of the brand, theirs is the only idea that counts. At the end of the day they are the ones who get to vote, not you. It's a simple as the basic truth that not matter how well you think you're doing, all that counts is how well the customers think you're doing. You can run ads all day long about what a great company you are, but if the customers don't experience that and don't believe it, your brand is a loser. .

You want customers to love you, not just know who you are. You literally have as many brands as you have customers and people who have an impression of you. If those impressions are bad, then your brand is weak. Consider all the brands that you may have created without even knowing it:
  • You transfer a customer four times to different departments and she never has her problem solved. That's your brand.
  • You charge a customer extra for something they thought was included in the original price. That's your brand.
  • You replace a defective product but no one apologizes to the customer for his trouble. That's your brand.
  • You put a telephone customer on hold for over a minute. That's your brand.
  • Your web site is confusing and hard to navigate. That's your brand.
  • A repeat customer for many years comes into your store and no one greets her by name. That's your brand.
Most feelings about brands are based on comparison. You may think that your competitors are the other companies that do what you do, but customers don't limit their comparisons like that. All customers may know is that someone else in a business completely different from yours did something great for them that you, in their opinion, were unwilling to do. You may not think it's a fair comparison, but who cares? It's the customer's call. Anything that another company does for your customer can have a strong influence on how she rates your brand.
  • The other company returns my calls within a couple of hours. You usually take at least twenty-four hours.
  • Everyone at the dry cleaners knows my name. I spend about thirty dollars a week with them. My company spends tens of thousands of dollars every year with you and yet I feel like your employees have no idea who I am.
  • My stockbroker calls me to see how I'm doing or if I have any questions about how my stocks are performing. You only call me when you want to sell me something.
  • The owner of the service station came out to the self-service gas pump the other day to tell me how much he appreciates my business. No one in your company has ever made that kind of gesture of appreciation to me.
Encounters like these are what make up an individual's impression of a company, which then becomes the company's brand. The lesson that the market teaches is that every single encounter that any customer has with your company is what ultimately makes up your brand.

It's not the job of the marketing, advertising, or public relations departments to create the brand. They have a hand in it, just like everyone else in the company. But their job is to tell the story of the brand. It's the job of everyone else in the company to create the brand with the quality of how they do their work everyday. For years people defined branding as the process of creating an ad campaign or marketing program that will convey a desirable image to the public. That's fine as far as it goes and these efforts can certainly help the brand. But it's nothing when compared to the power of how people actually experience your company. That's your brand.

It takes an on-going commitment to brand to take yours to the Category of One level. It doesn't happen by accident. Once brand takes hold, however, with proper attention it becomes the essence of who you are and what you do. It transcends policy, which enables you to transcend commodity. Brand becomes the way you do everything, almost without thinking.

Brand is everything. One more time - it should be the top priority of every employee to build, protect, and represent your brand to the best of their ability.

Copyright Joe Calloway. All Rights Reserved.

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